Rio Grande Valley Bentsen - Rio Grande Valley State Park to Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge

McAllen, Texas

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1 Review
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A 24-mile paved drive through agricultural areas of the Rio Grande Valley between two small remaining islands of subtropical forest habitat. Deep in the Rio Grande Valley lies one of the southernmost state parks in the United States, the starting point for this drive. Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park abuts the Rio Grande near the city of Mission in South Texas. Unusual, rarely seen animals such as the ocelot and jaguarundi roam thick, brushy woodlands of cedar elm, Rio Grande ash, black willow, anaqua, ebony, huisache, mesquite, and many other species. At one time even jaguar, the largest cat in the western hemisphere, stalked prey on the banks of the Rio Grande. The state park’s unique avian life draws even more people than the animals. The park and other areas of the Rio Grande Valley provide a home for a tremendous variety of birds. Some 296 species have been recorded in the state park; another 74 have been sighted elsewhere in the Rio Grande Valley. Special attractions: Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, La Lomita Chapel, camping, hiking, rare species of birds and animals.

Rio Grande Valley: Bentsen - Rio Grande Valley State Park to Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge Professional Review and Guide

"A 24-mile paved drive through agricultural areas of the Rio Grande Valley between two small remaining islands of subtropical forest habitat. Deep in the Rio Grande Valley lies one of the southernmost state parks in the United States, the starting point for this drive. Bentsen-Rio Grande State Park abuts the Rio Grande near the city of Mission in South Texas. Unusual, rarely seen animals such as the ocelot and jaguarundi roam thick, brushy woodlands of cedar elm, Rio Grande ash, black willow, anaqua, ebony, huisache, mesquite, and many other species.

At one time even jaguar, the largest cat in the western hemisphere, stalked prey on the banks of the Rio Grande. The state park’s unique avian life draws even more people than the animals. The park and other areas of the Rio Grande Valley provide a home for a tremendous variety of birds. Some 296 species have been recorded in the state park; another 74 have been sighted elsewhere in the Rio Grande Valley. Special attractions: Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park, Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, La Lomita Chapel, camping, hiking, rare species of birds and animals."

Activity Type: Scenic Drives
Nearby City: McAllen
Distance: 24
Season: Year-round, best late fall to early spring
Local Contacts: Bentsen - Rio Grande Valley State Park
Driving Directions: Directions to Rio Grande Valley: Bentsen - Rio Grande Valley State Park to Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge

Recent Trail Reviews

12/10/2006
0

I'm not sure that this could be called a scenic drive anymore. I live in the Rio Grande Valley and have taken this drive many times. Urbanization has all but taken up any of the open land along this drive. Everytime I take it a new building has popped up somewhere. Also, this route has become far too crowded with traffic. La Lomita Chapel, while still interesting, is starting to show wear-and-tear. The park is not very well kept and the chapel is starting to become dilapitated. I have watched it degrade steadily over the years. Usually, when I have been there, the La Lomita Park has been deserted. The bookends of this drive, Santa Ana and Bentsen, are still worth visiting. The birding in both parks is exceptional. Santa Ana has many times been the one wild place which has kept me sane in the midst of the Valley's urbanization. All I can say is that the Rio Grande Valley is not what it used to be, and that is not a good thing. Visit Santa Ana and Bentsen, skip the rest.



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May 2018