Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge

Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge is one of fifty-nine wildlife refuges managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These wildlife refuges have been set aside to conserve our nation’s fish, wildlife, and plants — including threatened or endangered species. Our nation’s wildlife refuges are home to more than 700 species of birds, 250 species of mammals, 250 reptile and amphibian species, and more than 200 species of fish.
Anahuac SignThe Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1963 and is one of nineteen wildlife refuges located in the Lone Star State. The name Anahuac is a Nahuatl (an Aztec language) word that means “close to water.” The earliest inhabitants of the region, however, were not Aztecs but Atakapan Indians. The name perfectly fits because Anahuac is indeed near the water.
Anahuac WetlandsThis 34,000-acre refuge is largely coastal marsh land and prairie bordering Galveston Bay in southeast Texas. The marshes, meandering bayous, and prairies of Anahuac are home to an abundance of wildlife, including alligators and bobcats. The Anahuac refuge also serves as a hotel for migrating birds — a place where they can rest, nest, breed, and eat as they continue on their respective journeys.
Anahuac SignIf you want to catch a glimpse of alligators, then Anahuac is the place to be. Southeast Texas is regarded as one of the best places in the nation to see alligators. Spring and fall are the best times to catch sight of these reptiles as they sun themselves on the banks of the bayous. Anahuac is also a paradise for birders. Helpful signs on the driving and walking trails identify the birds you might see in the park — everything from shorebirds, wading birds, migratory songbirds, and more.
Anahuac BoardwalkThe refuge offers a driving loop with places to pull over to watch for certain birds and animals. The walking trails are well maintained and feature boardwalks and benches where you can sit and enjoy the outdoors, including the music of migratory songbirds. If you visit, bring a pair of binoculars with you. You can purchase an inexpensive folding field guide at the park store to help you identify the birds in the refuge.
Anahuac DriveWe are fortunate to have a third of the nation’s wildlife refuges in the Lone Star State. Don’t overlook these outdoor treasures as you plan your Texas adventures. These are great places to connect with the outdoors — beautiful locations where you can walk slowly, breathe deeply, and appreciate the great diversity of wildlife in Texas.
Anahuac Field Guide

Attwater Prairie Chicken

The words endangered species generally bring to mind visions of exotic animals in faraway places. Animals like the black rhinoceros or the Asian elephant or the bandicoot of Australia. However, unbeknownst to many, the Lone Star State has its own critically endangered species — the humble Attwater prairie chicken.

What is a prairie chicken, you ask?
Attwater Prairie Chicken ImageThe Attwater prairie chicken is one of the most endangered birds in North America. A member of the grouse family, this barred brown and tan bird is unique to the coastal prairies of Texas and Louisiana. A hundred years ago they numbered up to an estimated one million birds. Today, the few remaining birds are protected by the Endangered Species Act of 1973.
Attwater Refuge SignThe Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge is home to the remaining population of this ground-dwelling grouse. The prairie chicken is a fascinating bird. Each spring, the males of the species gather to perform an elaborate courtship ritual that includes inflating their yellow air sacs and emitting a strange, booming sound. Rangers at the refuge can tell you the best seasons and times to catch a glimpse of these remarkable birds.
Attwater ViewDevelopment along the Gulf Coast over the years has claimed almost six-million acres of prairie, pushing the prairie chicken to the edge of extinction. The survival of this endangered species depends on the faithful stewardship and careful management of the prairie chicken’s declining ecosystem. Today, less than 200,000 fragmented acres of prairie remain, including the 10,339-acre Attwater Wildlife Refuge.
Attwater BirdhousePlaces like the Attwater Wildlife Refuge are important because they are a haven for native and migratory birds. The Attwater Refuge is one of a few refuges managed specifically for an endangered species. Intentional efforts to protect prairie chicken hatchlings, for example, increases the likelihood that their numbers will continue to steadily rise and once again grace our remaining prairies with their courtship dance.
Attwater HeadquartersThe Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge is located southwest of Sealy and northeast of Eagle Lake. The refuge is easily accessible and offers a car route, hiking trails, wildlife viewing stands, and acres of beautiful vistas in every direction. The headquarters features a remarkable display of birds native to the region and a brief orientation video.
Attwater Observation BlindIf you are looking for a day trip near Houston, check out the Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge. You will enjoy the vistas, the fresh air, and learning about the birds and plants native to our remaining gulf coast prairies.