Day Trips

Mustang Island State Park consistently rates among the busiest parks in the state system

Day Trips
Photo by Gerald E. McLeod

Mustang Island State Park preserves five miles of primitive beach. The rolling waves of the Gulf of Mexico provide background music and entertainment for guests. Though most visitors come for the surf and sun, the park includes important ecosystems that are rarely seen.

The primary activity in the park is frolicking in the waves, but fishing runs a close second. Park rangers say that the waters can be as productive as any fishing spot along the coast, particularly when schools of redfish, black drum, flounder, and speckled trout are running.

While surf fishing is popular, most anglers head out to the end of the two jetties made of huge red granite blocks at the north end of the park's beach. In the 1980s the state cut Fish Pass across the island to connect the Corpus Christi Bay with the Gulf of Mexico. The jetties were supposed to keep the channel open, but the pass filled with sand within a few years.

What the rock piers did accomplish was to give fishermen access to deeper waters near the shore and a small cove for beachcombers. For some reason, the beach here is littered with shells more so than the open beaches. The rock piles are alive with sea life including sea turtles, small fish, sea anemones, and unusual species of shrimp.

The park also has another section of beach that is protected from vehicular traffic. Set aside as a day-use area, the cordoned-off region is lightly used, especially since the bathhouse has been closed since a recent storm inflicted heavy damage to the concrete structure.

Most visitors are drawn to the south end of the park where they can drive their vehicles to the water's edge. For hearty campers who pitch their tents in the sand, the beach can accommodate 300 campsites. It is always best to get advice from the park staff before setting up camp because a high tide can make for some soggy sleeping bags.

The park has a 48-slot campground with utility hookups for RVs and campers located behind the dunes. While this area can be convenient, the bugs can be ferocious away from the Gulf breeze.

While encompassing almost 4,000 acres, the park includes fragile sand dunes and flat grasslands that stretch from the Gulf beaches to the bayside wetlands. The island supports a surprisingly diverse wildlife population in addition to migratory birds. The staff has mapped two paddling trails that follow the western shoreline and offer great opportunities for fishing and bird-watching.

Mustang Island State Park consistently rates among the busiest parks in the state system for good reason. It's a wonderful place to enjoy being on island time. The park is about 14 miles south of Port Aransas and two miles north of where Park Road 22 enters the island from Corpus Christi. For more information, call 361/749-5246 or go to www.tpwd.state.tx.us.

1,007th in a series. Collect them all. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of "Day Trips" 101-200, is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Mustang Island State Park, Corpus Christi Bay, Gulf of Mexico, Port Aransas

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