Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge
Covering 34,000 emerald acres of virtually intact coastal marsh, upland prairie, and forest, the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge is our state’s answer to Florida’s fabled “river of grass,” the Everglades. Twelve miles of road trace a series of culverts that help control salinity and make the floodplains attractive to 279 varieties of birds (such as the mottled duck, an indicator species for ecological health), as well as otters, muskrats, bobcats, and, of course, alligators. “Anahuac is the Alligator Capital of Texas,” boomed the volunteer host when I visited the shack that serves as a temporary visitors center (a soon-to-open permanent facility will boast nature exhibits and viewing platforms). I didn’t see any of the famed reptiles that day, but at Frozen Point, a quiet panoramic fishing spot on the refuge’s southwest shore, I spotted a great blue heron. Celebrated for its lightning reflexes, the bird is one of the world’s best anglers, and I watched as this one speared a fish for lunch and did a victory dance. I settled in with the picnic I’d brought and plotted my own fishing trip, dance moves TBD.
To get there: Anahuac NWR is open daily from sunrise to sunset. From Interstate 10, drive south on either Texas Highway 61 or Texas Highway 124 until you reach FM 1985. Turn onto FM 1985 (left from Highway 61, right from Highway 124) and continue to the refuge’s main entrance; signs point the way (409-267-3337). Entrance is free.