Gulf Coast
Mustang Island Texas State Park
Mustang Island State Park Information:
*Early September 2017, the park was closed due to hurricane Harvey. Click on above link for updates or call the park.
This 4,060 acre park has an entire barrier island ecosystem with 5 miles of beach on the Gulf of Mexico, sand dunes, prairies, freshwater marshes, tidal marshes, lagoons, mud/salt flats, sea grass beds, saltwater coves, and open bay. All are protected within the park and are important for the protection of and habitat of the endangered Piping Plover, Brown Pelicans, Reddish Egrets, and hundreds of other species of birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. Large areas adjacent to the park are operated as nature preserves, or as very low density private recreational weekend properties. A very small area of the park is designated as a State Archeological Landmark. The jetties at Fish Pass are a great area for fishing, shelling, and nature study. The earliest inhabitants of Mustang Island were the Karankawa Indians. Mercer’s Dock was established as a port town in 1859. Destroyed by an 1875 hurricane, it was replaced with another settlement named Mustang Island. In 1910, the town was renamed Port Aransas. Park entrance and camping fees apply. For more information read the Park Brochure and watch the Park Video.
Mustang Island, 18 Miles Long, (Port Aransas):
The island was named after the wild Mustang horses that once roamed free. The island is approximately 2 miles wide at its widest point. Port Aransas is located on the north end of the island which is separated from St. Joseph’s Island by Aransas Pass. Aransas Pass is located on the mainland across from Port Aransas; a ferry runs between the two towns. Mustang Island State Park is located on the south end of the island which is separated from Padre Island by Packery Channel. Though the whole island is accessible by car, the southern end of Mustang Island State Park is blocked by posts, and the northern end of the park is blocked to vehicle traffic by the remnants of Fish Pass. Free parking is available between Access Road 2 and Fish Pass, and between Horace Caldwell Pier and the Port Aransas Jetties. The island is a nesting ground for the endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles. During the nesting season, turtle watch groups patrol the beach looking for nests. The eggs are removed from found nests and taken to Port Aransas or SPI where they are protected and cared for until hatching. Once they hatch, the baby turtles are released into the gulf.
Turtle & Bird Rescue U Of Texas Marine Science Institute Animal Rehabilitation Keep (ARC):
ARK, a unit of the University of Texas at Austin’s Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas, was established due to a dedication to saving the Diamondback Terrapin from extinction. This beautiful little turtle’s markings look like a cross between a leopard print and a brown spotted Dalmatian. ARK rescues and rehabilitates all sea turtles, tortoises and terrestrial turtles, and rehabilitates birds, especially sea birds. Support for the project has been growing over the years; in 1999 they were able to build an ARK building as the result of donor and foundation gifts. To report wounded, stranded or nesting turtles call (866) 887-8535,(361) 442-7638, or call ARK at (361) 749-6793. For injured or stranded birds call (361) 589-4023. Friends of the ARK: (361) 332-6361. Science Institute: 750 Channel View Drive, Port Aransas, 78373.  Email Friends of the ARK   Facebook
Mustang Island State Park Directions:  
From Corpus Christi, take SH 358 southeast to Padre Island. Cross the JFK Causeway, and continue 1 mile to SH 361 at the traffic light. Go left on 361, and travel 5 miles to the park headquarters.