Choke Canyon State Park is in its namesake a bit misleading unless you know the history of the park. As opposed to Palo Duro Canyon, or Caprock Canyon SP, there’s not an actual canyon that you’ll be able to traverse while you’re here. Spoiler alert.
What is here though is a fantastic waterway that features amazing wildlife and plant species that make this park a definite stop along the South Texas plains.
History of Choke Canyon State Park
Nearby town Three Rivers is the main clue as to why it’s called Choke Canyon: “The Choke Canyon Dam is on the Frio River about 4 miles west of the town of Three Rivers, named for the confluence of the Frio, Nueces, and Atascosa Rivers. Low-lying hills force the three rivers into a constricted channel, thus the name Choke Canyon”. Source https://www.usbr.gov/projects/index.php?id=370
The water here is the main supply for the area including Corpus Christi, and the land also claimed the small town of Calliham. Remnants of the town are still within the park and its sole post office just outside of the entry gate. Learn more about that town here.
So because of the reservoir, there is plenty of water for boating, and that seems to be the main draw to this day.
What to expect at the park
The park itself is fairly spread out as you drive through the two sections of the park. There is a South Shore Unit that is only available for day-use visits, and the main Calliham Unit that you’ll find camping and hiking opportunities.
The wildlife here is quite an impressive list. You will see plenty of deer, javelinas, turkeys, and even an occasional alligator!
With the abundant water source, birding was also quite remarkable. The Crested Caracara was seen hunting for food, and plenty of birds along the banks of the water could be seen splashing around.
Choke Canyon State Park is also a top spot for fishing. Large Mouth Bass, Alligator Gar, and Sunfish are abundant here, so make sure to remember your watercraft if you’re heading down to this park.
Camping at Choke Canyon SP
There are no camping units at the South Shore Unit, so make your way to the main area to find sections that are primitive, screened, or ready for your RV.
|Campsite Name/ Style||# of sites||Pricing||Best Use|
|Campsites with Electricity||40||$22||RV/Tents|
|Campsites with Water (Walk-in)||7||$12||Tents|
Just note, at the time of this posting, the Cabin camping area was closed off. Please call ahead for more details.
The campsites here all have a covered picnic area. This is a nice touch because this far south will get pretty toasty in the summer months. Also adds a bit of separation and privacy to this wide-open camping area.
The cabins have a/c, and they have cots (3) in each. A bit different than some of the other cabins at the state parks. For a full list of Texas state parks with cabins, check out this list.
The state park pet rule applies to the cabins as well, they can be with you, but they cannot come into the cabin. So keep that in mind. This is especially something to consider that has this much wildlife around too.
The campsites are all near water, so you’ll have some amazing views anywhere you decide to stay.
Hiking at Choke Canyon SP
Hiking here seems to be more of a great way to just explore the park. A lot of the trails are connecting pathways that take you from one campsite to the next. The multi-colored trail map lists seven trails, but they’re all under a mile, and only a few go through trees, etc.
Make your way to the Emperor Run trail (0.40 mi), or the Hawk Alley trail (0.52 mi.) and hike each end to end to get your steps in.
Other than that you’ll need to connect more of the remaining trails like the Dove Place trail (0.19 mi.), Wren Lane (0.09 mi. yes it’s that short), Owl Hollow (0.40 mi.), Flycatcher Way (0.27 mi), and the Green Jay Pass trail (0.19).
During the off-season this park is really quiet, so walking around has a bit of a Walking Dead vibe hiking through empty cabin sections, but the plants here are different than a lot of the central and east Texas regions, so there’s still a bit to enjoy in terms of plant life.