Upon arrival at Estero Llano Grande state park, you’ll notice the water that greets you as your checking into the park.
This creates an immaculate backdrop and sets the tone of what to expect at this state park located in the Rio Grande Valley. Specifically in Weslaco, TX.
Estero Llano Grande SP was the crown jewel of the three state parks visited that are part of the World Birding Center. Its lush landscapes, lovely trails, and plenty of wildlife made this park stand out compared to Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley SP, and Resaca de la Palma SP.
The Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks, Egrets, and even Roseate Spoonbill were showing off on a trip in January, and not to be outdone, the Alligator Trail had its namesake ready for visitors to enjoy from a safe distance.
230 acres were formally opened as this state park in early 2000. Though the history of the parcel of land dates back to 1790 when King Charles IV of Spain officially granted the land to Juan Jose Hinojosa of Reynosa, Tamaulipas. SOURCE
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Estero Llano Grade SP Maps:
The Importance of Water
The water at Estero Llano Grade SP is what sets this park apart from the rest of the World Birding Center parks. This park has the largest wetlands environment, so it draws plenty of wildlife to the area.
There are five ponds at the park: Ibis, Avocet, Curlew, Dowitcher, and Kiskadee. There is also Grebe Marsh, Alligator Lake, and the Llano Grande waterway.
Wooden boardwalks and dirt trails will give you an opportunity to explore the area and the different ecosystems that the park contains.
The Ibis pond is what you’ll see when you arrive at the park, so walk around and enjoy the sights of the birds. The 0.5-mile Spoonbill Trail takes you through the Ibis and Avocet ponds and around to the Curlew and Dowticher ponds.
From there you can hike through a wooded area to Alligator Lake. There is a wooden pier that gives you a great viewing experience of the lake or sit at one of the many benches to view the wildlife. Get your cameras and binoculars ready!
Alligator Etiquette from TPWD:
- ABSOLUTELY DO NOT feed or annoy the alligators.
- Keep pets on a leash at all times.
- Do not throw objects in water for your dog to retrieve.
- Keep at least 30 feet from an alligator – they’ don’t move slowly.
- Do not swim in or wade into any water in Estero Llano Grande State Park.
- Avoid any alligator sunning itself in the trail or lake bank.
- Stay clear of grasses, twigs and/or soil near the side of a trail; it may be a nest and the mother alligator is probably close by guarding it.
- If an alligator opens its mouth and hisses, you have come too close. Retreat slowly; make no quick moves. Keep your eyes on the alligator.
Trails and Points of Interest:
There are six trails listed on the trail map, but the Tropical Area Trails comprise a network of smaller trails that used to be part of an RV park.
The longest trail at the park is the 1.46-mile Llano Grade Hiking Trail. This takes you to the top of the levee which gives you a great view of Llano Grande Lake. Because of the water, you can bet you’ll see some great wildlife.
Besides the two lakes, there are two additional points of interest worth checking out that give you a great opportunity for bird watching. POI numbers two and three are both on the western portion of the park with number two being the Indigo Blind and three being Green Jay Trail.
Adults are $5/person 13 and older, and children under 12 are free.