For one last hurrah before school started we decided to take the little one down to the gulf coast. This time I wanted to visit some new places that we’ve been planning on going to, but for whatever reason had skipped out. The Lower Colorado River Authority parks, as the name implies, are usually along the Colorado River, and the LCRA Matagorda Bay Nature Park not only sits along the river, but it sits at the end of the river where it meets into the Gulf of Mexico.
Matagorda Bay Nature Park
The estuary is a very popular fishing spot, so we saw a lot of anglers driving around on the sunny day, but before we went exploring too far we stepped into the headquarters to learn a bit more of what the Matagorda Bay Nature Park had to offer.
Upon arrival, I noticed that there wasn’t an entry gate or anything. You just drive on up. This was a bit of a change from the other LCRA parks I’ve visited. You see a large assortment of RVs, and as you’re pulling in you notice some park benches to the left.
The headquarters is risen to protect itself from hurricane winds. So we went upstairs and once inside you’re greeting by the front desk. There is a little gift shop to the left, and just beyond the desk, there’s an educational area that talks about the wildlife you’ll see in the air, on the ground, and in the water.
The LCRA parks do a great job with these areas because it offers something for the grown-ups and kiddos as well. They had these hanging birds above, and an exhibit for little crabs you’d see on the sand. You can click this link to read more about LCRA parks.
LCRA Matagorda Bay Camping
Camping at the beach is the big draw here, and you’re able to reserve multiple camping options including 2 Airstream campers that sleep up to 4, 22 full hookup RV sites, 19 waterfront sites (to the river, not the gulf) campsites, 24 preferred campsites (inside the loop) and 5 pull-through sites.
Campsite Fees (click link just above to reserve):
- Airstreams: $225/night (2 night minimum)
- RV full hookup – $40
- RV preferred – $45
- RV pull through – $50
- RV waterfront – $58
This isn’t a large site, so the camping section is pretty close together. There are two different loop sections, but the area is a bit squished. Just keep that in mind if you’re planning on camping in a tent here.
There are a handful of activities here at LCRA Matagorda Bay including something kinda random: Putt-putt golf! It’s located at the main headquarters, and at the last visit, it looked fairly maintained. It’s $8 for 9 holes (1 round) and $14 for 2 rounds.
While there is a boat ramp you can also rent watercraft including kayaks and beach wagons. See the full price list below.
Per hour (2-hour minimum) – $10
Half-day (4 hours) – $35
Full day (8 hours) – $50
24 hours – $65
Beach chair rental:
Full day (8 hours) – $8
Weekly – $25
Beach wagon rental:
Full day (8 hours) – $12
Weekly – $45
This park also hosts various events and has meeting spaces, so check out the posted link for more details about that.
The Sand Trails at LCRA Matagorda Bay
The trip to LCRA Matagorda Bay Nature Park started a bit on the rough side. The plan was to drive from central Texas to Palacios to try out a popular Vietnamese/ bait shop called The Point. We left on a Sunday and wanted to drive out of our way to grab a Banh-Mi sandwich and then head to Matagorda Bay.
When we arrived at the restaurant I noticed the menu states that they don’t serve Vietnamese food on Sunday. I’m still not sure how I missed that pretty important detail, but we still had snacks from the morning, so it was fine. Nothing really we could do at that point.
When we were wondering about checking in at the nature park I was inquiring about the trails here. The lady at the desk seemed a bit confused about my question, and then I realized this park doesn’t really have the traditional hiking trails that you’d expect from the other LCRA parks.
She explained that there’s a driving trail that goes around the park on the beach areas where you could look at the water, etc, but note that there are sections of the path that have water swells, and if “you can’t see the bottom don’t cross”.
Fine by me.
When we exited I wanted to take my Subaru Outback on some sand and get off the road a bit. We drove to where the jetty was along the Colorado River and checked out the small crowd of people already swimming and fishing. It seemed fun, but I really wanted to see a little more of the river on the coastal side, so we got out and I noticed that there was another section of trucks down the way a bit and I really wanted to be there, but after making a few passes and noticing a section with a sizable puddle, I couldn’t figure out how they got there.
While standing on the jetty I noticed a larger SUV went down the road that I figured was blocked and made its way towards that section of vehicles, so I told my wife that it was the road we needed to go on. We got back in the car and went back around towards that road.
The Subaru has about an 8-inch rise on it, so I felt good going through the water-albeit slowly. We made it to the other side to another group of anglers, but I was still seeing the trucks up ahead, so I decided to make our way towards them. The sand at this point was pretty wet and compact, but it was at this point that I noticed the sand turning really white. I drove into it about 30 yards and because I was going a little quicker we started to fishtail a bit. My wife asked if I thought we would be ok on the sand, and with a slight hesitation, I replied that we should be fine. But with that pause, I also stopped the vehicle.
I waited just long enough to let my Outback’s front tire dip into the sand. They were deep enough that when I pushed on the gas pedal my front tires were lower than my rear tires and we stopped moving forward. You see, Outback’s are fantastic vehicles on the sand, but momentum is key here. I was also absolutely ill-prepared for this. My tires were at full pressure, and I didn’t have anything to place under my tires to get out.
I also learned that insurance won’t come to get you if you got yourself stuck in the sand and away from an actual roadway. While I’m trying to figure out the best way to deal with the situation at hand my wife and daughter went to the jetty to take a look at the water and watch everyone fishing and swimming.
I tried to enjoy the time here as best as I could, but I needed to get towed, so I called up to the office and embarrassingly asked the lady at the front desk if she had any recommendations. She told me there’s a Facebook group called 979-4X4 Recovery that’s run by volunteers that will come and get you out. Once I got added to the group page I posted my location and within the hour a nice family came and got me out. If you’re ever in the area and get in a jam, I cannot recommend them enough. They were amazing.
While we didn’t stay overnight at the LCRA Matagorda Bay Nature Park it definitely made the trip pretty exciting. There were a ton of people here and the fishing looked amazing. If I was a full-time RV’er I’d definitely stop in here to stay a few days and fish. Check it out!