Brownsville harbours a unique natural treasure tucked up against the Rio Grande. It’s here that a variety of flora and fauna call the Sabal Palm Sanctuary home along the winding shores of the river that separates the United States and Mexico.
Getting to the sanctuary required us to pass through the intimidating border fence that snakes its way through most of Southern Texas. Our first attempt didn’t fare so well as we arrived just after the sanctuary had closed for the day. While the second trip proved successful, I wouldn’t have much time to spend there as I would be flying home in the early afternoon.
Once on the other side of the fence, the area seems as if you’re not in Texas anymore. The lush green foliage is a complete opposite of what general perception gives the Lone Star state. Save for the dirt road and a historic house undergoing renovation, the land appears relatively untouched by human hands.
After paying admission and protecting ourselves with a bottle of bug spray (offered as a courtesy), we took to the trails. Just outside of the visitor’s centre is a bird feeder and web cam to broadcast the feathered visitors who stop by for break.
Branching out from the visitor’s centre is a series of paths that meander around the last remaining grove of sabal palms in the United States. Starting on the Forest Trail, my friend and I wandered beneath the towering palms, stepping over the lizards and other reptiles. Sadly, since it was quite hot out already, we didn’t see many birds, save for one, hiding in the branches.
The trails wind their way through the grove of sabal palms, around a resaca – Spanish for an oxbow lake, and to the banks of the Rio Grande. Platforms and viewing huts make for great vantage points when taking pictures – patience is also key.
I would love to return, perhaps earlier in the morning when the sanctuary first opens. It’s nice, quiet and relaxing – provided you have the time. Bring plenty of fluids and spray to protect yourself against mosquitoes. The Sabal Palm Sanctuary is open from 7:00 am until 5:00 pm CDT every day, except for Christmas Day. Donations are welcomed as they help ensure this preserve remains available for future generations.
Pictures of the Sabal Palm Sanctuary are available on Gallery.