by Cameron Clark

Padre Island National Seashore- Corpus Christi, TX

Yes I know that this is a National Park. But it is probably one of the best national parks in the entire country. Padre Island National Seashore separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Laguna Madre, one of a few hyper saline lagoons in the world.  The park protects 70 miles of coastline, dunes, prairies, and wind tidal flats teeming with life.

Padre Island National Seashore is the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world. In addition to its 70 miles of protected coastline, other important ecosystems abound, including rare coastal prairie, a complex and dynamic dune system, and the Laguna Madre, one of the few hyper saline lagoon environments left in the world. The National Seashore and surrounding waters provide important habitat for marine and terrestrial plants and animals, including a number of rare, threatened, and endangered species.

Situated along the Central Flyway, Padre Island is a globally important area for over 380 migratory, overwintering, and resident bird species (nearly half of all bird species documented in North America). Thirteen of these species are considered species of concern, threatened, or endangered.

Four nations have owned Padre Island at different times. The first was Spain, which owned Padre Island from its entry into the New World until the Mexican Revolution of 1820. Following the revolution, Mexico owned Padre Island from 1821 until 1836, when the newly formed Republic of Texas claimed the area between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande. Padre Island was under ownership by the Republic of Texas until its territory was acquired by the United States, following the War with Mexico of 1845-1848. Throughout these times, the island has been known by several names, with Padre Island being only the most recent. It has also been known as “la Isla Blanca” (White Island) and “Isla de los Malaguitas” (Island of the Malaquites, a band of the Karankawa people).

Padre Island National Seashore has been a destination for visitors for a very long time. I have coming to this site since I was a little kid. Padre Island is very important in Texas history, and protecting the state from possible environmental hazards. Padre Island National Seashore may not have that many interpretive opportunities but that does not matter. The reason why you go here is to experience the coast line and the landscape. The site does not need any explanation through interpretive guides and visual aidsthe site speaks for itself. Padre Island National Seashore is a great place to spend time in the outdoors.