Life by the Bay: Goose Island State Park

Lapping water and Gulf breezes: We must be on the coast!

A popular feature of Goose Island State Park is the 1,620-foot long fishing pier. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A popular feature of Goose Island State Park is the 1,620-foot long fishing pier. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Bounded by the waters of the St. Charles, Copano, and Aransas bays, 314-acre Goose Island State Park is a coastal delight.

Visitors to the Island engage in a variety of activities, including camping, birding, fishing, boating, water sports, picnicking, hiking, photography, geocaching, and wildlife observation. A leisurely 1-mile hiking trail is available.

Swimming is not recommended as the shoreline has concrete bulkheads, oyster shells, mud flats, and marsh grass.

Goose Island State Park is best known for two celebrated residents, one of which is the Big Tree—an enormous 1000 year old coastal live oak that has survived prairie fires, Civil War battles, and hurricanes. The other resident is the rare endangered whooping crane that returns to the area every winter.

Popular with Winter Texans during winter months, birders during spring and fall migration, and campers year-round, Goose Island State Park is located 10 miles north of Rockport, off State Highway 35.

Choose from camping 44 sites by the bay, all with water and electric servicel, and covered picnic table (the Park calls them "open cabanas"). © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Choose from camping 44 sites by the bay, all with water and electric servicel, and covered picnic table (the Park calls them “open cabanas”). © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

A small bridge connects the main portion of the park—one of the oldest in the state park system—to a small sliver of sand that gives the park its name. The ancient barrier island has been shrinking due to erosion caused by Gulf currents and wave action from the surrounding bays. Stepped-up efforts in recent years, including installation of offshore rock breakwater, dredging, and marsh restoration projects, have stabilized the island’s shell ridge, oyster beds, seagrass shoals, tidal flats, and salt marshes.

Approximately 500 bird species have been recorded in the area, including the whooping cranes which spend each winter in the coastal marshes of nearby Aransas National Wildlife Refuge.

Developed RV campsites overlooking the bay and in a secluded, wooded area are available; tent campsites are limited to the wooded area. Choose from 44 sites by the bay or 57 sites nestled under oak trees, all with water and electric service. All campsites have a fire ring, outdoor grill, and covered picnic table (the Park calls them “open cabanas”).

With a height of 44 feet, circumference of 35 feet and crown spanning roughly 90 feet, the Big Tree has survived Mother Nature’s fiercest storms for more than 1,000 years. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With a height of 44 feet, circumference of 35 feet and crown spanning roughly 90 feet, the Big Tree has survived Mother Nature’s fiercest storms for more than 1,000 years. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Each camping loop has restrooms with showers. There are also 25 walk-in tent sites without electricity. The park can accommodate up to 75 people in the Group Recreation Hall and a maximum of 64 in the one-acre Group Camping Area.

Fishing opportunities include speckled trout, redfish, drum, and flounder; crabs and oysters are abundant as well. Fish from shore, boat, or the park’s lighted 1,620-foot long fishing pier. From the RV sites that are on the edge of Aransas Bay you can sit in your site and cast a line into the Bay. There is a regular boat launch and a kayak/canoe launch (bring your own boat). A fish cleaning station is provided. You do not need a fishing license to fish from shore or pier in a Texas state park.

A nearby adjunct of the state park holds the magnificent Big Tree. With a height of 44 feet, circumference of 35 feet and crown spanning roughly 90 feet, the massive coastal live oak has survived Mother Nature’s fiercest storms for more than 1,000 years. Two interpretive panels provide details about the arboreal giant and solicit donations to “keep the tree growing.”

Goose Island State Park is popular with Winter Texans during winter months, birders during spring and fall migration, and campers year-round. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Goose Island State Park is popular with Winter Texans during winter months, birders during spring and fall migration, and campers year-round. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Goose Island State Park was initially built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC).

To reach the state park drive 10 miles north of Rockport on Texas Highway 35 to Park Road 13. Travel two miles on Park Road 13 to reach the park entrance.

Drive carefully as you enter the Park and drive through the Park—some of the roads are narrow and tree lined with low or overhanging branches.

Texas Spoken Friendly

Worth Pondering…
The forces of nature and their impact on the Texas landscape and sky combine to offer an element of drama that would whet the imagination of artists from any medium.

—Wyman Meinzer

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