I was introduced to Brazos Bend State Park in September 2011. My husband and I went to support our friend and his son as they gave guided tours as part of their volunteer service requirements. It quickly became one of my favorite places to spend a relaxing afternoon.
BBSP is a 4800+ acre state park bordering the Brazos River and operated by Texas Parks and Wildlife. It is about a 30 minute drive from southwest Houston. While there, you can camp, hike or bike the trails, picnic, fish, and generally enjoy nature among other activities.
I typically pack up my camera(s) and arrive right when the park opens. I call it a day after four to six hours, several walked miles, and hundreds of pictures later. There are several trails available to explore but my favorites are Elm, 40 Acre, and Creekfield lakes for the scenery and numerous gator and bird sightings.
One of the biggest attractions of the park are the alligators. Thankfully to date there have not been any alligator-human attacks at the park. I am assuming that this means there have been some pets on the menu though. I know, what a horrible thought! It’s my paranoia that prevents me from even considering bringing my baby boy. According to the BBSP alligator fact sheet, there is an estimated 250-350 adult alligators that live in the park. The best time to see them is March- May and September – November, and during the early morning or late evening when temperatures are hot.
My favorite alligator experience was the occasion that I stumbled upon a gator about to chow down on a poor red eared slider. I sat a safe distance away and watched for over a half an hour for the deed to be done. Fascinating!
You like to fish? The park has three lakes to choose from: Hale, 40 Acre, and New Horseshoe. And the best part is that no fishing license is required within the boundaries of the park (regular size and bag limits do apply). The lakes are periodically stocked with Bass, Sunfish and Catfish plus I have seen people with large gar.
Into birding? Photography? Both? This is the place for you! Here is a Field Checklist if you want a list of birds that can be seen at BBSP with the general frequency. Guided bird watching hikes led by park volunteers and naturalists are also available. Here are some of the birds I have seen at the park:
There is no shortage of other reptiles and amphibians. They’re just a little more difficult to spot.
On one my many visits, I was startled by a frog that came out of the woods along the trail. He quickly hopped around in semicircle through the grass and back to the woods. I thought it was odd at first and then I spotted what he was running from. A little ribbon snake was chasing the frog. The struggle was intense but the sadly the little snake lost his meal.
And then there are the creepy crawlies.
This park is a great place to bring your family. There are plenty of tables/grills and a play ground at 40 Acre Lake. I have picnicked at the park in the past but that takes away from my time to wander and take pictures so I usually opt for super simple water and snacks. There are miles of trails so you can walk until you drop. And if you come in the summer/fall, DO NOT forget your mosquito repellent!
I don’t own a horse so I have never (and probably will never) experience trail riding at BBSP. I have never camped there either but hope to do so soon.
If you are in town and have a few hours to spare, seriously check out Brazos Bend State Park. You won’t regret it.
More images here.