What to do in Brazos Bend State Park

Brazos Bend State Park, approximately 28 miles south of Houston, covers 4897 acres, with an eastern boundary of 3.2 miles fronting on the Brazos River on the southeast border of Fort Bend County. This was the area of Texas' first Anglo colonization. It was purchased by the state in 1976-77 and was opened to the public in 1984.

Archeological materials show that prehistoric people visited this area, possibly as early as 300 BC; in early historical times, the Capoque band of the Karankawa Indians roamed between the mouth of the Brazos River and Galveston Bay and may have traveled inland as far as Brazos Bend. In the early 19th century, this area of Texas was the site of Stephen F. Austin's first colonial land grant from Mexico, and present park land was included in a grant to Abner Harris and a partner named William Barrett in 1827. Most of riverfront was sold shortly after the Texas Revolution, and records show that in 1845, part of the park and 2400 feet of river frontage were in the hands of cotton brokers who lived in Brazoria. At the time, the Brazos River was one of the principal routes of commerce, and it may be that the brokerage firm used the area for one of its riverboat landings. In recent times, the land on which the park is located was used for cattle grazing, pecan harvesting, and as a private hunting preserve.

The park is open 7 days a week year-round with the busy season being spring, fall, and weekends year-round. George Observatory (979/553-3400) is located in the park and is open Saturdays from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. For information on stargazing programs/passes and other programs, call the Observatory at 979/553-3400 or the Observatory (as a satellite of the Houston Museum of Natural Science) at 281/242-3055.

The Brazos Bend State Park offers visitors a variety of outdoor recreational opportunities. Six lakes are easily accessible to fishermen, with lighted piers and fish-cleaning tables. Visitors are cautioned to pay due respect to alligators, which are numerous in some areas of the park.

Most of the park is in the Brazos River floodplains, but there are also areas of flat upland coastal prairies. Numerous swales and depressions become freshwater marshes during periods of heavy rain. In addition to the Brazos River, Big Creek meanders diagonally across the park and is associated with sloughs and cutoff meanders called oxbow lakes. Other lakes have been created by levees. The creek and riverbanks are lined with sycamore, cottonwood, and black willow. Campsites and picnicking areas are located among huge, moss-draped live oaks; while trails run along the lakes and through bottomland hardwood forests.

Facilities include restrooms with showers; campsites with water and electricity; screened shelters; a trailer dump station; a dining hall (capacity 150), with ceiling fans, kitchen facilities, a barbecue pit, tables and chairs, and a restroom; a 21.6 mile hike/bike trail, with 7.2 of those miles for bikes; and a .5-mile nature/interpretive trail. For day-use visitors, there are 3 separate picnic areas with picnic sites. Two picnic areas have a group picnic pavilion (capacity 75 each): Elm Lake and Hale Lake pavilions, have electricity and water outlets, a barbecue pit, and picnic tables.

Creekfield Lake Nature Trail is an accessible nature trail and interpretive exhibit pilot project is the first of its kind for the department (1995) and was designed with the assistance of the greater Houston area disabled community in partnership with The George Foundation, Fort Bend County, and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The trail is fully paved and takes visitor on a .5 mile loop our of an outstanding wetland area. Exciting features along this trail include a series of interpretive panels with tactile bronzes of wetland wildlife, and accessible boardwalk and observation deck for wildlife viewing, rest areas with shaded benches, and an audio-described tour (available for check-out from the par headquarters. The newly retrofitted "Habitats and Niches" exhibit includes an unusual "hands-on" alligator discovery area, a tactile model of the park, and an open-captioned orientation video for visitors with hearing impairments.

Nearby attractions are the San Jacinto Battleground Historical Complex including the San Jacinto Battleground, the San Jacinto Monument, and the Battleship TEXAS; Galveston Island State Park; Brazoria County Access Point (San Luis Pass County Park); Sea Center in Lake Jackson; the George Ranch; Houston's attractions; and West Columbia, which was founded in 1826 and served as the Capital of the Texas Republic for a brief period in 1836. It is the site of Varner-Hogg Plantation State Historical Park and is approximately 25 miles south of Brazos Bend.

Camping and entrance fees vary. For reservations call 512/389-8900. Current conditions including fire bans and water levels can vary from day to day. For more details, call the park or Park Information at 1-800-792-1112.

Recreational activities include camping, picnicking, hiking, biking, and fishing. Additionally, there are ongoing interpretive and educational programs every weekend for a fee.

Brazos Bend State Park is situated within the Gulf Coast region of Texas. The park may be reached by traveling approximately 20 miles southeast of Richmond on FM 762, or by traveling south from Houston on State Highway 288 to Rosharon, then west on FM 1462.

Brazos Bend State Park is located at an elevation of 104 feet. Temperatures within the park range from an average January minimum of 41 degrees and a July maximum average of 94 degrees. The average annual rainfall is 43.9 inches. Current weather conditions can vary from day to day. For more details, call the park or Park Information at 1-800-792-1112.

21901 FM 762
Needville, TX 77461

Phone: 979/553-5101

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