What to do in Lake Corpus Christi State Park

Lake Corpus Christi State Park, a 14,111.78-acre park, located in San Patricio, Jim Wells and Live Oak Counties, southwest of Mathis, was leased from the City of Corpus Christi in 1934 (until 2032) and was opened in 1934. Many of the park's facilities were built by the Civilian conservation Corps (CCC) during the 1930s. This 21,000-acre lake was formed by damming the Nueces River.

The present site of Lake Corpus Christi State Park overlooks an impoundment of the Nueces River, which was a the disputed boundary between Texas and Mexico after the Texas Revolution. The Rio Grande became the boundary at the end of the war between the two nations, officially making this area a part of Texas. Once inhabited by Karankawa and Lipan Apache Indians, this area became the site of several settlement attempts in the 18th and 19th centuries. In 1858, Lagarto, now a ghost town a few miles northwest of the park, evolved from a Mexican settlement of grass-thatched huts. Today, there are a few remains of this town, which began a steady decline when its leaders rejected the building of a railroad through the community in 1887.

n January 1929, a reservoir called Lake Lovenskiold was created in this valley with the construction of La Fruita Dam across the Nueces River, which washed out in November that same year. The dam was rebuilt in 1935, with federal funds provided by President Roosevelts New Deal, and the name changed to Lake Corpus Christi.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Company 886 developed the 365-acre Lake Corpus Christi State Park between 1934 and 1935 on a cove where San Patricio, Jim Wells, and Live Oak counties converge. CCC buildings included a bathhouse, park residence, and a refectory, but only the refectory remains. This Mediterranean-style building was built of cast blocks of local caliche. The blocks were cast in various sizes and laid in a random-ashlar pattern, closely resembling cut limestone.

By the 1940s, as the new reservoir lost storage capacity from silting, it became evident that a new and larger dam and reservoir would be necessary. Opposition to the new dam by landowners in the proposed flood pool resulted in litigation that delayed construction for many years. The local water supply district finally won a favorable court decision, and the present dam was completed in 1958. Named in honor of Wesley E. Seale, chairman of the Lower Nueces River Water Supply District, the new dam made Lake Corpus Christi one of the largest artificial bodies of water in Texas. It covers 21,000 acres, with a capacity of 300,000-acre-feet at the spillway elevation of 94 feet above sea level.

The park is open 7 days a week year-round with the busy season being weekends and late winter through Summer.

Visitors to the Lake Corpus Christi State Park are attracted by its surrounding beauty and the recreational opportunities provided by the lake.

For nature enthusiasts the mixture of brushland, the sometimes marshy margins, and open waters of Lake Corpus Christi and the riparian woodlands along the Nueces River provide a diverse ecological area. The park represents one of the few remaining stands of brushland in the area and, as a result, provides habitat to a wide variety of animals. The park and nearby natural areas provide an important landfall for neotropical migrants and play an even greater role in conserving plants and animals native to the mesquite grassland. Common bird within the park include black-bellied whistling-duck, purple gallinule, white-winged dove, pauraque, long-billed thrasher, white-eyed vireo, pyrrhuloxia, and black-throated sparrow. Common mammals include javelina and white-tailed deer. Moreover, largemouth bass are abundant with frequent reports of fish reaching 5 pounds and over being boated. Blue catfish are the most abundant catfish species although flathead and channel catfish also provide excellent fisheries. White bass provide excellent angling opportunities in the Nueces River channel during the cooler months and in the main reservoir during summer. Crappie fishing has been improving and respectable catches are not uncommon in the spring.

Facilities include restrooms with and without showers; picnic sites with a grill and water at each; campsites with water; campsites with water and electricity; campsites with water, electricity, and sewer; screened shelters; fishing piers; fish-cleaning shelters; 2 launching ramps (One is accessible only when the lake is full. The other is open, except when lake levels are extremely low. Call the park for current conditions.); a group picnic pavilion (capacity -100); and a trailer dump station. Special rates are available. There are no hiking trails in the park, but you can enjoy walking and biking on the paved roads.

Nearby attractions include the Choke Canyon, Goose Island, and Mustang Island State Parks; Fulton Mansion, and Goliad State Historical Parks; Padre Island National Seashore; Aransas Wildlife Refuge; and the many attractions of the City of Corpus Christi.

Camping fees vary; entrance fee. 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.

The main recreational activities are camping; picnicking; boating (motors allowed, see the facilities section for boat ramp info.); water skiing; fishing; swimming (unsupervised beach); bird watching; and hiking.

Lake Corpus Christi State Park is situated within the Gulf Coast region of Texas. The park is on Park Road 25, 4 miles southwest of Mathis, off State Highway 359, and 35 miles northwest of Corpus Christi.

Lake Corpus Christi State Park is located at an elevation of 187 feet. Temperatures within the park range from an average July high of 94 degrees and a January average low of 44 degrees. The first/last freeze are December 14/February 14. September is the wettest month. Current weather conditions can vary from day to day. For more details, call the park or Park Information at 1-800-792-1112.

P.O. Box 1167
Mathis, TX 78368

Phone: 361/547-2635

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