The Beautiful Mustang Island State Park

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Mustang Island State Park is a state park with a 5-mile beachfront that is situated on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, south of the city of Port Aransas, Texas, in the United States. The park has a total area of 3,954 acres or 1,600 hectares. In 1972, the site was purchased from private owners, and it became publicly accessible in 1979. Wild mustangs that once roamed the island gave way to ranches in the late 1800s, giving the island its name.

A Brief History

Sand and other sediments accumulated on sandbars, which is how Mustang Island is said to have developed about 2,500 years ago. Indians from the Karankawa tribe were Mustang Island’s first known residents. The Karankawas were hunter-gatherer people who subsisted on the Gulf’s mussels and seafood. Alonso lvarez de Pineda, a Spanish adventurer who explored Mustang Island in 1519, is credited with creating the first known historical record of the island. To protect the entrance to Aransas Bay during the Mexican American War in 1846 – 1848, a fort was constructed on Mustang Island. Records indicate that Robert A. Mercer, an Englishman, and an H. In the 1850s, L. Kinney and others ran cattle on Mustang Island. The Union Navy blockaded the coastal region during the Civil War, although no significant combat took place there before the war’s end. Sam Wilson Jr., the eccentric Ada Wilson’s spouse, later purchased the property. Sissy Farenthold assisted the state of Texas in purchasing the land and creating the park.

How to Get there?

Since there is no reliable public transportation on the island, driving your own vehicle is the best option to get there. Uber and Lyft are available in Corpus Christi, but the cost to travel here from the airport is more than $60 one way, and you can’t be sure you’ll be able to obtain one to return. Though car rentals are an available option.

If you are coming from the port of Aransas, depending on traffic, the distance to be traveled takes fifteen to twenty minutes. Take HWY TX-361 S out of town, keeping in mind that ATVs and golf carts are not permitted on the road.

The travel could take up to an hour if you are from Corpus Christi, depending on where you are in Corpus Christi. TX-358 E will take you across the bridge to North Padre in around thirty minutes on average. From there, you’ll take TX-361 N to Mustang Island.

From San Antonio, approximately two and a half hours are needed to get from San Antonio to MISP. Take HWY I-37 S toward Corpus Christi. From there, follow the directions to the park.

Entrance Fees

A view at the beach at Mustang Island State Park

You must pay entrance fees to enter Mustang Island State Park, in contrast to the island’s public beaches where a beach permit is laxly enforced. At the entrance, day passes can be purchased. Each person must pay $5. Children under the age of twelve are not charged.

The day usage pass is purchased at the gate, where you are also given a receipt to show on your windshield. All Texas state parks have annual passes that can be purchased. A single adult Texas State Parks Pass costs $70, while additional adults living in the same household only pay $25. With these, you’ll receive a free annual pass to all Texas state parks, including Goose Island State Park and Lake Corpus Christi.

A Natural Habitat 

Sand dunes provide storm and marine protection for Mustang Island, a coastal barrier island. Drought-tolerant plants, such as soil bind morning glory, and sea oats, are what keep the dunes in place. Rodent species include cotton rats, marsh rice rats, and pocket gophers predominate in the island’s wildlife. Opossums, raccoons, striped skunks, jackrabbits, cottontail rabbits, armadillos, and coyotes are examples of other tiny animals. Shorebirds and waterfowl in great numbers are frequent, as are numerous species of hawks and a wide variety of songbirds, most of which are migrating.

The Best Time to Visit Mustang Island

The greatest season to visit Mustang Island, according to Coastal Living, is October, when Cinnamon Shore experiences fewer tourists and mild weather far into the fall. The Texas sun emits kinder rays at that time. By October, the temperature drops from a high of 78° to a low of 67°, making it ideal for going to the beach. Coastal Living promotes kayaking along the Mustang Island State Park Paddling Trail and the cooler weather.

However, the ideal time to visit depends on your objectives. While temperatures may be more comfortable in May and early June, fishing is best in August and September. Because of the return to school, it is also less congested in April, May, September, and October. Birders frequently visit the Mustang Island Loop of the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail in the spring, fall, and winter.

Paddling the Island Trail

Boats docked at Port Aransas

The North Trail (8.5 miles), the Shamrock Loop Trail (5.24 miles), and the Ashum Trail make up the Mustang Island State Park Paddling Trail that is highlighted in the Coastal Living article (6.8 miles). This is one of the highlights of the island life in the bay area which is true of port Aransas. Each route hugs Mustang Island’s western shoreline in Corpus Christi Bay, providing access to some of Texas’ top shallow-water fishing spots. According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) website, the Ashum Trail “allows for superb bird watching as well as sight casting possibilities” and “follows the shoreline of Corpus Christi Bay on a firm sand bottom.” The North Trail, which follows the coastline to East Flats and then meanders through marshes and spoils islands to the Island Moorings Marina in Port Aransas, is where the Shamrock Loop Trail borders the lovely, safe waters of Shamrock Cove. As you paddle by the sand dunes, keep an eye out for wading birds, shorebirds, mottled ducks, and creatures like raccoons, armadillos, and rabbits. If you want to try your hand at surf or wade fishing, you’ll see spotted seatrout, redfish, black drum, flounder, and more.

View of Aransas Pass and Inglside from the bridge across Redfish Bay

Beach Camp at Mustang Island

The Texas Parks Department maintains five miles of Texas coastline at Mustang Island State Park, which also provides overnight camping. This is the ideal location to get away for the weekend because of the mild air and temperate waters. The park offers some of the finest beaches some of which are close to Austin, Texas.

Just proceed to the Ranger Station after arriving at the entry to obtain your nighttime pass. Once acquired, there are signs pointing you in the direction of the 1.5 miles of shoreline where you can set up a tent. Simply drive along the beach until you choose the ideal location, then set up camp there. So that you can cook dinner and have somewhere to hang out once it gets dark, don’t forget to pack your firewood. You may see a stunning sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico in the morning. Since none of the sites can be reserved, if it’s the weekend, get there early to secure the best location.

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