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Aransas National Wildife Refuge Visitor Center
1 Wildlife Circle
77950 Austwell , TX
United States
28° 18' 48.4164" N, 96° 48' 14.4792" W
Texas US
Aransas National Wildife Refuge Visitor Center
1 Wildlife Circle
Austwell, TX, 77950
United States
Aransas National Wildlife Refuge
General Information

Aransas National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1937 to serve as “a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife…” and “…for use as an inviolate sanctuary, or for any other management purpose, for migratory birds…” The wildlife conservation mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ensures the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge will continue to conserve, protect and enhance these lands for the benefit of wildlife and the American people.

Visit Aransas National Wildlife Refuge!  Refuge trails and the auto tour loop are open seven days a week from 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset.  Please stop at the Visitor Center to pay your entrance fee (cash only).  If the Visitor Center is closed, a fee deposit box is located outside.

Visitor Center 

The Claude F. Lard Visitor Center is open Thursday through Sunday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. It is closed Monday through Wednesday as well as on Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

Refuge staff and volunteers are available to provide maps and checklists and let you know what's happening on the refuge.  Enjoy the exhibits and take part in the many wildlife programs offered. Check out some binoculars or a field guide for the day and stock up on nature-related items. Kids, be sure to pick up your adventure backpack for the day! 

The visitor center has restrooms open to the public.  Restrooms are also available at the picnic area and observation tower.

General Entrance Fees

18 years and under, entrance is free

$3 – one adult in a vehicle

$5 – two or more adults in a vehicle

$25 – commercial vehicle (van or bus) with up to 20 people

$50 – commercial vehicle with 21 or more people

Want to See Whooping Cranes?
The best time of year to see Whooping Cranes is from mid-October through mid-March. Watch for them feeding in the refuge’s marshes during daylight hours. Visitors can also enjoy seeing the birds from boat tours offered by private operators.

Enjoy, Explore and Learn
The refuge offers many exciting opportunities to get out and enjoy the refuge. Environmental education programs, special events and activities are hosted throughout the year so be sure to check our website’s Events Calendar for fun things to do. 

Come Prepared

To get the most out of your visit to the Aransas Refuge, make sure you are prepared.  Please note that you will need to bring your own food and drinks to the refuge.  A water fountain is available in the lobby. Fuel is not available at the refuge. Tivoli (14 miles) is the nearest town for fuel.

Hopper’s Landing is the closet place to camp and it is three miles north of the refuge’s main gate. It has cabins, RV sites and tent camping. Call 361-286-3331 for more information. Other nearby camping options include Gator’s RV Park & Cabins (Austwell) and the City of Austwell Park, which accommodates RV sites. Goose Island State Park is about 30 minutes from the refuge and offers RV sites and tent camping. 


From the South: Follow Highway 35N to the FM 774 exit. Turn right on FM 774 and go approximately 6 miles, winding through the farm fields. Turn right again on FM 2040. Drive another 6 miles to the Refuge gate. Go to the Visitor Center to register.

From the North: Travel south on Hwy 35 to Tivoli. Continue past Tivoli approximately 1 mile to the FM 239 exit (on your left). Follow FM 239 to Austwell.  Upon entering Austwell, FM 239 turns into FM 774 at the curve. Continue on FM 774. Follow 774 and take a right at the stop sign. At the end of the street, take a right again. As you exit Austwell, drive ½ mile to the FM 2040 intersection. Turn left on FM 2040 and drive 6 miles to the Refuge gate. Go to the Visitor Center to register. 

The GPS coordinates for the refuge’s main entrance are: 28.313449,-96.804022