Sabal Palm Sanctuary

Top choice in Rio Grande Valley

The only palm tree native to Texas grows at this 557-acre sanctuary, operated by a foundation for the National Audubon Society. It sits in a bend of the Rio Grande River with one of the few groves never to have been plowed up. It's a lush, beautiful and peaceful place with excellent nature hikes.

A highlight is the Rabb Plantation House, the 1892 Victorian mansion of the original plantation owner and now the park visitors center, from which the 5 miles of nature trails radiate. The 1.1-mile Resaca Loop trail is a highlight.

Sabal palms reach 20ft to 48ft high and have feathery crowns and thick, bristly trunks. They once lined the Rio Grande, covering an area of nearly 63 sq miles. In the past 150 years, most have been cut down, first by early settlers who needed lumber and later by those clearing land for agriculture.

The preserve is 6 miles east of Brownsville off FM 1419 (also called Southmost Rd).

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