Padre Island National Seashore separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Laguna Madre, one of a few hypersaline lagoons in the world. It is the Longest Stretch of Undeveloped Barrier Island in The World
The park protects 70 miles of coastline, dunes, prairies, and wind tidal flats teeming with life. It is a safe nesting ground for the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle and a haven for 380 bird species.
Many other recreational and scenic attractions are found in Texas. There are tall pine forests in the eastern part of the state, rugged mountains and colorful deserts in the southwest, and interesting historic landmarks in such cities as San Antonio.
In about 350 places the Texas landscape has been altered with artificially created lakes. The lakes have greatly expanded the facilities for fishing and all kinds of other water sports.
Hunting is a popular seasonal sport in all parts of Texas, particularly in the central and southern sections, where deer and other wildlife abound. Boating, bathing, and deep-sea fishing draw large numbers of visitors to the winter resorts along the lower Gulf Coast.
Other winter vacation centers have been developed in the Lower Rio Grande Valley between Brownsville and Mission. These cities are gateways to Mexico, as are Laredo, Del Rio, and El Paso.
Noted for its rugged scenery and beautiful wild flowers, Big Bend National Park along the Rio Grande, is a major tourist attraction. A relatively recent addition to the national park system is Padre Island, a barrier island about about 110 mi long and linked by causeway with Corpus Christi. About about 80 mi of beach has been included in Padre Island National Seashore.
Another park is the Guadalupe Mountains National Park in the southwest. National recreation areas provide access to Amisdad Reservoir on the Río Grande and Lake Meredith on the Canadian River.
The National Park Service administers several important historic sites in Texas. The San Antonio Missions National Historical Park preserves four Spanish missions built during the 18th century. An important post in the l9th-century defensive system of West Texas is contained in the Fort Davis National Historic Site.
The Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park in Johnson City and Stonewall includes the birthplace, boyhood home, and ranch of Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th U.S. President.
Four national forests, Sabine, Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, and Angelina, all in eastern Texas, offer recreational facilities. Agencies of the federal government also administer a national preserve, five national grasslands, and 14 national wildlife refuges. Aransas-Matagorda Island National Wildlife Refuge, north of Rockport, is the winter home of the only flock of Canadian-nesting whooping cranes in the world.