One of the many luxuries the Valley has to offer is nature.
Whether you are a bird watcher or a bicyclist, or just looking for something to do in the Valley, the Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge has a lot to do and explore especially during the winter.
“It’s a great time of the year to come out to the refuge,” said Marion Mason, Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge park ranger.
The refuge is open daily and offers wildlife viewing areas near the visitor center, or visitors can drive to the freshwater lake and watch birds or alligators in the 3,000 acres.
There are also 60 miles of trails for hiking and bicycling.
To get to some of the birding hotspots further out, the refuge offers Bird Tours by bus.
“We have miles and miles of trails to come out and explore,” Mason said.
For bicycle enthusiasts, two open houses are scheduled at the Bahia Grande Unit. On Jan. 21 and Feb. 4, those registered will have a 5-mile caliche road to ride on and see the salt water bays.
Reservations are required and details will be provided upon registration.
Mason said a tram tour is a great way to learn about the wildlife and habitats of the area.
“Tram tours are a three hour excursion that takes visitors through the thornscrub forest, coastal prairie, freshwater wetlands and along the edge of the saltwater Laguna Madre,” Mason said. “A guide will interpret the habitats, the history and inform you about the wildlife of the area.”
Those interested in learning more about the refuge’s Bahia Grande Unit have several opportunities this winter.
“The refuge will offer guided tours of the area by bus on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays starting Feb. 2 through the end of March from 8:15 – 11:30 a.m.,” Mason said. “Reservations are required.”

By RAUL GARCIA Staff Writer