Buffalo Bayou consists of normally dry reservoirs, and is located on the west side of the City of Houston, Texas. The Buffalo Bayou contains the largest municipal park in the U.S., which provides numerous recreational opportunities for visitors and local residents, including golf, hiking, sports fields, equestrian trails, shooting ranges, model aircraft flying, a cycling velodrome, and picnic sites.
The reservoirs are part of the US Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo Bayou Project, which includes the Addicks Dam completed in 1948, and the Barker Dam completed in 1945. The dams were constructed to provide flood control along the Buffalo Bayou waterway. Both dam sites have visitors centers that are managed by the Corps of Engineers. The Addicks Dam area has a bike and multipurpose trail, and the Barker Dam Area has a picnic area, bike trail, equestrian trail, and multipurpose trail.
Other recreation areas around Buffalo Bayou reservoirs include Bayou Rifles - Addicks, Bear Creek- Pioneer Park, and Cullen Park, which all have picnic sites, trails, and playgrounds. Cinco Ranch Park has showers, hiking trails, and a playground, and George Bush - Barker Park has shower facilities, picnic areas, a playground, and trails. There is overnight camping at the Stephen F. Austin State Park, 45 minutes to the west, and visitors to the area can also access the Huntsville State Park, just under a two-hour drive north. Explore the area in an RV which you can find at Houston RV Rentals.
The dry reservoirs, large municipal parks, Addicks Dam and Visitor Center, and Baker Dam and Visitors Center are all located near the intersection of the I-10 and State Highway 6 on the upper watershed of the Buffalo Bayou on the west side of Houston, Texas.
The parks and recreation areas have paved roads and large paved parking areas. However, this busy municipal park area may not have room for parking RVs and tow vehicles, especially during the peak season when the park is heavily used. Heavy traffic in the metropolitan Houston area can also be difficult to negotiate with a large RV or trailer. Be sure you know your route well to avoid the need to backtrack or turn around in this busy urban area.
Traveling to the park early in the day may mean less traffic and more room in parking areas. Visitors with RVs and trailers may opt to park their vehicles at overnight camping spots and travel in single-family vehicles to Buffalo Bayou for convenience.
To reach Stephen F. Austin Park, take the I-10 west from Houston for about 45 minutes to get to the campground. The park has a few tight turns and narrow roads, so take it slow. Also, the Brazos River can flood and affect road access in the park, so check conditions after severe storms.
The Stephen F. Austin State Park campground is directly west of Buffalo Bayou, on Interstate 10, about 45 minutes from the dams and recreation areas. This campground has 39 campsites with full hookups, 25 water and electric hookup sites, 39 primitive campsites, a cabin, group campsites, group hall, and screened picnic shelters. There are hot showers, flush toilets, and an RV dump station.
The campground books up well in advance, so make reservations early. Nearby you will find a golf course and a museum. There are no waterfront sites. However, sites are near the water, and an extensive trail system that connects to the campground will take you to sites around the state park and provide excellent bird and wildlife watching opportunities.
Park rangers provided guided tours to point out the natural and historical features in the state park. Some of the trails are hard-surfaced, allowing for travel by bicycle. Each site has a picnic table and fire pit, and pets are permitted but must remain on a leash.
The Millie Buck Bark Park located in George Bush Park at the Barker Reservoir, and the Bill Archer Dog Park, located at the Addicks Reservoir, provide off-leash fun for your canine companion, with great amenities for people and pets. The Millie Buck Dog Park is a vast, 13 acre, double-gated and fenced dog park, supplied with pick up bags.
The park has large and small dog areas that even have doggie fire hydrants, as well as doggie swimming pools, showers, water fountains, shady areas, walking paths and benches. A picnic area and restrooms are just outside the fenced dog area. The Bill Archer Dog Park is also a fenced off-leash park, with agility equipment, a pond, shade and benches, and a separate area for small dogs. These park areas are a dog lovers paradise, so take your pet for some play while staying in the area. During the offseason, the dog parks may be less crowded, which means more room for your pet to romp!
While Houston summers are notorious for being hot, hot, hot, the cooler offseason is still warm enough to enjoy the great outdoors, without having to take precautions against heat-related illnesses. The recreation areas at Buffalo Bayou are laced with hiking and multi-use trails, miles of them in fact!
Be aware that cyclists and equestrians also use the trails so keep a sharp eye out for faster-moving traffic on two wheels or four legs. Pack plenty of water for your trek, and enjoy the beautiful parks and recreation areas at the reservoirs.
There is a shooting range located at George Bush Park near the Barker Reservoir. This shooting center is located on 563 acres, has a rifle and pistol range with over 200 positions, a “Varmint Village”, steel plinking targets, and a trap and skeet range. With trap fields and a wobble field, an NSCA 5-Stan field, and manual clay target thrower, there's lots to enjoy.
Whether you're just new to shooting or a competition shooter you'll be accommodated at this large shooting facility. A pro and ammo shop is located on-site, and the center offers lessons, tournaments, events, and training.
Want to engage in some fun group activities while visiting Buffalo Bayou? There are many amenities to help you out. Get a group together and take advantage of the sports facilities at the park which include horseshoe pits, tennis and bocce ball courts, as well as soccer, football, and softball fields. Some facilities may require reservations. Contact them at Bear Creek-Pioneer Park for more information.
Bring along a group of friends or family and your own equipment to play on the courts or fields. There are also restroom facilities, parking areas, playgrounds, and picnic sites nearby for visitors to use while playing hard in the park!
The Alkek Velodrome sits in Cullen Park near the Buffalo Bayou and attracts competitive cyclists to the region. Access to the velodrome is limited to members and organizations, or visitors who participate in a new riders program and can then take part in Friday night racing or open sessions.
The parks and recreation areas around Buffalo Bayou also have multiple multi-use and cycling trails for bicycle enthusiasts to cruise! Bring your own bike or rent one at a nearby private bike shop, or use one of the rideshare bikes available in the area for a scenic ride on the trails. Watch out for hikers and equestrians who also use the trails.
There is a golf course located on the northwest side of Bear Creek - Pioneer Park by the Buffalo Bayou recreation areas. It features a par 72 course with no water hazards, measuring 6562 yards, that is appropriate for both experienced and new players.
They also have a course recommended for novice players that is 5295 yards of loose fairways and moguled greens, with eight par 3 holes. Equipment rentals, reservations for games, lessons, and on-site amenities are available. Enjoy a round while visiting the area. Pack lots of water as hot Houston weather can make even a leisurely round of golf dehydrating!