In 1953, U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower and Mexican President Adolfo Ruiz Cortines jointly dedicated Falcon Dam. This huge dam along the Rio Grande soon created an 84,000-acre lake that serves both the people of Mexico and the United States. That kind of cross-cultural cooperation is fairly common in this part of Texas. That spirit is also what creates landmarks like Falcon State Park. It’s on the American side of the Rio Grande on the southwest shore of the Falcon International Reservoir.
All these years later, thousands of people still come to Falcon State Park every year. Many enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities in the year-round mild weather. Others simply relax near the water in the RVs.
An RV is definitely the way to go if you want to truly experience Falcon State Park. There is plenty of room to stow your fishing gear, the vehicle has plenty of power to tow your boat, and an RV is a nice way to experience outdoor camping without leaving all the comforts of home behind. That’s especially true in this park. It has over 100 parking spots with hookups for your rig.
Falcon State Park is between Laredo and McAllen, just off U.S. Highway 83. So, it's not more than a few hours drive from most of the major Texas population centers, but it’s also an isolated park where you can get away from it all.
Like pretty much all the other highways and byways in South Texas, Highway 83 is mostly straight and entirely flat. It’s also a wide and well-maintained road with two lanes and a service road in each direction, at least for most of the trip. Falcon Heights is the closest town, and with 55 residents as of the 2010 Census, “town” may not be the best description.
Inside Falcon State Park, there is one large parking area near the boat launch and another parking area near the main lakeside picnic area.
The park’s 130 RV parking sites are divided into two areas. Sites 101 through 131 have electrical and water hookups. The RV dump station is a short distance up the road near park headquarters. Sites 201 through 231 are full hookup RV sites with water, electricity, and sewer lines. Each section has its own restroom and shower area. When the outdoors beckon, each pull-through site (and they are all pull-through sites) has a fire ring and picnic table. So, RVers get the comforts of an RV and the back-to-nature feeling of a home-cooked meal over an open fire.
The Mexico/U.S. border basically cuts Falcon International Reservoir in half. Check with the park rangers before you venture over to the Mexican side, but you should be okay. There is lots of open water near the borderline, so it’s a great place for powered watercraft. Falcon State Park is basically on a peninsula. Most kayaks, canoes, and other unpowered craft stay around the inlet to the north or south of the park. The boat launch is near the RV campground between the two primitive campsites. There is lots of parking near the launch.
You do not need a license to fish from shore at Falcon State Park. You do not need fishing equipment either, because park rangers rent fishing equipment for free. There used to be lots of crappie and white bass in this lake, but the droughts around 2015 thinned this fish population. But that’s okay, because there are still lots and lots of catfish and largemouth bass. Catfish often lurk near rocks, trees, and other partially submerged shelters. Largemouth bass are plentiful in the spring, fall, and winter, but not so much in the summer. Use shrimp or stink bait for catfish, and try worms or spinners for largemouth bass. Some anglers also fish for alligators, but that’s not really our scene.
This area is a great place to get out of the camper and the South Texas sun for a few minutes. The Butterfly Garden has lots of live specimens as well as information about the butterflies, dragonflies, and other flying insects indigenous to the Lower Rio Grande Valley. The Recreation Hall is pretty nice as well. There’s a relaxing reading area with a small library and table games. If you’re lucky, you may be able to pick up free Wi-Fi from the nearby park headquarters. The snack bar offers a vast array of drinks and snacks, as well as some pretty good hamburgers, chili, and other cooked food. Finally, there’s a nice outdoor area with a basketball hoop, horseshoe pit, and covered picnic area. The snowbirds use this area as a community gathering place in the winter. If you don’t know what a snowbird is, ask someone who knows.
A three-mile hiking loop trail is divided into five sections. The complete trail makes a lasso around the RV campground and Butterfly Garden/Recreation Hall area. The trail is mostly flat because pretty much all of the Lower Rio Grande Valley is mostly flat. We especially recommend the Desert Trail portion of the loop trail. It’s the most isolated stretch of the trail, and it gives RV visitors a good chance to check out the diverse array of plant life at Falcon State Park. Honorable mention goes to the Verdin Trail portion of the loop trail. It’s almost as nice and closer to the snack bar.
The shoreline around Falcon International Reservoir is mostly sandy, which makes it a great place to look for buried treasure. You don’t need an eyepatch, a peg leg, or even a shovel. But you do need a pencil and some small rubber balls or other geocache swag. Look for small metal boxes which look like lunch boxes along the side of the trail or concealed along the shoreline. Uncover your booty, sign the register, replace the prize with a new one, and go to the next place where the metaphorical X marks the spot.
Most wildlife hibernate, or at least are rather dormant, during the winter. But “winter” is a relative term, especially this far south. There are lots of roadrunners, rabbits, and deer around the lake pretty much all year long. Watch out for javelinas. These little critters are not terribly dangerous, but they are rather aggressive and they will eat your food when you aren’t looking. In terms of birding, Falcon State Park is basically the northernmost tropical bird outpost. Expect to see lots of small green kingfishers and other rare birds. So don't forget to pack your binoculars in your rig.