Located just 10 miles northeast of Rockport, Texas, Goose Island State Park is a veritable natural oasis unlike any other in the state. Guests can park their RVs almost right on the shore of Aransas Bay off the Gulf of Mexico year-round, although the busiest months are between early May and late September.
Things to do in Goose Island Park include hiking, birdwatching, educational programs, and fishing. There are even fish cleaning stations to clean off the catch of the day. Guests who plan to travel with the whole family will love playing on the playground, boating on the lake, biking, and watching wildlife, in addition to beach-side camping. Be aware that swimming is not recommended within the park due to marshy shorelines and concrete bulkheads that make entering the lake difficult and dangerous.
Don't forget to check out "Big Tree," one of the oldest live oak trees in the United States with a trunk that boasts an impressive 11-foot wide diameter. Afterward, retire to the RV for a night of peaceful sleeping to the sounds of waves crashing against the shore. Goose Island State Park offers both premium and basic campsites that are suitable for the whole family. Just be sure to purchase a Texas State Park Pass before heading into the park in order to avoid the daily entrance fee. Campers who are short on time or forget to purchase a Parks Pass can still gain entrance to the park by paying a small entrance fee, and any children who are 12 years old or younger can enter the park for free.
The park itself is fairly easy to find, located just 10 miles northeast of Rockport, Texas and 42 miles from Corpus Christi. However, the roads within the park are a little narrow, and visitors have reported some low-hanging branches. Some of these conditions will change depending on the season. But, if visitors drive slowly and cautiously, they shouldn't have any problems, even in an RV. The campsites themselves are spacious and shouldn't pose any problems when parking the RV.
Once the RV is all hooked up, there really isn't a need for a secondary car while staying at Goose Island State Park. The park is fairly small and the trails can take guests anywhere they need to go. It's also easy to get around on bike since most of the trails are paved and easy to follow. However, visitors who plan to also spend time doing activities on the mainland may find that a secondary car is helpful for going back and forth between the island and the coast.
Several parking lots are available throughout the park, both near each campground and the beach, so parking shouldn't be a problem for those who do decide to bring an extra car.
The modern Port Lavaca/Matagorda KOA campground is located on the waterfront of the Texas Central Coast midway between Corpus and Galveston. Animal lovers will enjoy visiting the Port Lavaca Bird Sanctuary and the Texas Zoo. Sites include full hookups with electric, water, sewer, and Wi-Fi. Picnic tables, fire pits, and grills are also available at select sites. The campground features restrooms and hot showers, laundry facilities, fishing (bait available) as well as a fish cleaning table, store, vending machines, playground, horseshoe pit, and a dog walk.
There are 57 standard campsites located in the Wooded Area Campground. Shaded by large oak trees, these campsites are available by reservation only and come equipped with water and electric hookups. Additionally, each campground has a picnic table, grill, and fire ring. Restrooms can be found in the center of the campground. These campsites are more spacious than the ones in the Bayfront Area and are more secluded with dense trees separating each campground from the other lots. A maintenance area is also available near the wooded area campsites in case something acts up. Pets are allowed in this campground; however, per Texas State Park rules, they must be kept on a leash at all times.
There are 44 campsites on the bayfront that give campers a great view of the water. A few of the sites are located across the road from the bay, but the majority of the sites are located right on the water's edge. These campsites come equipped with water and electric hookups. Guests can cook up delicious grub on the grill or sit down for a relaxing meal under the provided shade shelter or at the picnic table right at the campsite. Be aware that ground fires are prohibited on the bayfront campsites.
Restrooms are just a short walk away and come with hot showers available for all campers. Pets are allowed in this campground; however, per Texas State Park rules, they must be kept on a leash at all times. These campsites offer unparalleled views of the beach and local wildlife, and campers can fish right from their campsites.
For guests who forgot to make a reservation or who arrive a little late, there is an overflow campsite available. These spots are non-reservable and are located in a parking area. Because of their location, these sites do not come with hookups of any kind. Tent camping is not permitted here.
For guests who favor spending a night out under the stars, there are 25 tent-only campsites available by reservation only. These campsites are located up to 150 yards away from the Wooded Area Campground and are in an area of the park that does not allow vehicles, so guests will be required to walk in all of their equipment and supplies. These campsites come equipped with water hookups and include a grill, picnic table, and a fire ring. Pets are allowed in this campground; however, per Texas State Park rules, they must be kept on a leash at all times.
With so many opportunities to learn and plenty of space to spread out and have fun, Goose Island State Park is a popular destination for youth groups. This campground is a half-acre lot and is specially designed for group camping. The campsite comes equipped with water hookups, nine parking spots, a covered pavilion, nearby restrooms with showers, and a large group fire ring as well as two regular fire rings and two grills. The maximum capacity for this campsite is 64 campers.
Guided nature walks are available year-round and are a great way to learn more about the wildlife on Goose Island. The guided walks mostly focus on the various species of birds that call the island home. With over 300 species of birds confirmed to be living in Goose Island State Park, there's always something new to learn. The walks are suitable for the whole family since the terrain is relatively flat and not too rough for kids.
Perhaps Goose Island State Park's biggest celebrity, "Big Tree" is exactly what it sounds like — a big tree. Visitors come from all over the country to see "Big Tree," whose roots have been in the ground for over 1,000 years. Its thick trunk and winding branches are unique and whimsical enough to leave viewers in awe. This ancient live oak has a trunk diameter of 11 feet and is estimated to be around 44 feet high. It is a natural wonder that campers will not want to miss, so don't take the RV out of the park without making a special stop at "Big Tree."
A roofed picnic area is available near the shore of St. Charles Bay. It is a great place to enjoy a meal with the family while catching views of the wildlife in the bay. Many birds are commonly seen in this area, but be sure not to feed them and to always clean up the picnic area after every meal. The picnic area is available on a first-come, first-served basis, so make sure to get there early.
If the beach is too crowded, guests can explore the several miles of trails that wind their way through Goose Island State Park. The trails are easy to navigate and mostly paved, which means they are the perfect way for family members of all ages to explore nature and observe native wildlife. However, be aware that there are also several unpaved trails such as the half-mile Turks Cap Trail that will lead guests even deeper into the woods, but they are not too difficult for beginner-level hikers.
The waters of the bay are overflowing with marine life, including flounder, redfish, speckled trout, and other sea creatures. Campers who have a bay-front site can fish right from their campsite. Other visitors will have plenty of room to spread out along the 1,620-foot long fishing pier. Fishermen can bring their own gear or rent gear from the nearby tackle loaner site.
Be aware that a fishing license is required in order to fish inside the park. If you can't get enough of fishing, you can head to Lake Corpus Christi State Park, which is just over an hour away, boasting a lake that covers over 21,000 acres.
With a canoe and kayak launch area that operates all day long, guests will have plenty of opportunities to hit the open waters and enjoy an afternoon of kayaking on the bay. Visitors will need to bring their own boats as there are no rental sites available within the park. Enjoy the fresh air and keep a sharp eye out for alligators that might be sunbathing near the shore.