There’s a lot to do in Choke Canyon State Park. So much, in fact, that you’ll be spoiled for choice. Different people will have their own opinions on what the park does best. The fishermen will tell you the lake is the best bit. Campers say that it’s all of the different options available to them. Wildlife lovers will say it’s the animals you can see, in particular the variety of birds.
The park sits west of I-37 between Corpus Christi and San Antonio in Three Rivers, so-called for being the merging point of the rivers Atascosa, Nueces, and Frio. The park was opened in 1981 on land leased from the federal bureau. Choke Canyon consists of the South Shore Unit and the Calihan Unit. These units are around 8 miles apart from each other.
Choke Canyon State Park plays host to a variety of wildlife. There’s plenty of white-tailed deer to go around with turkeys hiding among the underbrush. Don’t get too friendly with the animals though, particularly the alligators.
The plethora of birds to be seen is enough to impress anyone, whether they are a birdwatcher or not. There are over 200 different species of birds to be found in the campgrounds at the park. The area is the northernmost area where one can find birds that normally live in Mexico including falcons like the Crested Caracara. These blackbirds, sometimes called the Mexican Eagle, can be identified by their white necks and tails and the white patches on their wings.
Be sure to pack up your hiking gear if you are headed to the park. There are over 2 miles of hiking trails to enjoy. That might not sound like too much, but the wide variety of wildlife more than makeup for it. There are also a total of 55 campsites spread across the bluffs above the lake. There are 20 screened shelters that seem more like cabins than anything else. These not-cabins come with a fire ring, barbecue grill, picnic table, and a stunning lake view.
Choke Canyon State Park plays host to a range of fishing tournaments, retreats, group campouts, and reunions because it has a baseball field, tennis court, basketball court, gymnasium, and dining hall. The gymnasium in the park was actually once part of the local Calliham Community School.
The Calliham unit covers the front of the park. Once known as “Guffeyola”, the name was changed in honor of the rancher that owned the land. It’s here that you can get your tackle and groceries and enjoy other amenities.
South Shore Unit
Head to the South Shore Unit to see the wildlife and take in the views. The unit is home to two boat ramps and an observation pavilion. While you can enjoy the wildlife, visitors are not permitted access to the dam itself.
The Choke Canyon State Park is a year-round destination but the peak periods are the weekends. If you want to have a more private and intimate experience then go during the week when it’s pretty empty. Be sure to reserve the facilities ahead of time and enjoy your time at the park.