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Texas Tropical Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

Brownsville: Sabal Palm Sanctuary


Rabb Plantation, Photo by Sabal Palm Sanctuary

GREEN ANOLES, RIVERBOAT PLANTATION, AND THE LAST OF THE SABALS

The Sabal palmetto forests, composed of beautiful fan palms once growing prolifically along miles of the Rio Grande River corridor, created a unique sub-tropical ecosystem, making it one of the most biologically diverse regions in Texas. The palmetto habitat experienced a dramatic decline as development overwhelmed the Rio Grande Valley in the 1900s and, sadly, little of the original forest remains. But thanks to the Sabal Palm Sanctuary, a 557-acre preserve protecting the last of the Sabal palm forests, nature enthusiasts still have an opportunity to experience this rare ecosystem. The sanctuary, created by the Audubon Society and now operated by Brownsville's Gorgas Science Foundation, is located on the southern side of Brownsville and offers more than three miles of natures trails, wildlife viewing stations, a wheelchair-accessible observation deck, guided bird walks and history tours, presentations, workshops, and special events. The much-loved bird watching is now put into historic perspective with the restoration of the grand old Rabb Plantation mansion. Tours present the tie between the nature and cultural legacy relating the story of a Rio Grande Delta once lost and forgotten when riverboat trade was a few steps off the house porch. Want a preview of the bird watching experience at the sanctuary that may include spotting the Green Jay, the Chachalaca, the White-tipped Dove and other Lower Rio Grande Valley species? Then check out the sanctuary's live bird feeder cam on the sanctuary's website! It's a 24-hour window into one of Texas' most remarkable natural environments.

Rabb House tours are seasonal: Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. from September-October and April-May, or by request.


Location

  • 8435 Sabal Palm Rd.
  • Brownsville, Texas
  • 78521

Contact

Hours & Fees

  • Daily, 7 a.m.-5 p.m. 

  • Adults: $5.00, Children age 12 and under: $3.00, 


Map & Directions

From US 77/83 in Brownsville: Exit onto International Boulevard go East. After 3/4 mile, turn right onto Southmost Road (FM 1419). Continue on Southmost Road (FM 1419) for 6 miles; look for entrance sign on the right.


 

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Read more about the Texas palm in the Handbook of Texas Online.