Galveston Island State Park

Table of Contents

Key Information About Galveston Island State Park

Contact Info

+1 409-737-1222


14901 FM3005, Galveston, TX 77554, United States


$5 Per person 13 years and older.


7 am- 10 pm

About Galveston Island State Park

The beach, gulf, and bay can all be enjoyed at Galveston Island State Park. Many visitors come to the park to spend time on the beach and to camp.

While it is obvious to any visitor that the park’s 2000 acres are surrounded by more developed lands on the east and the boardwalk leading from the parking lot to the Gulf Beach on the west, few people realise that the park is an oasis of undeveloped barrier island habitats. These natural areas are important for conservation because they attract a diverse range of bird species, particularly during the spring and fall bird migrations. Whether you come to the park to fish, swim, sunbathe, picnic, birdwatch, or camp, you can unwind and enjoy the relaxing surroundings found along Galveston Island’s Gulf and Galveston Bay shorelines.

Galveston Island State Park's Facilities

There are screened shelters, campsites with water and electricity (premium sites are available), campsites with water and electricity in a group trailer area with a pavilion, restrooms with showers, outdoor showers, picnic sites, a fish-cleaning shelter, an interpretive centre, a self-guiding nature/interpretive trail, a Texas State Park Store, and 4 miles of multi-use trails for hiking and mountain biking.

Galveston Island State park In-Season Activities

Picnicking at Galveston Island State Park:

A lovely picnic area can be found near the beach parking area. A picnic is the ideal way to spend a day at the beach, allowing both children and adults to enjoy swimming in the sea and searching for shells and other trinkets. Because shade is scarce in the park, bring a beach umbrella and sunscreen. There is also a picnic shelter near the Oak Bayou parking area that will provide you with some shade.

Galveston Island State Park Geocaching:

This is a fun activity for almost everyone. Find little troves of “buried treasure” using your GPS-enabled device. The tiny metal boxes are typically filled with pencil erasers or other small toys. Find the cache and open the box, replace the geocache swag with something new, make a virtual smiley face, and move on to the next location. Keep in mind to leave the cache in the same condition you found it in so that others can enjoy it after you.

Paddling on Island State Park:

The breakwater keeps the inland waters nearly glass-table calm, making them ideal for canoeing or kayaking. Some people fish from their boats, while others paddle along one of the three main paddling trails: Dana Cove, Jenkins Bayou, or Oak Bayou. The length and difficulty of these trails range from 2.8 to 4.2 miles. Oak Bayou is undoubtedly the most difficult trail, with a cutoff at about the 0.5-mile mark. Because the park does not rent canoes or kayaks, you must bring your own or look for rental options outside the park.

Fishing in Island State Park:

Beach fishing is available for park visitors, and the best saltwater fishing spots are Como Lake, the Butterlowe Bayou boardwalk, Oak Bayou, and Jenkins Bayou. If you prefer freshwater fishing, there is a pond near Highway 3005 where you can do so. Beach, wade, and bayside saltwater anglers typically catch something from the Texas Triumvirate of flounder, redfish, and speckled trout. To fish from shore, you do not need a licence, and you do not even need to bring your own equipment. Loaners are available at the park’s headquarters/gift shop on the beach.

Swimming and the beach:

Galveston Island State Park has a beautiful wide stretch of beach for you to enjoy. The beach overlooks the Gulf of Mexico, and the water is refreshing, especially on a hot summer day. There are no lifeguards on duty, so keep an eye out for undercurrents further out from shore and jellyfish in warm water. A protective seawall runs the entire length of the island, but there are four beach access points. The beaches on Galveston Island are mostly tabletop flat and sandy, with a few rocks thrown in for good measure. After your beach adventure, you can clean up with the nearby rinse showers.

Galveston Island State Park Off-Season Activities

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Birding View:

A birding blind is located along the Duck Lake trail and provides an excellent opportunity to see ducks, freshwater birds, and other animals that visit the pond to drink. Pay attention to the bayside salt marshes and less-crowded beach areas to see the most and best variety of birds. Visit during the fall or spring migratory seasons. Because much of the surrounding habitat has dwindled over time, the park is an important resource for a variety of bird species. You can keep track of how many different birds you see by printing out a checklist.

Observation Deck:

Within the park, there are two observation towers, both along the banks of Butterowe Bayou. To be sure, it’s more of an observation platform. But, because everything is so flat around here, it’s more than enough to see for miles and miles. The observation towers are an excellent place to watch sunsets and sunrises, and will provide you with the perfect backdrop for a stunning photograph, so bring your camera in your camping trailer. The observation tower also provides an excellent vantage point for stargazing.

Programs from Rangers:

When you visit the park, look into the free ranger programmes available. The park’s rangers have a great time presenting various programmes and outings to campers and visitors. Animal and nature programmes, star parties, moonlight hikes, paddling tours, beach tours, art programmes, and much more will be available. You can stop by the nature centre to see if any programmes or outings are scheduled during your visit to the park.

Set out on a hike with a free Junior Ranger Explorer Pack. The kit includes a journal with fun challenges and interesting nature tips, as well as tools such as a magnifying glass, binoculars, an animal tracking key, and nature guides. Ranger programmes teach children and adults about nature and the outdoors in a fun and engaging way.

Observation of Nature and Wildlife:

Only in places like Galveston Beach do such diverse ecosystems coexist. Beaches aren’t just for recreation; they also protect inland areas from storms and surf. Marsh rabbits, raccoons, and even armadillos frequent the prairie lands, while saltwater lagoons and marshes provide many sea creatures with the peaceful breeding grounds they require. More information is available from the rangers, who also offer a beach programme to explain how the various ecosystems interact.

Hiking and cycling:

There are four miles of trails available for hiking and biking at Galveston Island State Park. These trails pass through a variety of habitats, including wetlands, salt flats, and beach areas. Their distances range between 0.4 and 1.4 miles. You’ll get a firsthand look at the state’s long-running wetlands restoration project along one of the trails. Every time a tropical storm passes through, the project is restarted.

There is very little shade throughout the park, so bring a hat and water with you. The trails can become muddy after a light rain, so wearing hiking boots will make the walk more enjoyable.

Galveston Island State Park Camping

Cabins in Galveston Island State Park:

Ranch House Cabin or Stewart House Cabin are options for campers looking for something a little more comfortable and luxurious. Both are ADA-compliant and have three large bedrooms that can sleep up to six people. When staying in either of the cabins, visitors will have access to amenities such as ceiling fans, a full kitchen, a washer and dryer, central heat and air, a furnished living area, and two full bathrooms. Unfortunately, pets are not permitted in the cabins. The cabins are next to each other and have stunning views of Cosmo Lake.

Beachside Campground:

The Beachside campground has 27 back-in water and electric hookup sites divided into three loops along the beach. Campers in the second loop will need to use the restrooms and showers located in the first and third loops. These sites are appropriate for both RVers and tent campers, and each has a sheltered picnic table, fire ring, and lantern pole.

Each site can accommodate a maximum of eight people. You can bring your pets to the beachside campground because the sites are pet-friendly. There is also a dump station. Camping at the beachside camping area will provide you with spectacular sunrise views across the ocean.

RV Campsites on the Bay:

The Bayside RV park has 20 RV sites with water and 30- or 50-amp electric hookups. Each site has its own picnic table, as well as shared fire pits, a group pavilion, restroom and shower facilities, a fish cleaning station, and a dump station. Each campsite, like the others, can accommodate up to eight people. RVers can also bring their pets because this is a pet-friendly campground. While you can enjoy beautiful bay views, you’ll still be less than two miles from the beach.

Paddling Trail at Galveston Island State Park:

The trail, as the name suggests, is located in the waters surrounding Galveston Island State Park. Because most trails are protected by breakwaters, the water is usually calm and ideal for paddling. Paddlers can choose between three trails ranging in length from 2.6 to 4.8 miles.

The park has three different put-in/take-out points for the three different trails.

The 2.6-mile Dana Cove (Lake Como) trail begins at the end of the main park road and continues through the recolonized seagrass beds behind geotextile breakwaters.

The 4.8-mile Oak Bayou Trail is accessible from the main park road and features the terrace restoration area as well as natural high marsh areas.

The 2.8-mile Jenkins Bayou trail starts at the western end of Clapper Rail Road and leads paddlers along the bayou to the marsh restoration terrace field.

Kayaks and canoes are not available for rent at the park. You must supply your own. Artist Boat offers kayaking adventures at the park on a regular basis.

Travel ways to Galveston Island State Park


The park is a short drive from the coastal city of Galveston. It is only a 12.7-mile drive from the park, so you can get anything you need there during your visit. Once you pass through Galveston, the drive to the park is breathtaking, with lush green and suburban areas on your right and the big blue Gulf of Mexico on your left. The road is wide enough for RVers with large rigs to navigate.

RVers travelling to the park via Galveston won’t encounter any height restrictions or roadblocks. Once inside the park, the road remains paved but narrows to a single lane. Because the park is not overly large, you can park your vehicle and then continue on foot or by bike.

Parking on Galveston Island State Park:

Parking is available near the freshwater fishing areas, the Observation Tower, and Oak Bayou on the beach. You’ll have several options for parking your RV, but if you’re staying in a campground, the obvious choice is to set up camp and head out from there.

Transportation by Public

History of Galveston Island State Park

Galveston Island is thought to be 5000 years old and has had an interesting history over the last 500 years. It is widely assumed that Cabeza de Vaca and his crew were shipwrecked here in 1520 and eventually made their way from the island to Mexican colonies. Fleeing the prosecution of pirates in the United States, the LaFitte brothers established a government here in 1817, with visions of creating a “Manhattan on the Gulf.” Commerce thrived here, but major storms in 1867, 1871, 1875, and 1886 slowed progress significantly. The great storm of 1900 devastated the island, killing 5000 to 10,000 people and inspiring the construction of the seawall that protects the island’s northern half.

The Galveston Wetlands Project, the largest wetland restoration project ever undertaken in a Texas state park, has been chosen to receive a Coastal America Partnership Award.

The sand dunes at Galveston Island State Park were destroyed by Tropical Storm Frances on September 10, 1998. The dunes are the park’s only form of protection for its facilities. A project was launched to rebuild the dunes using Christmas trees.

Galveston Island State Park's Best Trails

Looking for the best trails in Galveston Island State Park for a challenging hike or a family outing? AllTrails has 6 excellent hiking trails, biking trails, running trails, and other activities. Enjoy hand-curated trail maps, as well as reviews and photos from other nature enthusiasts.

Are you prepared for your next hike or bike ride? Explore one of Galveston Island State Park’s five easy hiking trails, which are suitable for the entire family. Looking for a more challenging hike? We’ve got you covered with trails ranging in elevation gain from 0 to 4 metres. Whatever you have planned for the day, Galveston Island State Park has the perfect trail for you.

Fees for entrance 

Adult: $5 per day;

Children 12 and Under: Free

Trail at Galveston Island State Park:

Discover this 3.5-kilometer loop trail near Galveston, Texas. It takes an average of 46 minutes to complete this route, which is generally regarded as easy. Although this is a popular trail for birding, hiking, and walking, you can still find solitude during quieter times of day. The trail is open all year and is a beautiful place to visit at any time. Dogs are permitted but must be kept on a leash.

3.5 km in length

Route type Loop

Elevation gain 4 m

Caracara Trail Loop and Clapper Rail Trail

This 1.8-kilometer loop trail near Galveston, Texas, is a must-see. It takes an average of 23 minutes to complete this moderately difficult route. This trail is excellent for bird watching, hiking, and walking.

Route length 1.8 km

Elevation gain 1 m

Route type Loop

Loop Trail from Prairie to Freshwater Pond

Learn about this 3.7-kilometer loop trail near Galveston, Texas. It takes an average of 47 minutes to complete this route, which is generally regarded as easy. This trail is ideal for birding, hiking, and walking, and you won’t see many other people while exploring. The trail is open all year and is a beautiful place to visit at any time.

Route length 3.7 km

Elevation gain 0 m

Route type Loop

Clapper Rail Trail leads to Egret Loop, which leads to Heron's Walk Trail

Explore this 4.2-kilometer loop trail near Galveston, Texas. It takes an average of 54 minutes to complete this route, which is generally regarded as easy. This is a popular trail for birding, hiking, and trail running, but you can still find some peace and quiet during the day.

Route length 4.2 km

Elevation gain 3 m

Route type Loop

Galveston Island State Park's Duck Lake Trail

Take a look at this 0.6-kilometer out-and-back trail near Galveston, Texas. It takes an average of 8 minutes to complete this route, which is generally regarded as easy. This trail is excellent for bird watching, hiking, and walking.

0.6 km in length

0 m elevation gain

Out and back route

Galveston Island State Park's Jenkins Trail

Explore this 1.8-kilometer loop trail near Galveston, Texas. It takes an average of 23 minutes to complete this route, which is generally regarded as easy. Although this is a popular trail for birding, fishing, and hiking, you can still find solitude during the quieter hours of the day. Dogs are permitted but must be kept on a leash.

Route length 1.8 km

Elevation gain 1 m

Route type Loop

Galveston Island State Park Map:

202 S. Palmetto St. Rockport, TX 78382-7965