Sea Rim State Park enjoying rebirth on the upper coast
AUSTIN, TX (TPWD) — Sea Rim State Park on the upper Texas coast has been reborn after being battered and inundated by two hurricanes in the past decade and now sports a host of improvements to enhance the visitor experience.
State and local officials gathered today to celebrate the grand reopening of the 4,100-acre state park that has been rebuilt and revitalized with the construction of a new dune boardwalk with rinse showers, a beachside campground with vault restrooms, new day-use area and a six-person cabin overlooking the marsh. The improvements mark the completion of Phase I of Sea Rim State Park’s redevelopment funded in part by $2 million approved by the 81st Legislature to aid in its recovery.
“Sea Rim is a unique state treasure rich in cultural and natural resources where the lush marsh grasses meet the gulf waters and visitors can truly get away from it all,” says Justin Rhodes, Texas State Parks regional director. “We want all Texans and others to rediscover a sliver of Texas beach in its unfettered state that teems with wildlife and offers a variety of recreational opportunities.”
The park, which reopened in 2009 with limited services after being hammered in 2005 by Hurricane Rita and in 2008 by Hurricane Ike, encompasses two units split by State Highway 87. The Beach unit draws sun lovers to 5.2 miles of beachfront, while the expansive Marsh unit attracts legions of kayakers, birders, crabbers, anglers and hunters. It is on the edge of the sprawling marshland crisscrossed by more than 16 miles of paddling trails that a new heated and air-conditioned cabin can be rented for $95 a night.
On the park’s beach side, visitors can rent one of the 15 new full-service campsites or opt for primitive beach camping. A new day use area with picnic tables and shade shelters was erected with the assistance of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. The Texas Department of Transportation provided funding for new roads, a parking area and beach access.
Sea Rim State Park, which first opened to the public in 1977, derives its name from the portion of the Gulf of Mexico shoreline where inland mud flats and tidal marshes meet the sea. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department originally purchased the coastal property in 1972 from the Plant Oil and Mineral Corporation and Horizon Sales Corporation.
The park provides an ideal place for the public to view a variety of mammals, waterfowl and fish, as well as the American alligator. One of the best ways to get a close-up view of the gators, fish, turtles, frogs and ducks and other waterfowl is by strolling the elevated, three-quarter mile Gambusia Nature Trail boardwalk winding through the marsh abutting the beach.
Visitors who seek out this somewhat remote state park not far from the Louisiana line, accessible only by traversing highways south of Port Arthur and west of Sabine Pass, are rewarded with solitude, plentiful wildlife and a chance to camp, beachcomb and sunbathe on more than five miles of Texas beach in its mostly natural state. Though vehicles are allowed to access the beach, there is one stretch closed to motorized traffic.
A dune fencing restoration project, made possible by $187,000 in Deepwater Horizon restoration funds, is under way at Sea Rim. TPWD is awaiting final approval of an additional $210,000 in restoration funds to build a new comfort station, Fence Lake viewing platform, Willow Pond boardwalk and fish cleaning shelter.
As additional funds become available, Phase II of the park’s redevelopment master plan will be implemented. The second phase of the park’s master plan calls for construction of a permanent park headquarters, restrooms with showers in the Piping Plover camping loop and elevated tent platforms overlooking the gulf.
Sea Rim State Park is located roughly 10 miles west of Sabine Pass on State Highway 87. The entry fee for persons 13 and older is $3. For more information, call (409) 971-2559 or visit: www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/sea-rim.