With its bountiful lakes, rivers and resacas, beaches, nature refuges and state parks, experiencing the great outdoors in the Rio Grande Valley can be as easy as walking out your backdoor. And thanks to the temperate climate, Deep South Texas offers something for everyone almost any time of the year – whether you’re an active outdoorsman or just sitting in the stands cheering on your favorite professional sports team.
If you love the outdoors and fishing’s your thing, South Padre Island is the Valley’s gateway to the Gulf of Mexico, and just a few miles offshore you can catch your fill of red snapper. Or travel more than 50 miles into the open Gulf and try your hand at snagging big game fish like marlin, tarpon, sailfish, amberjack or tuna. Up the coast several miles sits Port Mansfield, one of the least populated, but most popular, fishing destinations in the country. It offers shore casting, public pier and drift fishing, as well as guide boats for the deep-sea angler. And lying in between Padre Island and the Texas coast is one of the most unspoiled and environmentally unique bay systems in the U.S. – the Laguna Madre, where speckled trout, flounder and redfish are plentiful. For freshwater fishing, set your boat onto Falcon Lake, nationally known for its bass fishing.
Hunters, too, flock to the South Texas borderland, which is a premier destination for white-winged dove hunting. There is some hunting on public lands. For instance, the Lower Rio Grande Valley Wildlife Refuge has approximately 3,500 acres open to dove hunting and 12,500 acres for big game hunting. The LRGVWR also conducts seasonal shotgun and archery hunts for white-tailed deer, wild turkey and javelina. Another option is to search out a private ranch. Several ranch owners offer hunting leases. To find one, do an Internet search, call your Chamber of Commerce or visit a local gun store and ask the guy behind the counter. If it’s waterfowl you’re after, those who know say head to the Laguna Madre. Guides are available for a moderate price.
Professional sports are on the rise in Deep South Texas. And, once again, the Valley has something to offer almost all year-round, whether it’s baseball, basketball, football or hockey. The Valley is home to three professional baseball teams – the Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings, the Edinburg Roadrunners and the newest franchise, the McAllen Thunder. All are part of the AA Independent North American League. The season runs from late May through early September.
If you’re a basketball fan you’ll want to root for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. The Vipers are the Development League team for the Houston Rockets, so there’s a good chance you’ll catch a rising star. The Vipers took home the D-League championship trophy just two years after the team was founded in 2007. You can catch the Vipers at State Farm Arena in Hidalgo.
And don’t think the Rio Grande Valley is too far south for hockey. State Farm Arena is also home to the Killer Bees, part of the Central Hockey League. A two-time CHL franchise of the year, the Killer Bees are affiliated with the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL and the Florida Panthers of the NHL.
But the action doesn’t stop there. When the Vipers and Killer Bees stop playing, indoor football takes over State Farm Arena with the Rio Grande Valley Magic. The Magic play an 11-game season as part of the Lone Star Football League.
Five semi-professional teams are proud to call the Rio Grande Valley home. Arena football, baseball, basketball and hockey – we have it all! Fans can watch their favorite teams indoors at the State Farm Arena or outdoors at the Edinburg Stadium or Harlingen Stadium – it’s sports season in the Valley every month of the year!
Arena Football/Rio Grande Valley Magic
LoneStar Football League. All home games played at State Farm Arena in Hidalgo. (956) 630-5425. www.hometeamsonline.com
North American League Baseball. All home games played at the Edinburg Baseball Stadium, May-August. (956) 380-4446. www.roadrunnerball.com
North American League Baseball. All home games played at Edinburg Baseball Stadium. May-Aug. (956) 380-6256 www.mcallenthunder.com
Baseball/Rio Grande Valley Whitewings
North American League Baseball. All home games played at the Harlingen Stadium, May-August. (956) 423-9464. www.whitewingsbaseball.com
Basketball/Rio Grande Valley Vipers
2010 NBA Development League Champions. All home games played at the State Farm Arena in Hidalgo, November-April. (956) 748-6223. www.nba.com/dleague/riograndevalley
Hockey/Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees
2008-09 Central Hockey League Franchise of the Year. All home games played at the State Farm Arena in Hidalgo, October-March. (956) 843-7825. www.killerbeehockey.com