You will also find a wealth of natural beauty and outdoor activities in Bay City. The Colorado River flows through Bay City, and Matagorda Beach on the Gulf of Mexico is just 25 miles to the south. In between and all around Bay City are parks, waterways and other natural areas that make Bay City truly "the gateway to the great outdoors" of south Texas.
One way to get up close and personal with nature here is to kayak or canoe some of the many waterways that thread the area. Float down the Colorado River past quiet fields of rice and cattle grazing in the sun all the way to where the river meets the Gulf. Along Caney Creek, visitors enjoy tree-lined banks that shade the water below, offering glimpses of woodland bird species. In and among the saltwater marshes near the coast, visitors savor the solitude and enjoy the wildlife. There are five public-access areas in Matagorda County with many offering picnic sites, camping, fishing piers and group pavilions.
Touring the Matagorda County Birding Nature Center (MCBNC) is great way to experience the great outdoors in Bay City. The center offers amazing eco-diversity in a compact 34-acre setting. The site was selected because it contains examples of almost every natural habitat found in the county including river, prairie, wetlands, uplands, lowlands, creeks and streams. In fact, the MCBNC contains all of the habitats occurring in Matagorda County except for beaches and salt marshes. The center borders the Colorado River to the south, offering visitors exceptional views of river birds. The MCBNC includes interpretive trails, educational kiosks, butterfly and hummingbird gardens, a constructed wetland, indoor and outdoor educational facilities, and a boat dock for tours of the Colorado River. LeTulle Park, adjacent to the nature center, is another great place for birders and is frequented by waterfowl and migrating warblers in the spring and fall.
Speaking of birds, Matagorda County ranks as one of the top birding spots in North America. Located on the central flyway for migratory birds on their way to and from Mexico, Bay City and the surrounding county are home to 333 species of birds.
Numerous bays and streams criss-cross the county providing food sources for these birds, while timber forests and prairie grasses make perfect nesting areas. Agricultural land, coastal prairies, salt marshes, as well as vast stretches of sandy shoreline provide additional habitats for birds, attracting sea and shore birds as well as waders. Itís no wonder that in recent years, the county has recorded the largest number of species in the U.S. during the prestigious annual Audubon Societyís Christmas Bird Count.
The waters of Matagorda Bay offer prime fishing for angling enthusiasts. Drift and wade fishers find redfish and speckled trout. Deep-sea fishers in the Gulf of Mexico catch grouper, red snapper, amberjack, wahoo, black drum and more. Fishing along the Colorado River and area creeks is also popular.
Meanwhile, the new LCRA Matagorda Bay Nature Park and Preserve offers more outdoor activities and learning experiences. The 1,600-acre park features a visitorsí and environmental learning center, wildlife viewing areas, boardwalks and trails, and a recreational vehicle campground. The nature parkís location near the mouth of the Colorado River on the Gulf of Mexico, affords visitors opportunities to canoe, kayak and hike. Golfers and nature-lovers also head for Riverside Park, just south of Bay City. The park features boating, fishing, camping, jogging trails, picnic pavilions, and the Rio Colorado Golf Course, an 18-hole Gary Player-designed course on the banks of the Colorado River.