While McAllen has seen a growth in business in the last 20 years, it has also seen a growth in what it offers for outdoor activities.
The entire Rio Grande Valley is a huge birding hub. McAllen has not been left out in the birding area. McAllen features one of the World Birding Center’s at its historic Quinta Mazatlán.
Quinta Mazatlán, built in 1935, features a Spanish Revival Style construction. It was a private residence and even included a Roman tub. Sitting at 10,000 square feet, it is probably one of the largest adobe structures in the State of Texas.
With only two previous owners, the City of McAllen was able to purchase the property in 1998. It narrowly avoided being bulldozed by other interested parties. Quinta Mazatlán opened in 2006 as a “mansion with a mission,” as it states on its website.
The site also features a 20-acre Tamaulipan Thornforest that, like other areas in the World Birding Center organization, are now protected. Quinta Mazatlan has seen 230 species of birds. A walk through the woods gives visitors a chance to observe and listen to the local birds and visitors that migrate through the area.
Not only does the home and its surrounding property make it ideal for birding, it is also an ideal place for receptions and event photos.
It is an urban sanctuary that thrives to enrich people’s lives by sharing knowledge about birds, plants, and environmental stewardship in South Texas. When walking along the trails, there are plaques naming plants and giving a brief description of said plant. There are also plaques noting some of the history around the building like its irrigation canals. Other plaques are featured alongside bronze statues depicting animals that have roamed, or continue to roam, the area.
Quinta Mazatlán has activities that teach about the habitat, birding, and conservation on a regular basis. You can visit their website to view upcoming classes and events, and to purchase tickets. Their website is quintamazatlan.com. Tickets are required for reservation of time slots to practice social distancing.
You can also call Quinta Mazatlan for more information at (956) 681-3370. They are located at 600 Sunset Drive.
The protection of woodlands and green space is an important goal for Quinta Mazatlán, the City of McAllen and the Rio Grande Valley. This goal is further illustrated with McAllen’s Nature Center.
McAllen Nature Center features two miles of trails that traverse through 33 acres of native Tamaulipan Thornscrub habitat. Less than three percent of this native habitat remains in the Rio Grande Valley.
Over 200 species of birds, 80 species of butterflies, and 20 species of reptiles and amphibians have been spotted at the Center. Even the endangered Texas Indigo Snake and Texas Tortoise have been spotted. Other visitors to the park have included coyote, grey fox and javelina. Common guests include cottontail rabbits, opossums, and raccoons.
From November through March, a high migration period for birds, birding stations throughout the park are maintained. Keeping these maintained offers more viewing opportunities.
Visitors are welcome to walk, run, watch, and photograph wildlife. Bicycling, grilling, smoking and loud music are prohibited. Visitors must remain on trails.
Hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. McAllen Nature Center is located at 4101 W. Business 83. For more information visit them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/McAllen NatureCenter or call (9560 681-3333.
McAllen also has a series of hiking and biking trails. These trails feature lighting, parking areas, and artwork done by local artists. Along the trails, irrigations pipes, trashcans and other items have been decorated or painted with something that represents the Valley like butterflies and birds. One section of trail features signs representing the planets and are spaced along the trail as they are in space.
Most of the trails run along 2nd Street. Some parking areas include Trenton Rd and 2nd. St., U.S. Bus. 83 and 2nd. St. and Bicentennial and Harvey Ave. There are several trails including the Las Palmas Trail (2500 Quince), La Vista Park Trail (100 La Vista), and Retama Village Park Trail (2500 Laurel).
More information can be found at https://www.exploremcallen.com/things-to-do/parks-outdoors/hiking-biking-trails/.
McAllen also has a catch and release lake – McAllen Town Lake. It is a three-acre lake with a ½ mile paved running and bicycling trail. The trail connects to the 2nd St. Hike and Bike Trail. Pedal boat, kayak and other rentals are available. Events might be limited due to COVID-19 restrictions.
More information can be found at www.facebook.com/McAllenTownLake/ and https://parks.mcallen.net/town-lake-at-firemen's-park.