We've been trying to get down to Lake Corpus Christi State Park for some time now and we are so glad that we made the trip! This is a gem of a state park with a lot of unique amenities and a very friendly staff. Right away as we arrived we were greeted by an unusual feature: the headquarter hours during our visit were Monday through Thursday 8am to 8pm and Friday / Saturday 8am - 10pm! We absolutely love to see a park that goes out of their way to be available to visitors, and Lake Corpus Christi State Park absolutely does! We met a lot of great people during our stay.
Our home for the weekend was campsite number 29 in the Javelina Camping Loop. Every campsite in this loop has a pull-through site with 30/50 amp full hook-ups. The RV sites are asphalt with a concrete pad in the center. Each site comes with a picnic table and a firepit. Some sites are more shaded than others and some have a shade structure over the picnic table. A few of the sites looked like they could use repair on their concrete pad, but ours was very level. Our 35' rig and Jeep fit in our site with plenty of room to spare, and the utility hookups were in a good location. Our water pressure and power were strong and consistent throughout our stay.
Our Campsite at Lake Corpus Christi State Park
Campsite numbers 28 and 30 in the Javelina Camping Loop would be a great place to camp with friends or family. These two sites are located in a bend in the road and share outdoor space.
The two RV camping loops (Javelina and Opossum Bend) are located right next to one of the park's day use areas. And, in fact, the bathhouse that serves both of the RV loops is also used by day use visitors. Our site was close enough to the lake to be able to walk over and enjoy it, but far enough away that day use traffic was not a problem at all. Though this is a popular park on warm weekends, we found it to be very relaxing and peaceful in the evenings.
Our favorite features of Lake Corpus Christi State Park: the friendly staff / park hosts and long headquarter hours, the unique amenities like the book exchange, "kayak/paddleboard vending machine", concession stand, and bird watching area, and of course the historic CCC refectory! We love it when we find state parks that offer full hook-ups, 50amp and pull-through sites (the trifecta for RVers!). We can't wait to go back in the early spring when the birds are migrating!
What do we wish the park would add? It would be great if there were a store inside the park. Currently, you can buy ice at a little store just outside of the park. Nearby Mathis has a grocery store. But, currently, you cannot even buy a small souvenir inside the park itself. It would also be nice to have a few more hiking trails available.
The CCC Refectory Built in 1933-1934
View from the Lookout Tower
The History of Lake Corpus Christi State Park:
At 21,000 acres, Lake Corpus Christi is one of the largest manmade lakes in Texas. The lake was formed by a dam built on the Nueces River in 1935. The 1935 dam was the second in the area, replacing the original dam which failed mere months after it was constructed in 1929. Lake Corpus Christi was built as a water supply reservoir for the City of Corpus Christi (hence, the name of the lake). But don't assume that this park is located in Corpus Christi. The city is actually 40 miles from the state park. The nearest towns are Mathis, Sandia and Lake City (with populations of approximately 5000, 400 and 500 respectively). A stronger dam was built to enlarge the lake in 1958.
Made up of 356 acres, Lake Corpus Christi State Park sits on the southern end of Lake Corpus Christi. The park land is owned by the City of Corpus Christi, but is operated by Texas Parks and Wildlife under a long-term lease which began in 1934 and runs through at least 2032. Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Company 886 worked in the park in 1934 and 1935 before moving on to Palmetto State Park. While at Lake Corpus Christi State Park, the CCC constructed the refectory, a boathouse, park roads and bridges. Today, you can visit the refectory (also called the "Old Park Pavilion" or "the Castle"), which served as the social center of the park hosting dances and gatherings for many years. This is the last remaining CCC structure in Lake Corpus Christi State Park. The Castle offers great views of the lake, both from the lookout tower and from the stone staircase down by the lake. It is also available for rent as an event venue.
Things to Do at Lake Corpus Christi State Park:
Bird Watching: Just across from the refectory, is a trail that leads you to the park's bird watching area. This area has a covered patio with tables and is surrounded by 21 bird feeders and 4 bird baths (by our count). By Spring of 2018, the park plans to add a bird blind to this area as well. We really enjoyed watching the birds here and were excited to catch our first glimpse of a green jay! This part of Texas is widely recognized for its diversity of birds, especially during migration seasons. So if you enjoy birding, put Lake Corpus Christi State Park on your list of parks to visit in the early Spring. For more information on birding in this area, check out Texas Parks and Wildlife's page on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail.
Boating: The direct access to such a large lake makes this a great destination for boaters. The park contains two boat ramps: one next to the Opossum Bend Camping Loop and the other near the Mesquite Camping Area.
Kayaking / Paddleboarding: If you enjoy paddling, Lake Corpus Christi State Park has a lot of gently sloping shoreline that would make launching your canoe, kayak or paddleboard extremely easy. And for novice paddlers, like us, there is a good amount of "no wake" area that is less choppy than the open lake water. Bring your own gear, or rent from the park! This was one of the most unique features of this state park: you can reserve and pay for your kayak or paddleboard online and then retrieve the equipment (including life vests) lakeside with the code you receive. It's basically a kayak/paddleboard vending machine! How cool is that?! The rental operation by Paddle EZ is the first of its kind in a Texas State Park.
Bird Watching Area
Lighted Fishing Pier
Fishing: This is an extremely popular activity at Lake Corpus Christi State Park! Bank fishing is available throughout the park, and two lighted fishing piers are available (one across from the Opossum Bend Camping Loop, and the other in the Catfish Cove Camping Area). Each pier has a fish cleaning station. Common fish caught include Blue, Channel and Flathead Catfish, Crappie, and Striped, White and Largemouth Bass. No fishing license is required to fish from the piers or the shore within the state park.
Geocaching: Lake Corpus Christi State Park is currently home to four geocaches including two official Texas State Park caches and one virtual cache which takes you on a tour of the park similar to a scavenger hunt. If you're not familiar with geocaching, check out our post "Discover Amazing Places By Geocaching" to learn more about this fun global game!
Hiking: During our visit, there were only two designated hiking trails on the park map: the Catfish Point Trail is approximately a one mile loop located over by the Catfish Cove Camping Area and the Longhorn Trail begins near the Javelina Camping Loop and spans about 0.7 of a mile to the CCC refectory. There are also a couple of short trails that lead to the Birding Area. Beyond these trails, the park roads were quiet while we were there, so it was easy to walk along them to access other sections of the park. Surprisingly, the park had some small rolling hills. We were definitely not expecting to find anything even closely resembling a hill down here! In all, we walked about 14 miles during the course of our weekend stay at Lake Corpus Christi State Park.
Biking: There are no specific bike trails within the park, but you can ride on the hiking trails and park roads.
Hiking the Longhorn Trail
Wildlife Viewing: During our stay at Lake Corpus Christi State Park we saw deer, bunnies, squirrels, roadrunners and a variety of other birds. We've also heard that javelina and bobcats live inside the park. And on the insect side, we loved seeing all of the lightning bugs in the evening! One thing that really shocked us was that despite visiting in May, we had zero mosquito encounters during our visit! We're not saying this is common, but we were happy to be able to sit out in the evenings without worrying about being snacked on. Maybe the low population of mosquitos was due to the high number of birds? Or maybe we were just lucky.
Ranger Programs: During our visit, the park offered guided nature walks and geoaching classes.
Swimming: Swimming is allowed in the lake. Please note, however, that there is not a specific "swimming area" and water depths and currents can change quickly. No lifeguards are on duty. Please use caution.
Pepito's Italian Ice and Grill
Other Amenities at Lake Corpus Christi State Park:
Book Exchange: Bring your books with you because in the entryway of the park headquarters you will find a Book Exchange! This is the first time we've seen this feature in a Texas State Park. Perhaps it is because of the large numbers of Winter Texans and full-time RVers who pass through here during the cooler months. I wish we had known about this amenity before we arrived!
Concession Stand: Having a great time and don't feel like cooking, or maybe you want a frozen treat? On busy weekends, check out Pepito's Italian Ice located near the kayak and paddleboard rentals. Pepe and his staff offer fantastic Italian Ice made from real fruit, hot dogs and hamburgers.
Recycling: On your way out of Lake Corpus Christi State Park, you can drop off your aluminum cans at the recycling station located just across from the park headquarters.
All RV sites are made of asphalt with a concrete pad in the center (many of the pads are in great shape, some need repair). Each RV site has a picnic table (some are covered) and a fire ring with grill. Some sites can accomodate larger rigs. Some sites are shaded. Some have a lake view.
There is a bathhouse with showers between the 2 RV camping loops that is also used by some day use guests. The bathhouses are older buildings and the showers show their age. The dump station is located on the main park road between the RV camping loops and the park headquarters. It is easy to access.
Catfish Cove Camping Loop
Mesquite Camping Loop
Tent Camping at Lake Corpus Christi State Park:
Catfish Cove Camping Loop
Campsite Numbers: 49-83
Total Campsites: 35
Water at Each Campsite
Park at Campsite
Mesquite Camping Loop
Campsite Numbers: 84-108
Total Campsites: 25
Water at Each Campsite
Park at Campsite
Each tent camping site has a fire ring / grill and a picnic table (some are covered). Parking is on asphalt at each site. Some sites are shaded. Some sit right next to the lake. Each tent loop has a bathhouse with showers.
Screen Shelter with a View!
Air Conditioned Shelter
Cabins and Shelters at Lake Corpus Christi State Park:
Bird's Nest Shelter Loop
Screened Shelters: 15
Air Conditioned Shelters: 10
Water and Electricity at Each Site
Park at Shelter
Each shelter site has a fire ring / grill and a picnic table. Parking is on asphalt at each site. Some shelter sites sit on a bluff overlooking the lake. There is a bathhouse with showers in the middle of the shelter area.
Visiting Lake Corpus Christi State Park For a Day:
Day Use Areas
Picnic tables and covered picnic tables are located at or near the lake for the most part, with a few scattered in meadows near the camping loops. Day use visitors have access to the boat ramps, fishing piers and all park amenities. If you are visiting on weekends during the spring, summer or fall plan to arrive early for the best choice of picnic tables. Lake Corpus Christi makes this a very popular park during the warmer months.
Lake Corpus Christi State Park Information:
Year Opened: 1934
Discount Passes Accepted: Texas State Parks Pass
CCC Park? Yes! Visit the Old Park Pavilion.
Park Store? No.
Lodging Options at Lake Corpus Christi State Park: RV Camping, Tent Camping, Screened Shelters, Air Conditioned Shelters
Disclaimer: These details are accurate to to the best of our knowledge. We try our best to provide accurate information, but we are human and sometimes details change. Please check with the park directly to confirm current information.