High Island is on the coast just off Hwy. 87. It can be reached by taking I-10 east from Houston, taking the exit at Winnie to go south on Hwy. 124. Another option is to use the free Galveston - Bolivar ferry and proceed up the coast on Hwy. 87.
Best Time to Visit
Our High Island sanctuaries are open daily throughout the year. Peak spring migration season is from mid-March to mid-May. Numbers are highest during a "fallout", which sometimes occurs with a fast-moving cold front. During fall migration, late September to mid-October usually produce the best results. More information on migration and fallouts.
Houston Audubon has 4 sanctuaries at High Island. Boy Scout Woods is the headquarters, which is staffed by volunteers during peak spring migration season from mid-March to mid-May. Smith Oaks is the largest sanctuary and home to the Rookery. The Rookery is fascinating to visit throughout the year. The High Island sanctuaries are fee sites. The fee helps defray the costs of maintenance, utilities and improvements for the entire Houston Audubon sanctuary system. A day pass costs $7, or for $25 a patch may be purchased which gives you an unlimited number of admissions to all High Island sanctuaries for one year.
The High Island Patch
High Island patches are highly prized and have become collectibles over the years among visiting birders as well as Houston Audubon members. They are sold at High Island from mid-March through early-May. The current patch is available for purchase in our online shop or by calling the office at 713-932-1639. Limited numbers of patches from previous years are also available. More information on the patch.
RV and Camping Guidelines
As a courtesy to our visitors, Houston Audubon permits overnight RV parking and tent camping in Smith Oaks during the spring season.
We ask that the following guidelines be followed: (1) Please take as little room as possible in the parking lot. (2) Park RVs in Smith Oaks main parking lot. (3) RVs are welcome to stay a maximum of 3 nights. (4) Generator use is discouraged. (5) Overnight tent camping is permitted in the picnic area in Smith Oaks from March 15 to May 15. Tents must be taken down each morning. Tenters may stay a maximum of 3 nights. (6) No open fires are allowed.
No dogs or other domestic animals are allowed at any of the High Island Sanctuaries. The use of laser pointers is prohibited. The use of playback devices is not allowed unless special permission is obtained. Smoking is prohibited except in the parking lots and on the Boy Scout Woods bathroom porch.
Oil Field Roads
There are many miles of oil field roads around High Island that birders can drive. These roads go through coastal prairie and marshes and are good locations to look for marsh birds like rails and sparrows. Remember that these roads are on private property and that you should stay on the road at all times. You must be careful as you drive these roads as many are in poor condition and are subject to flooding. The oil fields are active, so there may be truck traffic. The trucks have the right of way.
Our Sanctuary Neighbors
Please be considerate of our neighbors! Birds can be found almost anywhere on High Island, including our neighbors' yards. Please do not enter their yards and be careful when you aim your binoculars, as some people get the idea that birders are looking in their windows and invading their privacy.
The High Island Community
Please support local businesses and civic organizations as much as possible. Communities are more willing to support local conservation efforts if they feel protected habitat helps the local economy. Accommodations, Food, and Other Useful Addresses: (PDF) compiled by Houston Audubon members.