We ended up with some extra time off and decided to make the best of it with a Jeep adventure. After going through some destination ideas we made the decision to drive the Padre Island National Seashore. This was going to be a 3 day adventure with a full day dedicated to driving the coast!
What exactly is the Padre Island National Seashore? Good question! The following sums up PINS and was taken from their website:
The Longest Stretch of Undeveloped Barrier Island in the World
Padre Island National Seashore separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Laguna Madre, one of a few hypersaline lagoons in the world. The park protects 66 miles of coastline, dunes, prairies, and wind tidal flats teeming with life. It is a safe nesting ground for the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle and a haven for over 380 bird species.
Suggestions for Driving the Seashore
The exciting part of this for off roaders is you are allowed to drive the length of the island along the beach! The drive out and back runs 120 miles. A 4x4 vehicle is highly recommended because you are going to be driving in some very soft sand. You can easily get bogged down in the sand if your not careful and a 4x4 has more capability of getting out. There are no areas to tie a winch off if you get stuck. Your options would be a shovel and boards or traction pads. Another would be a sand winch anchor. At low tide you can easily drive the beach on the damp hard packed sand. It's like driving a dirt road. High tide however changes the situation. High tide forces you up near the dunes where the sand is dry, soft, and deep. This is when your likely to get stuck. We drove it in 4H and it helped with traction through the soft sands. Any time you stop in the soft sand you have to be careful not to spin your tires or the vehicle will just sink down.
Keep Your Eyes on the Sand!
The speed limit at the 5 mile marker moves up from 15mph to 25 mph. You can easily run that speed comfortably. We ran it a bit slower because of wanting to stop and explore our surroundings. The beach is full of seashells, wild life, and unfortunately, trash. You have to watch the path your tire will take because of some of the trash left behind by others. At one stop we found a pile of sharpened rebar that had been used as tent stakes. Another time there was a huge angle iron frame of some sort with metal mounts sticking out of the sand. If we had run over either of these it would have made for a horrible day. Obviously you wont know what's under the sand but staying alert to things sticking out could save your tires.
Activities Along the Seashore
Fishing was the main activity we noticed. There were a couple of tent campers and a few RV's on the beach close to the entry. It was a bit cold for swimming when we were there. It seemed we were about the only people that went out and drove the coast with off roading being the activity. Maybe it was the time of year. December is not really a vacation time for most people.
Overall it was a great experience and one we look forward to doing again. We did the out and back round trip in about 8 hours total. We want to go back in the summer and camp a least one night to experience the darkness it has to offer.
Need a Map?
Download the map for the Padre Island National Seashore location and to track your location on the trail
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