• September 20, 2023
  • Lauren Critzer
  • 0

Wildlife Wonderlands: A Local’s Guide to the Best Wildlife Viewing Sppots in and Around Austin

When you think of Austin, Texas, perhaps the blaring guitars of local music festivals or the smoky scent of barbecue come to mind. But beneath the city’s urban bustle and vibrant culture blossoms a deep love for wildlife, evident in the cornucopia of scenic trails, tranquil parks, verdant hills, and diverse wildlife spotting opportunities. So, wildlife enthusiasts, fasten your seat belts. Let’s dive into our comprehensive local’s guide to the best wildlife viewing spots in and around Austin!

Experiencing Austin’s Wildlife Wonders

Nature-lovers won’t have to look far in Austin, as the city’s urban fabric is woven with wonderful pockets of vibrant flora, fauna, and wildlife landscapes.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Named after former First Lady Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Johnson, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is an immersive botanical paradise. Sprawling over 284 acres, this natural beaut brings you up close to the raw beauty of Texas’s native flora.

Here are some highlights:

  • Marvel at the wildflowers: Come spring, the Center gets enveloped in a mesmerizing spectacle of wildflower displays. Bluebonnets, Indian Paintbrushes, and other vibrant species paint the landscape, creating a living artist’s canvas.
  • Instagram-perfect sights: The native Texas Purple Sage adds a pop of color and is a common favorite among Instagram photographers when in full bloom.
  • Butterfly encounters: Butterflies like the Queens, Gulf Fritillaries, and Eastern Swallowtails flutter about, creating a delightful sight.
  • Fauna residents: Deer, lizards, and quails freely roam the grounds, giving you the opportunity to admire their harmony with the surrounding nature.

Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve

A step into Mayfield Park and Nature Preserve assures tranquil serenity. Tucked away behind lusciously arching palm trees, this park is home to numerous vibrant peacocks and a historic 1870 cottage.

What to expect here?

  • Peacock paradise: Watch as the elegant peacocks freely roam around, rain or shine.
  • Diverse flora: The plant life ranges from beautifully flowering lily pads to uniquely resilient cacti, offering a kaleidoscope of green.
  • Trail adventures: The hiking trails ensure encounters with curious squirrels, playful raccoons, and a variety of chirping birds.

Wildlife Wandering Beyond Austin

Just beyond Austin’s city borders, you’ll find unspoiled wildlife spots that are a must-visit for every nature enthusiast.

Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge

Situated northwest of Austin, the Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge sprawls across 27,500 acres. This refuge is dedicated to preserving endangered songbirds and other forms of wildlife.

At this wildlife refuge, you can:

  • Spot endangered songbirds: The melodious Golden-cheeked Warbler and vibrant Black-capped Vireo thrive here.
  • Enjoy mammal encounters: Keep an eye out for sightings of graceful white-tailed deer, nocturnal raccoons, and the iconic Texan armadillos.
  • Take in the scenic views: The Warbler Vista and Sunset Deck promise breathtaking panoramic views of Texas Hill Country, especially stunning at sundown.

McKinney Falls State Park

Located just 13 miles southeast of downtown Austin lies the McKinney Falls State Park, a perfect spot for nature enthusiasts. This park gifts you with a spectacular landscape adorned with waterfalls, creeks, and limestone ledges.

Your McKinney Falls adventure includes:

  • Wildlife galore: Expect to find white-tailed deer, armadillos, coyotes, and an abundance of bird species.
  • Historical experiences: Preserved tracks of prehistoric creatures breathe a touch of history into your journey.
  • Fishing spots: The serene fishing spots by the Onion Creek host a myriad of aquatic species, creating a peaceful wildlife encounter.

Austin’s Iconic Bat Colonies: An Advent into the Night

An Austin wildlife guide isn’t complete without a tribute to the city’s nocturnal residents: bats! Austin is home to North America’s largest urban bat colony, and watching them take flight is a must-have experience.

Congress Avenue Bridge

Every year from March to November, the Congress Avenue Bridge harbors an estimated 1.5 million Mexican Free-Tailed Bats. Their dusk emergence under the Austin sky is an awe-inspiring event.

Partake in this bat adventure with:

  • Bat watching tours: These guided tours offer deeper insights into bats’ crucial role in Austin’s ecosystem.
  • Different viewing perspectives: Witness the nightly emergence from a selection of vantage points—be it from paddleboats, kayaks, or water bikes.


Austin, Texas, a city embroidered with verdant green hills and a thriving urban lifestyle, holds an underappreciated charm: its wildlife bounty. From picturesque wildflower meadows, royal peacocks, chirping birds, elusive deer, armadillos, and the phenomenon of bats taking flight at dusk, Austin’s wildlife can make any visitor fall in love.

There’s always something exciting to discover in and around Austin. This local’s guide to the best wildlife viewing spots in Austin aims to equip explorers with rich local wisdom and the best spots to experience the wildlife that makes our city great.

Your hunt for Instagram-worthy spots, bird-watching venues, or hiking trails teeming with unique creatures is over. Our comprehensive guide has you covered. Answer your call of the wild and embark on an unforgettable Austin wildlife adventure today!

Lauren Critzer

I was born in Charlottesville, Virginia and after college, I moved to San Francisco to explore new opportunities and broaden my horizons. I fell in love with the city's vibrant culture and unique atmosphere, but eventually, I moved again, this time to Austin, Texas.

As much as I loved living in different parts of the country, having a baby boy brought me back to my hometown in Charlottesville, where I now live with my husband, our little one, and two furry friends. I enjoy going to wineries, taking my pups everywhere, and spending quality time with my family.

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