Choke Canyon State Park, consisting of two units, South Shore and Calliham, is located on 26,000-acre Choke Canyon Reservoir, a water supply for Corpus Christi. The park was acquired in 1981 in a 50 year cooperative agreement among the Bureau of Reclamation, the City of Corpus Christi and the Nueces River Authority.
The Calliham Unit, containing 1100 acres, in McMullen County was opened to the public on August 21, 1987. The South Shore Unit contains 385 acres in Live Oak County and was opened to the public on March 5, 1986.
From scant evidence available, we know that Paleo Indians crossed the Frio River Valley more than 10,000 years ago following game such as bison and mammoth. After the disappearance of large game, more than 8000 years ago, nomadic hunters and gatherers associated with the archaic culture camped near the river making tools, building fires, processing, and gathering food. Numerous Archaic sites in the Choke Canyon area have been recorded.
The South Shore Unit is a day-use only park and offers boating, fishing, picnicking, wildlife viewing and birding. The Calliham Unit offers camping, picnicking, boating, hiking, wildlife viewing, birding, fishing, lake beach and softball and volleyball areas. Seasonal guided bird walks are conducted on scheduled days. Day use equestrian is allowed in the North Shore Equestrian Area on Saturday's and Sunday's.
Note: As part of a joint project of the Bureau of Reclamation and the American Birding Association, Choke Canyon Reservoir has been recognized as a place of special importance for birds and bird watchers. Large numbers and varieties of birds are attracted to the water and to the adjacent upland habitats. Also, many typically Mexican species of birds approach the northern limits of their range here, making this one of Texas' finest places to watch birds.
Nearby points of interest are Lake Corpus Christi State Park, 45 miles southeast near Mathis; Goliad State Park and Mission Espíritu Santo State Historic Site - 64 miles east, in Goliad; Fannin Battleground and Lipantitlan State Historic Site.
Calliham Unit: Facilities include screened shelters; campsites with water and electricity (50-amp hookups); restrooms with showers; a trailer dump station; walk-in water campsites, which have tables, grills, fire rings, and lantern posts; group picnic pavilions; a sponsored youth group area, which has picnic tables, fire rings, and lamp posts, (no drinking water or toilets); a group dining hall (capacity 100) with outdoor grills and restrooms; a group recreation hall (capacity 40), with a kitchen, and a barbecue pit; a sports complex with a gymnasium (with stage, folding chairs, and air-conditioning and heating - capacity 300); shuffleboard, tennis, volleyball, and full basketball courts. There is also a man-made, 75-acre lake adjacent to the tent camping area; 2 miles of hiking trails; a mile-long bird trail; and a wildlife educational center that offers educational programs. Campsites and group facilities are reservable. Located outside of the park are four boat ramps - FM 99, Mason Point, Bracken, and San Miguel; each has an honor box to collect fees.
South Shore Unit: Facilities include restrooms; shaded picnic sites on the lake; a 6-lane boat ramp and an auxiliary 2-lane boat ramp; lighted fish-cleaning tables; and a lake overlook.
Choke Canyon State Park - North Shore Equestrian Area: This area, in excess of 1200 acres with 18 miles of trails, is accessed by a paved road across the dam from the South Shore Unit to North Shore. The area's terrain ranges from eroded, gently rolling brush land to rugged and rocky areas that provide habitat for a variety of wildlife. This area is only available for use on Saturdays and Sundays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. A per-person entrance fee is charged and all users must check in at the South Shore Headquarters. Lake water may be used for horses; bring potable water. No sanitary facilities; however, toilets and drinking water are available at the South Shore Unit. No horse rentals or corrals available. The area is closed during hunting season; check schedule. Contact park for availability and additional information. Without exception, pack all litter and garbage out of the area for disposal in trash receptacles.
The reservoir and surrounding terrain are characterized by eroded, gently-rolling brushland crossed by silted stream valleys. The land was formed during the Cenozoic Era (the period following extinction of the dinosaur) by accumulating sediments from seas that once covered south Texas. Ancient rivers flowing to the southeast dumped their sediments into what was then part of the Gulf of Mexico, producing new land. Seas intermittently covered the newly-formed land by river-carried sediments which eventually dominated. These sediments are generally composed of volcanic ash, claystone, siltstone, tuff, shale, and shaley limestone. The present location of Choke Canyon Dam is near the ancient Gulf shoreline of about 30 million years ago. Erosion of these sediments and subsequent deposits of river silt eventually produced the present terrain.
Both Calliham and South Shore have a wide variety of wildlife that inhabits dense thickets of mesquite and blackbush acacia. Choke Canyon is the westernmost common occurrence of the American alligator. Rio Grande turkey, whitetail deer, javelina, coyote, opossum, fox squirrel, raccoon, and various skunks are among the most common animals. The crested caracara (Mexican eagle) can also be seen in the area. The following fish are in the reservoir: largemouth bass, white bass, striped bass, white crappie, bluegill, longear sunfish, green sunfish, flathead, channel and blue catfish, carp, freshwater drum, and gar.
Average rainfall 27.6 January minimum 41 degrees and July maximum 95 degrees.
Calliham Unit, P O Box 2, Calliham TX 78007
South Shore Unit is located 3.5 miles west of Three Rivers on State Highway 72.
Calliham Unit is located 12 miles west of Three Rivers on State Highway 72 to Tilden.