Skip to main content

High Island

Visitor Information

2022 Patches Now Available!

The High Island visitor kiosk will be open in Spring 2022, but sanctuaries are open every day from dawn to dusk.

2022 Kiosk Dates:

Smith Oaks Bird Sanctuary: March 12 - May 22, 2022
Boy Scout Woods Sanctuary: March 26 - May 8, 2022

Admission: Purchase a patch for unlimited access to all High Island sanctuaries for the entire year!  Patches are $30 and can be purchased in advance online or at the information booth on-site. Day passes are sold on-site for $10/person. Free admission for children, students, and High Island residents. Houston Audubon membership does not include access to the High Island sanctuaries. We appreciate your support. Purchase your patch » 

COVID-19 Response: We strongly encourage wearing masks and social distancing at all Houston Audubon sanctuaries and programs. Please read and follow all signage regarding sanctuary rules and safety guidelines.  Learn more about our health and safety policies.

We’re excited to announce the brand new Kathrine G. McGovern Canopy Walkway at Smith Oaks Bird Sanctuary in High Island!

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.

  • Privately owned and managed by the Houston Audubon Society.
  • The four sanctuaries at High Island (Boy Scout Woods, Smith Oaks, Eubanks Woods, and Gast Red Bay) are open 365 days a year, dawn to dusk. At Smith Oaks the gate at Old Mexico Rd is open dawn to dusk March 15-May 15 and on weekends in the fall: September 15-October 15. The Winnie Street entrance at Smith Oaks is open 365 days a year, dawn to dusk.
  • The entry fee for adults at High Island sanctuaries is $30 for an annual patch or $8 for a day pass. Children and students are free. All groups pay full admission. Group billing available with prior approval from the Houston Audubon office. Proceeds benefit Houston Audubon Sanctuaries.
  • Boardwalks may be slippery when wet.
  • Beware of venomous snakes, mosquitoes, fire ants, poison ivy and armadillo burrows.
The Rookery at Smith Oaks
The Rookery at Smith Oaks

High Island Patch

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.

Oil Field Roads

Please note that the oilfield roads are temporarily inaccessible.

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. See the list of accommodations, food, and other useful addresses compiled by Houston Audubon members.


Because this is a wildlife sanctuary, we ask you to observe the following rules.

  • Respect all wildlife. You are the visitor. This is their home.
  • Respect the peace and be considerate of other sanctuary visitors.
  • No harming or collecting or introduction of plants or animals.
  • Leave no waste.
  • Stay on marked trails. Walking only. No bicycles.
  • Do not obstruct trails.

    Please be considerate of other visitors. Do not block trails with tripods, chairs, ladders, baggage, etc.

  • No drone photography.
  • Use of laser pointers is prohibited at all Houston Audubon sanctuaries.

    No pishing or use of playback devices unless special permission is obtained.

  • Firearms are not permitted on the grounds.
  • No smoking or alcohol consumption.
  • No dogs or other domestic animals.

Contact Pete Deichmann, Sanctuaries Manager, at with any questions.

Photography Guidelines for the Rookery Observation Platforms

  • Please show consideration for other sanctuary visitors and allow them to view birds from the observation platforms.
  • Limit your time at the front of the observation platforms to 20 minutes.
  • Flash photography allowed only within the photo blind at Boy Scout Woods.
  • If you are not taking pictures, please move your equipment off the platform.  


  • Tents at Smith Oaks

    Tents are allowed in the picnic area only. The maximum limit is 3 days. There is no charge. Tents must be down each morning. No open fires. No water is available. but portable toilet facilities are available.

  • RVs

    No overnight RV parking in Houston Audubon High Island sanctuary parking lots, except for working volunteers with a parking permit.

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.