Matagorda County

Colorado River Trail

​Matagorda County has been among the state's largest rice-producing counties. Rice production in Matagorda, Wharton and Colorado counties provides a combined economic benefit estimated at more than $300 million per year.

Featured attractions

  • Bay City
    Incorporated in 1894, the city was named for its location in a vast coastal prairie known since the early 1820s as Bay Prairie. Bay City is 25 miles from the Gulf of Mexico and the beach. Matagorda County Museum is located in Bay City and tells the story of early settlements,​ industry and cultural history of the county. Riverside Park on the Colorado River has 40 RV sites with full hookups, playground, jogging trail, picnic area, pavilions and a boat ramp. The Rio Colorado Golf course features 18-holes designed by Gary Player. 
  • Matagorda County Birding and Nature Center
    Thirty-five acres of pristine land west of Bay City is devoted to bird watching. Since 1997, Matagorda County has led all of North America in the prestigious Christmas Bird Count, where birders strive to observe the most bird species in a single day. Some 235 bird species were observed in Matagorda County during the 2000 count.
  • Blessing
    Blessing was founded and named by Jonathan Pierce when the Southern Pacific Railroad arrived in 1903. According to legend, Pierce expressed his gratitude for the railroad by naming the town "Thank God." However, postal authorities would not approve that name, so he settled for Blessing. Located north of Palacios off Texas 35. The Blessing Hotel, built in 1906 is one of the oldest buildings remaining in the town for many years has provided the community with a unique landmark because of its location adjoining the town square.
  • Matagorda
    In its early years, Matagorda was the third largest port in Texas. Even before Texas independence, Stephen F. Austin had led a group of settlers here to the mouth of the Colorado River. Christ Episcopal Church is known as the oldest Episcopal Church in Texas. The church was originally built in 1841 but destroyed by a hurricane in 1854. The church was rebuilt in 1856 using many materials from the old structure. Located on Texas 60 south of Bay City.
  • Gulf Intracoastal Waterway
    The waterway is 12 feet deep, 125 feet wide and runs for 426 miles along the Texas coast. It is limited to tugboats, barge "trains" and pleasure and fishing craft. The best view of the waterway is from the Colorado River Locks, operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. These locks are the only ones in Texas and some of the busiest in the United States. Located one mile west of Texas 2031 at the end of Matagorda St.
  • Matagorda Bay Nature Park
    Matagorda Bay Nature Park is a planned LCRA park that will front the Gulf of Mexico's Matagorda Bay, near the mouth of the Colorado River. Nearby Matagorda Beach is opened year-round for fishing, camping, birding and vehicles with a permit. Located seven miles south of Matagorda at the end of Texas 2031.
  • Palacios
    Palacios takes its name from the bay on which it is located. The bay honors Jose Felix Trespalacios, Mexican governor of the area when Stephen F. Austin established his colony. The town was first known as Trespalacios, but the name was shortened to Palacios in 1902. The Luther Hotel was built in 1905 to accommodate prospective land buyers flocking to Palacios. The hotel is still in operation.
  • Marine Education Center
    The marine center located in Palacios has 125 acres of wetlands, aquaculture ponds, nature trails, bird watching towers and classrooms. Arrange a visit by calling (361) 972-3774.

​Connect with the Colorado River Trail


Plan a trip along the Colorado River.

Did you know?

There has been much speculation about the meaning of "Matagorda." Research shows it is derived from Spanish for "big bush," and the name came from the dense canebrakes that were prevalent in the early days of settlement.

Major festivals