Gulf Coast


The Gulf Coast stretches along the Gulf of Mexico for hundreds of miles. Cities such as Corpus Christi, Galveston, and Houston are in the Gulf Coast region.


Near the gulf waters you can see marshes, barrier islands, estuaries (where salty sea water and fresh river water meet), and bays. As you travel west, you can see prairies and grasslands.

The Gulf Coast is home to many wildlife and plants. People from many cultures have enjoyed living in the Gulf Coast region. Learn more about its wildlife and history.

Topography and Characteristics

Major Rivers: San Jacinto, Trinity, Brazos, Nueces, San Antonio
Major Aquifer: Gulf Coast, Carrizo-Wilcox
Size: 21,000 sq mi.

The Gulf Coast is a nearly level, slowly-drained plain. It is dissected by streams and rivers flowing into the Gulf of Mexico. Here you can find: barrier islands along the coast; salt grass marshes surrounding its bays and estuaries; a few remaining patches of tallgrass prairies; oak mottes scattered along the coast; and tall woodlands in the river bottomlands. Soils are acidic sands and sandy loams, with clay soils occurring primarily in the river bottoms.

Major Cities / Rainfall / Elevation

Regional Average Rainfall - Mid-North: 40-60 in./yr
Regional Average Net Evaporation rate: 16-28 inches
Data source: National Climate Data Center, U.S. Dept of Commerce.

Alvin - 51.73 in. / 28 ft.
Baytown - 53.75 in. / 34 ft.
Beaumont - 57.38 in. / 27 ft.
Corpus Christi - 32.26 in. / 41 ft.
Galveston - 43.84 in. / 10 ft.
Houston - 47.84 in. / 95 ft.
Port Arthur - 59.89 in. / 16 ft.
Port Isabel - 28.56 in. / 17 ft.
Raymondville - 27.97 in. / 31 ft.
Sugarland - 49.34 in. / 82 ft.
Victoria - 40.10 in. / 115 ft.
Wharton - 45.62 in. / 111 ft.

Common Vegetation

Texas madrone
Tallgrass prairies
L Sugarberry
Green ash
Water oak
Willow oak
Southern live oak
American elm
Red mulberry
Wax myrtle
Sweet bay
Red chokecherry
Short-leaf pine

Rare Plants

Prairie dawn
Slender rush pea/South Texas ambrosia

Learn more about Endangered and Threatened Plants.

Common Wildlife

Marsh rice rat
River otter
Bottlenose dolphin
Diamond back terrapin
Bull frog
Roseate spoonbill
Black skimmer
Near shore fishes:
Spotted sea trout
Red drum
Southern flounder
Striped mullet
Blue crab

Off shore fishes:

Learn more about these animals on our Wildlife Fact Sheets.

Rare Animals & Habitats

Attwater's prairie chicken: Tall grass coastal prairie
Eastern brown pelican: Offshore islands, spoil islands, mudbanks
Eskimo curlew: Migrates through the grasslands from the Arctic tundra to Pampas grasslands of Argentina
Piping plover: Winters along Gulf Coast; tidal mud flats, sandflats, or algal flats
Whooping crane: Winters on Texas Gulf Coast; marshes and sandflats of Aransas

Learn more about Endangered and Threatened Species.