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The Concho River was named for the plentiful freshwater mussels that inhabit its waters. ("Concho" means shell in Spanish.) These mussels produce beautiful iridescent pearls of all sizes and colors, including big purple gems called Concho pearls by early Spanish explorers. 

The park sits astride the junction of four ecological zones: the High Plains to the north, the Texas Hill Country to the south, the Rolling Plains to the east, and the arid Trans-Pecos to the west. Consequently, plant and animal life are highly diversified, including some 350 species of birds and about 50 species of mammals. The park is also home to bison and the Official Texas State Longhorn Herd.