Small deer in the brush

Hello! We're glad you're here! 

As an FYI, you don't have to be a Friend/Member to register for an event, but Friends/Members do receive early notice of upcoming events and the ability to register up to a week in advance of the general public.

To sign-up, select the specific event and click "Register".

Please note: Events are popular and fill quickly! If an event is full, we encourage you to add yourself to the waitlist.

Upcoming events

    • Saturday, August 27, 2022
    • 9:00 AM - 11:30 AM
    • Inks Dam Fish Hatchery

    Remember our field trip to the fish hatchery?? Since we demonstrated such outstanding angler skills, we've been invited back.  This is a FREE "catch and keep" event.

    There's no limit to the number of fish you may keep, but you must bring sufficient, LARGE coolers and ice for the fish.  The Fish and Wildlife Service is strict about animal cruelty and icing the fish puts them down quickly (and, of course, keeps them fresh on what is likely to be a warm day). 


    • Limited to the First 120 Adults and Children Combined. Rain or Shine
    • Register by Email. Include Your Name and the Number of Family Members in Your Party at
    • "Catch and Keep" Fishing – Please Keep Only the Number of Fish You Can Utilize
    • Catfish can range up to 15+ Pounds – Bring a LARGE Cooler / Multiple Coolers, and Ice; the Friends of the Hatchery will provide transportation of coolers and gear to and from your vehicles
    • Note: there are no fish cleaning facilities at the Hatchery. 
    • Bring Your Own Tackle or Borrow Ours; But Don’t Modify Our Tackle – it Catches Fish!
    • Single, Barbless or De-barbed Hooks ONLY (No Trebles)
    • The Friends of the Hatchery will Supply ALL Bait
    • Bring Lawn Chairs, Hat, Sunscreen, Plenty of Non-alcoholic Beverages
    • Limited Handicapped Accessibility

    Fine Print:

    • You must Sign a Liability Release and Photo Permission Form Upon Arrival
    • The staff and volunteers Can’t Supervise Children – One Adult per 2 Children
    • Fish Cleaning Not Permitted on Hatchery Grounds
    • Alcohol and Weapons Prohibited per Federal Regulations

    Sponsored By:

    and The Friends of Inks Dam Fish Hatchery


In partnership with the refuge, we also host three major events each year.



Typically scheduled in February, this event celebrates the little brown birds that flock to our feeders in the winter. More than 20 species spend their winters here. Guided by experienced birding guides, local bird lovers flock to the refuge to see how many different sparrows they can spot and celebrate the diversity of the little bird.

Songbird on a branch

songbird festival

Typically scheduled in April, we celebrate the return of many neotropical songbirds who come to nest on the refuge. The Balcones Canyonlands Songbird Festival is a celebration of nature through a collection of interpretive events designed to help you experience both bird species and their habitat. Experienced guides host bird walks on closed portions of the refuge and help birders from around the world add to their life lists.

Child and man with a hose

refuge Roundup

A free event, it is typically scheduled in October. The refuge and the friends group host a myriad of activities celebrating the wildlife, the habitat and the people that live in the Canyonlands. It’s timed with the migration of hawks, many of whom head to South America for the winter. Lots of activities for both children and adults, including being part of the fire crew or working as a game warden, hiking ancient seabeds, nature photography, archery, native plants, habitat restoration, birds of prey, reptiles, and more.

BAlcones Christmas Bird Count

Every December, birders from around the area gather to count birds and document the species count. This is part of the citizen-science projects program. This is the longest running wildlife census in the world and provides critical data on bird populations and movements. You don't need to tramp through the wild, although that is lots of fun.  You can also contribute by monitoring the visitors to your feeders. In 2020, we counted 13,804 birds, 106 different species. The invitation to join is typically published in early November. Come be a part of this worldwide effort!


Here’s some examples from previous events.  

Keep an eye on the calendar as many of these previous events and activities were so popular that we will be scheduling them again!

Opt Outside Hike: Where would you rather be on Black Friday, fighting the crowds or enjoying the peace and quiet of nature on a lovely guided hike. We started with an easy-to-moderate hike through grasslands, and along the north end of the creek. We saw lots of diverse habitat and plants, and heard lots of birds. Then we continued the hike along the creek, up the hill, circled the ridge along the Rim Rock Trail for some amazing, long-range views. A much better place to be on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
Native Plants: Are you ready to go native? What makes a plant a “native”? Why should we care? If I buy Lantana at a box store, isn’t it a native? If I want to attract birds, bees and butterflies, what should I plant? Are cedars and mesquite native? Are their good and bad natives? What's wrong with St. Augustine? Presenters from the Native Plant Society of Texas, Linda O’Nan and Jan Warren, answered these questions and so many more. Their talk was followed by a plant walk along two of our most popular tails.
Reptiles: Daniel Carter talked about native reptiles. A great activity for kids. Daniel shared some of his turtles, snakes, salamanders and lizards, and discussed their unique characteristics and explained their importance to our habitat.
Science Mill: From their bio lab to exploring the human body, a slice at a time, from the story of water to the mystery of fractals in nature, our tour guide helped us experience how nature, science and art intersect to create a world of curiosity and beauty in their creative and interactive exhibits. By igniting the curiosity of students, it inspires them to pursue post-secondary education, the Science Mill experience starts students on the path to a life-long career in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
Olive Oil: We took a field trip to the Texas Hill Country Olive Company is family-owned and they are passionate about what they do, and the most awarded olive oil company in Texas, located in the beautiful and beloved "Texas Hill Country" of Dripping Springs Texas. Since day one the focus has been on preserving the natural beauty of the area while providing fresh locally produced extra virgin olive oil and other premium quality products. We had a private tour in the olive grove and went into the Mill to see (and taste) some of their award-winning olive oils. It was a fascinating education on olive tree growing and producing extra virgin olive oil with a wide range of flavors.

Suggest an event!

Inquiring minds want to know… We’d love your input on topics you’d like to see, hear, and experience at the Refuge. Do you have an interesting speaker that you think our visitors would enjoy? Do you have a topic you’d be willing to share? Let us know what you think.


About Us

The Friends of Balcones Canyonlands NWR is a 501(c)(3) organization whose primary purpose is to support the mission of the Refuge in restoring and protecting the habitat. The Friends are committed to building a diverse, vibrant community that appreciates, supports, and connects with nature in a meaningful way.

Become a Member

Join the Friends in protecting the wildlife and habitat, and supporting the mission of the Refuge. Start by taking a hike or  attending an event, by watching the seasons change through what’s blooming, or by just watching a hawk soar, or even just sitting still and listening to the songbirds sing. You can have a positive impact. Come find your refuge at the Refuge and join the fun!

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