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There’s Nothing Quite Like This 1000+ Year Old Tree In Texas

There’s almost nothing like this in all of Texas.

It’s actually the second largest live oak in the Lone Star State.

But even more impressively, some people believe it could actually be the oldest existing live oak in the entire world!

Some estimates even suggest it could be up to 2000 years old.

To say that it’s still standing after major hurricanes and wars shows how strong this Texas tree is.

In this post we’ll be revealing what it is, where you can find it and other important info that you won’t want to miss.

So what is this tree’s name and where can you find it?

All About The Tree

Say hello to The Big Tree.

big tree goose island state park sign
Brian Henderson / Flickr

It’s been known by lots of other names in the past and seen a lot throughout the times.

Other names that people have known it by include:

  • Bishop’s Tree / Bishop Oak (because a Catholic Bishop’s home stood nearby)
  • Lamar Oak (for being near the abandoned town of Lamar)

So how old is it exactly?

Age: It’s old. Very Old.

Well, the exact age has never been verified, but there have been different estimates over time.

At the minimum, it’s a few centuries old.

However, some estimates suggest it could be between 1,000 and 2000 years old.

The “Big Tree” is possibly one of the oldest existing live oaks in the world.

Whatever the true answer is, it’s definitely been around for a while. 

So looking at this tree is like looking back in time!

big tree sign goose island
Karen / Flickr

I mean 1000 years ago was when knights were roaming around in suits of armor in Europe!

You can rest assured that this tree has watched over generations of Texans.

And just like Texan people, this species of tree knows how to withstand hurricanes.

Species: Made for hurricanes.

The Big Tree belongs to the southern live oak species, known scientifically as Quercus virginiana

With its dense wood and sprawling canopies, the southern live oak has long been a symbol of resilience in the face of adversity. 

These trees have very widespread roots and a low center of gravity which help make them resistant to strong winds.

big tree goose island
Karen / Flickr

So they’re particularly good against hurricanes which Texas does get its fair share of.

But how big is it?

Size: It’s big.

Stand in awe as you take in the sheer size of the Big Tree. 

It’s actually one of the largest live oak trees in Texas and in the nation.

Its trunk, boasting a circumference exceeding 35 feet, anchors it firmly to the earth.

The crown, spanning an impressive 90 feet in diameter, provides shelter and sustenance to the ecosystem below.

While its towering height of around 44 feet reaches towards the sky, it’s not quite as tall as other trees found in the states like the redwoods on the west coast. 

But remember that the low center of gravity is part of what makes this Texan tree so resistant to stormy weather.


Every gnarled knot and weathered crevice of the Big Tree tells a tale of resilience and survival. 

Through hurricanes, floods, and droughts, it has stood firm, a silent sentinel guarding the secrets of the past. 

From indigenous peoples to early settlers and modern-day visitors, the Big Tree’s history intertwines with the very fabric of Texas lore.

According to legend the Big Tree was once a place where the cannibalistic Karankawas held councils and ceremonies where they devoured their enemies.


Challenges Faced: Talk about sturdy

Despite its resilience, the Big Tree has faced its share of challenges. 

According to scientists, the Big Tree has survived anywhere between forty and fifty major hurricanes, including Hurricane Harvey.


That’s on top of numerous floods, droughts, wildfires, and war.

During the civil war, the surrounding area was destroyed but all that remained was the ruins of a few old shellcrete (oyster shell concrete) homes, a Catholic chapel, and of course the “Big Tree”.

This tree is definitely sturdy. 

Conservation: Preserving a Natural Treasure

Within the sanctuary of a State Park, efforts are tirelessly made to protect and preserve the Big Tree and its surrounding habitat. 

Through careful stewardship and conservation initiatives, the park ensures that future generations can enjoy the tree’s everlasting natural beauty.

Cultural Significance: A Symbol of Strength and Continuity

For Texans and visitors, the Big Tree holds a special place in the heart. 

It symbolizes strength, continuity, and the timeless beauty of the natural world.

What better symbol is there for Texas grit than a sturdy strong oak that’s stood for generations?

In the shade of the Big Tree, you can’t help but feel a sense of wonder and respect for the strength of nature.


So where can you find this tree?

In the serene landscape of Rockport, Texas, Goose Island State Park is in a beautiful part of Texas that’s definitely worth visiting.

the big tree google map
Google Maps

And that’s exactly where you’ll find this massive tree.

Here’s the link to the exact Google Maps location:

Situated along the scenic Gulf Coast, this natural sanctuary offers a peaceful retreat for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.

So when you’re done seeing the tree there’s still so much around you to see and do.

Wildlife and Plantlife

If you like nature then you’ll love it here.

Life thrives within Goose Island State Park, where you’ll find lots of wildlife and plant species.

From graceful herons wading in the shallows to elusive white-tailed deer roaming the forest, the park is home to a diverse array of creatures both big and small. 

Spring is a perfect time to visit if you’re into birding as this is when you could see around 300 species of different birds due to the migration that happens around that time.

Keep an eye out for the iconic and rare whooping cranes, whose majestic presence graces the skies during the winter months. 


Go on a journey of exploration along the scenic trails of Goose Island State Park. 

The Turks Cap Trail is an easy trail which is popular for birding and walking through the trees.

Meander through ancient oak groves, where the whispering breeze and rustling leaves let you forget the sounds of the city.

Don’t forget to pause at scenic overlooks to take in panoramic views of the surrounding marshlands and coastal vistas. 


If you want to do more than see the Big Tree then you’re in luck as there’s plenty to do here. 

Cast your line into the sparkling waters of St. Charles Bay and reel in a prized catch, or launch your kayak and paddle through winding channels teeming with life. 

Hike along scenic trails that wind through ancient oak forests and coastal wetlands.

If you just want to chill out then pack a picnic and relax under the shade of a few trees while watching the birds. 

For kids, there’s also a junior ranger program to get up close and learn more about nature.

Educational Programs

If you want a deeper insight into the ecosystems and nature then you’re in luck.

There’s a variety of bird walks that occur regularly that you can take part in. 

For up-to-date information check out the state park’s events page (linked below).

Access and Hours

Accessing Goose Island State Park is simple and convenient. 

With multiple entry points and well-marked trails, visitors can easily navigate their way through this pristine wilderness. 

Whether arriving by car or RV, ample parking facilities ensure a hassle-free experience for all. 

And with operating hours running from 6 am to 10 pm, it’s suitable for both early risers and sunset seekers.

Nearby Attractions: Exploring Beyond the Park

While Goose Island State Park has lots on offer there’s also plenty to do nearby if you’re in the area for longer.

From historic sites to cultural landmarks, there’s something for everyone to enjoy just a stone’s throw away from the park. 

Here are a few nearby attractions to consider:

Fulton Mansion State Historic Site: 

Step back in time and explore the beautifully restored Fulton Mansion, once home to one of Texas’s most prominent families.

Rockport Beach Park: 

Spend a day soaking up the sun and enjoying water activities at this pristine beach park overlooking Aransas Bay.

rockport beach

Texas Maritime Museum: 

Discover the rich maritime history of Texas through interactive exhibits, artifacts, and educational programs at this fascinating museum in Rockport.

Aransas National Wildlife Refuge: 

Go on a wildlife viewing adventure at this sprawling refuge, home to a diverse array of bird species, including the iconic whooping crane if you’re lucky.

Aransas National Wildlife Refuge whooping crane (1)

Rockport Center for the Arts:

Immerse yourself in the local arts scene with a visit to this dynamic cultural hub showcasing works by regional artists and offering engaging art programs for all ages.

Visitor Services

At Goose Island State Park, there’s a range of visitor services designed to cater to your needs and enhance your park experience in every way possible. 

Here’s what you can expect during your visit:

Park Rangers: 

Knowledgeable and friendly park rangers are always on hand to provide assistance, answer questions, and offer guidance to help you make the most of your visit.

Interpretive Centers: 

Explore the park’s natural and cultural history through interactive exhibits, displays, and educational programs offered at interpretive centers.

Picnic Areas: 

Take advantage of well-maintained picnic areas equipped with tables, grills, and scenic views for a relaxing outdoor dining experience.


Restroom facilities are available throughout the park for your convenience and comfort during your visit.


With over 120 campsites there’s plenty of choice for people that want to stay overnight here. 

There’s a mixture of locations so you could be by the bay in front of the water or amongst the oak trees depending on what you prefer.

Safety Tips

Exploring the great outdoors is fun, but it’s important to prioritize safety along the way.

Before setting out on your adventure at Goose Island State Park, take heed of these essential safety tips to ensure a fun and worry-free outing:

  • Stay on designated trails and pathways to avoid getting lost or injured in unfamiliar terrain.
  • Dress appropriately for the weather and wear sturdy footwear to protect against slips, trips, and falls.
  • Stay hydrated by bringing plenty of water with you, especially during hot or humid weather.
  • Be aware of wildlife and refrain from approaching or feeding wild animals to prevent potential conflicts or injuries.

Keep a safe distance from bodies of water and always supervise children when near the shore to prevent accidents.

Remember it’s not a very safe place for swimming.

Familiarize yourself with emergency procedures and know how to contact park staff or authorities in case of an emergency.

Leave no trace by properly disposing of trash and respecting the natural environment during your visit.

Useful Information

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Tom Jackson

Tom was born in San Antonio but spent most of his childhood in Dallas, he has lived in several cities across Texas and joined the team in 2024 to create travel guides on Texas.

Learn more about the Traveller's Elixir Team.

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