• Flying artillery crew in action.

    Palo Alto Battlefield

    National Historical Park Texas

Frequently Asked Questions

We hope you will find answers to your questions here or elsewhere on the website, but if you don't, please contact us. We are interested in your questions because we want you to have a good experience with Palo Alto National Historical Park. Your questions will also help us improve our web site.

Can I camp there?
Can I buy the Golden Eagle/Senior Pass there?
Do I get a bookstore discount with my America the Beautiful Pass?
Do you allow metal detectors?
How long has the park been open?
What days is the park closed?
What does Palo Alto mean?
Are bikes allowed on park trails?
Can we picnic there?
Can I bring my dog along?
Do you offer guided tours?
When are your reenactments?
Do you have NPS passport cancellation stamps?
How big is the park?
Where is Resaca de la Palma Battlefield?
What do I need to travel into Mexico?
How does Palo Alto relate to the Alamo/Texas Revolution?
How did Texas join the U.S.? Can it secede anytime it chooses?
Can the Texas flag be flown higher or at the same height as the U.S. flag?
Is this where they fought the last battle of the Civil War?
Does Palo Alto look like in did in 1846?
Was Santa Anna at Palo Alto?
How many people died in the battle?
Why didn't the U.S. take all of Mexico?
What happened to the Mexicans living in the ceded area?
Does Fort Brown still exist, if so what exists of it today?
What kind of wildlife does Palo Alto have?
Are there really exotic antelope there?
Will I see a rattlesnake?
Will I see a horned lizard?

Can I camp there?

The park offers no lodging or camping facilities. The City of Brownsville offers a number of hotels and RV parks.Information is available from the Brownsville Convention and Visitor Bureau. RV facilities also are available at Adolph Thomae, Jr. and Isla Blanca units of the Cameron County Park System.

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Can I buy the Golden Eagle/Senior Pass there?

The Golden Eagle pass is now called the Senior Pass. It is part of the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Series. More information is available at the pass website. Palo Alto does not sell this pass. The only places in the Rio Grande Valley you can purchase the pass is at Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge or Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.

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Do I get a bookstore discount with my America the Beautiful Pass?

No. The bookstore is a Western National Parks Association sales outlet. WNPA is a non-profit cooperating organization that supports education and research in National Parks. You can purchase a WNPA membership at the Visitor Center front desk. Members receive a 15% discount. Educators receive a 20% discount - WNPA membership not required.

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Do you allow metal detectors?

In order to preserve the historical and cultural resources protected by the National Park Service, the use of metal detectors is prohibited in the park. If you find an artifact, please note the location of the object and notify a park ranger. Leave all natural, historical, and archaeological items in place. Collecting natural or archaeological objects, or removing, defacing or destroying any plant, animal, or artifact is prohibited. These items must be left undisturbed for others to enjoy.

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How long has the park been open?

The visitor center opened in January 2004.

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What days is the park closed?

The park is closed Thanksgiving Day, December 25th, and January 1st.

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What does Palo Alto mean?

Palo alto means tall tree or timber in Spanish. A ring of tree covered rises circling the low-lying, coastal prairie inspired the name.

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Are bikes allowed on park trails?

Bikes are not allowed on park trails. However, you can park here and bike on the Brownsville Historic Battlefield Trail which connects the park to downtown Brownsville. Please be aware park gates are locked at 5 p.m.. Your vehicle must be out of the park by 5 p.m.

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Can we picnic there?

Picnic tables and trash cans are located just outside the visitor center.

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Can I bring my dog along?

Dogs are allowed in parking lots and on park trails as long as they are on a leash. Only service dogs are allowed inside the visitor center and must be accompanied by a handler. Pet owners are responsible for cleaning up after their pets.

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Do you offer guided tours?

Guided tours are available from December 1st to April 1st depending on staffing and weather. For the latest information about tours, contact the front desk at (956) 541-2785 x333.

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When are your reenactments?

Battle reenactments and demonstrations of battle tactics involving exchanges of fire between opposing lines, taking of casualties, hand-to-hand combat, or any other form of simulated warfare are prohibited in all parks. However, Palo Alto does offer living history programs. Check out our living history page for more info. For more on NPS policies regarding reenactments, check out this video.

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Do you have NPS passport cancellation stamps?

A cancellation stamp is available at the visitor center front desk. Palo Alto does not yet have a regional stamp. You may also purchase a NPS Passport book in the visitor center.

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How big is the park?

Palo Alto's congressional boundary is approximately 3,400 acres. The park owns almost 2,000 acres at Palo Alto and 34 acres at Resaca de la Palma Battlefield.

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Where is Resaca de la Palma Battlefield?

Resaca de la Palma is located about 5 miles south of Palo Alto at 1024 Paredes Line Rd. Most of the Resaca de la Palma Battlefield has been overtaken by development. Today, only 34 acres remain. In 2008, Congress authorized the expansion of Palo Alto Battlefield NHP to include Resaca de la Palma. At this time the NPS is developing the site. It is open Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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What do I need to travel into Mexico?

Please visit the U.S. Department of State website for the latest travel information to Mexico.

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How does the Palo Alto relate to the Alamo/Texas Revolution?

The Texas Revolution, which includes the battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto occurred in 1836, ten years before the Battle of Palo Alto and the U.S.-Mexican War explore...

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How did Texas join the U.S.? Can it secede anytime it chooses?

In 1844, President Tyler urged Congress to approve annexation by joint resolution. It was approved in February 1845. Before joining, the Republic of Texas dissolved their government and drew up a state constitution. When Texas was officially annexed by the U.S. Congress on December 29, 1845, it was not a nation and was granted the same rights as every other state. Texas does not have the right to secede any time it chooses.

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Can the Texas flag be flown higher or at the same height as the U.S. flag?

As Texas was once a Republic, many myths exist about the state's rights to privileges. One myth is that the Texas state flag can fly at the same height as the U.S. flag. This is partially true. The U.S. Federal Flag Code is a guideline to the etiquette of displaying national and state flags. According to the code, as long as all other positional guidelines of the flag code are observed, any single state flag may be flown at the same height as the U.S. national flag. However, the state flag may optionally be flown at a lower height as a show of deference to the national flag. The Federal Flag Code does not have an exception for the Texas flag or any other state flag.

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Is this where they fought the last battle of the Civil War?

No. The last land battle of the Civil War was fought at Palmito Hill/Ranch, approximately 17 miles away from the park. The site is located on Highway TX-4 near Boca Chica Beach. The site does not have a visitor center. There is a Texas State Historical Marker, interpretive waysides, and audio program that plays over the radio available at the site.

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Does the battlefield look like in did in 1846?

Since the time of the battle, the field has seen different activities, most notably cattle ranching. Overgrazing stripped the land of native grasses, allowing mesquite and prickly pear to spread. The park is working to eradicate the mesquite and restore the native grasses so that visitors can view the site just as the soldiers did in 1846.

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Was Santa Anna at Palo Alto?

No. When the Mexican War broke out, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna was in exile in Cuba. Soon after the war started though, he entered into secret negotiations with President Polk. Santa Anna offered the U.S. a settlement with Mexico if he was allowed through the U.S. naval blockade of Mexico. Once in Mexico, he turned against the U.S. and assumed command of the Mexican Army. His forces were defeated by General Taylor at Buena Vista before returning to Mexico City to prepare for its defense against General Winfield Scott's Army.

When Mexico City was captured by General Scott, Santa Anna retired into exile. He would later come back and serve his last term as president during which time he sold parts of southern Arizona and New Mexico to the U.S. through the Gadsden Purchase. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna served as Mexican president eleven times throughout his life.

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How many people died in the battle?

Casualties at Palo Alto were: Mexican Army - 102 killed, 129 wounded, 26 missing; U.S. Amry - 9 killed, 44 wounded, 2 missing

Casualties at Resaca de la Palma were: Mexican Army - 158 killed, 228 wounded, 168 missing; U.S. Army - 45 killed, 97 wounded

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Why didn't the U.S. take all of Mexico?

During the war, the "All of Mexico" movement called to annex the entire country of Mexico. Fearing the expansion of slavery, abolitionists protested. In addition, ex-minister Joel Poinsett, first U.S. Minister to Mexico, warned occupying all of Mexico would require a massive and expensive occupation effort and would foster Mexican nationalism.

Furthermore, advocates of Manifest Destiny believed U.S. laws should not be imposed on others against their will. Annexing all of Mexico would violate this principle. In the end, supporters of the "All of Mexico" movement compromised their position. The Mexican Cession brought upon by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo brought an end to the movement.

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What happened to the Mexicans living in the ceded area?

At the time of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, about 80,000 Mexicans were living in the ceded area. Mexicans living here were given one year to decide their citizenship. They could remain in their property as Mexican citizens or chose to become U.S. citizens. After the year expired, those who did not declare their intentions to retain their Mexican citizenship were considered to have accepted U.S. citizenship.

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Does Fort Brown still exist, if so what exists of it today?

General Taylor's original riverside fort commonly known as Fort Texas was abandoned shortly after the war. The fort was officially renamed Fort Brown in honor of the fort's commander, Major Jacob Brown explore...

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What kind of wildlife does Palo Alto have?

Palo Alto is home to a variety of native and non-native species.Native species include bobcat, coyote, fiddler crabs, javelina, snakes, possum, lizards, Texas horned lizards, and a wide variety of birds. Non-native species include nilgai antelope and feral hogs explore...

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Are there really exotic antelope there?

The park is home to a herd of nilgai antelope. Adult males can weigh up to 600 lbs. Nilgai have a keen sense of sight and hearing so getting a good look at one requires patience and a bit of luck.

Nilgai were brought to the United States from India as zoo animals in the late 1920s and were released in South Texas in the 1930s. Nilgai have since thrived in the South Texas environment and migrated southward along the Gulf Coast. Palo Alto is working on a management plan to control this non-native species.

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Will I see a rattlesnake?

The Western Diamondback Rattlesnake is sometimes seen on trails and roads. Generally, rattlesnakes are not aggressive. If you encounter a rattlesnake, leave it alone and remain calm. Do not attempt to move the snake. Do not throw items at the snake in an attempt to get it to move. Do tell a Park Ranger where you saw the snake.

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Will I see a horned lizard?

The Texas horned lizard is one of our more elusive residents.Their coloration makes for great camouflage. These little guys, approximately 3 inches long, are usually found in arid or semiarid areas with sparse plant cover. Though they have an aggressive appearance, these docile creatures pose no threat to people.

Harvester ants make up the majority of their diet. Unfortunately, loss of habitat and food sources has placed the lizard on the Texas threatened species list. The good news is that preservation of Palo Alto Battlefield has protected a large area of horned lizard habitat.

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Did You Know?