This park is about 100 miles from where we are currently parked. It was largely a boring trip, we passed by miles of flat Texas cropland. From what we could tell, some of those acres of land were cotton fields. We were determined to visit the refuge while in this area because it hosts the largest flock of wintering whooping cranes in North America with over 250 birds. By mid-April they depart in pairs or small family groups for a hazardous journey 2,400 miles north to nesting grounds at Wood Buffalo National Park in Northwest Territories, Canada. Here in Texas the birds face many dangers with the presence of oil tankers and deadly oil spills as well as natural disasters. There are intensive efforts currently underway to establish a new non-migratory in Louisiana, where the species once nested. They were once nearly extinct, from a low of 15 in 1941 to over 500 cranes in North America today. Aransas National Wildlife had been created in 1937 to protect whoopers on their wintering grounds along the Gulf of Mexico. Our first stop at the refuge was in the visitor's center where we talked with rangers there to learn the location of the cranes.