Jesse H. Jones Park & Nature Center, a premier Harris County Precinct 4 nature preserve of over 300 acres, is open daily to visitors, free of charge. The park features a variety of plant and wildlife species, white sand beaches along Spring Creek, swamps and sloughs with century-old cypress trees, and a pristine floodplain hardwood and pine forest. All features are accessible by over six miles of all-weather, wheelchair-friendly pedestrian trails and several unpaved primitive trails.
The nature center features environmental displays, dioramas, and mounted specimens of local wildlife species; a permanent display of live snakes native to Harris County and surrounding areas; and a seasonally active observation bee hive. A collection of native landscape plants that attract wildlife are featured in the beds surrounding the nature center.
The Redbud Hill Homestead, a re-creation of an 1820s-30s Texas colonization era homestead, features a log cabin, smokehouse, root cellar, chicken coop, kitchen garden, barn, an outhouse, and blacksmith and woodworking shops. A re-created Akokisa Indian village, located adjacent to the homestead, displays seasonal encampment structures of local tribes that inhabited the forests of southeast Texas during the colonization era.
The picnic loop surrounds a fort-style playground for children of various ages and ability levels and includes a separate toddler play area. Readers of the Houston Chronicle voted Jones Park’s playground one of Houston’s best in 1992. The picnic loop features a covered picnic shelter with four tables and a grill, as well as 28 separate uncovered picnic tables, three of which are wheelchair-accessible. Most tables have accompanying barbecue grills. All picnic areas are available on a first-come, first-served basis. A large, covered barbecue pavilion with ten picnic tables and two barbecue grills is available for use at no charge, however, advance reservation is required. Reservations must be made two weeks prior to event dates. Visit the nature center office or call 281-446-8588, for more information and to make reservations. Note: The spring and fall months are the busiest seasons for pavilion reservations.
A variety of innovative, educational, and entertaining programs are offered on most weekends. These free programs include a cornucopia of natural science-related topics, covering local reptiles and amphibians, botany, wild edibles and tree walks, birding tours, the park after dark, freshwater ecology and fishing programs, butterflies and wildscaping programs, and other environmental or nature topics. Other activities include hayrides, staff-led bicycle tours, canoe and pontoon boat trips on Spring Creek, Second Saturday Settlers in the homestead, Second Sunday Pickers (folk music) in the nature center, plus much more.
Jones Park hosts four annual festivals: Homestead Heritage Day, held the second Saturday in February, features historians and re-enactors highlighting many eras important in Texas’ history; NatureFest, held the first Saturday in March, offers speakers, booths, and activities relating to outdoor, natural science, and environmental topics; Pioneer Day, held the second Saturday in November, showcases settler life during the early 1830s; and an Old-Fashioned Christmas, held the second Saturday in December, brings 19th-century holiday traditions to life.
The Tadpoles Club, a regularly scheduled program for toddlers, meets each Wednesday of rotating months during the school year. This program uses a hands-on, crafty approach to introducing three- and four-year-olds and their parent/s to fun and interesting nature-related topics.
A week-long Summer Nature Camp for kids ages 5 through 12 is held in June and July each year. Programming focuses on kid-friendly outdoor nature studies and activities. Advance registration for Harris County residents begins the first Saturday in May and requires proof of age and Harris County residency.
Guided nature and settler history tours are available during the school year for groups of 10 to 80 students, or four classes with chaperones. Pioneer TOTS (preschool and kindergarten) and Pioneer TYKES (first graders and older) programming takes place in the homestead on select dates. Costumed staff and volunteers create a more visual, hands-on approach to demonstrating Texas settler history. All guided tours require preregistration.
All programs are free and open to the public. The program schedule is published quarterly. Due to space limitations, some programs require reservations or are open to one reservation per person/household. Group reservations are not allowed unless otherwise indicated. All private and school tours require preregistration. Anyone requiring special assistance to participate in any program should contact the park beforehand. Comfortable, closed-toe shoes and the use of insect repellent are recommended year-round.
The Jesse Jones Park Volunteers (JJPV) assist park personnel in a variety of ways, including park maintenance, festivals, programs, and behind-the-scenes duties. JJPV holds social meetings in the nature center the last Monday of each month.
Fishing in Jones Park is permitted on the banks of Spring Creek only, and compliance with state fishing laws is enforced by game wardens. Late winter and early spring are successful times for catching white bass and crappie; catfish can be caught year-round.
Specially formulated turtle food is available at the nature center and is a popular snack for the diverse population of water turtles at the Overlook Turtle Pond off the Canoe Launch Trail.
Access to a creekside canoe launch and take-out point is available with prior notice. Only point-to-point canoeing is allowed: Canoes may not be launched and taken out at the same place. Vehicles must be parked in the parking lot and cannot be left overnight. Jones Park offers periodic guided canoe trips using park canoes and equipment. Please check the program schedule for dates and times of upcoming trips.
The recycling drop-off currently accepts #2 plastic bags (grocery bags), aluminum cans, monofilament fishing line, paper, and flattened cardboard. Glass, plastic, tin, batteries, oil, and household hazardous waste are not accepted at this time.
Printed park maps with the trails layout and distances, along with park rules, are available at the nature center.
Nature Center, Office, and Park Hours:
(The park entrance gate closes 30 minutes prior to the park’s closing time.)
The nature center and office are open daily* from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The park is open daily* from 8 a.m. to dusk
*Closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.