The Rio Grande Valley (RGV) or the Lower Rio Grande Valley, informally called The Valley, is an area located in the southernmost tip of South Texas. It lies along the northern bank of the Rio Grande, which separates Mexico from the United States.The Rio Grande Valley of South Texas is not a valley, but a delta or floodplain containing many oxbow lakes or resacas formed from pinched-off meanders in earlier courses of the Rio Grande. Early 20th-century land developers, attempting to capitalize on unclaimed land, utilized the name “Magic Valley” to attract settlers and appeal to investors. The Rio Grande Valley is also called El Valle, the Spanish translation of “the valley“, by those who live there. The residents of the Rio Grande Valley occasionally refer to the area as “El Magico Valle del Rio Grande” (“The Magical Valley of the Rio Grande“), and also simply by the initials RGV . The The Rio Grande Valley of South Texas region is made up of four counties: Starr County, Hidalgo County, Willacy County, and Cameron County. As of January 1, 2012, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated the population of the Metropolitan Area know as the Rio Grande Valley at 1,305,782. According to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2008, 86 percent of Cameron County, 90 percent of Hidalgo County, 97 percent of Starr County, and 86 percent of Willacy County are Hispanic. The largest city in the The Rio Grande Valley of South Texas is Brownsville (Cameron County), followed by McAllen (Hidalgo County). Other major cities include Edinburg, Mission, Harlingen, Raymondville, Rio Grande City and Pharr. As any major Metropolitan Area the Rio Grande Valley is made up of many different cities, towns and communities. It is our desire to recognize each of these cities, towns and communities that makeup the Valley. As we list attractions, events and parks located in the The Rio Grande Valley of South Texas we include each of the communities that help to make it what it is today and in the future as it grows.
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The The Rio Grande Valley of South Texas encompasses several landmarks that attract tourists, and is primarily known for South Padre Island. Popular destinations include Port Isabel Lighthouse, Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge, Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge, and Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park. The Valley is a popular waypoint for tourists seeking to visit Mexico. Popular destinations across the border include: Matamoros, Nuevo Progreso, Río Bravo, and Reynosa, all located in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. The The Rio Grande Valley of South Texas also attracts large numbers of tourists from the Mexican states of Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, Distrito Federal, and Tamaulipas. The The Rio Grande Valley of South Texas region is known for its warm weather, exotic birds, and citrus orchards. The warm weather attracts a large number of retirees from the Northern United States and Canada (Winter Texans), during the winter months. The abundance of great shopping opportunities attracts Mexican Nationals throughout the year. Beach lovers and sports fishermen are drawn to South Padre Island, Port Isabel, and Port Mansfield on the Gulf Coast. Bird-watchers can watch a wide variety of exotic birds in locations throughout the region. Rio Grande Valley Texas has joined up with Bookings.com to provide you with many cost saving hotel deals.
The The Rio Grande Valley of South Texas is not really a valley, but actually a delta or floodplain. Cameron and Willacy counties are part of the Gulf Coast geographic region of Texas, whereas Hidalgo and Starr counties are part of the South Texas Plains region. The terrain is mostly flat, although there are some hills in the western part of the RGV in Starr county. Everyone knows Texas is big. However, one does not truly appreciate its size until one takes a Texas road trip. Texas is about 800 miles north-south and about 800 miles east-west depending on your route. A 10 hour drive from the RGV will take you to Mexico City, Mexico or to Dallas, Texas. Although the RGV is only four of Texas’ 254 counties, The Rio Grande Valley of South Texas is comparable in size to the US state of Connecticut.
Also called the Texas Tropics, the RGV is known for its hot weather. Winters are usually warm and comfortable. Its rarely cold, and the infrequent winter cold snaps do not last long. Summers are usually very hot. 100F degree weather starts in May and usually lasts until October.
The first Spanish settlers arrived in the Valley during the 1740s. Jose de Escandon was commissioned by the Spanish government to establish settlements in the area. At that time the RGV was part of the Spanish colony of Neuvo Santander. After Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821 the RGV was part of the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. In 1836 Texas won its independence from Mexico, and the RGV was disputed territory between Mexico and Texas. Texas claimed that the border with Mexico was at the Rio Grande River, whereas Mexico claimed that the border was at the Nueces River about 200 miles to the north. The dispute was finally resolved in 1848 at the end of the US – Mexican War. The first battles of the US – Mexican War were fought in the RGV in the Brownsville area. Many Mexican American families in The Rio Grande Valley can trace their ancestry to the first Spanish settlers that arrived in the 1740s. As a result a frequent expression they like to say is “we didn’t jump the border, the border jumped us.” During Spanish and Mexican times the RGV was mostly ranch land. Large numbers of Anglos immigrated to the region in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Those settlers were large scale farmers who established citrus farming in the region. Since the 1980s the RGV has witnessed an explosive population growth that continues to this day. Agriculture continues to be important to the economy, but trade with Mexico, and tourism are becoming increasingly important.
Check out local business members of the Rio Grande Valley YP Business Directory.
- El Sal del Rey
- First Lift Station at Chimney Park
- Los Ebanos Ferry Last hand operated ferry on the Rio Grande River
- La Lomita Historic District
- Fort Brown
- Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site
- Resaca de la Palma
- Rancho de Carricitos
- USMC War Memorial original plaster working model, located on the campus of the Marine Military Academy in Harlingen
- Museum of South Texas History Originally the County Court House and Jail, built in the late 19th century
- Battle of Palmito Ranch, location of the last battle of The Civil War
- Brownsville Raid
- Battle of Resaca de la Palma
Rio Grande Valley Professional Sports
There are six semi-professional sports teams that play in the Rio Grande Valley: the Rio Grande Valley Whitewings (baseball), the Edinburg Roadrunners (baseball), the Rio Grande Valley Flash (indoor soccer), the Rio Grande Valley Vipers(basketball), and the McAllen Toros (indoor football).
Education: Colleges, Universities and Technical Institutes located in the Rio Grande Valley include:
- University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV)
- Texas State Technical College
- South Texas College
- South Texas Vocational Technical Institute (STVT)
- University of Texas Health Science Center – Regional Academic Health Center
The Rio Grande Valley is reliant on agribusiness and tourism. Cotton, grapefruit, sorghum, maize, and sugarcane are its leading crops, and the region is the center of citrus production and the most important area of vegetable production in the State of Texas. Over the last several decades, the emergence of maquiladoras (factories or fabrication plants) has caused a surge of industrial development along the border, while international bridges have allowed Mexican nationals to shop, sell, and do business in the border cities along the Rio Grande River. The geographic inclusion of South Padre Island also drives tourism, particularly during the Spring Break season, during which South Padre Island becomes reminiscent of New Orleans during Mardi Gras. There is a substantial health-care industry with major hospitals and many clinics and private practices in Brownsville, Harlingen, and McAllen.
Texas is the third largest producer of citrus fruit in United States, the majority of which is grown in the Rio Grande Valley. Grapefruit make up over 70% of the Valley citrus crop, which also includes orange, watermelon, tangerine, tangelo and Meyer lemon production each Winter.