Cooper Lake State Park highlights astronomy, hiking, birding, and Buffalo Soldiers programs during April.
Cooper, TX— What better place to experience spring than Cooper Lake State Park! As perfect temperatures prevail across both park units, 16 programs focus on family fun and school learning, and we present general natural history education. In addition, we deliver astronomy programs at both park units this month. Hiking with a ranger is fun, educational, and builds healthy habits. Cooper Lake has over 100 common birds to observe. Free bird checklists are available at both park units. Wildlife abounds at the Park wrapped around our 20,000-acre lake oasis.
Who are the Buffalo Soldiers, and why are we hosting a two-day program on this subject? Enslaved Black people and freedmen fought in many battles in our country’s early years. But they could not serve as soldiers in times of peace. In 1866, Congress formed two new cavalry and four new infantry regiments. African American men would fill these units. At last, African- American citizens could serve as soldiers in the peace-time U.S. Army and be known as the “Buffalo Soldiers!”
The Ninth and Tenth Cavalry and the Twenty-Fourth and twenty-fifth Infantry Regiments served on the western frontier. Their posts ranged from Texas to the Dakota territories, and their main job was to support the United States’ westward expansion. Buffalo Soldiers built roads, telegraph lines, and forts. One group worked as some of the first park rangers in national parks. The Iron Riders pioneered off-road biking for the Army, riding thousands of miles across the country. The Ninth Cavalry came to Texas in 1867 and set up camp in forts along the frontier.
No one is quite sure from where the name “Buffalo Soldiers” came. One story says that Native Americans thought the black soldiers’ hair looked like buffalo fur. Another tale says their name reflected their fierce courage in battle. Wherever it came from, it became the name for all black servicemen. Today, servicemen and women consider the term “Buffalo Soldier” a badge of honor.
Buffalo Soldiers fought in the Spanish-American War and the two World Wars in later years. They served their country with strength, courage, and determination. Separating units by race came to an end in 1948, thanks to President Harry Truman. Today, men and women of all races serve in these historic regiments.
Cooper Lake State Park will host the Buffalo Soldiers Program at the South Sulphur Unit on Friday, April 29, and presented by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department statewide reenactors. School teachers are highly encouraged to bring their classes to attend and experience a unique historical trip back into time. On Saturday, April 30, the public can attend and gain a deeper understanding of our Texas and U.S. history through this entertaining historical reenactment program. All Buffalo Soldier Programs will be at the South Sulphur Unit.
Bring a picnic and enjoy the day-use area on a warm spring afternoon. Fish from the bank, off our pier, fishing wall, or rent a kayak and try your luck along the shoreline. Fish attractors have been placed around the Doctor’s Creek floating fishing pier and the fishing wall at South Sulphur to help increase fishing success. You can catch crappie, bluegill, bass, and catfish at both park units. Hike our trails, relax under a giant Post Oaktree, or camp at one of our tree-canopied campsites, recharging your soul!
Park entrance fees are $5 for adults, and kids 12 and under are always free. Senior Texans 65 or older will only pay $3 to enter the Park daily with a Bluebonnet Pass. Unlimited Park entrances for you and everyone in your vehicle with the purchase of a Texas State Park Annual Pass for $70, which is suitable for over 12 months. All programs are free with paid entrance fees. For more information on this or other events and programs at Cooper Lake State Park, please visit and like our Facebook pages (Cooper Lake State Park – South Sulphur 903-945-5256 and Cooper Lake State Park – Doctor’s Creek 903-395-3100).
Friday, April 1 – D.C.
Foolish Tales and Other Non-sense – Stargazing – 8:00 pm – Meet at Pelican Point parking area. Learn about the upcoming Lyrids Meteor Shower, spot a planet looking through our telescopes, then be on the lookout for a constellation or two. Dress for the weather. Bring a lawn chair and binoculars if you have them.
Saturday, April 2 — DC
Birding 101 – 10:30 am – Meet at Pelican Point Pavilion and Trail Head. Bring your binoculars, water, and sunscreen. We’ll walk, stop, and talk about the birds we see along the Cedar Creek South Loop.
Saturday, April 9 – D.C.
Skins and Skulls – 10:00 am – Who is the fastest or the furriest? Meet at Headquarters to find out. Get an inside look at some of the mammals and reptiles of the Park.
Sunday, April 10 – D.C.
Go Take a Hike – 10:00 am – Meet at Cedar Creek North Loop Trail Head. Join us on a short leisurely hike on Cedar Creek North Loop, getting a first-hand look at flora and fauna of the Park.
Saturday, April 16 – DC
Art in the Park – 10:00 am – Meet at Pelican Point Pavilion. An opportunity to let loose your inner artist!
Sunday, April 17 — D.C.
Earth Day – Let’s Do Our Part – 10:00 am – Meet at Pelican Point Pavilion. Earth Day teaches us how to reduce our carbon footprint, appreciate everything the earth gives us and take steps towards protecting the environment.
Saturday, April 23 – D.C.
Darting Dragonflies and Dashing Damselflies – 2:30 pm – Meet at Bluebonnet Day Use Area Dragonflies is a great controller of the mosquito population. A single dragonfly can eat 30 to hundreds of mosquitoes per day.
Saturday, April 2 – S.S.
Birding 101 – 2:30 pm – Meet at Heron Harbor Day Use Area. Bring your binoculars, water, and sunscreen. We’ll walk, stop, and talk about the birds we see at Heron Harbor Day Use.
Sunday, April 3 — S.S.
Becoming a Junior Ranger – 10:00 am – Meet at Heron Harbor Day Use Area and check off activities to earn your Junior Ranger badge.
Saturday, April 9 — S.S.
Skins and Skulls – 2:00 pm – Who is the fastest or the furriest? Meet at Heron Harbor – Get an inside look at some of the mammals and reptiles of the Park.
Saturday, April 16 – SS
Art in the Park – 2:00 pm – Meet at Heron Harbor Day Use Area. An opportunity to let loose your inner artist!
Friday, April 22 — S.S.
Stargazing – 8:00 pm – Meet at Heron Harbor swim beach area. Learn about the LyridsMeteor Shower, spot a planet looking through our telescopes, then find a constellation. Dress for the weather. Bring a lawn chair and binoculars if you have them.
Saturday, April 23 — S.S.
Darting Dragonflies and Dashing Damselflies – 9:30 am – Meet Heron Harbor Use Area. Dragonflies are a great controller of the mosquito population. A single dragonfly can eat 30 to hundreds of mosquitoes per day.
Sunday, April 24 — S.S.
Hike with a Master Naturalist – 10:00 am – Coyote Run Trail Head. Enjoy a short hike with a Registered Master Naturalist – Topic to be determined.
Friday, April 29 – S.S.
Buffalo Soldiers – All Day for Schools (Please make a reservation for your Public School or Homeschool group.) Uniformed Buffalo Soldiers will be talking about the Buffalo Soldiers’ formation, lives, history, and the African American Military Experience. In addition, multiple education stations are at Heron Harbor Day Use Area.
General History of the Buffalo Soldiers –
Frontier Baseball –
Animal Tracking –
Saturday, April 30 – S.S.
Buffalo Soldiers – 10:00 am – 4:00 pm – For the Public. Uniformed Buffalo Soldiers will be talking about the Buffalo Soldiers’ formation, lives, history, and the African American Military Experience. Multiple education stations at Heron Harbor Day Use Area. General History of the Buffalo Soldiers –
Frontier Baseball –
Animal Tracking –