Home Featured Fall activities at Cooper Lake State Park approaching

Fall activities at Cooper Lake State Park approaching

by Logan Vaughan

Fall officially begins this month and always brings a variety of fun opportunities to be experienced at Cooper Lake State Park, A total of 27 programs focused on family fun, recreation, and learning about our natural world will be offered.

Our highlighted program topics for September are Gyotaku and Dutch Oven Cooking. Learn a traditional form of Japanese art called Gyotaku (Gee – oh – tak – oo) that began over 100 years ago as a way for fishermen to keep a tangible record of the fish they caught. Freshly caught fish were painted with non-toxic ink and covered with a piece of rice paper imprinting the image of the fish. The prints were lifelike and retained the patterns and textures of the fish. In addition, learn the history of Dutch ovens and participate in a hands-on demonstration. Learn by the fireside with a ranger and experience this time-honored cowboy and camping tradition by sharing a story and a hearty dish.

Every year, the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD) partners with the Girl Scouts to explore the natural wonders found across our country in a celebration called “Girl Scouts Love State Parks.” On September 11th and 12th, Girl Scouts will celebrate their love for the outdoors in state parks across the nation. In that theme, join us Saturday, September 11th, for “Beginning Bird Watching” at 10 a.m. at the South Sulphur Unit – Honey Creek Day-Use Area Amphitheater where you will learn about the many species of birds that call our park home for part or all year-round. Then, on Sunday, September 12th – we will present the “Beautiful Bountiful Butterflies” at 10 a.m. at the Doctors Creek Unit – Pelican Point Day Use Area where we’ll explore these biological marvels of nature. All programs are free with a valid entrance permit.

The perfect way to bring a fun and learning-packed Saturday at the park to a fitting conclusion is relaxing at a picnic table watching your food cook with family and friends on one of our many day-use picnic grills. If you are camping, relaxing around a campfire in the evening is amazing! The cooler nights will add to the experience. The flickering light of a campfire will lift your spirits and reconnect you to days gone by. There is no better place to share a story and eat a meal!

Fish from the bank, off our piers, fishing wall, or rent a kayak and try your luck along the shoreline. Fish attractors have been placed around the Doctors Creek floating fishing pier and the fishing wall at South Sulphur to help increase fishing success. We are also attracting catchable fish to the shore areas in other ways with three fish feeders (two at the South Sulphur Unit and one at Doctors Creek). Crappie, bluegill, bass, and catfish are commonly caught at both park units. Fishing licenses are not required if you are fishing from the bank or fishing pier at Cooper Lake State Park.

Other popular activities are hiking our trails or just resting under a giant post oak tree or camping at one of our 200 plus tree-canopied sites. Park entrance fees are $5 for adults; kids 12 and under 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 can be accomplished with the purchase of a Texas State Park Annual Pass for $70, which is good for over 12 months. Buy your pass and let your Texas State Park adventure begin!

For more information on this or other events and programs, 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).

Doctor’s Creek Unit (Northside of Cooper Lake – Delta County)

  • Saturday, September 4—*Reading with the Ranger at 10 a.m. Meet at the Pelican Point Day Use Area. Join us for a nature themed story hour and craft afterwards.
    *Gyotaku Painting Fish Prints at 2:00 p.m. Meet at Pelican Point Day Use Area. Come join us using a traditional Japanese method of making fish prints.
  • Friday, September 10—*Identifying Heat Illness at 2 p.m. Meet at the Doctor’s Creek Headquarters. Discover the signs and symptoms of heat illness, learn how to treat and or prevent heat illness.
    *Night Hike at 8 p.m. Meet at the Pelican Point Day Use Area taking a short hike on a trail looking out for the creatures of the summer night-time.
  • Sunday, September 12—*Sunrise Meditation at 7:00 a.m. Meet at the Pelican Point Day Use Area. Join us as the sun rises over the cove with a Tai Chi style morning warm-up. *Beautiful Bountiful Butterflies at 10 a.m. Meet at the Pelican Point Day Use Area parking lot. We’ll take a short stroll down the South Loop trail, on the lookout for butterflies.
  • Friday, September 17—*Herons— at 2 p.m. Meet at the Bluebonnet Day Use Area Fishing Pier. We’ll take a shoreline stroll learning about the variety of Heron in our Park. Things to bring – water bottle, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, your own binoculars and cameras.
  • Saturday, September 18 -*Reading with the Ranger at 2 p.m. Meet at the Pelican Point Day Use Area. Join us for a nature themed story hour and craft afterwards.
    *Kid Fish – Summer Edition at 4 p.m. Meet at the Bluebonnet Day Use Area fishing pier. No pole, no worries we have a few loaners available or bring your own gear.
    *Star Gazing at 7:30 p.m. Meet at the Pelican Point Day Use Swim Beach. Our Ranger will point out some of the varied constellations for that evening.
  • Saturday, September 25—*Amphibians—10 a.m. Meet at the Bluebonnet Day Use Area Parking Area. Join our Ranger as she points out some amphibians after we take a short walk to the fishing pier area. Bring your water bottle, bug spray, cameras, and dress for the weather.
    *Map Reading – Navigate! – 2 p.m. Meet at the Pelican Point Day Use Area. Learn how to read a map. What does it mean to orient the map? What do all those lines and squiggles mean and why do we need those lines and squiggles?
  • Sunday, September 26 -*Predator or Prey? – 10 a.m. Meet at the Pelican Point Day Use Area. To eat or be eaten, that is the reality of life in the wild. Learn a rhyme to remember how to identity the predator or the prey.

South Sulphur Unit (Southside of Cooper Lake – Hopkins County)

  • Friday, September 3 –
    *Art in the Park at 10 a.m. Meet at the Heron Harbor Day Use Area. Let loose your inner artist as we observe the nature around us. *Camp Fire 101 at 2 p.m. Meet at the Heron Harbor Day Use Area. What is tender, kindling, fuel and how do you know when to use which one? Participate in a hands-on demonstration.
  • Saturday, September 4—*Reading with the Ranger at 2 p.m. Meet at the Heron Harbor Day Use Area. Join us for a nature themed story hour and craft afterwards.
    *Kid Fish – Summer Edition at 4:30 p.m. Meet at the Heron Harbor Day Use Area fishing pier. No pole, no worries we have a few loaners available or bring your own gear.
    *Star Gazing at 7:30 p.m. Meet at the Heron Harbor Day Use Swim Beach. Our Ranger will point out some of the varied constellations for that evening. We’ll also have our telescope set-up to view a couple of the night sky objects.
  • Sunday, September 5—*Photography Walk at 10 a.m. Meet at the Sunset Cove Day Use Area for a short walk around the area. We’ll discuss several tips and tricks for photography.
  • Saturday, September 11—*Beginning Bird Watching 101 at 10 a.m. Meet at the Honey Creek Day Use Area Amphitheatre. Join our Ranger as we learn some Bird Watching 101 basics. *Identifying Heat Illness at 2 p.m. Meet at the Heron Harbor Day Use Area. Discover the signs and symptoms of heat illness, learn how to treat and or prevent heat illness.
  • Friday, September 17—*Turtles at 10 a.m. Meet at the Heron Harbor Day Use Area near the fishing pier. We’ll take a shoreline stroll learning about the variety of turtles in our Park.
  • Saturday, September 18–*Dutch Oven Cooking at 9 a.m. Meet at the Heron Harbor Day Use Area. Join our experts from the Lone Star Dutch Oven Society as they cook up their favorite dishes. Get a taste of history and learn how to cook with a Dutch Oven! Demonstrations will begin around 9AM and samples will be served around Noon.
  • Sunday, September 19–*Darting Damselflies and Dashing Dragonflies at 2 p.m. Meet at the Heron Harbor Day Use Area. Join us for a short nature walk as we discuss the many and varied Damselflies and Dragonflies of the South Sulphur Unit.
    *Nature Journaling at 2 p.m. Meet at the Heron Harbor Day Use Area. Start your own Nature Journal as you explore the park.
  • Friday, September 24—*Dutch Oven 101 at 5:30 p.m. Meet at the Oak Grove Camping area. Join our Ranger as she teaches the history of Dutch Ovens, and you can participate in a hands-on demonstration of Dutch Oven Cooking 101.
    *Fireside with the Ranger at 7 p.m. Meet at the Oak Grove Camping area. Enjoy the experience of a time-honored camping tradition. Bring your own makings for ‘Smores.

Cost: Park programs are open to the public and free with park entrance fee ($5 per persons ages 13 and up; children 12 and under are always free!). No need to register — just show up!

*Events and programs are subject to cancellation due to weather, if cancelled an update will be made to our Facebook page. Please contact park staff for more information and the latest updates.

By Steve Killian

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