Laws & Policies


The National Park Service carries out its responsibilities in parks and programs under the authority of federal laws, regulations, and Executive Orders, and in accordance with policies and Director's Orders established by the Director of the National Park Service and the Secretary of the Interior.

A person wearing a reflective vest that says Police. They are directing traffic.
Park law enforcement directing traffic to a sobriety check point during a holiday weekend.

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Law Enforcement

Padre Island National Seashore is an area of concurrent federal jurisdiction. All NPS law enforcement functions within the park are carried out by commissioned park rangers within the Division of Visitor & Resource Protection who are duly appointed federal law enforcement officers who are authorized to carry firearms, conduct investigations, make arrests and serve warrants pursuant to law and policy. Their duties include law enforcement, emergency medical services, search and rescue, wildland and structural firefighting, as well as visitor safety, assistance, and information.

Along with the federal laws, regulations, and policies listed, commissioned park rangers also have the authority to enforce applicable Texas Statutes.

Code of Federal Regulations and Other Federal Laws

Federal regulations that apply to all National Park Service sites can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations under Title 36. Among the federal laws that are enforced by commissioned park rangers are those within Title 16 of the United States Code (USC) that apply to the National Park System or all federal lands, federal criminal laws within Title 18 USC and various federal drug laws within Title 21 USC.


Superintendent's Compendium

In the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), superintendents of each unit in the National Park System have the option to develop specific designations, closures, permit requirements, and other restrictions to address unique management needs in their park unit. Within the CFR, superintendents are given the authority to amend, modify, relax, or make more stringent certain regulations. These park-specific regulations are incorporated into a document called the Superintendent's Compendium and are an extension of the CFR. These publications help direct the park's management efforts to best serve the mission of the National Park Service and the needs of visitors.


Common Law and Policy Questions

The following are common law and policy questions and the applicable regulations concerning them. This is not an exhaustive list of rules in the park. If you have questions concerning laws or policies, please review the resources above or contact the park

Federal law allows people who can legally possess firearms under applicable federal, state, and local laws, to legally possess firearms in Padre Island National Seashore. 

It is your responsibility to understand and comply with all applicable state, local, and federal firearms laws before entering the park.

Section 46.02 (a-5) of the Texas Penal Code states that people in Texas carrying a handgun, that is partially or wholly visible, must carry it in a holster. 

Federal law prohibits firearms in certain facilities in this park (such as visitor centers and government offices): those places are marked with signs at all public entrances. For more information see 18 U.S.C. 930.

Read more about firearms in national parks.

Launching, landing, or operating an unmanned aircraft from or on lands and waters administered by the National Park Service within the boundaries of Padre Island National Seashore is prohibited except as approved in writing by the superintendent.

Read more about unmanned aircrafts in national parks.

On the Laguna Madre side: Bird Island Basin offers a boat ramp with access to Laguna Madre.

On the Gulf of Mexico side: Zodiacs, Avons, and other soft hulled motorized vessels less than 14 feet in length are permitted to launch on South Beach south of the 5-mile marker. All other gulf beaches are closed to launching motorized soft hulled motorized vessels. Hard hull motorized vessels are prohibited from launching into the Gulf of Mexico from all beaches within the park. For more information see Superintendent's Compendium Section 1.5.

All park waters: Launching or operating an airboat is prohibited. For more information on what vessel operations are prohibited see 36 CFR Section 3.8.

A valid Texas fishing license package (license and endorsement) is required to fish in the park although exceptions may apply, and fees vary. Children under 17 years of age do not require a license. Visitors fishing within Padre Island National Seashore must follow the fishing license requirements in accordance with the laws and regulations of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Fishing licenses are not available for purchase inside of the national seashore.

Learn more about fishing in the park.

With the exception of waterfowl, NO game (wildlife) may be transported through the park by any means. For more information, see Superintendent's Compendium Section 2.2.

For additional regulations on hunting see 36 CFR Section 7.75 Padre Island National Seashore (b) Hunting.

No. Possessing or using a mineral or metal detector, magnetometer, side scan sonar, other metal detecting device, or subbottom profile are prohibited. 

For additional information see 36 CFR Section 2.1 Preservation of natural, cultural and archeological resources.

Seashells and sea beans: An individual may collect up to 1 gallon of unoccupied seashells and/or sea beans. Commercial harvesting/collection is prohibited. For details on how often collection may occur, see Superintendent's Compendium Section 2.1.

Other items: The collcetion of plants, animal parts (bone, antlers, eggs, nests, etc.), cultural or archeological resources, etc. is prohibited. For more information, see 36 CFR Part 2


No. All vehicles operating in the park must have a valid state or government-issued vehicle registration and license plate issued for public highway travel. The state of Texas does not register or license UTVs for highway use. The Texas OHV (Off Highway Vehicle) license plate does not meet this standard.
For more information, see Superintendent's Compendium Section 1.5


Report a Crime or Suspicious Activity

Emergency: If you have an emergency please call 9-1-1.

Non-Emergency: For assistance during a non-emergency situation while visiting the national seashore please call the Kleberg County dispatch center at (361) 595-8500 ext. 1.

The continued protection of our national parks is a job that involves all of us. If you see something suspicious in any National Park Service (NPS) location, or if you have information that could aid an investigation, stay safe and tell us about it. Talk to any NPS employee for help in reporting suspicious activity, or give the Special Agents of the NPS Investigative Services Branch a call or submit a tip online.

NPS Investigative Service Branch Tip Line: (888) 653-0009 (Voice or Text)

Last updated: November 26, 2023

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 181300
Corpus Christi, TX 78480


(361) 949-8068
Malaquite Visitor Center information line.

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