Sunday, November 30, 2008

A touch of fall color

Heading from Fort Davis to Alpine, Mitre Peak dominates the view. Here and there, a touch of fall color rises to meet the landscape on one of the most scenic drives in the state.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sheer Grandeur at the Plaza Theatre

El Paso's Plaza Theatre was lovingly restored to its 1930 magnificence a few years ago, and currently offers a great line-up of quality entertainment for visitors and El Pasoans.
Look up to the painted ceiling, look down at the tiled floors, every inch of the theatre lends a feeling of majesty to a night's entertainment.

We can thank the City of El Paso and the El Paso Community Foundation for their partnership in restoring the theatre. For a brief history of the Plaza Theatre, click here.
For the theatre's home page and information on upcoming shows, click here.
For a virtual tour of the Plaza Theatre, click here. (It takes a few moments for the tour to load.)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Runner's Favorite

Runners visiting Terlingua/Study Butte can take a great 5 mile (out and back) route before they head into Big Bend National Park for a day on the trails.
For more information about this favoirte local run on Indian Head Road, visit:

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The First Thanksgiving

Before the Thanksgiving celebration in Plymouth in 1621, there was a celebration when the Spanish Explorer Juan de Onate arrived in present-day El Paso County. On April 30, 1598 the expedition arrived in the Rio Grande Valley, near San Elizario and the other mission communities of El Paso County.

You can read more about the First Thanksgiving Celebration here and here.

For travel information to the Mission Trail of El Paso County, click here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

View from the South Rim

One of the best hikes--and best views--in Texas is the South Rim hike in Big Bend National Park. Visibility into Mexico can stretch 100 miles on a clear day.
A 6.3 mile (one way) trek via the Laguna Meadow Trail, or the same distance via the Pinnacles and Boot Canyon Trails, hikers can make it in a long day or plan to backpack it and stay the night.
For more regional hiking information, visit:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Terlingua Ghostown

Terlingua Ghostown was once a thriving mining village, now a interesting artist mecca in the desert.
Located between Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park, many of the old miner residences have been renovated and turned into shops, galleries and homes. The cemetery is worth a stroll, too.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Charming Poolside Rooms

One of the grandest historic hotel accommodations in the region is the Cibolo Creek Ranch south of Marfa.
Three forts--the oldest from 1857--have been restored and converted to private hotel space on ranch land far from public roads.
You can read more about historic hotels in the region by visiting:

Saturday, November 22, 2008


These lovely blossoms were found at the El Paso Desert Botanical Garden, part of Keystone Heritage Park in El Paso.
For more information on nature centers in the region, click here.
For more interesting places to visit in our largest city, click here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Hiking to the Highest Point in Texas

Guadalupe Peak (8,749 ft) in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park is a must-do hike for a visitor to the region. The difficult 8.4 mile round-trip trek has been called one of the most spectacular hikes in the United States.
Start early on this rocky and sometimes very narrow trail to reach the summit shortly after lunch. This is a strenous climb--it is all up and then all down--but if you're fitness level is average or better you'll be glad you did it!
For more information on hiking in the region, visit:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Historic Places in Big Bend

Before Big Bend was a national park, it was home for ranches, mines, trading posts, cavalry camps and villages.
Visitors can find evidence of these special places all over the park. For more information about the special historical places, visit here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

El Paso Museum of Art

El Paso's Museum of Art is a centerpoint for culture in the region and a "must see" destination for visitors. Shoppers enjoy the great gift shop on the Museum's main floor, where you can often purchase specialty Papel Picado or Cut-Paper Art.
Pictured here is an El Paso-themed Papel Picado, cut by hand using special chisel-type tools and a hammer.
For an update on the Museum's exhibitions and programs, visit their website, here.
For a region-wide events calendar, click here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Our Mining Heritage

Fort Davis' Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center and Botanical Gardens has a mining heritage exhibit near the Visitor Center.
Volunteers are erecting interesting exhibits using retired mining equipment, ores mined in the Chihuahuan Desert, interpretive displays and historic photographs. Some of the artifacts were used in the locally filmed movie, "There Will Be Blood," starring Daniel Day Lewis.
For updates on the mining exhibit, visit the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute's website.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Movie Stars

This photo of Jack Hoxie is on display at the Overland Trail Museum in Fort Davis. Hoxie was a silent film star who tried to develop a movie studio at the old Fort, now the Fort Davis National Historic Site.
The Museum of the Big Bend has a video exhibit of the filmmaking tradition in the region--many films have been made here, including recent Oscar winners, "There Will Be Blood," and "No Country for Old Men."
In the coming months, we'll be developing content for our Texas Mountain Trail website about the movies of the region. For now, please visit our "Movie Traveler: Kevin Costner Fandango Tour!"
For information on visiting the Overland Trail Museum in Fort Davis, click here. Nestled in the shadow of Sleeping Lion Mountain, the museum tells the story of early life in Jeff Davis County.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Shopping for the Ranch

Visitors to Alpine can rub shoulders with ranch owners and cowboys at the Big Bend Saddlery. Since 1905, the business has provided the Big Bend area with saddles and leathergoods, hats and other necessary items for ranch life.
Connect with Big Bend Saddlery here.
For Alpine's Visitor Center website, click here.
For a list of Alpine attractions on our Texas Mountain Trail website, click here!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

An Artist's Home

Visitors from around the world flock to Marfa to see Donald Judd's home, work and Chinati Foundation. (This is a view the tour of Judd's home compound and courtyard.)
If you're a fan of minimalist art, you already know about Chinati..possibly the best place to view the work of Judd, Dan Flavin, John Chamberlain and others.
For information on Marfa, visit here and here.
For information on the Chinati Foundation, click here.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Fall Beauty

The brilliant blossoms of a Red Fairy Duster grace the El Paso Desert Botanical Garden at Keystone Heritage Park.
For a list of all the Mountain Desert Nature Centers in the region, including Keystone, click here!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ernst Tinaja Trail in Big Bend National Park

A rare shady place along the Ernst Tinaja Trail!
This is one of several backcountry hikes you can take in Big Bend National Park.
The trail is short--just 1.4 miles--but it is difficult to get there. From the entrance of the high clearance 4-wheel drive-only Old Ore Road near Rio Grande Village, the trailhead is a wild five mile drive.
For more info on hiking in the region, visit:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Museum of the Big Bend

If you're looking for a great introduction to the region, your best bet is the Museum of the Big Bend on the campus of Sul Ross State University in Alpine. Video and interactive displays tell visitors about the geology, geography, archaeology, history and culture of this fascinating and beautiful part of Texas!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Rio Grande Leopard Frog

We spotted (no pun intended) this fellow in the spring-fed pool along the Modesta Canyon Trail at the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center and Botanical Gardens near Fort Davis.
Rio Grande Leopard Frogs stay at the pool year-round, which looks like a perfectly lovely place to live!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Take Your Dog to the Post Office Day

Most every day, in every community in the region this is a familiar sight outside the post office. This fella is waiting for his owner outside Van Horn's post office.

Visit Van Horn's website, here.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Underneath the Texas Madrone in the fall

The Texas Madrone is one of the most beautiful trees in the Chihuahuan Desert.
Found in protected canyons (these photos came from the Modesta Canyon Trail at the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center and Botanical Gardens and the Guadalupe Mountains National Park Devil's Hall Trail) and on mountain slopes at higher elevation, this time of year the trees develop and drop their red berries.
The bark peels off in sheets, revealing lovely tones of white, pink and red underneath, giving the tree the common name of "Ladies Legs."
For information on hiking in the region, visit:

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Modesta Canyon Trail

If you're in Fort Davis with a few hours set aside for a great hike, consider the Modesta Canyon Trail at the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center and Botanical Gardens. In the middle of the hike, there's a small spring-fed pool in a shady spot...a great place to rest!
It is a 1.75 mile loop but is rated moderately strenous due to its rocky, uneven footing. Plan to set aside 1.5 to 2 hours for the hike, plus more time to check out the other trails and the great gift shop at the visitor center.
For more information on hiking in the region, visit:

Friday, November 07, 2008

Something old; something new

A new/old sign went up in Van Horn last week, adorning the Trost and Trost-designed Hotel Capitan Building, restoring the skyline to what it was many years ago.

The folks responsible for Fort Davis' Limpia Hotel and Marfa's Hotel Paisano (both on our Historic Hotels list!) have purchased the building long housing Van Horn's bank, and are turning it back into hotel.

Here's a historic look at the sign atop the Hotel Capitan, from an image in the collection of the Clark Hotel Museum in Van Horn and the Portal to Texas History! Click here to see it!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Butterflies in the City

When funding is available, the kind folks at the El Paso Desert Botanical Garden, part of the Keystone Heritage Park in El Paso, raise butterflies in their greenhouse.

Last weekend, they released their fall butterflies, pictured here.

Click here for a list of our regional nature centers.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Birding at the Keystone Wetlands

Surrounded by the City of El Paso, one of the most surprising natural places is the Keystone Wetlands, which along with the Keystone Dam Archaeological Site and the El Paso Desert Botanical Garden, is part of the Keystone Heritage Park.
A list of birding species of the Keystone Heritage Park can be found on our Texas Mountain Trail birding page:
Other nature centers in the region are listed here.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Open your tent in the morning to watch the sunrise

All over the region, there are great places to camp. This campsite is in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, close to a major trailhead.

For information about camping in the state and national parks in the Texas Mountain Trail region, visit our special camping page:

Monday, November 03, 2008

Sometimes you're rewarded by heading out the back door

When you visit the Overland Trail Museum in Fort Davis, ask if you can see the tackroom in one of the outbuildings at the back of the property.

The tackroom has a display of saddles and brands used in the area, and on your way there, you've got a great view of Sleeping Lion Mountain!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

From the Cactus Greenhouse

The Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center and Botanical Gardens in Fort Davis has lots to offer the visitor: hiking trails, botanical gardens, nature and mining exhibits, a great little bookstore and gift shop, and tucked away high on the property, a cactus greenhouse.

Rain or shine, it is a great place to see the diversity of native cacti.

More about CDRI, here.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Relaxing and Educational Group Travel

There's more than one way to experience Far West Texas...have you ever considered group travel? The Davis Mountains Education Center provides elderhostel and group trips for all ages out of their comfortable Fort Davis facility. (See the hiking sticks just waiting for you?) You can read more about travel opportunities through DMEC here, or check out other group travel options here.