Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Yesterday's Snow at Historic Hotel El Capitan


The newest lodging addition to Van Horn's hotel options is also the oldest!  Travelers visiting the "Crossroads of the Texas Mountain Trail" can now stay in the historic Hotel El Capitan, which first opened in 1930 and reopened this year!

The Hotel El Capitan is one of our cycle-friendly and historic hotels in the Texas Mountain Trail region.  See the list of historic hotels here, and cycle-friendly hotels here!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hiking in Guadalupe Mountains National Park


One of the least visited National Parks offers some terrific hiking.  Click here to learn about hiking trails in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park.  Overnight accommodations include camping in the park, or staying at a hotel, motel, campground or RV park in Van Horn.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Snowy Sierra Diablos on Hwy 54


A rare snowfall graces the upper elevations on the Sierra Diablos on Hwy 54 north of Van Horn.  This is a great cycling, motorcycling and car ride up to the Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

West Texas December Sunset


Taken in Marathon by the Gage Hotel's Wilma Schindeler, and a great iPhone shot!

From the Texas Mountain Trail website listing of regional historic hotels:
"Made with adobe bricks fashioned on site, Alfred Gage opened this Trost and Trost-designed hotel in 1927, and The Gage quickly became a gathering place for many ranchers and miners of the area. The renovated hotel is a frequent stop for visitors on their way to Big Bend National Park. www.gagehotel.com"


The Gage is also cycle-friendly! 

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Cycling this week on Hwy 54


A rare rainy day doesn't deter cyclists on one of the best, undiscovered cycling routes in Texas.  This was taken less than 10 miles from Van Horn, on Hwy 54, the road to Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

Cyclists visiting the area may choose to stay at the historic Hotel El Capitan, one of our Texas Mountain Trail cycle-friendly hotels...check out the entire list on www.texasmountaintrail.com/bike and regional cycling information! 

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Davis Mountains from Hwy 90


The drive from Van Horn to Marfa takes you through wide-reaching ranchland, surrounded by lovely mountains in every direction.  Here's a view of the Davis Mountains from Hwy 90, with the highest peak, Mount Livermore in the center.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Scenic Ross Maxwell Drive in Big Bend National Park


Texas Monthly magazine calls this drive the best bike ride in Texas...and they're right, but it is also a great motorcycling ride and car ride, too.  In the heart of Big Bend National Park, the drive gives you terrific views of the mountains and the desert floor to the Rio Grande.  You are treated to the sights of Mule Ears and Santa Elena Canyon, and you can stop at Castolon Historic District and La Harmonia store.

For information on cycling in the area, visit our Texas Mountain Trail cycling page: www.texasmountaintrail.com/bike.  Ditto, our motorcycle page, www.texasmountaintrail.com/motorcycle

Friday, December 18, 2009

Looking towards Hwy 54 from Guadalupe Mountains National Park


One of the undiscovered jewels of the region is the drive (or bicycle or motorcycle ride) between Van Horn and Guadalupe Mountains National Park.  Hwy 54 is extremely scenic and is rarely traveled, making it a satisfying ride for the traveler.

For information on cycling in the region, visit our biking page:  www.texasmountaintrail.com/bike
For information on traveling by motorcycle, visit www.texasmountaintrail.com/motorcycle

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Flowering beauty at Hueco Tanks


Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site in El Paso County appeals to the birder, hiker, rock art enthusiast, camper and rock climber.  In fact, it offers so much to so many that visitation is limited to protect the resources of the park, particularly the ancient rock art.

That shouldn't dissuade you from visiting Hueco Tanks...just make arrangements well ahead of time.  For more information, click here.

What does Hueco mean?  And what are tanks? The 860.3-acre park is named for the large natural rock basins or "huecos" that have furnished a supply of trapped rain water to dwellers and travelers in this arid region of west Texas for millennia.

Thanks to TPWD for this great photo!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A respite from the city


El Paso is FULL of surprises, not the least of which being the home of the largest urban state park in Texas, the Franklin Mountains State Park!  Hike rugged terrain in 37 square miles of desert wilderness, scrub vegetation and open space with 125 miles of multi-use trails that are especially popular with mountain bikers, hikers and mountain climbers.  North Franklin Peak rises 3,000 feet above the city, and the park offers spectacular views from many locations.  Here's a link to the park's website.

Preservation of the park's resources are a key issue.  To read more, visit the website of the Franklin Mountains Wilderness Coalition and the elpasonaturally blog.

Thanks to TPWD for this great photo of the Franklin Mountains State Park!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

One More from Dell City


We have had such a great response from Rob Hann's photos of Six Man Football in Texas, we've decided to post a bonus photo!  Here's another image of Dell City's team.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Deserted States of America


We have been most fortunate to feature the photography of Rob Hann all week.  His love for West Texas comes through his work, and we were delighted he granted us permission to show it to you.  This is our last image from Hann's series, "Desert States of America."   Writes Hann:  "The deserts of the American West hold a particular fascination for me. Born and raised in England's green and pleasant land, I've lived in busy, crowded cities since my late teens. The vast open spaces of the West are a place of silence, wonder and mystery. I like to get lost there whenever I can."

Please visit his website to read more about this talented photographer.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Prada Marfa


From his "Deserted States of America" series, here is Rob Hann's image of Prada Marfa.  An art installation just north of the tiny town of Valentine, on Hwy 90, this replica of a Prada store in the middle of the vast Chihuahuan Desert delights visitors on their drive between Van Horn and Marfa.'

Rob Hann's website shows several series of work, including Deserted States of America.  His bio is here.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Deserted States of America


This week we're honored to be featuring the work of Rob Hann, a British photographer with a love for West Texas.  Here's his image of Van Horn's famous "Diesel Fried Chicken" sign, at the intersection of I-10 and Hwy 90, in his "Deserted States of America" series.  The sign was mentioned in one of Cormac McCarthy's books.

Hann speaks about this series: 
"The deserts of the American West hold a particular fascination for me. Born and raised in England's green and pleasant land, I've lived in busy, crowded cities since my late teens. The vast open spaces of the West are a place of silence, wonder and mystery. I like to get lost there whenever I can."

We'll feature two more of Hann's work from "Deserted States of America" Sunday and Monday.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Rob Hann's "Six Man Football in West Texas"


Our last showing of Hann's photographs of the Sierra Blanca Vaqueros, from his series "Six Man Football in West Texas."

Hann writes about the series:  "Football is important in Texas. The tiny, remote towns of Far West Texas are often too small for high schools to sustain a regular football programme, sometimes having less than 50 students, boys and girls, in the school. In that part of the country Six Man Football thrives. Devised in Nebraska in 1934, the game is played throughout West Texas today and is a big part of small town life. The game is fast and high scoring and all kids, whatever their abilities, can play their part. I loved my time out there and remember well the thrill of driving an empty desert road towards a distant patch of green under lights burning bright in the Texas night."

Tomorrow, we'll feature a photograph from Rob Hann's series, "Deserted States of America."

Rob Hann's bio.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sierra Blanca Vaqueros


One of Rob Hann's photographs of Sierra Blanca's Six Man Football team from his series, "Six Man Football in West Texas."

We're featuring Hann's work all week.  See entries from the past two days for more images from Hann's Six Man series!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Dell City Cougars


Another photograph from this week's featured photographer's series on "Six Man Football in West Texas," by Rob Hann.

To read more about this and other series by this photographer, click here.  Rob Hann's distinguished biography is here.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Photographer Rob Hann's "Six Man Football in West Texas"


All this week, we're featuring the work of photographer Rob Hann.  Hann was born in England, and has worked for many publications in the UK and the US, including The Times Magazine, The Telegraph Magazine, Wired (UK), Glamour, and many others.  He enjoys West Texas, and has two series on his website which we'll feature here this week:  "Six Man Football in West Texas," and "Deserted States of America."

Here's a shot of the Sierra Blanca Vaqueros, from Hann's series, "Six Man Football in West Texas."  Hann's website says: 
"Football is important in Texas. The tiny, remote towns of Far West Texas are often too small for high schools to sustain a regular football programme, sometimes having less than 50 students, boys and girls, in the school. In that part of the country Six Man Football thrives. Devised in Nebraska in 1934, the game is played throughout West Texas today and is a big part of small town life. The game is fast and high scoring and all kids, whatever their abilities, can play their part. I loved my time out there and remember well the thrill of driving an empty desert road towards a distant patch of green under lights burning bright in the Texas night."  

To read Hann's bio, click here.

Monday, December 07, 2009

More from the Big House at Big Bend Ranch State Park



More from the Big House, an elegant lodging option for rugged Big Bend Ranch State Park.  Check yesterday's entry for photos and more information!

For rates and information about other lodging optins, the Park's lodging page is here.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Staying at the Big House at Big Bend Ranch State Park


Near the center of the park is the historic Sauceda ranch complex, including the "Big House" which is open for visitor lodging.

The park's website says this about the Big House:
"The historic Sauceda ranch house (aka. Big House), was built in 1908 and remodeled in the 1940s. With its vaulted ceilings, huge sunroom, fireplaces and impressive furniture, it features one of the more unique residential architecture styles of its day, and contains three bedrooms/three baths to accommodate eight persons. There is a well appointed kitchen available at the Big House, or arrangements may be made for meals in the Sauceda Lodge Bunkhouse dining area., located on the grounds."

There's also more photos and information about rates and bookings on this page.

Check tomorrow's post for more photos of the Big House!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Buffalo Soldier history


As the west became more populated and cattle drives and stagecoach lines became more prevalent, the Mescalo Apache began to defend their land by raiding and attacking settlements.  After the conclusion of the Civil War, the federal government sent units of African American soldiers to the west to protect settlers and travelers from the threat of attack.

The soldiers were named, Buffalo Soldiers, because of their dark skin, curly hair, and the intensity of their fighting.  They made an impact all over the Texas Mountain Trail region.

To read about the Buffalo Soliders stationed at Fort Davis National Historic Site, click here and here.
To read about Buffalo Soldier history in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, click here and here.
The Museum of the Big Bend has exhibits on Buffalo Soldiers.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Snow!


Most areas in the region had at least some snow over the past couple of days, and the mountains are beautiful!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Six Mile Mountain in Van Horn


Van Horn's skyline is dominated by Six Mile Mountain north of town.  Six Mile (because it is three miles to the mountain from town, and three miles back!) can be seen for miles by visitors heading west from Kent, and on Hwy 54 (where this photo was taken) on the way to Guadalupe Mountains National Park!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Day of the Dead puppet


One of the great things about being so close to the border is the ability to celebrate Mexican culture, including Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos).  This was taken during El Paso's celebration, in late October/early November.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

View from El Capitan trail, Guadalupe Mountains National Park


One of the best hikes in all of Texas is the Guadalupe Peak trail in Guadalupe Mountains National Park.  Not only can you see miles and miles of the Chihuahuan Desert floor below, but at the top of the trail, you really ARE at the highest point in Texas. (8,749 ft!)


For more regional hiking information, visit:  www.texasmountaintrail.com/hike

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Undiscovered and Beautiful


Just north of Van Horn there's a wonderful road for running, cycling, motorcycling and just plain motoring.  Hwy 54 stretches from the Crossroads of the Texas Mountain Trail--Van Horn--to Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

Van Horn is graced with the historic Hotel El Capitan, our newest cycle-friendly hotel, and they're eager to support cyclists in their rides around the region, including those on Hwy 54.

For regional running information, visit: www.texasmountaintrail.com/run
For regional cycling information, visit: www.texasmountaintrail.com/bike
For regional motorcycling information, visit: www.texasmountaintrail.com/motorcycle




Friday, November 27, 2009

Cycling the River Road, Hwy 170, along Big Bend Ranch State Park


Big Bend Ranch State Park distinguishes itself as a premier mountain biking opportunity, but the park also has a long stretch of the scenic River Road and offers challenging road biking too!  Here's a shot of that road, just north of the Rio Grande.

For regional cycling information, check out the Texas Mountain Trail biking page: www.texasmountaintrail.com/bike including information on our cycle-friendly hotels!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Colorado Canyon River Access on the Rio Grande


A lovely section of Big Bend Ranch State Park along the Rio Grande, and one of the most accessible spots for river access.  Visit Big Bend has some great information on Colorado Canyon here, citing its uniqueness because it was carved by the river out of volcanic material, and because of its higher gradient, it offers more rapids!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Texas Mountain Trail: What is it?


The Texas Mountain Trail promotes and supports heritage tourism in the six westernmost counties of Texas--from Marathon and Big Bend National Park all the way through to El Paso.  We're a regionally-based non-profit organization--we market the region to travelers, and we help communities and attractions improve their visitor-readiness.  We provide a website and this blog to introduce new experiences to travelers; and we work to make it easier for you to visit the region, with efforts like our cycle-friendly hotel program.

The Texas Mountain Trail signs you see along the highways  mark the original driving route designated as part of a 1968 plan to promote Texas in conjuction with HemisFair in San Antonio.  In 1997, the state legislature gave the responsibility of building a statewide tourism program to the Texas Historical Commission, which provides funding and coordination for all the heritage tourism regions.  You can read more about the statewide program here.

There are nine other heritage trail regions in the state, each providing services to local communities and attractions to preserve and promote what makes Texas great!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Join the Compadres, Friends of Big Bend Ranch State Park



A new group has formed to support Big Bend Ranch State Park, the Compadres del Rancho Grande!  The role of the group is to support and advocate for the wildest and largest state park in Texas....to enhance the visitor experience and educate the public on the wonders of the park.

To learn more and join yourself, click here!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mountain Biking at Big Bend Ranch State Park


Big Bend Ranch State Park offers some of the greatest mountain biking experiences anywhere.  The latest issue of the park's newsletter El Solitario has lots and lots of information about mountain biking in the park, including descriptions of many of the park's trails.  You can download a copy here.

Because of the tough desert climate and terrain, riders are cautioned to bring the equivalent of two large camelbacks and always carry two spares....prepare for some wild fun!

For information about cycling throughout the Texas Mountain Trail region of Far West Texas, visit: www.texasmountaintrail.com/bike

Friday, November 20, 2009

Road to Sauceda, Big Bend Ranch State Park


Mountain views, rock formations and stunning desert vegetation make the long drive into Sauceda, the center of Big Bend Ranch State Park a visual treat.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cyclists on Scenic River Road, Hwy 170


Great cycling roads grace every corner of the region.  One of the most challenging rides is also one of the most scenic...Highway 170--also called the River Road along the Rio Grande.  To the south, pictured here, are the mountains of Mexico.  Big Bend Ranch State Park, Terlingua/Study Butte, Big Bend National Park and Presidio are all along Hwy 170.  Explore it by car and motorcycle too!

For information about cycling in the region, visit: www.texasmountaintrail.com/bike  Check out our cycle-friendly hotels!

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Big Bend Ranch State Park


A wild, remote haven for hikers, backpackers, mountain bikers, Big Bend Ranch State Park has water sources in the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert.  Take a birding, rock art, or geology expedition in this park along the Rio Grande at the southern edge of the Texas Mountain Trail region.

A slideshow of images taken along the road to historic Sauceda ranch in Big Bend Ranch State Park is here.


Here's a link to TPWD's webpage on Big Bend Ranch State Park.  A quote:  "Big Bend Ranch State Park, the largest state park in Texas, over 300,000 acres of Chihuahuan Desert wilderness in a remarkably rugged, remote and unpopulated setting. The park extends along the Rio Grande from southeast of Presidio to near Lajitas in both Brewster and Presidio Counties. Embracing some of the most remote and rugged terrain in the Southwest, it encompasses two mountain ranges containing ancient extinct volcanoes, precipitous canyons, and waterfalls. The area has been a crossroads of human activities for over 11,000 years, as diverse people and cultures have been drawn by the abundant resources of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo corridor."

Monday, November 16, 2009

Museum of the Big Bend


A "must stop" to any visitor to the Big Bend and the Texas Mountain Trail region, is the Museum of the Big Bend in Alpine.  A great place for children, adults and families...the interactive exhibits tells the story of the history, natural history and culture of the area.

Sunday, November 15, 2009