Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chisos Mountains

Rugged mountains crown the center of Big Bend National Park, a haven for hikers and wildlife lovers.  One of our favorite trails is the Lost Mine Trail.  This 4.8 mile trail starts at 5,600 feet and steadily climbs to the top of a 6,850 foot promontory overlooking Pine and Juniper Canyons.  For information on other Chisos Mountain hikes in the park, click here.

For regional hiking information, visit our Texas Mountain Trail hiking page,

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fall Color in McKittrick Canyon

McKittrick Canyon in Guadalupe Mountains National Park is a great place to catch the fall color.  Contact the park for information on peak viewing times! 

Here's a link to information on the trails in the park.

Check out our regional hiking page,

Monday, September 28, 2009

Texas Madrone in Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Taken along the Devils Hall Trail in Guadalupe Mountains National Park a moderate (and thoroughly satisfying) 4.2 mile roundtrip hike.  To read about the trails in the park, click here.

For more information, visit our regional hiking page,

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Big Bend View

One of the greatest National Parks in the entire country await travelers to Big Bend.  Low visitation numbers mean--whether you choose to hit the trail or see the park from your car, you can have a relatively private wilderness experience.  The Chisos Mountains, the Rio Grande river, and the Chihuahuan Desert await you! For more information on the park and visit its website, click here.

For regional hiking information, visit our Texas Mountain Trail hiking page:

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ranchieras Trail in Big Bend Ranch State Park

The biggest state park in Texas offers a true wilderness experience--300,000 acres of beautiful, rugged and remote land.  Big Bend Ranch State Park is an alternative for folks who feel they've already explored nearby Big Bend National Park.  Here's a view of a dry riverbed along the Ranchieras Trail; there are many trails for hikers to explore, but the park also offers mountain biking, horseback riding, birding, rockwatching and river access!

For information on "things to do" in Big Bend Ranch State Park, click here.

To visit our regional hiking webpage, click here!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Rare 40 Star Flag

Fort Davis' Overland Trail Museum tells the story of the settlers in that mile-high community in the Davis Mountains.  Included in their collection is this rare 40 star United States flag.

The Museum is housed in an 1883 house built on the old Overland Trail route. Exhibits include artifacts on ranching life, Native American lore, early surveying, law enforcement, photography, medicine and early trades such as quilting, music, crochet and ladies apparel.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Rodeo Girls

Taken early this summer at Van Horn's 4H Rodeo, one of the best smalltown rodeos in Far West Texas!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Inside this humble exterior.....

....are some pretty great tacos!  Marfa's Tacos Del Norte is getting attention from locals and visitors alike, including Lance Armstrong.  He recently "tweeted, "New spot West of town in Marfa - Tacos del Norte. Highly recommended."  Their menu is varied, almost any type of taco you could imagine can be sampled there.

To learn more about regional food, visit the newest section of our website, check it out here!

For information on visiting Marfa, click here or here!

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Monday, September 21, 2009

A surprise at Smith Spring

Everywhere you look in the Chihuahuan Desert, there can be surprises.  Recently we found a flock of tiny blue butterflies on one of our favorite trails in the region, Smith Spring Trail in Guadalupe Mountains National Park.  The butterflies were visiting the muddy ground near the fresh water spring, a quiet and cool place and a refuge from the desert heat.  Where water is present in the desert, wildlife seems to congregate.

You can see our slideshow of images from the Smith Spring trail, and read more about this hike, here.

To read about the hiking trails in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, click here.

To visit our regional hiking page and learn about other places to enjoy, click here.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

We're sorry there's no photo today; we've got the flu!  We'll be posting again when we're feeling better!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A ruin on Big Bend's River Road

In the middle of the vast Chihuahuan Desert in Big Bend National Park, visitors will sometimes come upon a sign of human habitation or settlement, especially along the Rio Grande. A great place to learn about human history in the park is the National Park Service website for Big Bend, where they have a special section on history and culture.
Special notice!  Starting today through the end of September, Whole Earth Provision is donating a portion of each Patagonia shoe purchase to the Friends of Big Bend National Park!  Learn more here.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Bowie Bakery

The line on Friday morning was nearly out the door. Bowie Bakery in Segundo Barrio sits on a sunlit corner, its white adobe gleaming. The neighborhood is full of tiny adobe apartments and homes, creamscicle-colored, pink, purple, and white all blazing in sun. This is an old, old neighborhood, and in decades past, a place of disease, violence and poverty. But today it is lovely, and I want to roam. It doesn't feel like the U.S. Two and a half blocks down the road is the narrow Rio Grande and then Mexico. In the opposite direction, the rest of El Paso and the Franklin Mountains.

But my time is short as I have an appointment later, and I need to get in line. Spanish is spoken here, but the clerk makes me and my English feel welcome. Amazed by the vast selection of Mexican pastries, I decide to ask for what I know: empanadas.

"What kind do you have?"
"Cream, yam, apple, pineapple."
I'm here to sample, so I say, "one of each," and to avoid the appearance of gluttony, "to go."

The bill is $3.10.

Back in my car, I survey the half moons of pastry...some simple and unadorned with rough dough exteriors. Others are shiny with egg glaze and patterned by the slashes of a knife before baking. I rip open the first. Cream. This is what I like about Mexican pastries: even with a pastry cream filling, they're not too sweet. I lick the little drip oozing from the center and take a bite, then two. I nod. Good.

Then onto the yam. Also good. Then the pretty shiny empanadas--obviously the apple and pineapple. Each get a bite. Satisfied that this is a place I can recommend to travelers, I regretfully roll up the bag, sorry I won't finish off the jumble of half-eaten pastries inside. Next time, I'll try something new, and eat the whole thing.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Thistle on Smith Spring Trail

thistle manzanita spring on the trail

Guadalupe Mountains National Park offers the visitor great nature experiences. A few days ago, we featured a photo of elk sighted in the park. Today, a smaller example of nature-viewing, a thistle seen near Manzanita Spring on the Smith Spring Trail in the park. One of our favorites, this 2.3 mile looped trail takes hikers across the desert floor, into small canyons and through a wooded area fed by a natural spring. Part of the trail is even paved--making it accessible to every visitor. For more information on the park, visit:

For information on hiking in the region, visit:

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Heritage Food featured in Saveur Magazine

H and H CarWash and CoffeeShop EP car wash

One of the most unique dining experiences in the region. Visit the H&H Coffee Shop in El Paso for excellent regionally traditional Mexican food, and get your car washed at the same time! This place was mentioned in a recent issue of Saveur magazine--the food is great, and the ambiance cannot be beat. For more information on heritage food in the region, visit:

Friday, September 11, 2009

Calf Roper

Calf roper

Another view of Van Horn's 4H Rodeo from this summer. These kids are great!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Paddling the Rio Grande at Santa Elena March 09

With all the rain in the Big Bend area, those who know predict great river trips this month! To learn more, check out the website

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Elk at Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Guadalupe Mountains National Park's website:
Mountaintop forests of Douglas fir and ponderosa pine are home to mammals such as elk, black bear, gray foxes, striped and hog-nosed skunks, mule deer, and mountain lions. The elk that were native to the Guadalupe Mountains were hunted to extinction by the late 1800’s. In 1928, rancher J.C. Hunter imported 44 elk from the Black Hills of South Dakota and released them in McKittrick Canyon. Today the population is estimated to be between 30 and 40 animals.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

A look back at summer: Van Horn's 4H Rodeo

Every year in late June, the small community of Van Horn holds its 4H Rodeo. The rodeo grounds are at the east edge of town, in full view of the mountains.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Next Summer, Plan on Attending....

....the Marfa Lights Festival, centered around the lovely, restored Presidio County Courthouse in Marfa!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Van Horn's Hotel El Capitan Opens!

Van Horn's Hotel El Capitan reopened this weekend, again joining the list of historic hotels in the Texas Mountain Trail region. For a list of the others, visit
Click here to see an old postcard of the El Capitan in its early years. It first opened in 1930, a work of the regionally notable architects, Henry Trost. One of the last remaining examples of the Pueblo Revival Style--perhaps the last in the state--the El Capitan served cattleman and was Van Horn's premier hotel for many years....and this weekend, it is again.
To read more about the Hotel El Capitan, visit its website, click here.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Friday, September 04, 2009

Take a look across the tracks

Alpine has a second area of commerce across the railroad tracks, with new restaurants and businesses taking hold. The Murphy Street Raspa Co. has all sorts of nice treats, including Blue Bell ice cream.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

View of the Smith Spring Trail

One of our very favorite trails in the region is in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, the Smith Spring Trail. You can see more photos of the trail, including a slide show of images here.

The park's website has this to say about the trail:

Smith Spring Trail
Begin this hike at the trailhead sign. Look for birds, mule deer, and elk as you walk this loop trail to the shady oasis of Smith Spring. Take a break here and enjoy the gurgling sounds of the tiny waterfall before continuing around to sunny Manzanita Spring. Scars from wildland fires of 1990 and 1993 are evident along the trail. The trail is rated moderate, with a round-trip distance of 2.3 miles. Allow one to two hours.

For information about other hikes in the region, visit our hiking page:

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

El Paso's Museum of Archaeology

When in El Paso, we invite you to visit the Museum of Archaeology on Transmountain Road.

Dioramas, artifacts, and exhibits, including a nature trail with native plants, narrate adaptations of indigenous peoples in the southern Southwest and northern Mexico from 12,000 years ago to the present.