Saturday, October 31, 2009

From Above, Day 2

One of the stunning aerial photographs by Adriel Heisey on view at UTEP's Centennial Museum.  See yesterday's entry for more information on this exhibition. 

Friday, October 30, 2009

From Above!

For the next three days, we'll be featuring photographs from an exhibition showing at El Paso's Centennial Museum on the UTEP campus.

Here's a description of the show:

From Above: Images of a Storied Land
Showing through January 15, 2009

The exhibition, created by the Center for Desert Archaeology in collaboration with the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, features 28 large-format aerial photographs by Adriel Heisey. The images convey the beauty, mystery, and fragility of past human activity on the Southwestern landscape.

Heisey photographs ancient and modern landscapes from a unique vantage point: the open seat of his tiny, experimental Kolb TwinStar airplane, soaring above the earth to capture the imprints that both ancient and modern cultures have left on the landscape.

Heisey’s aerial photographs have been featured in numerous publications, including Arizona Highways, New Mexico Magazine, National Geographic, American Photo, Photo Life, Whole Earth, Journal of the Southwest, and Nature Conservancy.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

We woke up to snow this morning!

Many communities in the region woke up to snow this morning.  In most places, it will melt off soon, but it sure is pretty while it lasts!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Marathon town view

The tiny town of Marathon is considered the easternmost gateway city to Big Bend National Park, so Marathon has several lodging options including Eve's Garden Organic Bed and Breakfast and Ecology Resource Center.  From their website:
"Eve’s Garden is a research level organic gardening demonstration site and an urban hacienda, combining to provide a comfortable Bed and Breakfast environment and a conversational forum to address issues regarding the ecology we live in.

Every effort has been made to combine elements of “art”, “architecture”, and “ecology” in the layout and construction of this unusually progressive piece of work. A large amount of recycled content, strawbale buildings, paper adobe/fiber cement buildings, high Mexican contemporary color treatments, and a focus on locally produced food, conspire to create an aura of thoughtfulness."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Looking down and taking your time on the trail

Rich rewards await the hiker willing to take the trail slowly...this tiny beauty of a rock was found on the South Rim Trail of Big Bend National Park.  Take your time, look around!  You never know what you'll find.

Check out our hiking page, for regional information on trails:

Monday, October 26, 2009

Pronghorn antelope near Marfa

Click on the photo for a closer view.  Taken north east of Marfa near the golf course.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hiking Guadalupe Peak

The trail up to Guadalupe Peak--the highest point in Texas--in Guadalupe Mountains National Park is rough and rocky and long, but rewarding; eight and a half strenuous miles roundtrip to an elevation of 8,749 ft!  To upload a trail flyer, click here.

For more information about hiking in the region, visit:

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cycling near Alpine

This was taken on the road from Alpine down to Big Bend, but with the region's wide smooth shoulders and light vehicular traffic, the entire region is a great place to bike.  For information about cycling routes, races and cycle-friendly hotels in the region, visit our biking page,

Friday, October 23, 2009

More Color from McKittrick Canyon

Far West Texas' place for fall color is the Guadalupe Mountains National Park.  The McKittrick Canyon trail is the best known for color, but other trails in the park also offer great color, including Devil's Hall and Smith Spring.  If you're not a camper, consider an overnight stay in Van Horn.  The drive to the park is one of the most beautiful and unspoiled in the state.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Are you ready for some football?

As you travel through Texas, don't forget that one of the best ways to experience our small towns is to take in a high school football game.  Van Horn's stadium has one of the loveliest settings anywhere.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mariscal Mine in Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park's website offers this about Marsical Mine:
" Abandoned since the 1940s, and isolated by its remote location in the middle of Big Bend National Park, the Mariscal Mine is the best preserved mercury mining site in the state of Texas, and is a listed historic district on the National Register of Historic Places."

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fall Color Information for Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Thanks to the Guadalupe Mountains National Park for this information on fall color, and to Dave Bieri of the National Park Service for taking the photo! 

Fall Colors at Guadalupe Mountains NP

"Colorful fall foliage is adorning the mountain slopes and canyons of Guadalupe Mountains National Park. “This is one of the busiest times of the year, and people want to know when the canyons will be at their peak of color,” says Chief of Biological Resources and Visitor Services Fred Armstrong. “The peak usually falls around the last two weekends of October with good color development through the first week of November, but it is anybody’s guess how the combination of temperatures, moisture, daylight, leaf starches and sugars will interact to produce the height of color, “ said Armstrong.

Visitors can obtain current color status in two ways; selecting option 4, McKittrick Canyon information, from the automated phone system at 915-828-3251; or on the park web page at Armstrong reported, “Both of these sources will be updated as the colors progress.

The next four weekends can be busy, but remember that McKittrick Canyon is not the only place to enjoy the colors; Dog Canyon, Devils Hall, Smith Spring and the high country are beautiful alternatives to explore. Planning your visit during mid-week will also avoid most crowds.” McKittrick Canyon is a day-use area; the highway gate is currently locked at 6 p.m. and will close at 4:30 p.m. when the clocks return to Mountain Standard Time. Audiovisual ranger talks will be held on Friday and Saturday evenings at 7 p.m. in the visitor center at Pine Springs during this fall colors season. Program topics are posted on the park web site under the Things to Do and Schedule of Events buttons. Call the park at the number above for additional information."

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Congratulations, Plaza Theatre of El Paso!

We love the twinkling stars on the ceiling, the glamour powder rooms, the restored organ...and the Texas Mountain Trail organization was honored to write a support letter for the application for this prestigious award!

Press release from the National Trust for Historic Preservation below:

National Trust for Historic Preservation Presents Preservation Honor Award for the Plaza Theatre
in El Paso, Tex.

Showplace of the Southwest Reclaimed for Next Generation of Moviegoers

Nashville, Tenn. (October 15, 2009)—Today, the National Trust for Historic Preservation presented its Preservation Honor Award to the El Paso Community Foundation for the rehabilitation of the Plaza Theatre in El Paso, Tex. The project was one of 23 award winners honored by the National Trust during its 2009 National Preservation Conference in Nashville, Tenn.

In 1930, Fred Astaire, Clark Gable and Greta Garbo were the brightest stars on the silver screen, and the lavish, newly opened Plaza Theatre was the brightest star in El Paso, Tex. Billed as the largest theatre of its kind between Dallas and Los Angeles, the Plaza, in the Spanish Colonial Revival style, boasted intricately painted ceilings, mosaic-tiled floors and decorative metal railings and sconces. Perhaps most impressive of all was the mighty Wurlitzer organ, rising from the orchestra pit to accompany vaudeville shows and sing-a-longs and to entertain patrons before and after films.

In 1986, after years of decline, the theatre’s owners announced that the Plaza would be demolished and replaced with a parking lot. Spurred by a groundswell of community support, the El Paso Community Foundation raised $1 million in six weeks to purchase the building and save it from demolition. In an innovative partnership, the Foundation teamed with the City of El Paso, and in May of 2004, work began on the Plaza’s meticulous restoration. The 3-year, $41.5 million project included the rehabilitation of an adjoining building to house a smaller auditorium, roof garden and concession space, and the return of the Plaza’s long-lost Wurlitzer organ. Today, the Plaza hosts an array of live performances, films and special events. Enthusiastic patrons have given the facility a 90% sell-out rate, and that success has sparked the renovation of other downtown buildings.

“In the 1930s, a ticket to the Plaza Theatre admitted patrons to a wonderland of plush seats in a Spanish courtyard under a star-studded ceiling – and 70 years later, it still does,” said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Thanks to the efforts of the City of El Paso and the El Paso Community Foundation, the restoration of the Plaza Theatre is the spark that has ignited an entire downtown.”

Along with the El Paso Community Foundation, the City of El Paso was honored today as a co-recipient of the award.

The National Preservation Awards are bestowed on distinguished individuals, nonprofit organizations, public agencies and corporations whose skill and determination have given new meaning to their communities through preservation of our architectural and cultural heritage. These efforts include citizen attempts to save and maintain important landmarks; companies and craftsmen whose work restores the richness of the past; the vision of public officials who support preservation projects and legislation in their communities; and educators and journalists who help Americans understand the value of preservation. The winners of the National Preservation Awards will appear in the November/December issue of Preservation Magazine and online at

Friday, October 16, 2009

Golf with a Mountain View

Sometimes you're richly rewarded when you get off the prime example is the spectacular scenery at Van Horn's Mountain View Golf Course, and we mean spectacular scenery! 

The newly renovated and comfortable clubhouse is open to visitors wanting to take a break from the road for a round of golf.  Set on the edge of the Chihuahuan Desert, birds frequent the course and add to the experience.

While you're in town, consider a day trip to Guadalupe Mountains National Park, or a visit to Van Horn's Red Rock Ranch or the Clark Hotel Museum!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Behind the Tracks in Alpine, and a fun place to rent a bike!

If you haven't been to Alpine in awhile, you might not know about a burgeoning little business district behind the railroad tracks.  The most noticable business is the Murphy Street Raspa Company at 5th and Murphy, in the old Valadez Grocery Building.  They serve raspas (shaved ice) and coffee, sweet treats, and cold things to drink.  They also sell artwork and pottery and rent bicycles, a perfect way to enjoy the beautiful, historic town of Alpine.

You can check out the Murphy Street Raspa Company on Facebook, and there are a couple of fun videos on making and eating rapsas over at, here's the link!

For information about cycling in Far West Texas, visit our special webpage which includes a listing of cycle-friendly hotels and favorite routes:

Monday, October 12, 2009

UTEP's Centennial Museum

The Centennial Museum on the campus of University of Texas-El Paso offers visitors wonderful exhibits on culture, history and natural history.  Surrounding the Bhutanese-inspired building is a demonstration Chihuahuan Desert Garden.  Check it out when visiting central El Paso!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Dawn in Chisos Basin

Morning light begins to brighten the sky over the Chisos Basin in the center of Big Bend National Park.

Friday, October 09, 2009

View of Van Horn from the El Capitan Hotel

Van Horn's mountain vistas can be appreciated from the newly restored El Capitan Hotel, the 1930 property which recently reopened for travelers.  The mountain in the center of the photo is Turtleback Mountain, to the right is Six Mile Mountain.  Between those mountains is the Red Rock Ranch, a privately operated ranch open for hiking and driving tours.  The Clark Hotel Museum, to the left of the Dollar General Store, tells the story of the history of Van Horn and Culberson County.  When in operation, the Clark Hotel was a rival property to the El Capitan.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Fall color is coming!

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is a place visitors can experience true fall color in the state of Texas.  Most folks hike McKittrick Canyon trail to see it, while others enjoy the shorter Devil's Hall trail where this photo was taken.  You can read more about the trails in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park here.

For regional hiking information, visit: to read about trails all over Far West Texas and the Texas Mountain Trail region!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

State Fair of Texas

Are you headed to the State Fair of Texas?  There are two places to get information about traveling to the Texas Mountain Trail region....check out the heritage trails information at the Texas Historical Commission's booth in the Food and Fiber Pavilion AND head to the Grand Place building (near Big Tex!) to get more information about Big Bend and the Texas Mountain Trail!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Don't Miss this Stop in Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park's Panther Junction Visitors Center has a great selection of books and gifts to explore.  The Big Bend Natural History Association (BBNHA) was established in 1956 as a private, non-profit organization. The Association's goal is to educate the public and increase their understanding and appreciation of the Big Bend Area and what it represents in terms of our historical and natural heritage.  You can learn more about the Association by visiting their website, or by checking out their online bookstore!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Fall Color in Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Every fall hikers come to McKittrick Canyon in Guadalupe Mountains National Park for the fall color.  We know there's another trail with it too--the Devil's Hall Trail.  Here's a link to information on the park's trails.  Contact the park to find out when the leaves will be at their best!

For regional hiking information, visit

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Celebration of our Mountains--El Paso's Franklin Mountains

All month, El Paso is holding the annual Celebration of our Mountains, providing residents and visitors with many wonderful opportunities to get out and enjoy the largest urban park in the nation--Franklin Mountains State Park--whether they be easy strolls or rigorous hikes over rugged terrain.  Check out it all out on our Texas Mountain Trail calendar, here.

For information on Franklin Mountains State Park (pictured above) click here.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Driving up to Big Bend's Basin

Not only is Big Bend a great hiking park, but the paved roads offer terrific drives for cyclists, motorists and motorcyclists!  (And great adventures await those who try the unpaved road in the park!)  Here's a view heading up to the Chisos Basin and Chisos Mountain Lodge.

The Chisos Mountain Lodge is one of the first to participate in our Texas Mountain Trail cycle-friendly program, and it offers special services to hikers and cyclists, including the opportunity to order a packed lunch for a day's adventures.  You can learn more about our cycle-friendly program at, and you can download the Lodge's flyer outlining their cycle-friendly services, here.

Great drives are outlined on our motorcycle page,
Our hiking page offers information and links to great hikes all over the Texas Mountain Trail region,

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Trail Above the Fort

One of our favorite views in the region is atop Fort Davis National Historic Site, looking down at a lovingly restored frontier fort.  The trail that links the fort to Davis Mountains State Park is at approximately 5500 feet and offers a variety of spectacular views through woods, grasslands, and a craggy canyon. 

You can download a trailmap from our hiking page,