Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chinati Hot Springs

Established in 1937, Chinati Hot Springs is a quiet, laid back, rustic, but comfortable place to stay and take in geothermically heated waters.  There are public baths, a cool pool (top of this post), cabins for rent, and inexpensive camping.  A common kitchen provides the opportunity for recipe sharing and interesting conversations with fellow travelers.  Located on Pinto Canyon road north of Ruidosa, this is a tucked away oasis in a little-traveled corner of the Texas Mountain Trail region.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ernst Tinaja Trail in Big Bend National Park

A short, but remote hiking experience in Big Bend National Park.  Here's what the Big Bend National Park website says about this backcountry trail:

1.4 miles roundtrip

A short walk up a sandy wash leads to a canyon of highly-convoluted rock layers. The large natural tinaja holds water all year long. Be careful near the tinaja's edge. Over the years deer, javelina, and even mountain lions have been found drowned in this tinaja. The trailhead is located off the Old Ore Road, 5 miles from the southern end near Rio Grande Village. High clearance vehicles are necessary to reach this enjoyable trail. A primitive campsite is located near the trailhead.
If you want a short hike off the beaten path...this is a great one!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Soft Sunset in the Chihuahuan Desert

Taken north of Van Horn, on Hwy 54.  For more about that stretch of highway, click here!  It has a rich and interesting history, and is a great drive or bike ride!  It is also the road to Guadalupe Mountains National Park!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The View from Pinto Canyon Road, FM 2810

Heading southwest out of Marfa on FM 2810 (also called Pinto Canyon Road), you first see grasslands, then these rolling hills, then rocky treacherous terrain (fit best for high clearance, all-wheel drive vehicles), and every mile is a delight or adventure or both!  The road takes you to Ruidosa, a tiny hamlet along the Rio Grande.

Part of the road is smooth and paved, but after a few miles it becomes quite rough.  While it is tempting to want to get out and explore the rugged stretches by foot, keep in mind that the road cuts through private land and access off the road is not allowed.  Still, the amazing scenery makes the drive MORE than worthwhile!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Calling cards at Prada Marfa

Just north of Valentine, between Van Horn and Marfa on Hwy 90, there's a real scale Prada store.  A beacon on the desert, it is a funky art installation, a "time release time capsule" and a statement about the inevitability of the decay of manmade structures, and perhaps our civilization, too. 

For some time now, visitors have been leaving calling cards...their business cards, other scraps of personal papers (see the airline luggage check receipt) and on occasion, shoes.

You can read more about Prada Marfa here and here.  And from, here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cowboy Gear and Trappings

In honor of this weekend's opening of the Museum of the Big Bend's Trappings of Texas exhibit and Alpine's Cowboy Poetry Gathering, we show a photo from another Big Bend area institution, Big Bend Saddlery.  Since 1905 this business has supplied the area with ranch supplies...and they have fun gifts, books, and children's toys for sale too! 

Here's a video we made last year about father/son artists exhibiting at the Trappings here to see it!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Hwy 54 Heritage Bike Ride

We've got a new page up on our website, providing history and cycling advice for Hwy 54, the El Capitan to El Capitan Heritage bike ride (part of the route pictured here!), click here!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Path Less Pedaled broadcasts from the Hotel El Capitan

Intrepid cross-country cyclists, Russ and Laura, from The Path Less Pedaled stayed in Van Horn at cycle-friendly Hotel El Capitan the past couple of nights.  Russ and Laura sold their possessions this summer and headed out on the road, down the Pacific coast and across the southern U.S. to experience life from their touring bikes.  It was great to have them in town, and participate (even if just a little bit) in their adventure.

We highly recommend you start reading their blog, The Path Less Pedaled (the masthead is above) and experience their journey vicariously.  And you can support their trip by buying their favorite gear through their site, or--if you think they might be traveling through your community--assist them with a safe, warm place to stay, just as the El Capitan did here in Van Horn.

From time to time, they also do live video broadcasts on location from their laptop...and you can catch the Van Horn broadcast on this link or catch them all on archive here.  It was fun to be their guest last night and talk about cycling in Far West Texas.  Russ is also a wonderful photographer, and in the next few days his work will showcase the beauty of our high mountain desert.

To get here, Russ and Laura rode Hwy 54 down from Guadalupe Mountains National Park, on a ride we call the "El Capitan to El Capitan" ride.  We just created a web page about that route...take a look here.

Safe travels, Russ and Laura!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Skyline Trail-- Davis Mountains State Park by MyLifeOutdoors!

Lovers of Far West Texas will enjoy the frequent travels to our region by Steven of My Life Outdoors.  This Midland resident does a great job photographing the trail (as you can tell from the shots here!) and writing a useful narrative about his experiences.  These photos are from his entry on the Skyline Trail in Davis Mountains State Park.  This trail is also a mountain biking opportunity.  Steven is critical in a way that helps you pick your own next adventure; that's one of the reasons we like his blog. Check it out here.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sumiit Photo, Guadalupe Peak from MyLifeOutdoors!

Thanks again to Steven in Midland for sharing his photos and links to his My Life Outdoors blog, and his great entry on his hike to Guadalupe Peak in Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Here's a link to his blog entry on that hike.  Thanks again, Steven, we enjoyed sharing your work!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Guadalupe Peak Hike by Steven of MyLifeOutdoors!

For a few days, we're featuring the work of Steven from the My Life Outdoors blog, and his great entry on an overnight hike to Guadalupe Peak in Guadalupe Mountains National Park.  Great shot, eh?  Thanks, Steven, for letting us show your great work!

Here's a link to Steven's entry on his hike, and here's a link to our regional hiking page!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Highest Bridge in Texas, from "My Life Outdoors" blog

We've become a fan of Steven's blog MyLifeOutdoors with its lovely photographs and truly informative entries about wild places and adventures all over, not just in Texas.  In the next three days, we'll feature Steven's shots from the Guadalupe Peak Trail in Guadalupe Mountains National Park.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Gorgeous Ocotillo-Part 2, Big Bend Ranch State Park

Thanks again to Derrick Birdsall for his wonderful images of ocotillo in Big Bend Ranch State Park.  Take look at Derrick's blog: for more images from our region and the rest of Texas. 

We invite you to submit your photographs for consideration for this Texas Mountain Trail Daily Photo Blog...if you're interested, leave us a message in the comments section with a link or email address!  Photos need to be taken in the six westernmost counties of the state, of locations that are publicly accessible...we'd love to see your work!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Gorgeous Ocotillo, part 1-Big Bend Ranch State Park

Here's another lovely shot of Big Bend Ranch State Park from our Facebook and Twitter friend, Derrick Birdsall.  Derrick says, "if you like rugged territory where you'd better know how to read a map, compass and GPS - as well as critters in the wild," the best place is "the state park as far as I'm concerned."

Please visit Derrick's blog for more great photography!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Seldom Driven: Hwy 118 looking south

Looking south from the exact spot as yesterday's post on Hwy 118, this is one of the seldom driven portions of the original driving route, the Texas Mountain Trail.  Taken between Kent (the I-10 turnoff) and the scenic loop around Fort Davis, this stretch of highway provides scenic vistas of spectacular ranchland.

For more about the history of our program and the development of the circa 1968 driving routes around the state of Texas, click here.  Though there is a clearly defined driving route from that era, our program has developed to serve the entire six-county region from Brewster County (which has Big Bend National Park) to El Paso County and the New Mexico state line.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Seldom Driven: Hwy 118 Looking North

For a few days, we're featuring some of the less-traveled portions of the original driving route of the Texas Mountain Trail.  Today and tomorrow, we'll feature Hwy 118 between Kent (the I-10 turnoff) and Fort Davis at exactly the same place.  Today, the view is looking north. 

Monday, February 08, 2010

The Seldom Driven parts of the original Texas Mountain Trail

The Texas Mountain Trail began as a simple driving route to publicize the state of Texas prior to the 1968 HemisFair in San Antonio, but now we serve the entire six county region of Far West Texas.  You can read more about our history, here.

There was an original driving route, and our blue highway signs are still posted on that "Figure 8" that covers most corners of the region.  Naturally, some parts of the route get more traffic than others.  Today we start a short series on the roads a little less traveled--and let's face it--even our highly traveled roads don't get THAT much traffic, but we thought you might like to see the more remote places along the route.

For the next couple of days we'll focus on Hwy 118, from Kent (the amazing old merchantile building is pictured here at the turnoff from I-10--stop in the store, and you'll step back a century!) to the top of the Scenic Loop (Hwy 166) heading toward Fort Davis.  Drive along with us!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

May we suggest a brief stop on the way to Big Bend?

Travelers from east Texas often drive through Fort Stockton and turn south towards Big Bend National Park just before Marathon.  A new do-it-yourself visitors center was dedicated on Friday, at the corner of that turnoff at Hwys 90 and 385.  Do yourself a favor and stop there to pick up information about visiting the Big Bend, the Davis Mountains and the Trans might discover a new place to explore!

Also at the visitors center is a detailed interpretive panel about the history of the region. There are many of these all around Brewster County to help you get more out of your stay.  They're great background for your trips--there are panels on many topics....long abandoned military garrisons, unique geological features, early human history of the region, and mining history to name a few.

The visitors center and interpretive panels are the brainchild of Brewster County Tourism Council and the hard work of many, many folks in the largest county in the state!  They want you to get the most out of your slow down, take a look, and accept their invitation to explore their (large) corner of the Far West Texas and the Texas Mountain Trail!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Texas Crossroads Cowboy Gathering is underway!

The scent of bacon is in the air and the performers are gathering at the Van Horn Convention Center--and later the Hotel El Capitan-- for Van Horn's second annual Texas Crossroads Cowboy Gathering..this morning's first performer is local Gary Fuentes!  Here's the link to the event's website...and if you can't make it to Van Horn today, you can listen LIVE from this link! 

Friday, February 05, 2010

Winter clouds

We've had more of a "winter" than folks remember in recent years.  Icy clouds hover our mountains in the morning, and by afternoon most days, they've gone away.  Taken along Hwy 116, by Larry Francell of the Museum of the Big Bend.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Road to Sauceda, Big Bend Ranch State Park

We want to thank one of our Facebook fans, Derrick Birdsall, for sharing this wonderful shot of Big Bend Ranch State Park, taken along the road to Sauceda Ranch.  Lovely, isn't it?  You can see more of Derrick's wonderful images here.

To learn more about Big Bend Ranch State Park, click here.

Join us as a Fan of Texas Mountain Trail Region on Facebook!  We'd love to have you!  It is an easy way to get links and recommendations for fun places in Far West Texas.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Wintertime Wildlife Watching--Post Park, Marathon

There's a special little place five miles south of Marathon that is a great location for wildlife and bird watching.  Post Park has water, and that makes it a popular spot.  Last month, we visited and found a flock of 50 wild turkeys! 

The park, built in the 1930s is a favorite of local residents, and it is used for picnics, dances and fishing.
During the 19th century, Comanches camped here on raids to Mexico. To deter raids--and to protect supply wagons enroute to Fort Davis--the U.S. Army established Camp Pena Colorado at the watering hole in 1880. Famous Buffalo Soldier Lt. Henry O. Flipper served here before the post was closed in 1893.

For more information on birding in the Texas Mountain Trail region, visit:
That page will also provide a link to more information on the development of a Far West Texas birding/wildlife trail map, and a site nomination form!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Mile High means cool summers and sometimes snow!

At an elevation of 5050 feet above sea level, Fort Davis is the highest town in Texas.  Lots of folks say, "we've got the elevation, but not the snow," well.....sometimes there is a little bit of snow in Fort Davis!  For more travel information about Fort Davis, click here or here.  Pictured here is the lovely, restored Jeff Davis County Courthouse in the center of Fort Davis.

Snow photo, courtesy: Larry Francell.  Thanks, Larry!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Wildlife/Birding Map of Far West Texas is underway!

The Texas Mountain Trail, Texas Pecos Trail and Texas Parks and Wildlife are partnering to produce the last remaining map in the state's suite of wildlife/birding maps.  You may nominate your favorite viewing location, and you may also participate as a sponsor.  More information is available at
Check back here or on the link above for more information in the next few months!

One of the viewing locations will be Van Horn's Mountain View Golf Course, which is frequented by raptors and quail and other desert species.