Friday, April 30, 2010

Pinto Canyon Road

One of the great adventures in the region is reserved for drivers with sturdy high-clearance, all wheel drive vehicles.  Pinto Canyon in Presidio County (leaving sw Marfa towards Ruidosa) is an ADVENTURE with rugged surfaces and terrific views.  Because the road cuts through privately owned land, be respectful of landowners by sticking to the road...and have a great time!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mountain View Golf Course

Tucked away on the south side of Van Horn is a spot with beautiful views, wildlife and a nine hole golf course, the Mountain View Golf Course. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

One of the state's great walks!

Recently, TPWD magazine profiled some of the state's great walks, and Closed Canyon in Big Bend Ranch State Park was among them.  Here's what the magazine said:

"Closed Canyon is a fascinating place that will draw you back because it’s different every time you visit. One of the few slot canyons in Texas, it’s located just off the River Road about 20 miles west of Lajitas. The trail follows a dry creek bed from the head of the canyon to the Rio Grande. After parking, look for the big crack in the cliff wall and head for it. The first quarter-mile or so in the canyon is easy going, but then you encounter rocky drops that get steeper the farther in you go. At about 1.5 miles, you cannot continue without climbing equipment. You don’t have to go that far, though, to enjoy the unusual formations — steep cliffs on each side that seem to close in on you as you walk in, large veins of calcite in the cliff faces, cactus growing sideways from solid rock high above you. It’s all quite breathtaking. And remember that the trail is a dry creek bed, so if starts to rain, get out of the canyon quickly or you might be swept away — those cliffs are high and sheer."

For regional hiking information, visit:

To download a park map, click here.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

View from Big Bend's Lost Mine Trail

The National Park Service's website says this about Big Bend's Lost Mine Trail:
"4.8 miles roundtrip
This moderately difficult trail begins at mile marker 5 along the Basin Road. With it's accompanying trail guide (available at the trailhead), this is an excellent introduction to the plants and animals of the Chisos Mountains. The trail starts at an elevation of 5,600' and steadily climbs to the top of a 6,850' promontory overlooking Pine and Juniper Canyons. If you don't want to hike the whole way, one of Big Bend's greatest viewpoints is at the end of the first mile. Take a lunch and enjoy the sights and sounds of the High Chisos."

For more regional hiking information, visit:

Monday, April 26, 2010

A great year for the yucca

All over the region, the yucca have been showing us amazing blooms.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Marfa's Blackwell School

This building served as the public school in Marfa for Hispanic children before desegregation, from 1889 to 1965.  The local community is working to raise funds for its restoration.  You can read about their activities at their website, here.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Staying in a Yurt

Marfa's El Cosmico offers a unique camping opportunity--in a yurt!  Each yurt is 115 sq.ft. and features bamboo floors and weatherproof fabric walls. All yurts are equipped with futons and lantern lighting.   We stayed there recently and had a cozy stay despite windy, cold conditions.  Keep in mind, this is still camping and there's an outdoor bathhouse/toilet and an outdoor kitchen too!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Road to Post Park from Marathon

Five miles south of Marathon, there's a special little place, called Post Park.  The park, a project of the WPA and 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.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Birdwatching and other fun at the Gage Gardens

Yesterday we visited one of the best kept secrets in the region, the Gage Gardens, across the railroad tracks from the Gage Hotel in Marathon.  Open to hotel guests and the general public, the gardens are a lovely place to stroll, rest, reflect and enjoy.  The garden is 26 acres, has a quarter mile jogging/walking track, and is also the source of produce for the hotel's restaurant.  More information and photos are here.

When we were there yesterday, a huge flock of Yellow-Headed Blackbirds could be seen! (To get closer, double-click on each photo!)  For more information on birding in the region, visit:

The Gage Hotel is one of our best historic hotels in the region, and it is also cycle-friendly!  To learn more, visit:

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Six Mile and Turtleback Mountains in the fog

The scene from north Van Horn this week!  We love all the rain we've gotten lately!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Building Bridges Art Show, Van Horn

Every April, Van Horn hosts an all-community art show called "Building Bridges," and everyone from school children through senior citizens show off their creative efforts at the Van Horn Convention Center.  This year's show closes tonight with a reception from 6-8 pm.

Turtleback Mountain's head peeking out of the fog

We've had quite a bit of rain lately, and the mornings this week have felt unusually humid for the desert.  The fog yesterday enveloped Turtleback Mountain in Van Horn, allowing just the "head" to peek out!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Fort Davis' Indian Lodge

One of the most popular places to stay in the region...and for several good Davis Mountains State Park's Indian Lodge.  Recently renovated, the Southwestern Native American-style adobe structure was built in the 1930s by the CCC to resemble a pueblo village.  Gracious, rustic, with beautiful views, the Lodge is a perfect jumping off point for exploring Fort Davis, Fort Davis National Historic Site, and the mountains around McDonald Observatory.

Here's a link to the Indian Lodge's website, including a brief video about the Davis Mountains State Park and the Lodge itself.  Enjoy hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, birding and wildlife viewing!

The Indian Lodge is one of our Texas Mountain Trail historic's a link to all of them!

Our Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has built a beautiful website on the legacy of the CCC on state parks, including Indian Lodge and Davis Mountains State here!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Watch along with us! Claret Cup Blooms

Fans of our Facebook page are getting a daily update on this blooming claret cup catcus...just one of several similar claret cups outside the Ramada Inn in Van Horn. 

To join in the fun, head to Facebook, and search under "Texas Mountain Trail Region" and become our fan to get daily updates!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


This submission was from our Texas Mountain Trail Region facebook fan, Carolyn Nored Miller, who has given us permission to post her photo here!  Thanks, Carolyn!  If you're not already a "fan" of the region, please join us

We also invite you to visit our website: for travel information and advice!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Spring and the Desert Begins to Bloom

These photos were taken by Larry Francell, on Hwy 118 between Fort Davis and Alpine.  Larry reports,"I watch this yucca bloom every spring - always sends up two stalks, and always stands out in front of Mitre Peak. I have been seeing flocks of wild turkeys every morning, but they move away before I can get close."  Thanks, Larry!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunset in Big Bend

We close this week with a lovely shot from Dawn Fine, our featured photographer all this week.  Dawn has a knack for capturing the experience of our Far West Texas trails--in both words and photos--that really gives you an idea of what it is like to BE there.  We want to thank Dawn again for allowing us to share her work.  Take a look at Dawn's blog entry about sunsets in Big Bend!  Thanks again, Dawn!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Big Bend's Window Trail Notes from Dawn Fine

One of the signature hikes in Big Bend National Park is The Window Trail, which takes hikers to the mouth of the basin and offers a spectacular view of the desert floor below.  Here's Dawn Fine's blog journal entry and her great photos of this trail.  Dawn does a wonderful job giving us a feel for what it is like to experience our Far West Texas much so, we're featuring her blog all week!  Thanks, Dawn!

We invite you to visit our Texas Mountain Trail hiking page,

Friday, April 09, 2010

Crystal Trail in Big Bend Ranch State Park

Dawn Fine tells the story of her visit to a hill of crystals on Big Bend Ranch State Park's Crystal Trail, part of the park's Contrabando Multi-Use Trail System. in her blog entry, here!
For more regional hiking information, visit the Texas Mountain Trail hiking page,
Thanks again, Dawn, for showing us yet another special trail in Far West Texas!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Trail hopping in Big Bend Ranch State Park

Dawn Fine's chronicles her hikes in Big Bend Ranch State Park, the largest and wildest state park in Texas!  Here's a link to her blog entry, enjoy!

Thanks again, Dawn, for sharing your work with all of us!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Dawn Fine's Cattail Falls in Big Bend National Park

We again thank Dawn Fine for her lovely account of the Cattail Falls Trail in Big Bend National Park...a short, easy and beautiful hike!  Dawn and her husband are birders, and she's listed the birds she's seen at the end of her blog entry.  Click here to see it!

We invite you to also visit our Texas Mountain Trail's hiking and birding webpages for more information on resources in the region!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Birding and Architecture in Big Bend

Follow Dawn Fine's experiences birding (she saw a Golden-fronted Woodpecker!) in the Cottonwood Campground in Big Bend National Park, followed by exploring old adobe and stone homesteads along the Dorgan Sublette Trail.  Here's a link to her wonderful blog entry!

Monday, April 05, 2010

Big Bend trail notes from Dawn Fine

Through Twitter (we're @Trailgirl, we invite you to follow us!) and with the help of a Twitter friend (@Dusty Reins), we made learned about the wonderful work of Dawn Fine (@DawnFine).  Dawn's a master at taking us along on her hikes, taking lovely photos and sharing an easy commentary on the trail.  She's allowed us to share her work with you this week...and so....we begin Dawn Fine week at the Texas Mountain Trail Daily Photo Blog!
Here's the link to Dawn's blog entry on the Grapevine Hills Trail in Big Bend National Park!

We also invite you to visit our Texas Mountain Trail hiking page:

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Evening Light

Taken by this week's featured photographer, Ted Bell from Little Rock, Arkansas, on the road from Terlingua to Alpine in the waning light of the evening.  Thanks Ted for allowing us to see your lovely images all week!  To view more of Ted's work, check out his flickr stream, here.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Salt Flats at the Guadalupes

A shot of the salt flats taken on Hwy 62/180 just west of Guadalupe Mountains National Park by this week's featured photographer, Ted Bell of Little Rock, Arkansas.

The park's website says this about the Salt Flats:
"Upon approaching the Guadalupe Mountains from the west, visitors traveling from the El Paso area will pass through a landscape of barren beauty. The Salt Flats are a remnant of an ancient, shallow lake that once occupied this area during the Pleistocene Epoch, approximately 1.8 million years ago. Salt collected here as streams drained mineral-laden water into this basin. The basin, called a graben, formed about 26 million years ago as faulting lifted the Guadalupe Mountains and depressed the adjacent block of the Earth’s crust. At the end of the last ice age, approximately 10,000 years ago, the lake dried up as the climate became more arid. The salt deposits left behind would later become a precious resource to the people of the El Paso area."

Salt harvested in this location was the object of the El Paso Salt War.  You can read more about the Salt War, here.
The Park has salt dunes located further into the park.  You can read more about them here.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Madrone bark

Taken in Guadalupe Mountains National Park by this week's featured photographer, Ted Bell of Little Rock, Arkansas. 

Here's what the park's website says about the Texas Madrone tree.
"The most intriguing tree though is the Texas madrone with its smooth red-orange bark and shiny green leaves. In spring, it has urn-shaped, cream-colored flowers that fill the air with a sweet fragrance. In fall its red berries provide food for American Robins and Townsend Solitaires. This tree is a remnant of the past; surviving from a time of more significant rainfall and a less distinct desert climate."