Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Overland Trail Museum Exhibit

For a look at early life in Fort Davis and Jeff Davis County, be sure to schedule a visit to the Overland Trail Museum.  The museum is housed in an 1883 home right on the historic Overland Trail just a few blocks from Fort Davis National Historic Site and in the shadow of Sleeping Lion Mountain. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Off the Trail, but a Place Worth Visiting: Rio Vista Farm

One of the most interesting "off the trail" locations in El Paso County, located at 800 Rio Vista Road in Socorro, not far from the Socorro's the information from the site's historical marker:
"El Paso County's second poor farm, known as the El Paso Poor Farm, was established here in 1915.

John O'Shea, a wealthy farmer and businessman whose farm was nearby, assumed operation of the farm. His wife, Agnes O'Shea, was in charge of the residents. John O'Shea died in 1929, and the couple's daughter, Helen O'Shea Keleher, came from her home in San Antonio to operate the farm with her mother. The farm was scheduled to be closed in 1929, but, with the troubled times of the Depression era, its population grew. Renamed "Rio Vista Farm," the poor farm hosted a variety of public welfare programs beginning in the 1930s. It operated under the Texas Transient Bureau and later the Federal Works Progress Administration. A temporary base for a Civilian Conservation Corps unit in 1936, the farm continued to shelter hundreds of homeless and destitute adults and children.

From 1951 to 1964, the farm was used as a reception and processing center for the Bracero Program, which brought Mexican laborers to work in the lower valley of El Paso and other agricultural areas in the U.S. New federal welfare programs and state law reduced the population of the poor farm to four, and it was closed in 1964. Unlike other Texas county poor farms, Rio Vista followed a familial rather than institutional model, accepting neglected and abandoned children in addition to the adult indigent population. In later life, Helen O'Shea Keleher cited the fifty years she spent with the more than four thousand orphans and neglected children of the Rio Vista Poor Farm as her proudest accomplishment."

Oh, and it was used as a set for the movie, Traffic.  Imagine Catherine Zeta-Jones strolling through the grounds of the farm and through the imaginary town plaza....

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mural at Chamizal National Memorial

Yesterday, we featured the international border marker at Chamizal National Memorial...check out the memorial's website to learn about border history and this memorial's exhibits and performances!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Chamizal National Memorial, International Boundary Marker

A unit of the National Park Service, the Chamizal National Memorial commemorates the signing of the Chamizal Treaty, ending a 100-year-old boundary dispute between Mexico and the United States. The memorial includes a museum, theatre and art gallery.  The memorial's website, where you can learn more is here!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

More views from Davis Mountains State Park

More views along the Skyline Mountain Biking Trail in Davis Mountains State Park....great for hiking too!  The park's website describes the trail this way:  "Skyline Drive Mountain Bike Trail , Use: mountain biking and hiking.  This 3.25-mile loop trail was designed with mountain bikers in mind, but hikers are welcome as well. Starting in the park’s campground, the trail joins with the original route of Skyline Drive, hand-built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933. Elevations range from 4932’ to 5300’ on this undulating trail, which offers prime views of the Limpia Canyon riparian corridor.

For regional hiking information, visit:
For regional cycling information, visit:

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wildlife in Davis Mountains State Park

Davis Mountains State Park offers great hiking and incredible vistas, and if you look closely, some tiny wildlife.  This was taken on the park's Skyline Mountain Biking Trail which was great for hiking too!

Here's a link to the park's website, our hiking page and our cycling page for more information!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Black Bears

Though sightings in the Texas Mountain Trail region are rare, there are black bears in the area.  It is best to heed all warnings and use the bear proof facilities provided.  Here's a link to interesting and helpful information on bears in Big Bend National Park

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Must-See, the Museum of the Big Bend

If you're traveling near Big Bend, Alpine, Fort Davis, Marathon, Marfa, you owe it to yourself to include a visit to the Museum of the Big Bend on the campus of Sul Ross State University in Alpine.  Moved to its original location on campus and completely restored, renovated and upgraded a few years ago, it is truly one of the best small museums in the state.  The collection and exhibitions provide a great introduction to the entire Far West Texas region.  The current special exhibition is an excellent one--on historic Texas Maps!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

El Paso's Plaza Theatre

Fully restored, El Paso has a jewel of a theatre in the Plaza, and its website says the theatre, "opened September 12, 1930 to a capacity crowd of 2,410. It was advertised as the largest theater of its kind between Dallas and Los Angeles. Designed as a modern film house with the flexibility of presenting stage shows, the Plaza eventually hosted popular traveling shows and movies, becoming a fixture in the lives of theatergoers for generations to come."

The theatre's full history is here and the calendar of performances is here!  Plan to attend a performance soon!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Football season is upon us!

Van Horn has one of the most beautiful settings for high school football in the state, with a full view of Turtleback Mountain (near center of background) and Six Mile Mountain (on right).  When you're traveling through the region, take in a game!  Hint:  pick up a local paper for information on kickoff times!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

South Rim view, Big Bend National Park

A twelve mile (roundtrip) hike rewards visitors with one of the grandest views in Texas--a grand vista of the Chihuahuan Desert, Big Bend National Park and Mexico from the South Rim Trail.  Here's what the park's website says about the Trail: "The South Rim is located at the extreme southern edge of the Chisos Mountains. At the rim, the desert floor lies 2,500 feet below you and vast panoramas of rugged desert and mountains beckon far into Mexico. The South Rim can be done as a strenuous day hike, but is best enjoyed on a 1-2 night backpack trip. Backcountry campsites are available with a backcountry permit. Hikers may make a great loop by taking the Pinnacles Trail up and the Laguna Meadow Trail down, or vice versa."

For more regional hiking information, visit:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Indian Lodge

One of the most popular places to stay in the Davis Mountains is TPWD's Indian Lodge.  The park's website says this about the hotel:  "Built in the 1930s, it was opened to the public in 1939.
The historic section of the lodge was constructed in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and features the original interiors and furnishings. In 1967, a major construction project was completed, including renovation of the original structure, which has eighteen-inch adobe walls, hand-carved cedar furniture, and ceilings of pine viga and latilla. It resembles a Southwestern Native-American-style, multilevel pueblo village."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Madera Canyon Trail

North of Fort Davis on the Scenic Loop, there's a wonderful trail with 24 hour public access, the Madera Canyon Trail.  The land is on the Nature Conservancy's Davis Mountains Preserve, which is limited to public access except for "Open Days and Open Weekends."   Check our events calendar for those dates! 

Our Texas Mountain Trail hiking page ( has more information about this trail including two document downloads with trail descriptions and interpretation material.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Heading back to Marathon from Post Park

From Marathon, follow the sign to "County Park 5" and you'll travel on a single lane road to an old Comanche watering hole, a Buffalo soldier outpost and a WPA worksite, now a county park, called Post Park.  On the way back to town, the mountains and the small town of Marathon, rise up into view.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Riders by Turtleback Mountain

Unidentified riders by one of Van Horn's landmarks, Turtleback Mountain.  This wonderful photograph was given to the Clark Hotel Museum by Jim Maloney.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Boquillas Canyon in Big Bend

A short hike with a dramatic destination, is the 1.4 mile (round-trip)  Boquillas Canyon Trail in Big Bend National Park.  The park's website says this about the trail:
"From the parking area at the end of the Boquillas Canyon Road, the trail climbs over a low limestone hill and drops to the banks of the Rio Grande near some Indian mortar holes. Hikers enjoy great views of the river and mouth of Boquillas Canyon. Further down the trail is a huge pile of wind driven sand below a shallow cave."For other regional hiking information, visit

Thursday, September 09, 2010

El Capitan to El Capitan riders leaving Van Horn

Cyclists leave Van Horn for one of the best undiscovered and BEAUTIFUL routes in the state: the El Capitan to El Capitan Heritage Bike Route, from Van Horn to Guadalupe Mountains National Park.  Read all about it here!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Hiking in Big Bend

We love getting photos of adventures from our region from friends from afar.  Here's another photo from our friend, Lee Towns, Executive Director of the Texas Independence Trail in East Texas, from her trip to Big Bend.

For links to hiking information for Big Bend and the rest of the Texas Mountain Trail region, visit our hiking page:

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Pink Light in the Chisos

Lovely morning light in the Chisos Basin, the heart of Big Bend National Park.  This was taken by our friend and counterpart in East Texas, Lee Towns, Executive Director of the Texas Independence Trail.  Thanks, Lee!

For regional hiking information, for Big Bend and the rest of the Texas Mountain Trail region, visit:

Monday, September 06, 2010

More Dog Canyon photos

Dog Canyon in Guadalupe Mountains National Park is recovering (nicely!) from a June fire.  See our entries the past two days for more information!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

More photos from Dog Canyon, Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Take a look at yesterday's entry about Dog Canyon's recovery from a fire back in June...looks like there's plenty of beauty for the hiker, even as the area recovers and gets greener and greener from the summer rains..  These lovely shots, also from the Dog Canyon area in Guadalupe Mountains National Park come to us from Don Baumgardt.  See his comments on yesterday's post!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Report from Dog Canyon

Earlier this year, a fire ripped through one of the best campgrounds in the country, Dog Canyon in Guadalupe Mountains National Park.  One of our friends, Don Baumgardt of the El Paso Visitors Guide ( went to the park recently and sent this report: 
"I've been wanting to go to Dog Canyon for years and finally found a few days to spare. It was beautiful and remote as I had hoped.  The fire that swept thru the area in June left a mark but it was incredible to see how quickly the area starts to heal. The fire seemed to stay mostly on the ground. Many of the trees that are burned are only burned on the bottom few feet. Recent rains have really added lots of green on the ground. Wildlife was abundant. We saw lots of mule deer, birds, lizards, tarantulas. We even heard coyotes the second morning. It's a great campground. Little traffic, friendly hosts and super clean. Go now and keep going back to see how the forest rebounds from the fire."

We'll be featuring Don's photos of the area all weekend. Come back to see more of the Canyon area!
For more information on Dog Canyon, click here.
To visit our regional hiking page, visit:

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Clark Hotel in Van Horn, 1928

A 1928 photo of the main street in Van Horn....which is now a back street.  All activity at the time was oriented to the railroad and the station, just across the street from the Clark Hotel, pictured here.  When the highway came through town, activity shifted a block south, and the "front" of the Clark Hotel became the Broadway Street entrance, where it is today.  This wonderful photo was a gift to the Clark Hotel Museum by Jim Maloney.  Double-click on the image to get a closer look!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Cycling the "El Cap to El Cap" Heritage Bike Route

One of the undiscovered adventures in our region is cycling a seldom traveled road, Hwy 54 from Van Horn to Guadalupe Mountains National Park.  Dubbed the "El Capitan to El Capitan" ride, it begins at the recently restored 1930 Hotel El Capitan and ends in the shadow of El Capitan, the iconic symbol of Guadalupe Mountains National Park. The relatively easy route (as long as the wind isn't blowing!) is 55 miles of incredibly scenic and unspoiled land, with mountain views and desert scenery.  We've got a whole page on the route's features and history, plus a slide show of views and an elevation chart, here!