Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter bonnets?

click on the photo for a closer view!
Another great image from the collection of the Clark Hotel Museum in Van Horn!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Redbuds are Blooming!

All around the region, we're seeing trees, bushes and some cacti showing their glory.  Starting to blossom are the redbuds...this is a Mexican Redbud from Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center and Botanical Garden outside Fort Davis from last year.  Stop on by, though, every day something new decides to bloom!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Save the Date! Wheels for Meals!

Click on the image for a closer view!  Cyclists, you'll want to take part in this supported benefit ride for the Food Pantry of Jeff Davis County. Visit the Food Pantry's website for more information:

If you're planning to take part (and we hope you do!), consider staying at one of our Texas Mountain Trail cycle-friendly hotels.  A full list is here:

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Take a closer look!

When you're traveling, you need to keep your eyes open for some surprises! 

We visited this rock house ruin in
Big Bend Ranch State Park
Look closer!

A wonderful rainbow cactus (oh, take another look...there
are TWO of them!)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Poppies in Bloom!

All around the El Paso Museum of Archaeology, on Transmountain Road, the poppies are in bloom! (they're the little flowers to the left of the photo!)

We wish she would smile!

She looks all dressed up with somewhere to go, but she doesn't look happy!  Just one view of early life in Van Horn/Culberson County in the collection of the Clark Hotel Museum.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Peak Fitness Challenge!

Sign up for the free, fun hiking and trail running challenge
We're lucky to have two TERRIFIC parks participating in our Peak Fitness Challenge, a fun and FREE challenge for all you hikers and trail runners of all fitness levels.  Our friends at Guadalupe Mountains National Park and Franklin Mountains State Park teamed up last year with GeoBetty/PhiDev, Inc. to launch the challenge, with us, the Texas Mountain Trail  Head on out on the trails for fun and you may win some prizes as you log your miles!  
McKittrick Canyon Trail,
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
First step?  Go to and create an account. 
Then?  Browse the site for a hike you'd like to take, or create your own route.
Then?  Head on out for your hike or trailrun, and when you return, log your miles on the site.
Watch your miles add up...we send prizes out to participants at random!


Monday, March 25, 2013

Could YOU be a Master Naturalist?

Tierra Grande Chapter Master Naturalists climb
Mt. Livermore as part of their training in the
Davis Mountains Preserve

Now Accepting Applications!!

The Tierra Grande Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalist Program is accepting applications for its 2013 new member training program. Training this year will begin with a July evening “Kick Off” session in Alpine followed by four weekends starting in August and ending in October.
Juvenile Shorthorned Lizard examined as part of
Texas Master Naturalist training

Training weekends will be held at Davis Mountains Preserve,
Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute, Balmorhea State Park, Elephant Mountain Wildlife Management Area and Big Bend Ranch State Park.

Master Naturalists in Training consult a topo
map of Big Bend Ranch State Park with park
interpreter, Blaine Hall
The Tierra Grande Chapter is a non-profit volunteer organization serving Brewster, Jeff Davis, Presidio counties and the greater Big Bend Region. Their mission is to develop a corps of well-educated master volunteers to provide 
Class of 2011, Tierra Grande Texas Master Naturalists

education, outreach and service dedicated toward the beneficial management of natural resources within our communities.

Application deadline is May 15, 2013 with class size limited to 14 new
members. For applications and further information contact:

Sandy Lynch
Training Committee
Tierra Grande Chapter, Texas Master Naturalists


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Marfa's Crowley Theatre

Marfa has a beautiful live theatre space, but it doesn't have a sign telling you that's what it is.  Locals know this is the Crowley Theatre on Austin Street, just a block west of the main business district.

We like the fact that this photo shows the railroad crossing times performances pause when trains rumble by!

Chances are if you're attending a theatre or dance performance, or perhaps a classical music performance it will be in the lovely Crowley!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Resources for you!

Join our non-profit, the Texas Mountain Trail, click HERE!
Our Texas Mountain Trail non-profit organization provides lots of resources for folks who want to learn more about the adventure and the heritage and the vacation possibilities out here in Far West Texas!  Visit them often for new ideas and resources!  

Our Twitter account is: @trailgirl or

Our website is:

Our YouTube account is:
Our Issuu page (with several NEAT documents) is:

Friday, March 22, 2013

Spring is coming! Roadside Park on Hwy 17 north of Fort Davis

Taken Wednesday afternoon, on Hwy 17 between Fort Davis and Balmorhea...some signs of spring!  What a welcome sight is the green we see here, and here:
We're not certain when this roadside stop was erected, but here's some neat information from the Texas Almanac from 1939-40.

"The roadside improvement division of the State Highway Department was inaugurated in April 1, 1933, for the preservation of existing growth and for planting on barren roadsides where no vegetationwas growing.  Two million young sprouts from old stumps of trees, which were cut before tis program of roadside preservation was begun, and 320,000 large trees have been preserved in the rights of way.

The planting of roadsides is intended primarily for safety, by placing plants where they accentuate outside curves, hilltops, culvert and bridge ends, cross-roads, country roads, and highway direction signs by planting behind them.  For these safety measures 500,000 trees and 600,000 shrubs and numerous vines had already been planted along the roadsides to the close of this fiscal year ending August 31, 1938.  Eighty tons of wild flower seeds and 100 tons of grass seeds had been planted to aid in the control of erosion and add to the appearance of the highways.

Recent State Legislatures have passed stock laws for fenced highways, making it a misdemeanor to permit loose stock along such highways; also a dumping law which prohibits dumping trash 300 feet of any highway right of way.

For the comfort and convenience of travelers, there have been established at intervals along the highways:

Roadside parks larger than 1/2 acre.......363 (total acreage approx. 940 a.)
Turnouts and small parks (less than 1/2 acre).......311
Park tables on usual right of way.....131
(perhaps this spot is one of these?)
Centennial historical markers have been erected.....264
Extra right of way for tree preservation....81.24 miles
Completed miles of federal aid planting projects....332.5 miles"

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Celebrating Cycling at Prada Marfa

We're not sure who's responsible for the cycling "lane" markers, or when they appeared, but they added to the cheeriness of our mood as we stopped by the art installation, Prada Marfa, just north of Valentine, between Van Horn and Marfa on Hwy 90.

We're proud to encourage cycling in the region, and have heritage bike routes and cycle-friendly hotels on our website.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

McKittrick Canyon Hike, Guadalupe Mountains National Park

McKittrick Canyon in Guadalupe Mountains National Park is known for fall color, but it offers great views and a nice adventure anytime of the year.  Part of our Peak Fitness Challenge, and designated as a Texas Mountain Trail Heritage Hike, there are a variety of distances for you to try.  We took the 4.8 round trip option to Pratt Lodge...which offers a great place to rest before heading back.

Click here to get details on the Trail from the Park's website.

There are lots of places along the trail to rest in the shade, but
do take cover from the sun.  Here Stonewear Design's
Lynx top is a good choice to protect skin from the sun's rays.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sunset at Sauceda

We have such terrific skies in the Texas Mountains, and one of the best places to catch a spectacular sunset is in the center of Big Bend Ranch State Park, at Sauceda. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Nest in Big Bend National Park

It doesn't matter where you go, it pays to keep
an eye out for a surprise or two
Perched atop a cholla in Big Bend National Park, a nest...perhaps a desert wren's home?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

El Paso Poppies Fest Next Saturday!

The seventh annual 2013 Poppies Fest on Castner Range will take place on Saturday, March 23, 2013 at the El Paso Museum of Archaeology at 4301 Transmountain Road. The day will feature a full program of nature talks, wildlife displays, educational exhibits, demonstrations, a live wolf, Houdini the Harris Hawk, children’s activity center, music and food vendors. Everyone is welcome to come out and enjoy the beauty of the mountains and the poppies during this free educational family fun event.

Everyone must park at El Paso Community College Northeast Campus on Gateway North and take the FREE shuttle service provided from 9:30am to 5:00pm. NO PARKING AT THE EL PASO MUSEUM OF ARCHAEOLOGY!

Click here to download the poster.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Today at the Historic Magoffin Home, $2 tours!

It is a special day at the Magoffin Home in El Paso, special tour rates (only $2!) and outdoor activities for the kiddos all day long.  The home will be open from 10-4...come on out and join the fun!

From our website's page on the Magoffin Home:

"A striking adobe structure, Magoffin Home State Historic Site explores the stories of a multicultural family who actively participated in U.S. expansion and settlement, military service, trade on the Santa Fe–Chihuahua Trail, Civil War turmoil and U.S.–Mexico relations. The 1875 home is part of the Magoffin Historic District and is one of the oldest surviving adobe structures in the area.

The 1.5-acre site offers a glimpse of the past as visitors explore its lovely grounds and renovated rooms. The historical significance of the home lies in its unique architecture and in the history of the Magoffins and their descendants who lived in the home for more than 100 years. A multicultural family, they were active and influential participants in their community, served during military conflicts and witnessed important historic events. Their home is a prime example of Territorial style architecture and features a center courtyard and peaceful landscape. Numerous authentic artifacts including furniture, textiles, photographs, art and documents are on display in the home. These are supplemented with period pieces to give a more complete view of what the home looked like in different time periods."

Friday, March 15, 2013

Museum of the Big Bend in Alpine--Open for Spring Break!

The Museum of the Big Bend is up, running and ready for Spring Breakers!
We will continue to exhibit “Trappings of Texas – The Best of Custom Cowboy Gear & Contemporary Western Art”
Gift Shop for Unique gifts, books, jewelry, toys and more
Tuesday – Saturday – 9 am to 5 pm
Sunday – 1 to 5 pm
The Museum is located in Alpine on the campus of Sul Ross State University!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Spring Break at CDRI

A beauty from the Cactus Greehouse
Modesto Canyon View
Every day during Spring Break, there will be a guided
hike through Modesto Canyon at 10 am!

One of the neatest places in the region, Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center, is offering special programs during Spring Break, which is THIS week!
At 10 am every day, there will be a guided hike through Modesto Canyon.
At 2pm there will be a special program--remaining this week:
Thursday-Cactus Potting, Friday-Cactus Pollinators and Saturday-Desert Flight
At 2:30, a guided hike through the Botanical Gardens!


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Hunter Peak, Part 2 by Drew Stuart

El Capitan from Hunter Peak Trail
by Drew Stuart
Continued from yesterday's entry.....

And then, after two hours on the sharp and arid slopes, I'm at the crest of the trail, at Pine Top, some 2,500 feet above the trailhead. Another country, another world, another state. I'm at the border of another country, with another constitution, other laws and rules – gentler ones, it would seem.


I walk on through pines, and the sun shines and the yellow grass waves. Soon, I can gaze down and see it all laid out, spread out before me: to the north, clear on to the Brokeoffs, further east, the striated, carameled walls of McKittrick Canyon – but, before me, to the west, the great humps of the high ones – Shumard and Bartlett peaks. A moment of recognition – I know you! Our sense of place, our awareness of a place as home, is in many ways tied to our ability to identify the landmarks, to name what we see. Now I am seeing the backsides – the backsides to me – of Shumard Peak and Bartlett, Guadalupe Peak. The severity of the western escarpment is tempered with this view of soft and wooded folds. The cliffs' classical severity is replaced here by mousy browns and subdued grays.


These are my favorite mountains. As with the man who knows that his wife is the most beautiful woman in the world, this is not an objective matter. I've been lucky to see many mountains around the world – some higher, broader than these, with glaciers and crashing waterfalls. But glamour is not necessarily what I'm after. (As with other pairings, circumstances have a lot to do with this one – having been raised in Texas, I'm sentimentally bound to these mountains. I often can't help but feel that things in Texas have more character.) And as with another person, the truth of course is that I hardly know them, the mountains. I am grabbed by the details and expect always to be surprised.

Guadalupe Peak from Pine top
by Drew Stuart

There is a strong, steady course of wind, creating a white noise as constant as a waterfall. Wind tunnel conditions. I walk along the Bowl Trail, along the edge of a cliff, a stony path through small pines – and soon I am scrambling up the trail to Hunter Peak. There are breaks in the wall, and beyond can I see El Capitan. It is cold here – my hands go numb, and I hike now in a sweater.


The peak is ecstatic and howling – but no place to linger for long.


Descending the peak, I saunter through the gentle pines – the colors are golden and the dark, old-world green of the pines and the pale green of prickly pear and sotol. The light shines, the sun shines, and the yellow grass waves. An Elysian light.


Shumard Peak
by Drew Stuart
The idyll comes to an end, a little too quickly – I felt like I could have walked on and on, drinking in the vistas, all the way to Dog Canyon. I'm at the head of Bear Canyon, and begin a stark descent, returning to those bright and bald slopes, glinting and pitted. Down, into a dark defile, I slip, and look up to see a maple and the fall colors around me, pear and bruised apples, mottled yellows and old-wine red. I walk on in a shadowed notch, and feel the affinity with the Carlsbad Caverns, as if I'm in the caverns.


I come bombing down the mountain – hard on the knees and the foot soles – and I'm back at the trailhead, five and a half hours after I began.

Join this free, fun challenge and turn your hiking miles...perhaps...into prizes!  Sign up at and head to Guadalupe Mountains National Park and Franklin Mountains State Park and hike the trails! 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Hunter Peak, Part 1 by Drew Stuart

From the Tejas Trail, Guadalupe Mountains National Park
by Drew Stuart
This is the sixth installment in a series on hikes in Guadalupe Mountains National Park. In recognition of the park's 40th anniversary, the author undertook earlier this year to hike all the park's trails. He still has a long way to go. (For more in the series, visit the Herald website, at


I set out to hike the Tejas Trail – a 2,500-foot ascent from Pine Springs to the Bowl, in the Guadalupes' highlands – on a cold and windy Nov. 11. My plan was to ascend the Tejas Trail, walk the western leg of the Bowl Trail – with, perhaps, a side jaunt to Hunter Peak, at 8,368 feet – and descend through Bear Canyon, an 8-and-half-mile round trip. The forecast called for “damaging winds” in the Guadalupes, but as I set foot on the trail at about 10 a.m., I was hopeful.

View in The Bowl
by Drew Stuart

In big wind, I walk up the slopes, in sotol and beargrass, prickly pear, cholla, juniper and oaks – the typical grassy parklands. The castellated columns and facades of the Guadalupes rise ahead and above me. Turning, I see a hush or pall on the mounds to the south. A kind of noonday alpenglow. The Guadalupes' exposed limestone – the compacted remains of ancient sea life – seems to cast its own frosted light, to charge the air. So much energy for skeletal, long-dead material. Strong wind drops and gusts down from the west, and clouds sweep quickly above the high country. I step over a flat, blood-red rock, like a Lilliputian sacrificial altar, though it's just the tuna-stained scat of some coyote.


My nose is running, my ears almost numb, but I'm sweating gently – it occurs to me it would be a good day for one of those breathable synthetic shirts that conscientious, “serious” hikers wear. As opposed to hacks like myself, who favor a cotton T-shirt, or whatever is closest to the bed in the morning. The mountains above are bleached white, blotched gray – I find myself thinking about the ancient Greeks, remember Homer rhapsodizing about “the folds of Mount Ida.” Mythology or stories about ancient seas, the rocks draw the mind back towards older worlds.


Soon I'm rounding a bend, heading toward the stone house or box that stands above Pine Canyon. Turning at an elbow in the mountains, the slopes rising up to the north are almost snowy white, and support their thorny culture of prickly pear and sotol. I look back to the east, to the broken mesas and tablelands below, and beyond, to just the silhouette of the Davis Mountains.


I've gained good elevation: below me are the wash and the small breaks of Pine Canyon, ahead the daunting prospect of Guadalupe Peak. I have moments of vertigo. There is the sense that I'd better start paying attention – I've staggered, fairly stumbled up the mountain, this far. But at this height, and at this distance from human comfort or aid, a little fear and trembling is appropriate.


Rounding the corner here, the wind comes with new force, of course. I see that this arm of the mountains, which extends into and rises above Pine Canyon, is like a wave of rock that crests here and breaks. A ridgeback or shoulder, with a giant head – the head of a giant, looking down on the space of the canyon and Devil's Hall. A little window in the porous and permeable limestone is visible near the ridge's far end. Below and to the west, I see slope after slope, one giving way to another, gentle-looking and mauve-colored.


The clouds are gone now, except in the distance to the east, and it's just sun and wind. It's a long way down, and very steep. I'm on a glinting canvas of rock, limestone in slats and pointing shards.


Sunlight, blue sky, the wind rushing through the scrub oak- and lechuguilla-covered slopes. Up and up and up. Why? What do I expect to find? A range of desert hills or mountains is a fastness of rock. However dry, the mountains persist in being sanctuaries, fastnesses. For marginally more wildlife than the creosote flats, perhaps. For the dream of rain. But for something else as well. What? Silence? Sometimes it seems they preserve memory – not ghosts, but time itself. The past, whether of 200 years or 200 million, seems to pool, gather at these places.


Nearing the top of the Tejas Trail, I pass here and there a twisted juniper, parched, warped by wind. I also have my only human encounter on the trail, with a ranger, who suggests Hunter Peak will likely be miserable in these windy conditions.

Stay tuned for Part 2!!

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is one of two parks participating in this fun and free challenge!  Sign up online at and the miles you hike may qualify you for prizes!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Images from Van Horn's Clark Hotel Museum

Van Horn's Clark Hotel Museum chronicles the history of Culberson County.  Once a hotel, the museum shows early rooms for travelers, virtually untouched from its heyday in the mid-20th century.  Visit the museum's website,

The Museum's website and these photographs are the work of Van Horn native, Dan Baeza, who spent three weeks last summer working with the Texas Mountain Trail to provide services to the community's only museum.  We think he did a great job! 

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Hiking in the Guadalupe Mountains

One of the jewels in our region is our own Guadalupe Mountains National Park.  Some national parks are great to drive through...but not this one.  This is a TERRIFIC hiking park, for folks who like to tackle long or short trails.

And through our association with the national park, it is our pleasure to offer a free, fun program to all hikers heading to the Guadalupes.  Join the Peak Fitness Challenge, hike the trails in Guadalupe Mountains National Park and/or El Paso's Franklin Mountains State Park, and the miles you log qualify you for regular prize drawings! 

Our Peak Fitness Challenge participants
 have run or hiked
a combined 1,048 miles!

Challenge participants have
come from all over!

Many of the trails are Texas Mountain Trail Heritage Hikes, meaning they were the location of an historic event, or offer historic scenic vistas. 

Join the Challenge today!

Friday, March 08, 2013

Visit El Paso App!

Heading to El Paso and want to have advice in the palm of your hand?  The folks at the El Paso Convention and Visitors Bureau have developed a great app just for you! 

Download is free, easy...exploring is just moments away! 

Click HERE for all the info!