Friday, May 31, 2013

Billy the Kid Festival

Billy The Kid Festival 2013
San Elizario Historic District
San Elizario, Texas 79849

4th Annual Billy the Kid Festival
June 7- 9, 2013.
Friday: 7p-11p
Saturday: 12p-11p
Sunday: 12p-10p

Wild West buffs will want to mosey on over to the historic town of San Elizario for the 4th annual Billy The Kid Festival. The Nationally recognized Historic District celebrates the notorious outlaw's visit to San Elizario in 1876. Enjoy reenactments of the historic breakout at the old County Jail & learn the historic truths of his visit to the old Texas town. See the original play, Midnight Rendezvous: Billy the Kid & The Mystery of 1876 at the Main Stage. Live Music at the local Restaurants and on the Main Stage. All events are FREE!! The event is Pet Friendly!  Enjoy Arts, Crafts, Entertainment, Food and more!!

From El Paso: Take I-10 East to Loop 375 South, Exit off of Loop 375 at Socorro Road, Turn left at Socorro Road and proceed approximately 7 miles to the San Elizario Historic District on the right. Look for the brown signs.

GPS: 1501 Main Street, 79849
Information: 915-851-0093

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Nine Seconds on Clayton's Overlook Trail, Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center

One of the best places to go hiking in the Davis Mountains is Fort Davis' Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center and Botanical Gardens.  There are several great trails on the property, trails that will suit all hikers, from beginning to advanced.  Kids 12 and under can visit the Center for free; adult admission is just $6. 

The video above shows Clayton's Overlook Trail, which is a terrific hiking experience.  At the top of the trail is a viewing platform, offering a 360 degree vista and interpretive panels showing the history and geology of the entire Davis Mountains.

Want something easier?  How about a stroll through the botanical garden or a visit to the cactus greenhouse?

Hiking at CDRI, with thanks to Stonewear Designs
We're wearing their Liberty Skort and Echo Top
on the Modesta Canyon Trail

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Heritage Hikes!

Porch of historic Pratt Cabin
on the McKittrick Canyon trail
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
As part of our Peak Fitness Challenge, we've identified special hiking trails that tell something about our history...our Texas Mountain Trail Heritage Hikes!  The Challenge is centered in Franklin Mountains State Park and Guadalupe Mountains National Park (though we're looking at adding new trails in other parts of the region in the future), and there's PLENTY to learn about Texas by experiencing these designated trails.

The Peak Fitness Challenge is a FREE, FUN program designed to introduce new parks and new trails to folks of all fitness levels.  The Challenge website has terrific information, including topo maps, of the trails, plus great information about the location of the trailheads, elevation change and trail length.

We send prizes out on a random basis to never know when something neat might hit your mailbox!

The Texas Mountain Trail Heritage Hikes take you to the site of a murder of a Texas Ranger, plane crashes, historic ranch houses, old tin mines, stagecoach stops, and other neat places! 

Want to learn more?  We also have a rundown of the Texas Mountain Trail Heritage Hikes on our website:

Learn more about hiking opportunities in the Texas Mountains and the Peak Fitness Challenge, by visiting THIS page!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Posting Your Event!

Part of our mission as a non-profit supporting Far West Texas, is to promote worthy events in the region.  Many event organizers approach us about getting their events on our web calendar, on this Daily Photo blog, and on our many social media outlets.  We've produced this easy 2 step guide for qualifying heritage, cultural, and adventure events for organizers working in the six westernmost counties of the state, from Marathon and Big Bend all the way west to El Paso and the state line.

You can view the flyer by clicking on the image to the left, or following this link.

Be sure to start your publicity as soon as you can to attract the most visitors....six month ahead isn't too soon!  Please do complete both Step 1 and Step 2 at least two weeks before your event takes place.  Another tip?  Send us photos, according to instructions.  The .pdf of your flyer or poster is of limited value.  We may only be able to post it on Facebook or Twitter. 

These services are free, although we reserve additional services and exposure for our Texas Mountain Trail business members.  We want to provide information for a wide range of visitors, however some events may not be appropriate for our audience.  We reserve the right to post events as our staff or volunteer time will allow and as deemed suitable for our social media visitors.  We want our visitors (and residents of the region) to know about the VERY BEST events Far West Texas can offer!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Perfect place for a picnic--Post Park!

Just five miles south of Marathon (follow the signs to "County Park") is a great little place that's been a resting place for centuries, Post Park!  We know the Apache and Comanche used the spring here as an oasis from the desert heat.  The Buffalo Soliders used the area for their Camp Pena Colorado in the late 1800s.  The community of Marathon and visitors use the park for fishing, picnicking and birdwatching.  Read the history here. Consider yourself invited!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Pronghorn babies

The drought has been hard on wildlife in the region, and the pronghorn populations appear to be affected.  However, we DO see them out, and last night, we saw a mother and three babies along Hwy 17 between Fort Davis and Marfa!
Click on the photos for a closer view!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Remingtons Coming to Alpine!

The Charge of the Rough Riders
by Frederic Remington
to be shown at the Museum of the Big Bend
Legendary Western artist Frederic Remington’s works – including an original painting on tour for the first time – will be featured in an upcoming exhibit at the Museum of the Big Bend at Sul Ross State University.
                “Treasures from the Frederic Remington Art Museum,” including the original painting, “The Charge of the Rough Riders,” opens Sept. 19 as part of a gala weekend. Painted in 1899, “The Charge of the Rough Riders” commemorated the charge of Teddy Roosevelt’s troops up Cuba’s San Juan Hill during the Spanish American War. The epic original has been on display in the Frederic Remington Art Museum, Ogdensburg, N.Y., and will be on tour for the first time.
                Opening events will include scholarly presentations and lectures, dinners, receptions and live and silent auctions at various locations, including the museum, Sul Ross, Fort Davis National Historic Site, the Gage Hotel, Marathon, and Alpine’s Holland Hotel.
                This historic exhibit, which will be open to the public from Sept. 21-Dec. 8, will display a large number of Frederic Remington’s best known works, including the iconic sculpture, Broncho Buster and The Charge of the Rough Riders.  In celebration of this exhibit, four of the nation’s leading Remington scholars will be presenting new scholarship and research during the course of the weekend’s events.  Presenters include Peter Hassrick, Dr. Ron Tyler, Dr. B. Byron Price and Michael Duty.
Horse Study
                “Remington is the biggest name in Western Art and this is the biggest art event in our history,” said Liz Jackson, Museum director. “We are not only bringing the never-before toured painting, The Charge of the Rough Riders to our museum but we will be bringing together the best in Remington scholars.  This event is significant for the museum, Sul Ross State University, and the Big Bend region as a whole.”
                Sul Ross President Dr. Ricardo Maestas said, “Frederic Remington is considered perhaps the most influential and important artist to portray the American West. The Sul Ross community is pleased to host this monumental exhibition in our award-winning museum facilities.”             
Ticketed events for opening weekend are as follows:
                Thursday, Sept. 19: Speakers and Sponsors dinner, 6 p.m.Racism & Patronage,” presented by Peter Hassrick..Hosted by The Gage Hotel, Mary Jon & J.P. Bryan.
                Friday, Sept. 20:  3:30 - 5:30 p.m., Frederic Remington lectures,“Frederic Remington’s Vision of “The Man with the Bark On,” presented by Dr. Ron Tyler; “Remington as an Equine and Equestrian Artist,” presented by Dr. B. Byron Price; Vic and Mary Jane Morgan University Center, Sul Ross.
                6-8 p.m.: Exhibit opening and reception, “Treasures from The Frederic Remington Art Museum,” Museum of the Big Bend.            
Saturday, Sept. 21: 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Private tour and BBQ lunch,  The Fort Davis National Historic Site, Fort Davis.                             
                6 p.m.: Frederic Remington Gala, cocktails, dinner, live and silent auctions, music, lecture, “Frederic Remington’s Legacy,” by Michael Duty; The Holland Hotel, Alpine.
                “Treasures from The Frederic Remington Art Museum” exhibit and event are being made possible through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Mallory, The Holland Hotel, and West Texas National Bank.  Additional sponsors include The Gage Hotel, Mary Jon & J.P. Bryan and Carol and Pete Peterson and many others.  Sponsorship opportunities are still available.
                Museum hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sundays. Admission and parking are free. Enter through Entrance B off of Harrison Road.  Private tours may be scheduled in advance.  For more information, visit or call (432) 837-8143.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Last night's sky

And moments later, around the corner:
In Marfa last night along Hwy 90 looking west.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

National Trails Day Hike in Big Bend Ranch State Park, June 1

Cinco Tinajas, Big Bend Ranch State Park

A notice from our friends at Big Bend Ranch State Park
Take a guided hike at Big Bend Ranch State Park on June 1st and join the Nation in celebration of “National Trails Day”. It will be good for your body, your mind, and your soul!
Come on out on Saturday, June 1st and celebrate this year’s “National Trails Day” by hiking with us here at Big Bend Ranch State Park. “National Trails Day” is a nationwide celebration of trails and how they can help you more fully experience and enjoy Your Parks. We will hike about 1.5 miles round trip and take in the spectacular panoramic views from on the top of the ridge trail while hiking over to the Cinco Tinajas overlook and then back around and down to the head of the canyon and the first of the tinajas. If you do not know what these “Cinco Tinajas” are, then join us and find out.
The hike will take around 2.5 hours over terrain with loose rocks, so wear sturdy hiking shoes, bring at least 20 ounces of water, sunscreen, hat, long pants, long-sleeved shirt, and of course your camera.
Meet at Sauceda Headquarters at 8:45 on that Saturday morning. Sauceda is located in the interior of BBRSP about 1.5 hours drive over a dirt/gravel road from Presidio. There is no charge for this guided hike, and the regular entry fee for 13 years and over is $3.00 per person. For more information and sign-up for the hike, please call the park directly at (432) 358-4444 by May 29th. All are encouraged to stay over at Sauceda to have ample time to enjoy the park. Lodging can be reserved by calling (512) 389-8919.
We look forward to sharing our Park Trails with you! 

This event is posted on our Texas Mountain Trail web calendar, here

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Wheels for Meals Princess Tour!

Click on the poster for an easier read!
One of our region's great cycling events is the Jeff Davis County Food Pantry's Wheels for Meals ride every October.  This is a fundraising ride for the good work of the Food Pantry,  and now there is a new, fun option for "easy" riders, their Princess Tour!  

Only 12 riders will be accepted into the Princess Tour, and they'll receive the ROYAL TREATMENT!

  • Private van ride to the top of the mountain for an 18 mile DOWNHILL ride!
  • Chocolate croissants, orange juice and espresso on the van!
  • Princess worthy surprises!
All riders are required to register and raise at minimum of $250 in pledges for the Food
Pantry.  Where does the money go?  Read below from their website:

click on the poster for easier reading
"Since 1998, the Food Pantry of Jeff Davis County has been offering supplemental food to about 20% of the families in the county. Our distribution is twice a month in Fort Davis and Valentine.  These families have a total income below poverty line.  The food is purchased through USDA and Feeding America.  The Food Pantry also works with the West Texas Food Bank and local grocery stores to provide a variety of healthy meals. 

Each year, The Food Pantry distributes more than 40 tons of food to more than 155 households. The average number of people in each household is 2.6 with an income of $13,866.099 a year which is far below the US poverty guideline. 

The Food Pantry also supports a school lunch program for the students in Fort Davis since there is no program at the school."

To sign up as a rider, click HERE for the registration form!  Click HERE for more information!

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Story of Frijole Ranch

Frijole Ranch, Guadalupe Mountains National Park
Guadalupe Mountains National Park has incredible scenic vistas and terrific hiking trails, but it is also blessed with stories from the past.  A brief visit to Frijole Ranch tells so much about the efforts of early ranchers who tried to made the mountains their home.  Around 1876, the Rader built the small stone structure and stayed there until sometime before 1900.  The Smith family lived and worked at the ranch for thirty-six years and made it the social center of the area, beginning around 1906.  You can tour the ranch house, and peek in the post office and one-room school building from the Smith family's time at the ranch.

The ranch is just adjacent to the trailhead to Smith Spring, one of our Texas Mountain Trail Heritage Hikes, included in our Peak Fitness Challenge.  The 2.6 mile loop trail takes you through desert, into a cool shaded spring area, into arroyos and by a pond, where birds and wildlife like to gather.

Read more about the Ranch here and here.  It is a great place to visit!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

We're working on a long-term project on Dining Along Historic Highways, and thought you might like a peek at what we're up to.  Van Horn sits on both the Old Spanish Trail and the Bankhead Highway, and has served travelers for generations.  Want to see the entire "feature," including historic and modern photos, and the full recipe for Icebox Cookies with Pecans from a 1934 community cookbook?  Click HERE!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Join the Texas Mountain Trail!

Now you can join us by becoming a member of our non-profit organization serving Far West Texas, our Texas Mountain Trail!  We're offering great benefits for your support, including our heartfelt thanks for helping us do more to connect you with their own adventure in the Texas Mountains!

Follow this link to our membership page for a listing of all our benefit levels, and easy, safe giving!  Many thanks!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Shady Closed Canyon

Now that the summer's heating up, we've got a short trail for you that's in shade much of the time.  Just off the River Road, Hwy 170, in Big Bend Ranch State Park is Closed Canyon.

The 1.4 mile trail descends into a deep, draw with massive rock walls.  Here's the Backpacker magazine review of the trail

Water cut through rock to create the canyon, so take note of the weather.  When storms threaten, it is best to save this hike for dryer days. Flash floods can happen in sudden storms, and the steep rock make escape difficult.

In the heat of the summer, though, Closed Canyon offers a quiet shady respite from the road.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Photo courtesy of Texas Historical Commission
Taken outside Marfa

While the drought has affected pronghorn populations, we still see them in the wild in our region, especially from the side of the road in grassland areas between Van Horn and Marfa, as well as the Alpine and Fort Davis areas.  Read more about pronghorn here and here!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Stormy May Skies

Another Marfa sunset beauty on a rare stormy night....taken last night!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Get Ready for Viva Big Bend!

Last year, the region was packed with music lovers.  This year proves to be the same.  Make your reservations now, buy your tickets now for Viva Big Bend, July 25-28, in Alpine, Fort Davis, Marfa and Marathon!  Already some accommodations are sold out, so act now!

Want to learn more?  Here's a link to the festival's FAQ page.  And one to their lineup page!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Birding in Big Bend

Birding in the Chisos Basin
of Big Bend National Park
Big Bend is a terrific place to see birds, and there are lots of resources to help you get the most out of your adventure.

The Big Bend National Park has a birding page, here.

The Far West Texas Wildlife Trail has many birding about them here.

Birding resources, trips, guides:

Birding in Big Bend National Park with Mark Flippo

Birding trips through Mountain Trails Lodge of Fort Davis

Big Bend - Texas Nature: Surveys, Scouting and Guiding

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Flowers for our Moms

Prickly Pear, blooming in the region in time for Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Last Night's Storms

Yesterday, large sections of our region received some much-needed rain.  Sure, we had thunder, hail, and some high winds....but we also were treated to rainbows.  Here's one taken last night by our Marfa friend, Monte Riggs.  While we're still in a drought and under a burn ban throughout most of the region, every little bit of rain helps!  The prickly pear are in bud in many places, and soon we'll have flowers too!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Saying Goodbye to a Good Friend

The Town of Van Horn, our Texas Mountain Trail organization, and many residents of Far West Texas lost a friend on Sunday, longtime Mayor of Van Horn, Okey Lucas.  His funeral is today.

A native of West Virginia, he had the good fortune to meet a West Texas gal, Pat; and he had the good sense to marry her. 

Mayor Lucas was a proud veteran.  His service in Vietnam led to his exposure of Agent Orange.  Though he carried oxygen with him everywhere, it never appeared to dampen his view on life.

He told us one of his most proud accomplishments as mayor was overseeing the paving of every street in town, and he was a great ambassador for Van Horn through his work with the Rio Grande Council of Governments and other groups.

He extended kindness to our new organization as it opened for business in 2005; Van Horn became our host city.  Today, our office remains there, and we share Mayor Lucas' enthusiasm for the town.

One of the town's employees, Patricia Golden, nominated the little rest area across from the Town's Convention Center and City Hall, Okey Lucas Park for inclusion in our Far West Texas Wildlife Trail, a project with Texas Parks and Wildlife.  Here's the entry from that map:

 Okey D. Lucas Park

The Town of Van Horn is located at the crossroads of I-10, US 90, and US 54. Van Horn has one main street. The Okey D. Lucas Park is located near the west end at 1804 W. Broadway just across the street from City Hall and the Convention Center/Visitor’s Bureau.
The Okey D. Lucas Park is a quiet, small, and open park with trees and shrubs, with a dramatic background of Turtleback and Six Mile Mountains. The city has a drip water system that attracts the birds despite the dry area. There are picnic tables and restrooms available Monday through Friday, 8-5 at the Visitor’s Bureau.

A personal memory of Mayor Okey Lucas from our Director:

"Most mornings the mayor yells down the hall to me, "what's going on in that office?"

"Work," I yell back.

Then he walks (oxygen in his backpack always) in to shake my hand and call me "Sunshine," and ask how I'm doing. I'm part of his daily rounds before he retires home for reruns of Matlock at 10 am. This morning we talked about short airflights. He'd just taken his wife to El Paso for a quick 40 minute flight to Albequerque to visit their youngest child this week.

As he left he asked, "does it take about 2 1/2 hours from El Paso to Chicago?"


"About 2 1/2 Matlocks then."


We'll miss you Mayor.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Kern Place Sunset

Last night we happened to be in the historic Kern Place area of El Paso, just in time for a great sunset.  We know we often post rural skies, and wanted to show you our biggest city also hosts grand sunsets, too. 

The Kern Place area, just north of UTEP, was the first suburb in El Paso, dating to 1914.  Now in the center of the city, the area has gracious homes, many built with local rock.  The history of the area is outlined on Wikipedia, here.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Murals of Alpine

Alpine has a fun downtown to explore and the city has worked hard to make it a lovely place for visitors and citizens.  The attention to art distinguishes Alpine...take, for instance, the murals in town.  There are three within a couple of blocks of each other. 

If you find this one depicting our ranching heritage, look behind you and see THIS one.  Next, head across the street to the Amtrak station for another mural!  Then take some time to wander the downtown and explore the shops in the area!  Have a great time!

Monday, May 06, 2013

Window Trail, Big Bend National Park

The center of Big Bend National Park is the start of many Chisos Mountain hikes, including The Window trail.  Here's what the park's website says about this satisfying day hike:

"Window Trail
Difficulty: Moderate; Distance:, 5.6 miles round trip
Begin at the Chisos Basin Trailhead

This trail descends through Oak Creek Canyon to the Window pour-off which frames panoramic desert vistas. During wetter periods Oak Creek may be flowing, and must be crossed several times. Use caution on this trail: the top of the Window pour-off is slickrock with no railings, and the return hike is uphill."

Click here for the list of mountain hikes in the center of Big Bend National Park, including some of the region's most iconic hikes! 

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Cool Smith Spring

Natural spring and shade on
the Smith Spring Trail, Guadalupe
Mountains National Park
One of our favorite places to escape summer heat is in Guadalupe Mountains National Park.  There's a short, relatively easy 2.3 mile looped trail through desert and arroyo at the base of the mountains, that also takes hikers to the this cool oasis at Smith Spring.  Click here to see more photos on our Flickr page.

More on natural springs in the Guadalupes, here.

This is what the park's website says about this hike:

"Smith Spring Trail
Begin this hike at the trailhead sign. Look for birds, mule deer, and elk as you walk this loop trail to the shady oasis of Smith Spring. Take a break here and enjoy the gurgling sounds of the tiny waterfall before continuing around to sunny Manzanita Spring. Scars from wildland fires of 1990 and 1993 are evident along the trail. The trail is rated moderate, with a round-trip distance of 2.3 miles. Allow one to two hours.
Manzanita Spring (only)
Begin this hike by turning right behind the ranch house at Frijole Ranch and follow the short, paved trail to Manzanita Spring (.2 mile). Return to Frijole Ranch on the same route. The trail is wheelchair accessible. Manzanita Spring is an excellent desert watering hole for park wildlife and a great birding location.
Please: Water is precious for park flora and wildlife species. Do not disturb the water in any way."

This trail is also part of our Peak Fitness Challenge, a joint program of our Texas Mountain Trail and our partners (Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Franklin Mountains State Park, and PhiDev, Inc. of El Paso.  What is the Challenge?  Pick a trail you want to hike, record your miles online, and you might win prizes for your effort?  It is free, it is fun, and you get to explore our beautiful Texas Mountains AND be healthier for it!  This trail is also a Texas Mountain Trail Heritage Hike

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Roosevelt Stone Cottages in Big Bend National Park

In the heart of the Chisos Basin of Big Bend National Park are the Roosevelt Stone Cottages, which were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the second camp in the park, which was established in 1940. Interested in the CCC?  Read more about their work in the park, here.

Today, the cottages have three double beds, plus a shower, microwave and refrigerator.  They are not air conditioned, but have a ceiling fan and benefit from their high altitude location in the Chisos Basin.  Plus, they have wonderful porches and special, private views of the mountains. 

Click here to learn more and get booking information!

Friday, May 03, 2013

Texas History Online Book Club by Texas PBS!

Join the first online book group devoted to Texas History!

Texas PBS is proud to announce the first online book group devoted to Texas History, in conjunction with the new Texas, Our Texas initiative.

The group will be a reader-led experience, with Texas PBS bringing in authors/experts and documentaries/artwork to create a multifaceted, educational and interesting experience for group members.

The first book discussion will be Jan Reid’s Let the People In: The Life and Times of Ann Richards.

Go to

to become part of the inaugural discussion of this ground-breaking group!

Special Announcement:

Author Jan Reid will join the club for a web chat live from the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum Wednesday, May 29th at 8:00 pm. Find out more information about this special event at

Connect on Twitter @TexasPBS

Travel Spotlight! 
Gage Gardens
Click on the photo for a
closer look!
On Tuesday, we headed to Marathon and visited Gage Gardens across the railroad track from the historic Gage Hotel.  Too many folks travel through Marathon and don't take the time to explore, and they're missing so much! 

The Gardens offer an oasis and a hideaway for anyone wanting to enjoy a quiet place for birdwatching, leisurely walks, or even a few minutes on the putting green!