Sunday, January 31, 2010

Train Spotting

Do you like to watch for trains?  The Texas Mountain Trail website has a new page for Train Spotting!  And if you have suggestions for other locations for train spotting in Far West Texas, let us know. 

Our Train Spotting page is here.

We also have a page on railroad-related attractions in the region, click here!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Follow us on Twitter!

We post travel advice, tips on events, great links and photos of the region on Twitter.  Follow us at www.twitter.com/trailgirl!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Thinking back to last summer's tacos!

Last summer, Saveur magazine devoted an entire issue to the cuisine of Texas.  They included an article on El Paso food, along with photos of these two El Paso eateries--here's the link to that photo gallery.  Here's a link to the article, which features yet another El Paso restaurant, Cafe Jurado.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Just what is the Texas Mountain Trail?

Lots of folks have asked us, "What exactly is the Texas Mountain Trail?"  So here it is!

This is what we do: The Texas Mountain Trail develops and promotes the heritage and recreation of Far West Texas. This is why we do it:  We create lasting experiences for visitors. 
And, we're a regionally based 501 c 3 non-profit organization working with our communities and our parks, historic sites, museums, and other attractions....and our visitors....

Here is our history:  The Texas Heritage Trails Program is based around 10 scenic driving trails created in 1968 by Gov. John Connally and the Texas Highway Department as a marketing tool. The trails were established in conjunction with the HemisFair, an international exposition that commemorated the 250th anniversary of the founding of San Antonio.
In 1997, the Texas Historical Commission (THC) was charged by the State Legislature to create a statewide heritage tourism program. The THC based their program on the original driving trails, creating ten heritage regions: Brazos Trail Region, Forest Trail Region, Forts Trail Region, Hill Country Trail Region, Lakes Trail Region, Independence Trail Region, Mountain Trail Region, Pecos Trail Region, Plains Trail Region and Tropical Trail Region.

Today, the trails serve merely as a backbone for the THC’s award-winning regional tourism initiative. The program’s focus has broadened to include heritage tourism attractions both on and off the trail, and communities throughout each region are encouraged to participate in the program.

In 1997, the Texas Historical Commission (THC) was charged by the State Legislature to create a statewide heritage tourism program. The THC based their program on the original driving trails, creating ten heritage regions: Brazos Trail Region, Forest Trail Region, Forts Trail Region, Hill Country Trail Region, Lakes Trail Region, Independence Trail Region, Mountain Trail Region, Pecos Trail Region, Plains Trail Region and Tropical Trail Region.

Today, the trails serve merely as a backbone for the THC’s award-winning regional tourism initiative. The program’s focus has broadened to include heritage tourism attractions both on and off the trail, and communities throughout each region are encouraged to participate in the program.

You can learn more about the statewide program here.






Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wow, look at that view! Part 7


Yet another astounding view of the Chihuahuan Desert from the Guadalupe Peak Trail at Guadalupe Mountains National Park.  The park's website says this about the hike:
"On a clear day, the view from the "Top of Texas" (8,749 feet, or 2,667 meters) is outstanding. The trail is very steep, but is well established. Some areas are exposed to cliff edges. It is rated strenuous, with 3,000 feet of elevation gain. The round trip distance is 8.4 miles, and generally takes 6-8 hours. Avoid the peak hike during high winds and thunderstorms."

Trail descriptions for Guadalupe Mountains National Park are here.  For more regional hiking information, visit the Texas Mountain Trail hiking page: www.texasmountaintrail.com/hike

If you're not a camper, lodging for Guadalupe Mountains National Park is available in Van Horn, including one of our our Texas Mountain Trail cycle-friendly properties, the historic Hotel El Capitan.  Other notable accommodations properties are listed on our cycling page: www.texasmountaintrail.com/bike and our historic hotels page, www.texasmountaintrail.com/historichotels

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Wow, look at that view! Part 6




One of the neatest trails in the region is the one that connects Fort Davis National Historic Site and Davis Mountains State Park.  If you begin at the historic fort (one of the best restored frontier forts in the Southwest!) you immediately climb up to get this wonderful view. 

Here's a link to the trail's map.  Other regional hiking information is available at: www.texasmountaintrail.com/hike

Monday, January 25, 2010

Wow, look at that view! Part 5


Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park is a favorite hike and river trip for visitors to Far West Texas.  Here's what the park's website says about the hike:
"1.7 miles roundtrip
This trail begins at the end of the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. Although a short trail, it is one of the grandest spectacles in the park. After crossing Terlingua Creek, the trail climbs several short switchbacks and then gradually descends along the banks of the Rio Grande. Hikers are surrounded by lush riparian vegetation and 1,500-foot towering vertical cliffs of solid limestone. The trail ends where canyon walls meet the river. Take a lunch and enjoy the scene.
Note: Following rains, flash floods, or periods of high water, Terlingua creek can be impassable, effectively closing the trail."
 
Here's a link to the park's website page on Santa Elena Canyon, which includes links to outfitters, river guides and information on the Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River.
 
For other regional hiking information, visit the Texas Mountain Trail website, www.texasmountaintrail.com/hike

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Wow, look at that view! Part 3


A gentler, but amazingly lovely view of Big Bend Ranch State Park, along the road to Sauceda Ranch.  TPWD's website introduces the park this way:
"Big Bend Ranch State Park, the largest state park in Texas, over 300,000 acres of Chihuahuan Desert wilderness in a remarkably rugged, remote and unpopulated setting. The park extends along the Rio Grande from southeast of Presidio to near Lajitas in both Brewster and Presidio Counties. Embracing some of the most remote and rugged terrain in the Southwest, it encompasses two mountain ranges containing ancient extinct volcanoes, precipitous canyons, and waterfalls. The area has been a crossroads of human activities for over 11,000 years, as diverse people and cultures have been drawn by the abundant resources of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo corridor."


The park is known for great hiking and mountain biking.  For regional information:
Visit our hiking page  www.texasmountaintrail.com/hike
Visit our cycling page www.texasmountaintrail.com/bike

Have a comment or suggestion, or would you like to submit your own photo for consideration?  Leave us a comment!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Wow, look at that View, Part 2


You're looking at the view from the highest point in Texas, the view from Guadalupe Peak in Guadalupe Mountains National Park.  Here's what the park's website says about the hike:
"On a clear day, the view from the "Top of Texas" (8,749 feet, or 2,667 meters) is outstanding. The trail is very steep, but is well established. Some areas are exposed to cliff edges. It is rated strenuous, with 3,000 feet of elevation gain. The round trip distance is 8.4 miles, and generally takes 6-8 hours. Avoid the peak hike during high winds and thunderstorms."

Here's a link to the park's guide for Guadalupe Peak Trail.  For more regional hiking information, visit: www.texasmountaintrail.com/hike

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wow, look at that view! Part 1


One of the premier hikes in the region is the South Rim in Big Bend National Park.  Here's what the park's website says about this hike: 
"The South Rim
12 miles roundtrip
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."

Here's a link to the park's hiking page.  While you're at it, take a look at our regional hiking page at www.texasmountaintrail.com/hike  Enjoy the trail!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Buffalo Soldier history at Fort Davis National Historic Site


From the Fort Davis National Historic Site website:
"It was opposed by many, considered only an experiment by others, but the Act of 1866 to increase the size of the Regular Army changed the course of military history, and afforded African Americans a permanent place in the Armed Forces of the United States."

And so in 1867, four companies of the Ninth Calvary entered the abandoned Fort Davis with an important mission: defend travelers and the mail on stagecoaches on the San Antonio-El Paso Road and around the Trans Pecos. 

For more information, check out the history section of the Fort Davis National Historic Site's website, here.

For additional information about visiting the site, click here.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sign up NOW!!


A great race commences March 7, the El Paso Marathon (which also has a half and a 5K)....register for your spot soon!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Luis Jimenez at the El Paso Museum of Art


Downtown El Paso is graced with a wonderful art museum.  The El Paso Museum of Art's contemporary collection is described on their website:  "During the past decade, the Museum has developed a major collection of contemporary works in all media by artists based in the southwestern United States and Mexico, with a particular focus on Texas, New Mexico, and the Border region. Among the artists represented are Susan Davidoff, James Drake, Gaspar Enriquez, Vernon Fisher, Joseph Havel, Anna Jacquez, Luis Jimenez, James Magee and Annabel Livermore, Jesus Bautista Moroles, and James Surls."

Saturday, January 16, 2010

If conditions are right: El Paso's Franklin Mountains in March


Temperatures and precipitation have to be right at certain times of the year, but if they are, March is glorious in El Paso's Franklin Mountains.  The mountainsides are yellow with poppies!  The Franklins--and Franklin Mountain State Park--are a mecca for mountain biking and hiking.  There are also two museums on the eastern edge of the mountains:  El Paso's Museum of Archaeology and the Border Patrol Museum.  Check them out!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Cycling on Hwy 54 by the Sierra Diablos


Many days our winter temperatures are stilll comfortable for cycling.  Here's a shot taken just before Christmas--and just before a rare rain--on Hwy 54 north of Van Horn.  Hwy 54 connects Van Horn and the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and is a wonderfully scenic ride and drive.

Van Horn is also the home of the historic Hotel El Capitan, one of our Texas Mountain Trail cycle-friendly hotels.  Here's a link to their website.  You can read more about regional cycling opportunities and cycle-friendly hotel options on the Texas Mountain Trail website:  http://www.texasmountaintrail.com/bike

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sunrise on Hwy 54


A great cycling, motorcycling, and running road, Hwy 54 connects Van Horn with Guadalupe Mountains National Park. 

For information on regional cycling opportunities, visit: www.texasmountaintrail.com/bike
For information on regional running opportunities, visit: www.texasmountaintrail.com/run
For information on regional motorycle rides, visit: www.texasmountaintrail.com/motorcycle

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Exploring Hueco Tanks


Near El Paso, there's a wonderful park that provides hiking, birding, rock art expeditions and bouldering for visitors...Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site.

Here's what TPWD says about the park:

This 860.3-acre park is named for the large natural rock basins or "huecos" that have furnished a supply of trapped rain water to dwellers and travelers in this arid region of west Texas for millennia.

A unique legacy of lively and fantastic rock paintings greets the visitor at the "tanks." From Archaic hunters and foragers of thousands of years ago to relatively recent Mescalero Apaches, Native Americans have drawn strange mythological designs and human and animal figures on the rocks of the area. The site's notable pictographs also include more than 200 face designs or "masks" left by the prehistoric Jornada Mogollon culture. Hueco Tanks was the site of the last Indian battle in the county. Apaches, Kiowas, and earlier Indian groups camped here and left behind pictographs telling of their adventures. These tanks served as watering places for the Butterfield Overland Mail Route.



Because of the delicate ancient rock art, visitation is limited to protect it...but don't let that discourage you from visiting.  Just plan ahead and make a reservation with Texas Parks and Wildlife, the agency that manages the park.  The park is so popular, without a reservation you may not gain entry!

For other regional hiking information, visit: www.texasmountaintrail.com/hike

Monday, January 11, 2010

Hiker above Williams Ranch in Guadalupe Mountains National Park


4 x 4 drivers or mountain bikers can gain access to Williams Ranch road on the less-visited western part of Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and they're rewarded with great hiking and spectacular views.  The 1908 ranch house overlooks a salt flat, and the hiking can involve some fun scrambling over boulders.

Information about visiting Williams Ranch road is here.  More on the history of this spectacular site is here.

Regional cycling information is available at www.texasmountaintrail.com/bike. Regional hiking information is available at www.texasmountaintrail.com/hike.   Have a great time exploring this wonderful region!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Where is this?


EL PASO!!  The Franklin Mountains State Park is a wonderful mountain biking destination and the largest urban state park in the nation...but it doesn't look very "urban," does it?  Set within the city limits, the park is a stunning background to the metropolis, and it offers more than 37 square miles of wilderness for hiking, mountain biking, climbing and more.  A park map is located here.

For regional cycling information, visit: www.texasmountaintrail.com/bike  This page includes a listing of our cycle-friendly hotels, including the nearby El Paso Airport Hyatt Place hotel.  Their cycle-friendly services include: oversized guest rooms for safe storage of bikes, purchase freshly made breakfasts/lunches/snacks packs for cycling adventures , complimentary shuttle to airport and within 3 mile radius, 24 hour fitness center, outdoor pool, laundry/valet services.

Photo, courtesy TPWD.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Museum of the Big Bend launches new website!


If you're headed to anywhere in the Big Bend region, the Museum of the Big Bend on the campus of Sul Ross State University in Alpine is a MUST-SEE.  Covering the prehistory, history and culture of the entire area, this small museum is a jewel of multi-media enhanced permanent exhibitions and exciting temporary exhibitions.

They've just launched a handsome new website...bookmark this URL!  www.sulross.edu/museum

Friday, January 08, 2010

Events in the Texas Mountain Trail region


Doesn't this look like fun?  This dance took place during El Paso's Day of the Dead  festival near the Museum of History.

A great way to find out about events in Far West Texas is to visit the Texas Mountain Trail web calendar, see it here.  Visitors can use this resource anytime to help them plan their trip to El Paso, Big Bend, and every place in between.

Community members can use the new calendar function to submit events to be posted online, through this page.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Sky over Fort Leaton


Framed by adobe walls, skies in Far West Texas are stunners.  Here's the view from Fort Leaton State Historic Site, near Presidio.

Operated by Texas Parks and Wildlife, their website says this about the Fort: "In 1848, Ben Leaton built a fortified adobe trading post known as Fort Leaton. He dominated border trade with the Apache and Comanche Indians before he died in 1851."

Visitors to the site, can see a fortified adobe structure and museum exhibits outlining the history of the area.


Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Cactus "tree"


A wonderful cactus photographed in the border town of Presidio.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Williams Ranch at Guadalupe Mountains National Park


On the west side of Guadalupe Mountains National Park, accessible only by 4x4 or mountain bike, is the historic 1908 Williams Ranch house.  To read the history of this beautiful place, click here.

For information on getting there, click here.

Camping is available in the park, and overnight lodging is available in Van Horn, 55 miles to the south.

For regional cycling information, including mountain biking info, visit: www.texasmountaintrail.com/bike

Friday, January 01, 2010

Looking back at 2009--Shafter Church


This shot was taken in March 2009 in the small town of Shafter.  The steeple is currently under restoration.