Exploring the Mountain Trail Region of Texas

A few years ago before I turned 50, my husband and I took a trip to the Big Bend region in far west Texas.  Months earlier, he’d returned from a motorcycle trip in the area and couldn’t wait to get back. I, on the other hand, had been promoting Texas for a few decades and was the Native Texan in our duo, but had never visited the mountains of Texas.  That trip sold me and I’ve been back a couple of times.

We started in El Paso, the largest of the communities in the region, where heritage, cuisine, and breathtaking sunrises and sunsets highlighted the trip. I was there to shoot photography at a conference but we both had the opportunity to visit the sites throughout the week. I experienced the Mission Trail with colleagues while Dan enjoyed a visit to the War Eagle Air Museum. Since Dan is a huge fan of airplanes, he was extremely impressed with the collection. elpasotownBeautiful flowers and amazing skies were this photographers favorite part of the trip. I’ve been a fan of the Pride of Barbados plant since I first encountered it in the Texas Hill Country, so seeing it blooming throughout the city made my day. We experienced an amazing double rainbow at the KOA campground we stayed in that wasn’t in El Paso but in the adjacent community of Anthony, conveniently located across from the Anthony Travel Information Center. If you haven’t taken the time to visit any of the Texas Department of Transportation Travel Information Centers in the state, you really should. The Travel Counselors know the state well and can offer brochures on things to see and do across the Lone Star State. ElpasodayOn our final night in El Paso, I was fortunate to join the conference attendees on a wonderful night at the Wyler Aerial Tramway the Franklin Mountains State Park. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to go up in the tramway due to a dust storm that came rolling through El Paso. But, no worries, it was my first dust storm experience and it proved to be quite enjoyable. When it was over, seeing El Paso light up at dusk and then an incredible moonlit night over the city sealed an amazing evening.elpasonightAfter the conference, we packed up the dogs and the RV and headed east then south to the Big Bend Region of Texas. We passed through Marfa but didn’t get to spend any time there this go around, but we did go by Prada Marfa and had to capture the obligatory photo. So funny to see this building, randomly placed outside of any city business or lights. To each his own. It works. I almost always see people posing there and sharing their photo of it with the masses. For the record, Prada Marfa is really closer to the town of Valentine.MarfaLost Alaskan RV Park in Alpine, Texas, acted as our home base for our week’s stay. What a wonderful town! My photographer’s eye immediately went to all the murals scattered around this quaint community. The photo collage below doesn’t begin to cover the many we saw but I wanted to give you a taste.alpinemuralsAlpine’s main street and the community at large offers a variety of retail, restaurants, and accommodations. You can even get to the town by Amtrak, which unloads right across the street from the downtown center. I’d seen many photos of the mysterious Desk and Bicycle Tree located on top of Hancock Hill on the campus of Sul Ross State University. It’s quite a climb but the views are breathtaking and the two quirky attractions are well worth seeing when you finally arrive at the top.alpinetownWhile you’re on the campus in Alpine, make sure to check out the Museum of the Big Bend. Interesting artifacts, historical information, and exhibits give you a look at the area and the people who settled here.AlpinemuseumIn order to get to Big Bend National Park and Big Bend State Park, you have to continue your trek south for another 100 miles. Yes. Texas really is as big as you’ve heard. One of my favorite places to visit on my way to Big Bend is the Terlingua Ghostown. Very few people choose to live in this region of Texas, but my guess is those who do truly selected it for its solitude and haunting beauty. I’ve always found cemeteries to be fascinating, but none has peaked my interest as much as the Terlingua Cemetery. You really have to see it to understand. Of course, stopping by the Starlight Theatre Restaurants & Saloon is a must and, if you’re lucky, you’ll get the opportunity to meet some of the local characters like Dr. Doug. I haven’t had that good fortune yet, but I’ve read enough about him that I’m sure it would be unforgettable. terlinguaThen there’s the mountains of the Big Bend. They’re nothing like the Colorado Rockies, the Blue Ridge, or the Great Smoky Mountains. All are beautiful but I’m partial to the mountains in my home state. They truly are a must see.bigbendOne of our favorite communities in the area is Fort Davis. Home to the McDonald Observatory and the Fort Davis National Historic Site, the town has one main street with just a few places to visit. There’s something about the town that draws us here for every visit. We were fortunate this visit to see just a small sampling of the wildlife here but what a sampling it was.fortdavisanimalsThe community is located in the Davis Mountains, which we find to be some of the most interesting mountains in the entire region. And no visit would be complete without a visit to the Fort Davis Drug Store, offering a fabulous soda fountain, which is rarely seen this day and age. We also took a drive to the Sproul Ranch, located just outside of town. The views were lovely and the McDonald Observatory could be seen from the ranch, so I’m sure the stargazing is breathtaking.  fortdavis2That’s our trip for now. However, we liked it so much we’re planning a trip back in a few weeks as we make our way back to Arizona for the fall. Safe travels!

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