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The Amistad National Recreation Area is a joint US-Mexican venture brought about by the building of the Amistad (Friendship) dam forming a reservoir. Attractions predominately revolve around water activities like fishing, boating and watching wildlife; but there are also pre-historic pictographs accessible by foot and boat, and a few nice hiking trails. There is also a monument to the friendship between the US and Mexico on the Amistad Dam. The park has several different parts. I went to Amistad Dam and Reservoir, the Pecos River and the Visitors Center. My favorite part was the view of the Pecos River from the nature trail, and the Friendship Dam.
Directions: Along the Rio Grande near Del Rio
Fort Leaton consists of slightly over 23 acres, five of which are the site of a pioneer trading post. Fort Leaton was built by Ben Leaton in 1848 as a fortified adobe trading post. Leaton dominated border trade with the Apache and Comanche Indians until he died in 1851. Fort Leaton is day-use only and offers picnicking areas, guided tours, plus exhibits on the history from 15th century, natural history, and archaeological history of the area. The site serves for historical study activities. Camping is available at nearby Big Bend Ranch State Park. Other accommodations and restaurants are available in the nearby towns of Presidio and Terlingua. Entrance fee is $3 for people 13 and up. Hours are 8 AM to 4:30 PM daily except Christmas Day
For more information on Fort Leaton State Historic Site see my Presidio Page.
Address: P.O. Box 2319, Presidio TX 79845
Directions: The park is located 4 miles southeast of Presidio on FM 170.
Phone: (432) 229-3613
Fort Lancaster consists of 82 acres in the Pecos River valley and commemorates one of four posts established in 1855 to protect the military route between San Antonio and El Paso. Walk through the grounds and see the ruins of the 25 permanent buildings that made up the fort. The fort was first manned by Companies H and K of the First Infantry Regiment, led by Captain Stephen D. Carpenter. Fort Lancaster was a very isolated post; but it had good facilities. Civilian activities were limited. There was a stage stop for mail and a sutler's store. As with most army posts in the old west this one was built by the soldiers. They used a combination of limestone blocks and adobe. Stone was used for the foundations, corners, chimneys and sometimes the gable ends of the structure. Adobe bricks were used to form the walls. Exterior surfaces were plastered smooth, scored to resemble dressed masonry and then whitewashed. The buildings were generally thatched with grass cut from the area, although a few were built later with wooden shingles.
The fort was mostly abandoned during the Civil War and was revived in 1867 when Fort Lancaster began serving as a sub-post for the Buffalo Soldiers’ 9th Calvary assigned to Fort Stockton. In December 1867, more than 100 soldiers and officers held off roughly 1,000 Kickapoo Indians with only three casualties. Today, Fort Lancaster remains the only Texas fort that was attacked by Native Americans.
For more information see my Fort Lancaster Page.
Address: P.O. Box 306, Sheffield, TX 79781
Phone: (432) 836-4391
Davis Mountains State Park consists of over 2700 acres and preserves and protects part of the Davis Mountains. The Davis Mountains are the most extensive mountain range in Texas, and were formed by volcanic activity around 65 million years ago. These mountains were named after Jefferson Davis, U.S. Secretary of War and later President of the Confederacy, who ordered the construction of the nearby Fort Davis army post. The human history of these mountains from the 1800s to today are tied to Fort Davis. As the settlement of west Texas progressed, raiding in Mexico and along the San Antonio-El Paso Trail became a way of life for Apaches, Kiowa, and Comanche. Around 1846 the increasing number of gold seekers, settlers, and traders coming through the area required the protection of a military post like Fort Davis. Fort Davis was active from 1854 until 1891, except for certain periods during the Civil War. Fort Davis became a National Historic Site in 1961. Today Fort Davis is one of the best preserved/restored military facilities from this time period in the country.
There are a variety of activities available at Davis Mountains State Park like: Camping, picnicking, hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, nature trails, and interpretive programs. There are a couple of nice scenic drives, two scenic overlooks, and 4 miles of hiking trails connecting with Fort Davis National Historic Site.
For accommodations try the very nice Indian Lodge, located within Davis Mountains State Park, which has 39 rooms, a restaurant, and a swimming pool (for Indian Lodge guests only), meeting rooms, a Texas State Park Store, and 24-hour staffing. There are also a number of campsites available at the park.
For more information see my Davis Mountains State Park Page.
Address: P O Box 1707, Fort Davis TX 79734
Directions: 1 mile north of Fort Davis on State Highway 17 to State Highway 118N, then west on State Highway 118N for 3 miles to Park Road 3 entrance.
Phone: (432) 426-3337
Casa Navarro State Historic Site
Casa Navarro State Historic Site is located in downtown San Antonio. This is the home of Texas hero Jose Antonio Navarro who served in the Texas Legislature under Mexico, the Republic of Texas, and the United States. Navarro signed the Texas Declaration of Independence and attended two constitutional conventions. The site offers museum exhibits, period furnishings, demonstrations and historic talks, and is open 9:30 AM to 4 PM Tuesday through Sunday. Entrance fee was $4 for adults and $3 for children 6 to 18 as of March 2010.
For more information on Casa Navarro State Historic Site see my San Antonio Page.
Address: 228 S. Laredo Street, San Antonio, TX
Phone: (210) 226-4801
Big Bend Ranch State Park is a rugged mix 300,000 acres of desert mountains, canyons, and grasslands. It is the largest state park in Texas, and is just west of Big Bend National Park and borders the Rio Grande. Humans began living in the area over 11,000 years ago. Attractions include: Unique rock formations, plentiful plant life and animals indigenous to the area, access to the river, hiking trails (ranging from 3/4 of a mile to 20 miles), Contrabando (a movie set used in a number of films) and other activities. If you have a regular car, like I did, the main access in the park is via Texas Highway 170. Many parts of the park are wilderness areas and are only accessible by high-clearance 4 wheel drive vehicles. Entrance Permits are gained through The Barton Warnock Environmental Education Center from the east and Fort Leaton State Park from the west. Both sites are worth a visit themselves.
For more information on Big Bend Ranch State Park see my Presidio Page.
Address: P.O. Box 2319, Presidio, TX 79845
Phone: (432) 229-3416
Barton Warnock Environmental Education Center State Park is located on the eastern edge of Big Bend Ranch State Park just west of Big Bend National Park. The park is named for the late Dr. Barton H. Warnock a former Professor Emeritus at Sul Ross State University in nearby Alpine. Dr. Warnock studied the environment and plants of the Chihuahuan Desert for more than 60 years and was considered one of the leading experts in this field. Barton Warnock Environmental Education Center has an excellent museum with displays about the area desert, the plants and animals that inhabit the area and it geological history and history of human habitation. In addition to the displays there is a nice nature trail showing plants indigenous to the area and a hiking trail to the top of a nearby ridge. Hours are 8 AM to 5 PM daily. Entrance fee was $3 in February 2010.
For more information on Barton Warnock Environmental Education Center State Park see my Terlingua Page.
Address: HC 70, Box 375, Terlingua TX 79852
Phone: (432) 424-3327
In the 1700s, in response to rumors of gold and other riches and to counter the threat from the French in the Louisiana Territories, the Spanish moved north of the Rio Grande and established a series of missions and presidios in Texas. Five of the missions were in the San Antonio area. They still exist today and comprise the San Antonio Missions National Historic Park along with some remains of church ranches and other facilities. The five missions are: Mission San Antonio de Valero (better known as "The Alamo"); Mission Concepcion; Mission San Jose; Mission San Juan and Mission Espada. These missions and the compounds they dominate are an interesting part of the early history of San Antonio and the settling of Texas, and are well worth a visit. The main visitors center is located at the Mission San Jose.
For more information see my San Antonio Missions National Historic Park Page.
Address: 2202 Roosevelt Avenue, San Antonio, TX 78210
Phone: (210) 534-8833
Winding its way through the dry windswept part of Texas called the Llano Estacado is the Canadian River. Sanford Dam was built to control the flow of the river and Lake Meredith was born. Lake Meredith National recreation Area offers boating, fishing, water skiing, scuba diving and other water related recreational opportunities. There are also hiking trails and campgrounds. Recent drought conditions, however, have lowered the water level in the lake.
Address: P.O. Box 1460, Fritch, Texas 79036
Phone: (806) 857-3151
The Guadalupe Mountains are part of a marine fossil reef named the Capitan Reef. The Capitan Reef was formed some 260 to 270 million years ago when the area was covered by a vast tropical ocean. Geologists come from all around the world to study the fossil rich remains of this reef that was formed of calcareous sponges, algae, and lime seeping from the sea water. Other above ground portions of the reef are the Apache Mountains, due south of the park and the Glass Mountains to the southeast. The spectacular Carlsbad Caverns north of the park in New Mexico is also part of the reef formation. Inside the park is Guadalupe Peak, which at over 8700 feet is the highest point in Texas
A short distance northeast of the turnoff for the Headquarters Visitors Center is the turnoff for the Historic Frijole Ranch. The ranch is the most complete remnant of early ranching and farming enterprises in the Guadalupe Mountains and is one of the oldest substantial buildings in West Texas. It was built in the 1870s by two early pioneers, the Rader Brothers. Ranch buildings included the main house, a spring-house, a milk house, a school, a bunkhouse and a barn
Another nice area to visit is McKittrick Canyon. McKittrick Canyon has been called "the most beautiful spot in Texas". After seeing it that is hard to argue with.
For more information see my Guadalupe Mountains National Park Page.
Address: HC 60, Box 400, Salt Flat, TX 79847
Directions: On US Highways 62 and 180, just south of New Mexico
Phone: (915) 828-3251
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