Sunday, January 8, 2012

Davis Mountains and Indian Lodge

Davis Mountains, far west Texas
Happy New Year! Though it feels like spring here right now, I thought I'd reminisce about the winter we experienced over the holidays. We went to one of our favorite places - the Davis Mountains. They're in far west Texas, north of the towns of Marfa and Alpine, and northwest of Big Bend National Park.

Hiking trail in the Davis Mountains State Park
When we arrived, snow and "ice fog" had just started roll in, and it made for a less-than-ideal mini-hike, which we took immediately. Who knew that those conditions would hang around for most of our trip?

Indian Lodge lobby
We stayed at Indian Lodge, which is located in Davis Mountains State Park. The original part of the lodge (which we always stay in) was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The CCC was established by FDR to put many young men to work, and I learned that at that time many of Texas' state parks had just been established but there was no money to build structures. So the CCC built many of the beautiful cabins found within those state parks.
Post and beam detail in lobby of Indian Lodge
For Indian Lodge, the CCC made their own adobe bricks, cut posts from the area, and built much of the furniture that is still in use today.

Ceiling in our room
The cane used on the ceilings came from Boquillos Canyon, down Big Bend way.
Indian Lodge courtyard and snow as seen through our window (and screen!)
We were there to do some hiking, see some wildlife and for me to check out the plant life. The wildlife was a bit sparse. I guess they preferred to stay warm as I did. We didn't see the usual javelinas but did see some mule deer and a few birds (canyon wren, red-naped sapsucker, mountain chickadee, towhees and phainopepla were some of the "good" ones for you birders). And we saw many plants endemic to the area.

Cholla, Cylindropuntia sp.
The cholla is a very common cactus of the area.

Berries of the madrone tree, Arbutus sp.
There was a beautiful madrone tree in the courtyard of the Lodge. Though you can't really see it here, the berries are bumpy, and if you stretch your imagination, they can be said to resemble strawberries from whence they get a common name of "strawberry tree."

Madrone bark
Madrone trees are probably more famous for their peeling bark.

Ice/snow on Emory oak
I learned from a park ranger that most of the oak trees within the park are hybrids between the Emory oak and the gray oak. Interesting (in a geeky way).

Havard agave
Havard agave (Agave havardiana) is the common agave in the area. I saw them mostly near the bottoms of hills.

Chihuahuan Desert and Davis Mountains in the background
Why do we love this area so much? Many reasons - the wide-open skies, interesting high desert flora and fauna, friendly people. It seems the Wild West past is always simmering just beneath the present there. I have much respect for those who have been able to make a living out there.

Wildfire damage
It can be a hard place to live, and there was much evidence of that from the wildfires that terrified the people and ravaged the area this past spring. That's not fall colors in the photo, it's burnt trees.

Snow near McDonald Observatory
But we'll be back. And if I can get a little time, maybe I'll do a post about Marfa, an interesting place!

Meanwhile in the garden, though the weather is balmy I know winter is here from the winter birds: dark-eyed junco, white-throated sparrow, cedar waxwing, tons of robins, and soon to arrive ... the American goldfinches!

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2012. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.


  1. What a beautiful place, I can totally imagine staying there. That cabin is amazing...such great detail and craftsmanship...really makes you appreciate all the work that went into them. LOVE the Madrone...such a great plant!

  2. What a beautiful park. I like hearing about those cabins. My New York born father spent time at a CCC camp - but not in Texas.

  3. WHat an amazing place, the snow and the ice fog add a whole new dimension and made for some great shots. I like you showed the details inside as well as the lovely plants and landscapes outside.

    I was wondering if you might add your garden to Folia the online gardening website (it's free).

    It's a great resource for gardeners and has helped me keep on top of my 800+ plantings with photo's, notes, journals, milestones etc. They have an extensive plant wiki and a seed stash section where people can also list seeds for swapping. Here's the link to my Folia page so you can see how it works:

  4. Probably the best Texas vacation our family has ever had. We went in winter and almost had the place to ourselves. You have captured Indian Lodge to perfection. I forgot its beautiful craftsmanship. Thanks for this wonderful post. David/:0)

  5. What a beautiful place! I love the images of the cacti and and other plants in the snow. As lovely as the scenery is, though, I was really taken by the cabins. They are amazing! You just don't see craftsmanship like that anymore. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas, Jean, and are enjoying a happy New Year!

  6. Yo! I've never been to that part of Texas. I need to go!

  7. Beautiful images! I really need to get out to that part of Texas.

  8. It is very beautiful. I love the snow covered plants.

  9. Beautiful images!
    Thanks for sharing your vacation photos with us!


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