Cibolo Creek Ranch
A recent family trip led us to the stark beauty of West Texas and the trendy town of Marfa. Preferring adventure and outdoor activities, we opted to stay at the Cibolo Creek Ranch. Cibolo Creek Ranch is a luxury resort located inside the crater of an extinct volcano in the Chinati mountains on 30,000 acres 30 miles south of Marfa. The resort was built around three 19th century forts that were strategically located on the grounds of springs. These springs, interestingly, were once the only water source between El Paso and the Rio Grande River. The guest rooms are scattered throughout the forts, and retain a sense of Old World charm with adobe walls, cottonwood beams, Saltillo tile and other Mexican design accents.
The remoteness of the locale and rustic beauty of the land has attracted such celebrities as Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall, Bruce Willis and Tommy Lee Jones. Most recently, Cibolo Creek Ranch has made headlines as the “storied West Texas ranch” where Justice Scalia passed away. If you have a private jet, you can fly right onto the private landing strip on the ranch. Alternatively, you can follow our lead and fly commercially into El Paso, where we rented a car to drive two and a half hour southeast to the ranch.
Owner John Poindexter, a history buff, purchased the ranch in 1988 and oversaw an extensive, multi-year renovation. Activities on the ranch are numerous and centered on the outdoors, from horseback riding to skeet shooting and cruising around on ATV’s. It is truly a gem in West Texas, and a great launching point to discover much of this sprawling, high desert countryside.
Therefore, for our first day, we stayed put, riding horses in the morning and shooting skeet in the afternoon, pausing in between to lounge by the pool. We also chatted up some other guests who had spent the previous day driving around Big Bend National Park. They lent us their map, and we set the alarm for 6 am so that we could make the most out of the following day.
Big Bend National Park
After a breakfast of chilequiles on “The Ranch” we drove south on 67 to the border town of Presidio, then made a left turn onto FM170, a beautiful curving country road that follows the Rio Grande river. Following the road through Lajitas and the famed former-ghost-town-turned-chili-cookoff-mecca of Terlingua, we entered Big Bend National Park on RR 118.
The landscape in and around the park reminded us of Arizona, with octotillo cacti and desert brush, colors of sage, brown and grey completing the scenery. Our destination was the Chisos Basin which rises above the Chihuahuan desert floor at 5,400 feet. The road has sharp curves and steep grades and not recommended for trailers longer than 20 feet and RV’s longer than 24. Or for people who get violently car sick, for that matter.
The views were stunning, and having only a short amount of time, we opted for a quick 3 mile hike near the visitor center. The temperature was cool, about 20 degrees cooler than that of the town of Terlingua. Nonetheless, be sure to have plenty of water on hand and some snacks in the car for grouchy kids.
By this time we were famished and stopped for lunch at the Lajitas Golf Resort, a 27,000 acre property known for its unusual Hole 11A where you putt off from the US to a hole 110 yards across the river in Mexico (there is also a normal Hole 11). We made a mental note to come back to stay either here or at The Gage in Marathon, TX, in order to do a bucket list item: taking a raft across the Rio Grande to ride donkeys into the Mexican town of Boquillas. However, this was located at the end of the road in Big Bend in the Rio Grande Village, and we just didn’t have the time. For now, we just settled with dipping our feet in the beautiful Rio Bravo and praying that a wall never comes to sully the stunning vistas of this unique part of the US.
Chinati Foundation and Prada Marfa
There is much ado about the art and art galleries of Marfa, specifically the Chinati Foundation and Prada Marfa. The Chinati Foundation is a must see, as the brain child of Donald Judd, the visionary who arguably started the Marfa art scene. The large-scale art installations at the Chinati Foundation are from various modern and contemporary artists and are displayed among the grounds or in the buildings that once housed German WWII POW’s (which is why in the buildings you will see original signs in German). Hubby and the kids were a bit confused by the art, but I felt it led an interesting discussion into the question of , “What defines art?”.
We had a delicious lunch in the newly remodeled Hotel Saint George and made the obligatory visit to The Hotel Paisano to take in a bit of Marfa history. For, before there was Donald Judd, there was the movie Giant, with Liz Taylor, Rock Hudson, and James Dean. The Paisano was the headquarters during the filming of the movie and movie memorabilia is abundant (please tell me you have seen the movie…it is fabulous!).
On the way out of town, we pulled off the roadside to snaps pics of Prada Marfa, technically located a mile west of the town of Valentine. I was worried that we wouldn’t be able to locate the building, but it is literally on the side of the road, and everybody makes a stop to catch a selfie and post on IG, including yours truly. Until next time, happy trails, y’all! xoM
Cibolo Creek Ranch
97139 US Hwy 67Marfa, Texas 79843
All photos by Marci Symington for TEXAZTASTE.COM.