Wild and Wonderful: Chalk Mountain Area
This loop starts in Stephenville, where you can fuel up on open pit, mesquite-smoked brisket and ribs at Hard 8 BBQ, on the corner of US 67 and US 281. Grab a toothpick and take US 377 east toward Granbury, through rows of broad pastures dotted with horses of every size and color grazing amid the bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush. Stop into Bluff Dale Vineyards (off County Road 148) for a glass of wine on the porch overlooking rows of grapevines and green hills beyond. In Granbury, stretch your legs as you check out the shops lining the town square, and savor banana pudding or chocolate meringue pie at Babe’s Chicken Dinner House, or sip a cup of coffee at Paradise Bistro and Coffee to perk up for more flower viewing. Both are on Pearl Street.
Follow Texas 144 south to Glen Rose, and turn west on US 67, then left back onto 144. This winding road traces the Paluxy River and becomes FM 205—just keep going straight to the Glen Rose town square where you can park and stroll past shops and restaurants. If you missed Babe’s in Granbury, have a slice of coconut meringue at the Pie Peddlers. Those who want to linger a while can check in at the historic Inn on the River, which started as an early-1900s health spa. From the square, continue on FM 205 across US 67 to Dinosaur Valley State Park and enjoy flowers in the park’s open areas—swaths of bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush, coreopsis, Indian blankets, basin sneezeweed, Texas skeleton plant, gayfeather, and black-eyed Susans. Don’t forget to look for the dinosaur tracks in the riverbed, which earned Glen Rose the title “Dinosaur Capital of Texas.”
Heading west on US 67, take a short detour on County Road 2008 for a 9.5-mile, self-guided driving tour of Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, through fields populated by addax, elks, zebras, giraffes, and other exotic wildlife. Overnight guests at Foothills Safari Camp support this nonprofit’s efforts to preserve species at risk. A night in a cozy, safari-style tent complete with air conditioning and private bath ensures an early-morning start to the driving tour, when the animals are more active. If you want to be really popular, pick up some animal feed at the entrance.
Continue west on US 67, then take Texas 220 south to Hico, Texas 6 to Dublin, and US 377 back to Stephenville, watching for flowers all along the way.
For information on Stephenville, call 254/965-5313; Glen Rose, 888/346-6282; Granbury, 817/573-1622; Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, 254/897-2960; Dinosaur Valley State Park, 254/897-4588.
From the March 2013 issue.