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After a strenuous day paddling or rafting the Rio Grande, participants in Far Flung Outdoor Center’s river trips enjoy a meal with a view. (Photo by J. Griffis Smith)As a longtime Texan and adventuresome traveler, I’ve enjoyed a long fascination with the Chihuahuan Desert region of far West Texas, with its rugged terrain and spiked branches of red-tipped ocotillo reaching to sprawling blue skies. I have always wanted to experience the Big Bend by floating the Rio Grande through the weathered, limestone walls of Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park, but the stars have never aligned—until recently.

Published in FOOD & DRINK

Wildflowers along Texas 71 near Ellinger. (Photo by J. Griffis Smith)

For the enlightened and adventurous traveler, serendipity transforms every trip: Hiking a new trail and rounding a bend to encounter an unexpected vista, journeying to a destination you’ve heard about—or visiting a familiar place with someone who’s never been—without an agenda. Or, in the case of pursuing Texas wildflowers, finding yourself surprised with the splashes and brushstrokes of red, blue, orange, and purple that appear in the landscape.

Published in TRAVEL
Padre Island Sand Dunes

By Melissa Gaskill


A blue-black dome arcs overhead, filled with a million sparkling pinpoints from one jagged horizon to the next. No other light of any kind intrudes. Wind rattles through yucca and grasses, overcoming an otherwise total silence. This is Pine Canyon Number 4 primitive campsite in Big Bend National Park, so far from civilization that, for tonight at least, civilization may as well not exist.  


As the reach of cell phones and wireless networks extends farther and farther, and adventure-seekers roam ever greater distances (even spas are opening up in what used to be the country), it gets harder to find places like this without days of trekking or spending a fortune. Places miles from nowhere—without high-rises and big-box stores, traffic, or even other people—with stunning scenery, abundant wildlife, dark skies, and lots of solitude. Luckily for us, those places still exist here in Texas. Here are some of the best.

  1. Padre Island National Seashore
  2. Big Bend National Park
  3. Devil’s Sinkhole State Natural Area
  4. Hill Country State Natural Area Wilderness Primitive Camp
  5. Palo Duro Canyon State Park
  6. Lost Maples State Natural Area
  7. Guadalupe Mountains National Park
  8. Matagorda Island Wildlife Management Area
  9. Matagorda Bay Nature Park
  10. Devils River State Natural Area
Published in Roadtrip (Archive)
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