Destination: Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa in Lajitas, Texas.
Location: The resort is located on FM170 between Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park. It's situated along the Rio Grande River, close to the mountains of the Chihuahua Desert.
Overview: At Lajitas, you'll ride into wild, desolate country, explore old mining ruins, examine ancient Indian pictographs, and then return to deluxe resort amenities, including a premier 18-hole golf course, a spa, ice-cold refreshments, and a gourmet dinner. Surrounding the resort are 1.1 million acres available for year-round riding. Here, you can explore the Comanches' homeland, ride where Pancho Villa led his raids, and check out rusting remains of old mining camps.
Accommodations: Lajitas Resort is a world-class resort that offers excellent dining, a saloon, spa facilities, and a manicured golf course. You can stay at the resort, or you can save money and camp at the comfortable recreational-vehicle park. The RV park offers excellent laundry facilities, spacious bathhouse, and a swimming pool.
Stabling: Your horse can stay at the Lajitas Equestrian Center, which features upscale, 12-by-12-foot stalls, with an automatic fly spray system, a water-misting system, and ceiling fans.
Top trail: The 25-mileContrabando Multi-Use Trail System is composed of wagon paths and single-track trails that were created in the late 1800s. The East Main Trail was part of the supply and stage route that connected Lajitas and the Terlingua Mining District.
For this ride, you'll need a permit from the Barton Warnock Visitor Center, located about a mile east of the equestrian center. While you're there, get a trail map.
Begin this ride by heading across the road from the Barton Warnock Visitor Center and getting onto the Dog Cholla Trail. This is a great gaiting trail! You'll ride on smooth, sandy, rolling hills surrounded by a wide variety of desert vegetation. You'll then get on the East Main Trail. This is a rocky wagon trail on which motorized vehicles aren't allowed. Look for the Crystal Trail sign. Down this trail, you'll be treated to light exploding across thousands of quartz crystals.
Cautionary notes: Because of the remoteness and harshness of this gorgeous but desolate region, exercise caution and common sense. Be self-sufficient. Take plenty of water and food. Take a jacket, even if it's hot. You might be delayed getting back. You might even have to spend the night in the cold desert. Sudden storms may arise, your horse may throw a shoe and go lame, or you may get lost. Check weather reports for thunderstorms and flash floods. Watch out for cacti.
Before you go: Get a negative Coggins' test (for equine infectious anemia), and stock up on certified weed-free hay. Your horse will need shoes to protect his hooves from the sharp, volcanic rock.
Story and Photos by Kent & Charlene Krone