Published March/April 2014

A Lone Star Stay

Cibolo Creek Ranch offers the quintessential Texas experience with wildlife, adobe forts, and regional fare

BYMelissa Gaskill
From the deserted highway near Marfa, Texas, Cibolo Creek Ranch’s entrance appears unassuming: a simple gate and a dirt road disappearing through a swath of tall grass into distant hills. Beyond those hills, though, restored 1800s adobe forts hold spacious guest rooms that feature fireplaces and rustic furnishings from Texas and Mexico. Some look out onto a small stream winding through a shady courtyard, others at a serene lake.
 
Back in the frontier days, businessman and adventurer Milton Faver established this ranch on the 30,000 acres sprawling over the Chinati and Cienega mountains in West Texas. He built three defensive forts: El Fortin del Cibolo, now the main building, and El Fortin de la Ciénega and El Fortin de la Morita, which both serve as secluded retreats. In 1990, Texas war veteran and businessman John Poindexter bought the ranch and restored not only the forts, but also the once-vast grasslands, reintroducing native wildlife, including bison.
 
Back at the Ranch 
Accommodations include an optional meal plan, a good choice not only because of Cibolo’s distance from the rest of civilization, but also for the cuisine itself. Family-style dining provides the opportunity to chat with other guests, guaranteed to be an interesting lot. The chef applies cooking traditions from Mexico, a mere 15 miles away, based on the culinary influences of renowned Mexican Chef Patricia Quintana, to create gourmet meals with a hint of adventure and a touch of the region. Highlights include pork chops in mango sauce, honey-glazed quail, huevos rancheros Chihuahuan-style, and homemade vanilla ice cream.
 
Fortunately, Cibolo’s broad selection of activities will help you work up an appetite — choose from mountain and fort tours (by vehicle or on all-terrain vehicles), hiking, horseback riding, and stargazing. The staff also leads excursions to nearby Big Bend Ranch State Park, the state’s largest and most rugged, and Big Bend National Park, 800,000 acres of remote mountains and desert along the Rio Grande, the border between Texas and Mexico. Simply relaxing in a shady hammock with a cold beverage is also an option.
 
Consider a ranch tour a must-do, though. These take place from a modified, open Humvee and include views of waterfalls from a 5,200-foot ridge, squatter’s ruins along Cibolo Creek, and 800- to 2,500-year-old rock paintings. Or request a picnic lunch and explore the property’s historic adobe forts, or hike miles of trails on your own. A guided tour of the vast night sky through 12-inch Meade telescopes makes for a fitting end to the day.
MELISSA GASKILL is an Austin-based writer who focuses on nature and the outdoors.
For More Information 
Call your local AAA Travel professional at 1-888-870-9392 or visit AAA.com.
If You Go
Rooms start at $225 per night for two. Meal plan cost is $75; meals begin with cocktails and appetizers at 6:30 p.m. on day of arrival and end with lunch on day of departure. Beware of nighttime wildlife, which can include mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, and the occasional black bear.
 
HCR 67 (33 miles south of Marfa, Texas)
432-229-3737
 
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