The best of Texas travel including news, trip guides and destinations. 

License to Chill

JOSHUA CREEK RANCH, BOERNE

Of all the species that roam the state’s wide-open spaces, the most coveted is the Huntsmanus texanus. Upwards of 1.1 million of these creatures prowl for prime game this time of year, a pursuit as lucrative to the Texas economy as a small Spindletop, pumping in more than $2.1 billion annually. There are about as many hunting leases for a sportsperson to choose from as there are mourning doves to bag and mule deer to stalk.

No. 18 Jaguarundi Trail

In the lower Rio Grande Valley, where 95 percent of the area’s native habitat has been eroded over the past two centuries by agriculture and development, the 2,088-acre Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge represents one of the last untamed corners of South Texas. With 450 types of plants, at least 400 bird species, and rare creatures like the endangered ocelot and indigo snake, this subtropical jungle pulses with life.

No. 17 Resaca Loop Trail

In the three and a half years since Seth Patterson began managing the Sabal Palm Sanctuary, he has received regular phone calls from would-be visitors wondering where Mexico begins. That’s because, to reach the sanctuary, which is home to one of the last stands of old-growth palm forest in the United States, travelers must pass through a gap in the border wall. “It’s not a popular place for trafficking,” says Patterson. “But people do call, wanting to know if they need their passport.” 

No. 16 Norias Division

It was oh-dark-thirty, so I could not yet make out the improbable oak trees dotting the South Texas brush. Still, as I piled into the van with a group of birding enthusiasts from as far away as Ontario and Boston, it did not escape my notice that our guide, a biologist named Tom Langschied, had already pulled on tall, snake-proof boots.

No. 15 Ice Cream Hill

Maybe you want something a little less steep.” The ranger spoke in a neutral tone, but her words sounded like a challenge. As I contemplated the more than forty miles of multiple-use trails that crisscross the limestone-pocked Hill Country SNA, I was not about to admit defeat—at least not before trying my luck on a few of the more measly slopes.

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