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Visit a historic luxury ranch in Big Bend CountryVisit a historic luxury ranch in Big Bend Country

Cibolo Creek Ranch, Texas Cibolo Creek Ranch, Texas

In the remote Big Bend Country of Texas, the Rio Grande defines the border between Mexico and the United States, sweeping down to the southeast from El Paso before turning abruptly northeast. In this rugged Texas outback beneath the Chinati Mountains sits the 30,000-acre Cibolo Creek Ranch, a restored ranch first constructed in the mid-19th century and now reborn as a luxurious fly-in retreat. The privately owned Cibolo Creek Ranch Airport lies about 15 nautical miles northeast of the Mexican border and 31 nm southwest of Marfa Municipal Airport. You’ll need to sign a release before you fly in, and a staff member will pick you up at your ETA and drive you the four miles to the ranch.

The thick adobe walls of Cibolo Creek Ranch keep indoor temperatures comfortable both day and night. Photo courtesy Cibolo Creek Ranch.

As you and your driver head toward Cibolo, desert scenes of cactus and rocks will rekindle memories of classic cowboy and Indian films of decades past. And you’d be right, because this terrain was ground zero for generations of raids between Comanche and Apache warriors and Anglo settlers. It was here in 1858 that Milton Faver founded his ranching empire on the Great Spring of the Cibolo. He would make a fortune supplying meat and goods to nearby Fort Davis and points beyond, even as the United States writhed under the violence of the Civil War and later Indian Wars. Yet Faver left his Native American neighbors alone, as long as they did his family and business no harm. Thus, he earned their respect. A man of indomitable will, Faver built an impenetrable adobe home and fort, complete with watchtowers, and dug in. Two outlying forts were added later. Irrigation channels, or aquecias, supported lush orchards and gardens. Sheep, goats, and 20,000 head of cattle grazed Faver’s land under the watchful eyes of his loyal wranglers.

But by 1988 when Houston businessman, author, and decorated Vietnam veteran John Poindexter visited the property, many of the buildings had melted into the ground. As Poindexter surveyed the ruins of El Fortin del Cibolo, he became inspired to purchase the entire property and restore the ranch to its former glory. After years of painstaking research that included obtaining photos from the Library of Congress, Poindexter had the adobe bricks re-formed from the original melted bricks at each site and resurrected all three forts. Cibolo Creek Ranch was opened to guests in 1993 and has since hosted entertainment superstars as well as European royalty. The property was briefly in the news when Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died in his room at Cibolo in February of 2016 while on a quail-hunting vacation.

The restored mausoleum of Milton Faver sits alone under a star-spangled night sky. Photo courtesy Cibolo Creek Ranch.

As you approach the ranch, you’ll see that it’s set against a hillside to merge with the landscape. The aquecias, gardens, original dry-stacked stone fences, and courtyards have been rebuilt as they were 150 years ago. Interior furnishings have been reproduced with locally crafted wood and ironwork, based on old photos. Three-hundred-year-old chests, original artwork, down comforters, fluffy robes, an indoor whirlpool, sauna, full-service spa, and fitness facility mix old and new into an intoxicating brew. Other modern conveniences are artfully hidden from view yet leave no comfort spared. Exquisitely crafted meals are served family style to encourage conversations between distinguished guests. Using only the freshest local ingredients, traditional Mexican high cuisine is infused with elements from other continents. And if he is in residence, Poindexter may join his guests.

During your stay you can explore the ranch libraries, museum, and Faver’s restored mausoleum, or discover diverse opportunities outdoors (they’ll pack you a lunch). Complimentary activities include hiking, fishing, paddle-boating, mountain biking, photography, and the evening outdoor fire, usually accompanied by a telescope. Cibolo is a birder’s paradise, with about 450 species in the area, including neotropical migrants. Cibolo is Spanish for buffalo, and they are here, along with Texas longhorns and native deer, elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, wild turkey, quail, and even African and Asian exotics like chukar, blackbuck, oryx, aoudad, and camels. Extra-fee adventures include hunting; guided tours; horseback riding; trap, skeet, and target shooting; archery; stargazing; and seminars. As a pilot, you are privileged to fly in and easily access the remote, historic Cibolo Creek Ranch. Start your adventure now.

Native to India, blackbuck like this one roam the wild landscape of Cibolo Creek. Photo by Chinmayisk, Wikimedia Commons.
Crista Worthy

Crista Videriksen Worthy

Crista Videriksen Worthy has been flying around the United States with her pilot-husband Fred and their children since 1995, and writing about fun places to fly since 2006. Her favorite places to explore are the backcountry strips of Idaho and Utah's red rock country. She currently lives in Idaho and serves as both the managing editor of Pilot Getaways magazine and editor of The Flyline, the monthly publication of the Idaho Aviation Association.
Topics: Travel, US Travel

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