FORT DAVIS, Texas — When you first get out to the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center, also known as the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute, you’re going to see a whole lot of land but not a lot of buildings.
This is by design; too many buildings get in the way of all the nature.
“We’re on 507 acres and the hiking trails are back here behind me and over this way," said Lisa Gordon, executive director at the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center. "We have five miles of hiking trails and the Botanical Garden’s 18 acres and it’s its own separate area.”
The founders of the Nature Center wanted all the nature they were researching at the time to be front and center, as well as open to the public to enjoy.
“It was started in 1973," Gordon continued. "And it was started by two professors at Sul Ross University: Dr. Powell and Dr. Scuddy. And they wanted a place to share their research and that was the whole idea behind the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute. Over the years it has evolved into a Nature Center when they acquired this land and then eventually built the visitor center and from there people started coming.”
But this place doesn’t just talk about the local wildlife and desert landscape.
The Nature Center also has an exhibit dedicated to the history of mining in this part of Texas.
“The Mining Exhibit talks about the mining heritage in the region all the way from Terlingua up through even the talc mines outside of Van Horn, silver mining outside of Van Horn also. There’s quite a lot of history,” Gordon added.
Outdoorsy types, those just wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, or even those just curious will feel right at home at the Chihuahuan Nature Center.
Especially since the staff and volunteers at the Nature Center are just as passionate about the area.
“We love it out here," Gordon said. "If you talk to anyone that actually works here or our volunteers, we don’t consider it work because it’s such a beautiful sight. We love having visitors here, and we want people to come here and experience nature.”