Cenizo Journal Summer 2021 | Page 9

Above : Arroyos offer easy to moderate hiking experiences , depending on how much boulder scrambling a guest desires . Right : A Rostrata Yucca in full bloom .
of relict piñon pine trees on mountainside drainages and a variety of grasses endemic to the Dead Horse range . Bright red Big Bend Penstemons and stout Little Walnut trees brighten the limestone landscape .
Tara hasn ’ t even begun to explore the entire property ; there may be places that remain unseen by her or anyone else . A few accessible areas are available as campsites , and of those , she has her favorites . Radio Hill campsite has a faucet , perfect for camping cookouts . A trail to a canyon makes another great spot for group camping . She ’ s a big fan of incorporating local elements into the experience , from storytelling to using foraged and local food items . Her family is investing in a small still , and sotol tastings will be on the menu .
Like a sponge , Tara has absorbed the natural history of the region , from constellations in the night sky to geology . As for most Big Bend aficionados , the more she learns , the more she wants to know . She ’ s eager to host biologists , geologists and other experts , to hear what they have to say about the magnificent land she and her family are stewarding .
With generational ties to the area , including her mother ’ s side from Chihuahua , Mexico , and many relatives still in the region , Tara has great contacts , which translates to great outdoor access and regional expertise .
For now , group size is limited to six to eight guests at any given time , as Tara prefers to host an intimate experience and tread lightly on the land . Activities range in difficulty from rappelling and rock scrambling to multiday backpacking trips , to sightseeing from the utility vehicle . One could get lost in the infinite mountain views without ever leaving the headquarters .
But Tara likes to stay active . As a permitted commercial user of both the national park and Black Gap Wildlife Management Area , which borders the east side of the ranch , she can incorporate trips into the parks from ranch headquarters . Her focus is on the eastern side of the national park , an underserved area in terms of outfitter proximity . With a dozen or more guiding outfits based in the Terlingua area , close to Big Bend Ranch State Park and the west side of the national park , Tara is positioning herself as the premier outfitter based in Marathon with a focus on the east side of the national park , its adjacent areas , and river trips on the Wild and Scenic Rio Grande .
Taking advantage of her commercial park status , Tara and her partner , wildland firefighter Joe Lorenz , offer guests a multiday
hike from the eastern slope of Dead Horse Mountain to the west , landing on the grassy saddle of Sue Peaks in the national park , before looping back to ranch HQ . It offers unique views of familiar park landmarks and rare access to the sky island of the Dead Horse range .
For outdoors lovers who have adventurous canine friends , Dead Horse Ranch is dog friendly , solving the crisis many face of what to do with their dog when visiting the Big Bend .
Tara envisions a happy trail of eclectic lodging options , some of which have already been added , including a one-room lean-to with a front wall that completely opens up to fantastic views . The traditional hunting cabin and main lodge are already available . With books by Walt Whitman , John Steinbeck , Cormac McCarthy , and topics covering wilderness ethics , local art , natural history , maps , and more , you get a sense that you ’ re in good hands , and so is this special tract of land called Dead Horse Ranch . Detailed overviews about Hidden Dagger Adventures ’ curated community and private trips and other outdoors services are at HiddenDaggerAdventures . com .
Cenizo Summer 2021