Exploring the gap between what we eat and where we get it.

Photo Essay: Exploring the Beautiful, Desolate, and Dry Expanse of West Texas

  • Nosy skunks
  • Beautiful views
  • Texas' mystery trout

I’ve been working on an article for The Fly Fish Journal for a while now, and I knew there was a missing element. I was writing about places like the Davis Mountains and McKittrick Canyon, but I’d never been there, which seems like a recipe for some sloppy writing. So, I decided to squeeze one last trip in before my third child was born (he’s here now) and hit the road for the far reaches of West Texas.  


Now, this area may not be a mystery to some, but it’s a complete mystery to me. What I found, after about eight hours of driving through the wastelands of Abilene and Midland-Odessa, was one of the most beautiful and desolate landscapes I’ve seen in my entire life. I’ve been to plenty of places, but nothing can match the dramatic vistas that West Texas has to offer—mountain ranges seem to jut up out of nowhere, and massive deserts stretch on for hours and hours. It didn’t hurt that I was listening to Empire of The Summer Moon during my drive. Highly recommended. 


My first stop was at Davis Mountains State Park, where I went on a 10-mile jaunt on the Limpia Creek Trail, to a beautiful view that overlooks Fort Davis and the surrounding area. That night, I tucked myself under my camping tarp only to feel the tickle of a skunk sniffing my ear (no joke), so I quickly moved locations and spent a restless night in my 2002 4Runner.


The next day, I hit the road for McKittrick Canyon, the main event of my overnight trip, to seek out the only naturally reproducing population of trout in Texas—the main subject for my upcoming article. Long story short, I found them. It was glorious. 


But, that’s enough of a play by play. Words can’t do this area justice, and photos can’t really either, but here’s my best shot. The only thing I can say is this—there’s no place quite like West Texas. It’s incredibly overlooked by so many people and it’s definitely worth the drive to soak in the vast beauty and experience the loneliness that only the desert can provide.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park
The mouth of McKittrick Canyon
Resident mule deer in the canyon.
A rare glimpse at the McKittrick Canyon rainbow trout.

These are just a few images from my road trip, and I’ll publish a full story about the McKittrick Trout and the mystery surrounding them in a different article. Also, look for it in the latest issue of The Fly Fish Journal.

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