Glimpse: The Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center and Botanical Gardens

  • One of the intrusive volcanic domes visible from Clayton's Overlook at the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute Nature Center and Botanical Gardens.

The Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center and Botanical Gardens outside Fort Davis, Texas, take your mind from miniscule cactus flowers to dozens of varieties of sage, yucca and willow, to broad outlooks over volcanic intrusions. In the hours we spent there, we saw three other guests.

The Center is located on more than 500 acres and has three miles of hiking trails, including a riparian canyon. We started in the gardens, which has more than 165 species native to the Chihuahuan Desert, then found our way to the cactus and succulent greenhouse, with its magical display of more than 150 species, many grown from seed.

We took the mile-long loop to Clayton’s Overlook, where a series of well-designed displays explain the volcanic history of the surrounding mountains. Rather than lava thrown from a volcanic cone, much of the landscape was formed through volcanic intrusion, magma pushing up and under the existing layers, creating mounds that later eroded into magnificent formations.

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