There’s nothing quite like merging onto I-10 at dusk, knowing you’re bound for west Texas mountains. Once you’ve seen the place and understand its uniqueness, it draws you back over and over. For me, that thirst is unquenchable. There’s something inside me that wants to quit all responsibility, sell everything, and make my home somewhere south of Marathon. It’s this same urge that causes people to drop everything for a move to Terlingua, and why Big Bend National Park is commonly referred to as a hidden gem. But growing up on the I-45 corridor just an hour south of Dallas, no one ever told me something like that existed in Texas. To me, Abilene was west Texas, full of cattle farmers, red dirt, and tumbleweeds. Until I made that drive from Fort Stockton to Chisos Basin for the first time, I never knew beauty like that existed in Texas.
Similarly, when I was first offered a chance to visit the Withers Ranch in the Davis Mountains, I had never heard of such a mountain range. I think for most people who live in this great metropolitan triangle between Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio, the edges of our state, from the bayous of East Texas, down to the marshes on the gulf, and all the way up to Palo Duro canyon, are all underappreciated, to the point that they may as well not even exist to most of us. This is especially true of the mountain ranges in far west Texas.
Hidden in all of this untouched land, the Withers Ranch is one of a kind. From where you leave the black top on Highway 118, it takes an hour on dirt ranch roads just to get to the place. But let me tell you, when that canyon view opens around the steep bend in the road, you’ll understand for the first time why you’ve gone to such lengths to get there. It’s something akin to beholding the South Rim in Big Bend National Park for the first time. And more than understanding why you’ve come all this way, you’ll understand why the Ryan family has gone to painstaking lengths to build a home away from home for their family, and why they’re so excited to share it with you.
Allison Ryan, one of our founders and daughter of Carl Ryan who purchased these 1600 acres back in the 70’s, grew up coming to the Withers from El Paso as a young girl, and she knows this place as well as anyone. She’ll make sure you’re taken care of for the duration of your stay, pointing out the best places to take a swim, go for a hike, or even just relax with a glass of wine and one of the best views you’ll find on any vacation. More than that, you’ll be relaxing in one of the most beautifully furnished homes, built by a central Texas German craftsman. Everything here has been made with precise care, so that you have everything you need, but also so that nothing is taken away from the beauty of this canyon. These adobe walls seemed to have been raised from these canyon floors by nature itself. And take this tip, something I learned by pure chance after waking in the middle of the night: don’t miss the silence here. There’s a certain hour at which the crickets’ chirping has ceased and all is still. The lights are off, the house is quiet. Take a step outside. You’ve never experienced silence like this. Not to mention, these may be the darkest skies and clearest views of the stars that you’ve ever seen. On a clear, moonless night, lay back and take it in.
~ Lawton Cook