This short, wheelchair-accessible sidewalk is located just west of the Panther Junction Visitor Center. Along the path, small signs identify many of the plants. By completing a Panther Path activity, Junior Rangers can earn an embroidered patch. Just ask a Ranger in the Visitor Center for a Junior Ranger book.
Take a stroll through a desert wash for about a mile round-trip. Where there's water (even moisture deep in the soil), you'll find a different plant community. Here, desert willows bloom, Mexican persimmons are loaded with sweet, black, juicy fruit; and desert hackberries provide food for birds and butterflies. This is a good trail to look for vines as they clamber over shrubs and up into trees. A couple of precautions: this is a narrow canyon that may flashflood. Don't enter it if there's rain in the area. Also, the bears love persimmon fruit. Be alert in the late fall when the persimmons are ripe and let the bears have the right-of-way.
If you can pull yourself away from the shade and wildlife of the cottonwood oasis, walk the 1/2 mile nature trail loop. Look sharp! How many types of prickly pear can you find? Also be on the lookout for strawberry pitaya with their fluorescent pink flowers in late spring and the yellow flowers of the giant fishhook cactus. If you take your time, you'll be astonished at the diversity of cacti and succulents along this short trail.
Remnants of the old orchard and garden still remain at Sam Nail Ranch. Sit under the shade of the pecan trees and look for asparagus, peach, and fig trees. As you hike out, think about other useful and edible native plants. Could you survive here?
Wetlands to Desert Rio Grande Village Nature Trail
This 0.75 mile loop trail vividly illustrates the difference that water makes in the desert. As you walk across the boardwalk, watch for cattails, reeds, bluebells, and low mats of white-flowered water-hyssop. These plants need their roots in the water. As you start to climb, you'll pass through huisache trees and tree tobacco that give way to open, desert vegetation. Watch for low-growing dog cholla, spindly stalks of ocotillo, and the stiff rosettes of Texas false agave.
Along the River Boquillas Canyon Trail
Follow the ribbon of green along the Rio Grande. At the right time of year, you'll find cane (both native and invasive), retama trees with their sprays of yellow flowers, and river banks covered with bluebells. But don't stop there. Search the sanddunes for Bigpod Bonamia, a rare member of the morning glory family. The plants shift with the seasons and there's always something interesting to find. But be careful! The Boquillas Canyon Trail can be very hot.
Desert to Springs Mule Ears Trail
A great 4-mile round-trip hike for desert lovers (with a bit of a surprise at the end!). Watch for purple prickly pear, lechuguilla, and ocotillo. In the rainy season, bright splashes of purple mean the cenizo are in bloom. At the end of the trail is Mule Ears Spring. A tiny oasis in the desert. Maidenhair ferns cling to the walls, cattails rise from the water, and bright, red cardinal flowers bloom in the fall. Best done in the late fall or winter when temperatures make desert hiking a pleasure.
Of Oaks and Sumacs Pine Canyon Trail
Pine Canyon Trail takes a bit of effort to get to. It's off the Glenn Springs road, so you'll need a high-clearance vehicle to get to the trailhead. From there, the trail winds through a sotol grassland and eventually descends into a tree-shaded canyon. Here, you'll get a taste of the oak diversity the Chisos Mountains are known for. Be on the lookout for bigtooth maples and several species of shrubby sumacs with their tart, red berries.
Plant Diversity The Window Trail
The Window Trail (4.5 to 5.5 miles round-trip) is a splendid mix of open, sotol grassland vegetation and forested, canyon vegetation. Texas madrones, Mexican buckeye, and grape-scented mountain laurels are a sight (and smell) to behold in the early spring. In the open grassland, tiny white fleabane line the path and pink patches of white-eyed phlox gather in the shade of trees and shrubs. How many species of plants can you find?
Ice Age Forests Boot Canyon/Colima Trails
Eighteen thousand years ago, the climate was wetter and cooler. The forests extended down the mountains and the high elevations hosted aspen and fir trees. You can still find remnants of that Ice Age forest, but it will take some effort and sharp eyes. For a 10-mile journey back in time, hike up the Pinnacles Trail, through a bit of Boot Canyon, and across the Colima Trail to the Laguna Meadows Trail. When you're in the high Chisos, look for fir trees (the easiest way to find them is to look for their distinctive cones), aspens on the scree slopes of Emory Peak, and Arizona cypress in the canyons.
Species Attribute Definitions
Occurrence values are defined below. One or more Occurrence Tags may be associated with each Occurrence value.
Present: Species occurs in park; current, reliable evidence available.
Probably Present: High confidence species occurs in park but current, verified evidence needed.
Unconfirmed: Species is attributed to park but evidence is weak or absent.
Not In Park: Species is not known to occur in park.
Adjacent: Species is known to occur in areas near to or contiguous with park boundaries.
False Report: Species was reported to occur within the park, but current evidence indicates the report was based on misidentification, a taxonomic concept no longer accepted, or other similar problem of error or interpretation.
Historical: Species' historical occurrence in park is documented. Assigned based on judgment as opposed to determination based on age of the most recent evidence.
Animals: May be seen daily, in suitable habitat and season, and counted in relatively large numbers.
Plants: Large number of individuals; wide ecological amplitude or occurring in habitats covering a large portion of the park.
Animals: May be seen daily, in suitable habitat and season, but not in large numbers.
Plants: Large numbers of individuals predictably occurring in commonly encountered habitats but not those covering a large portion of the park.
Animals: Likely to be seen monthly in appropriate habitat and season. May be locally common.
Plants: Few to moderate numbers of individuals; occurring either sporadically in commonly encountered habitats or in uncommon habitats.
Animals: Present, but usually seen only a few times each year.
Plants: Few individuals, usually restricted to small areas of rare habitat.
Animals: Occurs in the park at least once every few years, varying in numbers, but not necessarily every year.
Plants: Abundance variable from year to year (e.g., desert plants).
Unknown: Abundance unknown
Native: Species naturally occurs in park or region.
Non-native: Species occurs on park lands as a result of deliberate or accidental human activities.
Unknown: Nativeness status is unknown or ambiguous.
The Checklist contains only those species that are designated as "present" or "probably present" in the park.
The Full List includes all the checklist species in addition to species that are unconfirmed, historically detected, or incorrectly reported as being found in the park. The full list also contains species that are "in review" because their status in the park hasn't been fully determined. Additional details about the status of each species is included in the full list.
The checklist will almost always contain fewer species than the full list.