My husband and I spent Feb/Mar 2019 as host campers at CDRI. He loves everything related to the Big Bend area of Texas. After those 2 months, I have a whole new love for and appreciation of the Chihuahuan Desert and surrounding area. I loved the amazing Cactus Greenhouse. I’ve not seen a comparable collection of cactus anywhere else! The Botanical Garden is so beautifully arranged. Be sure to give yourself time to s t r o l l through and enjoy it!
A favorite of being a volunteer was getting to greet visitors from so many places, and to witness their excitement and enjoyment of their visit. The entire staff shared their vast knowledge and caused us to feel at home in the desert.
As a host camper, I witnessed firsthand the impact of CDRI. In the two months we volunteered, we welcomed visitors from all over the world who came to gain insight into a slice of life in the Chihuahuan Desert. Many marveled at the variety of plant life represented in the botanical garden and cactus greenhouse. Hikers returned amazed that springs run throughout the desert providing water for plants and wildlife. Others expressed fascination at the geological features found on the property. The real gem of CDRI is the dedicated staff and corps of volunteers who gladly give their time and energy to educational opportunities for students across the region.
I volunteer at CDRI as often as I can. Why? The staff is committed to what they are doing, which is educating people (and area wide students) about the Trans-Pecos Region, the wildlife, and the fauna. The staff never seem to grow tired of their responsibilities. They are always enthusiastic, friendly, and educational. The entire site is awe-inspiring and spirit-uplifting! What better place to volunteer?!?
CDRI is not only physically exquisite with gardens and a trail system -- but in a time of change and challenge provides both a sanctuary as well as a vital connection to the original biodiversity of the great Chihuahuan Desert. It is our Far West Texas version of the NY Botanical Garden providing tools for understanding the region's ecological and geological history.
Gorgeous, accessible, multi-featured nature center and botanical garden with knowledgeable, friendly staff! A must see site when you visit the Davis Mountains region.
While the information in this review is dated (15,000 visitors, vs. 6,000; nearly 2,000 children educated in nature/science based programs in the living classroom, and the tenants of the Mission are education, the visitor experience and the support of research to name the major ones), CDRI is simply a wonderful venue to connect with nature, regardless of one's background, age, energy or fitness level. You'll be welcomed at the visitor desk by friendly, informed professionals (many of which are volunteers) who have a single purpose: ensure you have a safe, informative and enjoyable experience.
Whether you have an hour or the entire day, there is something for everyone at CDRI, and the entrance fees are a bargain! Don't miss it if you love gardens, trails, exhibits, porches, and a great gift shop.
My wife and I were Volunteers for three months. We had never volunteered at a nonprofit, only private and State Parks.
The first thing you realize is how committed the staff is to conservation, the environment and teaching visitors about the Nature Center. There are always tour groups of all ages coming in and most are guided by volunteers.
The Botanical garden and Cactus greenhouse are amazing. The hiking trails are well maintained and take you to beautiful views. The Gift shop has just about anything you might need including a wonderful selection of books.
If all this isn’t enough, there is a mining exhibit that is well worth spending some time at.
We really enjoyed our time at the Nature Center and plan to return as soon as we can and recommend it to anyone who enjoys nature.
This small organization has — in recent years under present management — very greatly increased the number of yearly visitors getting to experience its West Texas/ Davis mountains beautiful 500+ acres, it’s cactus greenhouse, it’s authentic mining industry exhibit s of old Big Bend area mining equipment / techniques, etc.
The CDRI leadership has done this and at the same time greatly increased its fiscal and economic success; Ie it operates lije a well run business.
This has kept it in the number two choice — After only famed McDonald Observatory— of área destinations
We visited CDRI in May and absolutely loved it! The location is beautiful and serene. The staff is very knowledgeable and friendly. We took a guided hike up to a plateau and could see for miles. The whole area is breathtaking. The cactus garden is and so well labeled, manicured and beautifully displayed. We've never seen such an array of blooming cacti. I would highly recommend this location as a "must see".
As volunteers who have only just discovered the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute, we were blown away by the depth of devotion the staff has for the environment in general, and this desert gem in particular. CDRI oversees the care and conservation of this high desert habitat of the Trans-Pecos region. The beautiful Botanical Garden is evidence of such care, and the trails highlight the rugged beauty. The Mine and Geology Exhibits go into great detail about the geological and historical significance of the area.
The programs they offer are tailored to reach students and adults alike. Various events and study groups that regularly occur such as The Mindful Morning Walk, The Herp Day and Earth Rocks programs allow participants a unique and some times close-up view into the life of the desert. The staff are informative and helpful. If they can't answer a question, they know where to look.
The Gift Shop offers a variety of mementos of your visit such as note cards, Prickly Pear Jelly, Mesquite Honey, and colorful tote bags. The extensive book selection covers everything from recent history to geology to indigenous peoples to gardening to plant and animal identification. If you're looking for something specific, the staff can direct you or offer suggestions.
During our stay there, CDRI installed and brought online a second solar power system to augment the demands of the greenhouse. This and the rainwater collection system further demonstrate CDRI's commitment to the environment and being as Green as possible.
This is a wonderful facility staffed with wonderful, knowledgeable, caring people. We will be volunteering again.
I have volunteered at the CDRI nature center for six months as a weekend front desk clerk. Visitors can tour the extensive botanical garden, hike rugged trails, learn about local mining history in the mining exhibit, peruse the gift shop, or just take in the beautiful views on the four-sided porch. I also appreciate the educational programs and field trip opportunities offered here. In Far West Texas, public spaces that offer such access and a wealth of information are rare. This place is a local gem, deeply appreciated by residents of the tri-county area and beyond.
CDRI is a wonderful nonprofit that allows the public to experience the beauty and magic of the Chihuahuan Desert in meaningful and memorable ways. In addition to the modern visitor center and wonderfully curated gift shop within, there are miles of well-marked trails, a lovely botanical garden with a huge cactus greenhouse, a bird blind, a mining heritage exhibit and so much more!
CDRI is a "must visit" stop in your travels to West Texas, Ft. Davis area. Between the wonderfully friendly and knowledgeable staff and beautiful grounds to hike and explore, gift shop, greenhouse and other exhibits it's defiantly worth a trip there to check it out.
CDRI has it all: hiking trails, garden tours, cactus greenhouse, mining exhibit, bird blind and a great gift shop. Come experience nature in the Chihuahuan desert for yourself. You’ll be happy you did!
I love visiting the Trans-Pecos area of Texas and, whenever I do, a visit to CDRI is at the top of my list. The scenery and views are inspiring, every staff member I've encountered has been top notch, and the botanical garden is so well-kept and educational. I highly recommend a stop here for anyone traveling through the area.
The Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute (CDRI) is truly a jewel for the Big Bend/Trans-Pecos region. In a state where well over 90% of the land is privately owned and largely inaccessible, CDRI's 507 acres provide visitors with an opportunity to get close and develop a deep appreciation for the beauty of the Chihuahuan Desert mid-elevation grasslands.
The trail system is well-sited to guide hikers through all the ecosystems the grounds have to offer. CDRI also maintains a lovely botanical garden which also serves as a great education tool for local homeowners seeking to recreate sustainable native wildlife habitat on their properties.
As a board member since January 2017 I'm a frequent witness to the passion the staff have for their roles and their love for the property. I'm also pleased by their careful stewardship of financial resources which puts CDRI on solid financial footing.
The Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute is the quintessential nature center. It has all the vital parts, with its arboretum, greenhouse, education facilities, gardens, trails, and 507 acres of grasslands and rock outcroppings that are a living illustration of the northern part of the great Chihuahuan Desert of Mexico. The CDRI has many fun and informative programs for kids, and for adults it is a naturalist’s dream. You are bound to add a bird or two to your life list, and the many pollinators include some great butterflies like the Two-tailed Swallowtail and the Sleepy Orange as well as several type of hummingbirds this area is known for. Have you ever seen Egg Yolk Lichen, or a Red-Spotted Toad? Did I mention an impressive canyon where the descent rewards you at the end with a natural spring complete with Maidenhair Ferns? And beware the great gift shop and book store which is bound to part you from your cash for the most varied and artistic souvenirs in far west Texas as well as books on flora and fauna that you need in your nature library. So, come on down, and have a great day outdoors!
Growing up in West Texas I knew when the CDRI was begun-- and some of its original benefactors as well. And visited it many years ago. Then about a year ago I returned: WOW: what an absolute gem in the middle of the majestic greater Big Bend area of West Texas!!
The CDRI is a large (500+ acre) natural preserve, and basically a living museum because you can both enjoy and learn, hands on, about the landscape and plants, etc of the region, all the while being outside in West Texas. CDRI does a masterful job of presenting and nurturing it all-- which will make your travels anywhere in the Chihuahua Desert a richer experience.
Its mining exhbit also shows you, hands on, how minerals were explored and mined in the region for decades. An absolute MUST SEE, if you have 30 minutes or 5 hours to immerse yourself in such a pleasant place with an equally pleasant and very knowledgeable staff.
I became aware of CDRI two years ago and I made a decesion to plan a trip to Fort Davis Texas and visit CDRi. I love geology, birding and the unique area of the Davis Mountains. The CDRI
Center is located about 4 miles from Fort Davis. I traveled 1500 miles from Northern California to visit and explore the CDRI Center. I was so taken back by the natural beauty of the center and the surrounding area of the Davis Mountains. There are many activities available for people of all ages to participate in and explore their botanical gardens and the walking trails. I had been told by friends of CDRI of their experience there and this convinced me to make the journey. I had a very enriched nourishing experience at CDRI. The staff was well informed, supportive and professional. I stayed in Fort Davis for 3 weeks and attended lectures sponsored by CDRI. I had several enriched experiences at CDRI and I plan to return in the spring. Jim
My wife and I participated as host volunteers during the spring for two years and loved it. The staff are very knowledgeable in their fields and are excited to share it. The long hard hours they put in over the years is from their enthusiasm. They believe in their role as educators for the public and school children, making them aware of this gorgeous and fragile ecosystem and hopefully to care for it.
I became a volunteer work camper at the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute October 2017. I have returned again for 2018 working in the visitor center greeting people and explaining all the activities they can enjoy at CDRI. I was so impressed my first year in Texas learning about the Chihuahuan Desert. I've traveled in all the other three desert regions in North America but did not realize the differences between the other deserts, i.e. the Great Basin, Sonoran and Mojave Desert compared to the Chihuahuan Desert. What a fun learning experience. The Mission statement of CDRI is to promote public awareness, appreciation and concerns for nature generally and the natural diversity of the Chihuahuan Desert region specially, through education, the visitor experience, and through the support of research.
I highly recommend you visiting the Center and experience the joy found here,
I spent the past two summers as a volunteer host camper at the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute. It's an amazing place to volunteer and visit. Hiking trails, a geology exhibit, botanical garden, mining history exhibit, bird blind, a cactus greenhouse, informative visitor center, gift shop, and stunning scenery. Staff is wonderfully kind and very knowledgeable. I will most definitely be back!
I have been involved in the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute, since shortly after its inception in 1974. Over the years , CDRI has grown from a small organization, housed in an old school house in Alpine to a thriving Institute operating from a beautiful Visitor Center on 507 acres of grassland and volcanic rock outcrops 4 miles south of Ft. Davis, Texas. There are miles of hiking trails, a beautifully manicured Arboretum featuring over 200 species of woody plants native to the Chihuahuan Desert as well as outdoor exhibits such as the mining heritage exhibit. The staff and volunteers provide education programs for thousands of school age students each year. I'm proud to have been involved in the non-profit organization for so many years.
We live in nearby Fort Davis and love visiting here!! We always learn something new about our area when we go! And it’s always the local school kids favorite field trip!
I try to visit the institute whenever I make the 6 1/2 hour trek to ft davis. It's peaceful and lovely, and the staff is excellent and welcoming. I enjoy the botanical garden and the quiet lovely hiking trails.
The Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center provides an interactive introduction to the far west Texas desert. You can hike the Modesta trail, wander through the botanical gardens, take in the mining exhibit, find treasures in the onsite shop, as well as many other activities. What a gem this organization is for the region and all visitors making their way through the high desert! I highly recommend a first visit and many return visits. Become a member for access to ongoing benefits.
During 2010, we not only provided access to the preserve, but also provided staff, facilities, and vehicles for transport for the CDRI's: teacher workshop; "Top-of-Texas" series; and birding festival. The first two events included guided hikes up Mt. Livermore with interpretation. The birding festival included a hummingbird banding demonstration and a guided birding hike. In all of these instances, the events were organized and hosted by the CDRI, and we were very proud to be associated with them. The CDRI does a great job of providing opportunities for individuals to gain an appreciation for nature, especially that associated with the Chihuahuan Desert, and to be educated about same. Such is certainly consistent with the mission of The Nature Conservancy.
I have been a member of CDRI since my college days in the early 1970's. Over the years I have seen many changes and a lot of growth of both the Institute and the land site. My husband and I have both been employees at CDRI....it is truly the most inspiring work environment either of us has ever had. We now both volunteer throughout the year and only wish we had more time to offer. Being a CDRI volunteer is very rewarding, and we feel that we are in some small way helping to preserve the desert environment we so love.
My wife and I collect and study desert plants as a hobby. We have been visiting CDRI for a number of years. Each visit we find new additions to the exhibits as well as the plant collection. We have joined several field trips put on by CDRI. One of the most unusual was a night hike down the canyon where we saw desert fauna that you normally don't see during the day. Mark "the gardener" and the other staff have wealth on knowledge about about desert plants which we really like.
A few months after my husband passed away I was looking for something to do. My background had been with the National Audubon Society where I was Director of two of their Audubon Centers. CDRI was a great fit for my previous work and my natural history interests. When I approached the Executive Director about possibly volunteering she was enthusiastic. Since that time I have spent time greeting visitors, editing newsletters, working in the gift shop, leading field trips, mopping floors, cleaning restrooms, weeding in the Botanical Garden. Whatever needs to be done. I am now privileged to be on the CDRI Board.
I first came to CDRI as a frequent visitor, to hike, attend functions, and to learn more about the wonderful flora, fauna and geology of the Chihuahuan Desert. I later joined the board of directors and have watched with pride as the quality and number of CDRI's exhibits, seminars, and educational programs for school children, teachers and general public have improved and increased in scope and numbers served, with new an innovative programs that really teach good science and grab the interest. Our gardens and trails continue to improve and are great draws for hikers, general visitors and all who are interested learning about the area's diverse plants, wildlife and geology. The organization has developed ties with the scientific community in Mexico, to the benefit of both countries, and has worked with The National Park Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife, and other state and national conservation and scientific not for profit organizations on a wide range of science projects through the years. The organization expands and continues to improve annually, thanks in great part to a really good Director and staff and dedicated volunteers. CDRI has become an important part of the local community AND remains engaged in the greater scientific community, and we have great plans for the future.
I am the President of Central Texas Trail Tamers (CTTT), a central Texas based volunteer organization that builds and maintains trails. I am also a docent and volunteer at the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center and a member of the Capital Area Master Naturalist. I am organizing a CTTT work trip to CDRI (11-22 thru 11-26), to work with CDRI and other area volunteers, building a trail from the canyon trailhead to the top of the overlook area. Although this is the first actual work I will have performed at CDRI, I have been a member of and visitor to CDRI for the last couple of years. Based on my other volunteer activities over the last 10 - 15 years, I have been very impressed with not only the displays and gardens filled with area native plants, but also the knowledge and cooperative attitude of the staff at CDRI. In conclusion, I have been fortunate enough to visit several native plant and botanical gardens in the U.S. and U.K., including the Kew Gardens. Although I still consider myself a novice, in my opinion, CDRI ranks highly in must places to visit, right up there with the "big boys".
Having Kelly Bryan give a hummingbird banding demonstration is one of many activities I admire about CDRI. They are mindful of ALL age groups and have plenty of programs to participate in. CDRI organizes excellent lectures at Sul Ross for older people in the community and little camps and hikes for the younger people. CDRI isn't just a place for interests in plants and animals but is a place for historians and geologists as well! We are quite lucky to have this place in our area!
We have visited CDRI many times; it is special to us because we have two sons who worked there while attending SRU. We've watched it grow since the 80's and especially enjoy the Cactus Greenhouse and the peace and beauty of the Pollinator Garden. Our grandkids enjoyed their week at day camp for the first time this year; they learned so much about the things that live and grow in the desert - plants and animals. Being "city kids", this was a really good experience for them and they are already talking about attending next year.
I take students to the annual Earth Rocks festival which is a fun, educational experience for our elementary students in the area. The activities all focus on Earth Science which is typically a tough concept for students to grasp without these hands-on activities provided free of charge by the CDRI.
Although we live in Ann Arbor, Michigan, we love the Texas southwest, and particularly the Big Bend region, which we have visited about 20 times during the past 30 years. More recently, we've found it convenient to stay at the "White House" in Alpine, and during those stays we have visited and explored the CDRI. In between visits, we have greatly enjoyed the CDRI newsletters, which illustrate the enormous diversity of its scientific and nature programs, including the trapping of feral hogs, the banding of hummingbirds, and the well illustrated nature trails. The programs seem to be most suitable for families and people of all ages. We have enjoyed chatting with other visitors, who seem just as enthusiastic as we are about the work of the CDRI.
CDRI is a tremendous resource to the Big Bend Country. The annual native plant sale attracts folks from all over the state, as does the annual auction and BBQ. Day hikes, field trips as well as Chihuahuan wildlife and flora education programs are offered to members at nominal fees.
CDRI is an invaluable asset to the communities of West Texas. Their workshops and lectures are always entertaining, enlightening and engaging. Their trails, gardens and exhibits have something to offer people of all ages and abilities. That's why, whenever I have out-of-town visitors, I take them to the nature center to learn about the Chihuahuan Desert and see the landscape. Even with the number of state and federal parks in this part of Texas, the nature center is probably the most easily accessible and educational place to hike and get to know the biodiversity of our region. They also do a great job of educating kids from local schools about the natural environment around them. My 9-year-old cousin, who visited from Dallas and had never experienced the Chihuahuan Desert before visiting CDRI, probably said it best: "This is adventure land!" He can't wait to come back.
CDRI is one of the most amazing places in the area with so much to do and see. They have so many fascinating educational programs on such a wide variety of desert plants, animals and geology for people of every age. The beautiful and diverse natural botanical gardens and cacti greenhouse are always a pleasure to explore and they explain so much about the native plants in the area. The guided hikes and lectures are a delight, always so interesting and full of great information. As a member, it is a wonderful place to take a desert hike on the trails around the nature center and into the canyon on a weekend morning or summer evening. The staff and volunteers are very personable and an absolute wealth of information. They can always answer your questions. The new Geology exhibit is a must see and their cactus festival and native plant sale are two events out of the entire area that I look forward to all year. I also just love that they have recently added a cactus rescue program. CDRI is nothing short of an all around invaluable asset to our area.
I enjoy the field trips and the nature center.The botanical gardens and exihibts are always worth a trip to the center.The CDRI is a great place to learn about the chihuahuan desert.
CDRI is the best-kept secret in Texas---it's time for more people to realize what a tremendous asset it is. CDRI is very well managed by a team of dedicated, highly educated, and knowledgeable individuals. As a National Park Service ranger at nearby Fort Davis National Historic Site, I turn to CDRI for answers to questions on area flora & fauna and geology. I also attend CDRI's excellent educational outreach programs.
CDRI is hard to summarize because its mission ranges from teaching to interpretation to formal research to conservation to . . . A few observation from my limited perspective: Even before the time visitors and tourists first arrive in the area, they have heard about CDRI's unique nature center, bookstore, interpretive programs and nature walks. Children of all ages who visit CDRI are able to expand their appreciation and understanding of the Chihuahuan Desert through a thoughtful, carefully planned range of hikes, fieldtrips, workshops, nature camps, etc., etc. CDRI's award-winning program, "Nature Notes" can be heard throughout the tri-county area on KRTS, and members are treated to CDRI's equally informative and imaginative newsletter, "Chihuahuan Desert Discovery". Both program and newsletter are produced and edited by CDRI's staff with assistance from experts from the area and throughout the country. Less visible to the general public, but at least as fundamental to CDRI's mission is its commitment to research and scholarship. CDRI supports graduate and other student research projects, research, institutions of higher learning with Field School opportunities and every 5 years hosts the widely attended "Symposium on the Natural Resources of the Chihuahuan Desert Region which draws speakers and attendees including researchers, educators, conservation experts, and the general public from throughout North America to exchange and discuss ideas. And thats' just a few of the high points!
Wonerful facility. Competent personnel. magnificent gardens. Lots of hiking trails that are varied. Educational exhibits. Better than a bargain on Ebay.