A DESERT LEGACY
The Barton Warnock Visitor Center, located a mile and a half east of Lajitas on FM 170, serves as the eastern entrance to Big Bend Ranch State Park. Information, maps, gifts, potable water, interpretive exhibits, and RV camping are all available at the Center’s location. Desert wildflower and cacti fans will remember the late Barton Warnock, Big Bend biologist, who helped identify and catalogue much of the surrounding northern Chihuahuan Desert plant species we recognize today.
Named to honor the late biologist, the Warnock Center’s adobe building and grounds were once the purview of Texas power-broker, banker, and real estate developer Walter Mischer who purchased the town of Lajitas, crossroad for trade along Big Bend’s Rio Grande River border, in the 1970’s with plans to transform it into a western-themed, mom-and-pop tourist stop. Mischer built the Warnock Center, calling it the Lajitas Desert Museum Gardens and opening its fort-like adobe visitor center in 1982 shortly before auctioning all off his Lajitas holdings. In the transaction, Texas Parks and Wildlife acquired the Lajitas Desert Museum Gardens and the acquisition provided Big Bend Ranch State Park with its eastern visitor center.
The purchase also provided the Texas Parks and Wildlife curatorial staff with an opportunity to create an interpretive center designed to highlight the northern Chihuahuan Desert history and environment, one of the continent’s unique and varied regions and one which encompasses all of the over 350,000 acres of Big Bend Ranch State Park. Visitors can learn all about it in the Barton Warnock Visitor Center interpretive exhibition called “One Land/Many Spirits”.
Barton Warnock Visitor Center / Big Bend Ranch State Park
Adult (Peak): $5 Daily, Adult (Non-peak): $3 Daily, Child 12 Years and Under: Free