List of My Article

Dinosaur Valley State Park, Texas

Since we are Dallas visiting family over the holidays, I decided to take a short day trip to Glen Rose Texas and check out Dinosaur Valley State Park.  I arrived at the park headquarters about 8:30 am, checked in with the park ranger, and asked about recommended trails. The ranger at the desk recommended the Blue Trail which follows a ridge above the North shore of the Paluxy River.

I started out on the White Trail trailhead on the south side of the river. Within the first quarter mile I came to the Paluxy river crossing which consists of nothing more then a few strategically placed stepping stones. With river levels slightly higher than usual I had a hard time keeping my feet dry. More then 90% of the parks backcountry trails lie north of the river and there are no bridges within the park. I made it across the river with little incident and followed the blue trail along the ridge stopping frequently to take in views of the river.

The Blue Trail was short. No more then 2-3 miles in total length. Trail surface consist of lose rock and gravel. Moderate grades and little elevation change. The park has more than 20 miles of backcountry trails but unfortunately I only had the morning to explore.

At the end of the Blue Trail are some prehistoric dinosaur tracks embedded and preserved in the limestone river bottom. These are what gives the park its name. But I will talk more about that tomorrow.

Here is a link to a Picasa album of Dinosaur Valley State Park, Texas

Park Review, Dinosaur Valley State Park, Texas

Dinosaur Valley State Park, located about an hour southwest of Fort Worth Texas, contains some of the best preserved dinosaur tracks in the world. The park sits alongside the Paluxy River bed which, according to scientists, was an ancient ocean shore 113 million years ago. The park has four viewing sites where tracks are reported to be seen.Both theropods (three towed) and sauropods (large round feet) tracks have been discovered in the river bed. Many of the tracks in the park seem to have eroded almost completely away. Those that have not eroded where cut from the riverbed in the 1940’s and removed in giant limestone slabs. Only a few tracks remain in the park at all.

While I was there I could only see the three towed Theropod tracks and only at viewing site number two. Site two seems to be the only site where the tracks are clearly marked. At all the other viewing sites it felt more like a egg hunt trying to find holes in the river bed that might be a foot print. Site tree’s viewing area is on top of a high river bank and has been fenced off making viewing impossible. All the tracks are in the actual river bed, the best tracks require crossing the river on stepping stones, it is always wise to call ahead to check river conditions.

Dinosaur tracks are not the only thing to see in do in Dinosaur Valley. During the hot summer months the Paluxy becomes a refreshing swimming hole. Flow is slow and shallow making wading and swimming very enjoyable. The park has both primitive and full RV hook up camping facilities. Camping areas are nicely shaded and have clean restrooms and showers. There are no restrooms or showers in the primitive camping area. There are a nice variety of hiking trails stretching a total of 20 miles. The trails are clearly marked, well maintained, and accessible for mountain biking. Equestrian use is allowed in a separate 100-acer area.

The small town of Glen Rose lies adjacent to the park. Hotels, bed and breakfast, and other accommodations are available. Don’t expect to much, though, Glen Rose has done well in maintaining a small historic atmosphere.

Other nearby activities include Canoeing the Brazos river, or feeding the animals at Fossil Rim Wildlife Park.

Here is a link to a Picasa album of Dinosaur Valley State Park, Texas

Cotham's Mercantile Restaurant - Scott, Arkansas

If you’re ever passing through Scott Arkansas (just a little south of Little Rock) stop in to Cotham’s Mercantile Restaurant for one of their Hubcap Burgers. As you walk up to Cotham’s you might feel a little leery. The place looks like it is about to fall into the Swamp (actually Horseshoe Lake) it sits over. The place is literally falling apart and there is hardly a sign left on the front. That’s because Cotham’s was built in 1917 and served as a general mercantile store for the famers of Scott Arkansas. In fact Cotham’s faces a working seed farm. As you walk in most of the old mercantile is still intact. Old rustic goods and products line the shelves and many of the stores original furnishings are still present. You might have to wait awhile to be seated. Cotham’s is pretty popular despites its remote location.

The Hubcap burger is a good size (half a burger and some rings filled me up) and rates an 8.5 on a 10 point scale in my opinion. The patty is all beef and not too dry or greasy. When you order a hubcap make sure you get some of their onion rings. Each order comes with five large onion rings hand battered and freshly fried. If you are especially hungry you can order a large and get 10 onion rings.  Top it all off with a sweet potato fried pie and you will have yourself a small slice of heaven. Make sure to order the pie before you finish your lunch. Each one takes no less than 10 minutes to prepare.


My wife and I stopped in at Cotham’s today on our way to Tennessee to see the Great Smokey Mountains. We parked on the Grass across the street just in front of the old seed farm. We were seated right away despite a jam packed dining area. Service was fast but a tad unfriendly, lacking southern hospitality. I will give the poor waitress the benefit of the doubt, Lunch was very busy.

All in all our experience was great. Next time we are passing through Scott, we know where we will be eating.

Devil's River, TX

Recently a friend and I took a paddle trip down the Devil’s River in South West Texas. The Devil’s River is considered by many to be the cleanest river in Texas. The Devil’s maintains this status mostly because of its remote nature. There are only two public water crossings along the rivers entire 47.7 mile stretch between Baker’s Crossing (Hwy 163) and the High Bridge over Lake Amisted (Hwy 90). Surrounding land is all private ranch estates. Land owners have been rumored to diligently guard their property and even shoot at paddlers attempting to exit their boats. All this has left this class I-IV whitewater river completely unspoiled.

The Devil’s River is characterized as a spring fed pool and drop river flowing over limestone. The river has a good variety of cool deep pools interrupted by the frequent class I-II rapids. Nearly all of these smaller rapids are complicated by the vast number of reeds growing directly in the middle of the river. At some instances it will appear that the river simply comes to an end where openings in the reeds are barley large enough for your boat to fit through. You have to follow the sound of flowing water to find your way through the reed jungles. Sometimes you will break through to a tunnel of reeds and fast flowing water. Other times you simply dead end into more thick reeds capable of bending your boat if you are not careful. But the reeds are all part of the beauty of the river. 

At 16 miles below Baker’s is one of the real jewels of the Devil’s River. Dolan Falls a solid class V+ waterfall with a 10 -12 foot drop into strong hydraulics. I am told that only a few paddlers have ever tried to run the falls. One report is that a young man that ran falls and was sucked under a hidden rock ledge. Reports say he didn’t come back up for 100 yards down stream. Validity of these reports is questionable…but it is safe to say attempting to run Dolan Falls is a bad idea. A portage on river right allows for great pictures. 

If you do want to paddle the Devil’s you have to make arraignments through Gerald Bailey who lives in the Blue Sage subdivision about 25 river miles below Baker’s Crossing. Gerald has options for a number of different trips for a sum of money often costing several hundred dollars. His price is not all together unfair considering the great distance he must drive to shuttle you to the different put ins and take outs. Friends and I have done this a few times…putting in at Bakers, camping at the State Natural Area (15 river miles below Baker’s) and then taking out at the private low water crossing near Gerald’s. Since the land is privately owned Gerald is a necessity unless you want to continue 22.7 miles down river to the Lake’s Rough Canyon Marina. 

Recently I discovered that a friend owns property on the Devil’s in the Blue Sage subdivision just up river from Gerald Bailey’s place. This came as a pleasant surprise to me and the friend and I started making plans for a day trip. According to the TPWD you can put in, but not take out at the State Natural Area if you make arraignments through Gerald. I assumed Gerald had to be involved because of the necessity to take out on private land or simply to run a shuttle. Since someone in our group owned land down river and we would be running our own shuttle we would have been able to bypass Gerald. I called the Natural area to arrange a put in and informed them we would be taking out on our own private property. The guy at the Natural Area said we would still have to pay Gerald if we wanted to put in on STATE property. WHY? The only answer they could give me was “That’s the way we do it.” I called Gerald to arrange the put in. I told him we wouldn’t need a shuttle and that we wouldn’t need to take out on his property. All we would need is for him to let us in. Gerald wanted $92 for us to drive out of our way to pick him up, take him back to the natural area to unlock a gate (a state owned gate on state property) to gain access to the water. We would then have to have our guy drive him back home. $12 went to the State for day use fees…the rest went in Gerald’s pocket.

Is it just me or is the State enabling a monopoly? Because of their decision to mandate Gerald’s involvement the only way you would ever be able to access the river without Gerald would be to paddle the entire 47.7 miles from Baker’s crossing to Rough Canyon Mariana. This would necessitate at least 2-3 nights on the river with little to no place to camp due to all the private property defended by Winchesters. Why can’t a park ranger unlock the State owned gate on state property? One followed us the entire 22 miles on unpaved 4x4 trails down to the gate in order to pull us over for excessive speed… Are you kidding me? The condition of the road wouldn’t even allow me to drive faster than 20 MPH. It would seem the rangers don’t have anything to do other harass citizens attempting to recreate in their park. Why not give them a job and let them open the gate for the small number of people who don’t need Gerald to run the river? Would it do any good to write the State to complain about this set up? Probably not. I guess if you want to run the river you have to be willing to pay.