A unique combination of wilderness, remoteness, accessibility, wildlife, security, and comfort in a high-desert âSky Islandâ – the Sierra Diablo Mountains of Far West Texas.
The historic Circle Ranch located high in the Diablo Mountains of far-West Texas has had only three owners since Obadiah Bounds pioneered the ranch in 1879. He ran the O brand, giving rise to the ranchâs name.Â Â The ranch is located in Hudspeth and Culberson Counties, just 11 miles northwest of Van Horn, a 30-minute drive from the ranch south gate to its 6,000-foot jet-accessible airport, hospital, and town conveniences. El Paso, just 100 miles to the west, is a thriving major regional city with an international airport offering one-stop convenience virtually anywhere, domestic and worldwide.Â The fortress rim of the Diablos acts as a natural barrier for protection and creates a wilderness world unto itself.
Circle Ranch is as unique as it gets, with four distinct geographic regions or habitat providences combined into one ownership. Chihuahuan Desert, Mountain Canyonlands, High Grasslands, and Rolling Pine Highlands are balanced equally in acreage, providing for a diversity of habitats, plants, animals, and natural beauty. Mountain vistas are found throughout the ranch; as scenic as any part of the Big Bend, with clear views of Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas (8,750 feet). Circle Ranch is the âheartâ of the Sierra Diablo Mountains and contains its highest peak â Diablo Peak (6,500 feet). The western escarpments overlook Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin 600,000-acre property. The area views are nothing short of stunning.
The Circleâs ownersâ management efforts have been dedicated for the past 17 years to improving range condition, habitat, and infrastructure.Â There is a road network, much of it milled for easy traveling throughout the ranch, and an extensive new water system that supports more than 200 watering stations. Subsoiling efforts on more than 8,000 acres and erosion control measures are designed within a holistic management philosophy, and have created healthier soil, more rainfall retention, better grassland cover, and more forage for wildlife and livestock.Â Livestock has been an essential tool in achieving the restoration goals and the ranch has an extensive pasture system for rotating cattle in a planned grazing system.
The improvements are just as impressive as the landscape, located within a protected, sweeping valley with steep slope monument mountains, scattered all around a central headquarters complex.Â This is a family working and adventure ranch designed as a hacienda with interconnecting walls and buildings, creating a beautifully landscaped complex of houses, buildings, barns, patios, gardens, and lawns all under a forest of evergreen and deciduous trees on a drip irrigation system. The ranch, with its improvements, is immaculately maintained by an impressive local staff and is ready day-one for entertainment or quiet family enjoyment.
- Main house: 4-BR, 2-B, dining, living, kitchen, office, gun area, features oak floors; a full porch overlooks the Sierra Diablos. Constructed with rock quarried on the ranch.
- Large basement includes laundry, work benches, freezer, gun safe, food and wine storage, mouse-resistant clothes storage
- Commanderâs quarters (CQ): Private walled garden and home. CQ is an exact replica of an Historic Fort Davis officer’s house. Bedroom and sitting room are connected by 25′ foyer/bar/coat room with gun closets, gun safe. 2-baths, 14â ceilings, oak floors
- School house: 1BR with bunks, 1 bath
- Guest house 1-BR, 1-LR, 1-B, full porch and enclosed garden front and rear
- All houses are fully air conditioned and heated
- All baths are new or updated
- Automatic propane-powered electric back-up generator system able to run the entire HQ compound with all systems operating – summer or winter
- Automatic sprinkler systems
- Professionally designed gardens
- 300 transplanted trees
- Two mechanically renovated walk-in cool rooms
- Small weather station connecting to cellphones by an app for remote viewing.
- Vernacular Far West Texas historic structure, built for a working ranch
- Covered stalls
- Tack room
- Feed Room
- Workshop and benches
- Retrofitted with rollup end doors
- Winches for game butchering and/or vehicle servicing
- Horse breaking circle
- Adjacent horse pens
- Multiple water troughs
- Dog runs
- Filled with 90-years of ranching paraphernalia
- 1,500-meter monumented rifle and pistol range with reactive steel targets and static target boards
- 25-yard pistol with steel targets
- 500-meter NRA match compliant silhouettes
- 4-skeet traps
- Storage area for targets, spotting scopes, shooting bags
- Covered shooting positions with lounging, cooking, viewing areas
- This is a military-grade range designed by Army and Marine long-distance rifle instructors and snipers
The Diablo Mountains are truly a high desert âSky Islandâ with cool summers and monsoon rains.Â It is a range of mountains bridging the Guadalupe Mountains to the north with the Eagles, Van Horn, Sierra Viejas, Chinatis to the south and beyond into Mexico.Â These Mountain Islands are providing extremely important functions as a habitat island, with intermountain ridge lines and valleys serving as corridors for wildlife migration, especially between Texas and Mexico along the Rio Grande.
Numerous bird species that are normally associated with the Rocky Mountains and/or Mexican Highlands are known to occur within this island of montane habitat. Hummingbirds, neotropical songbirds, eagles, hawks, and many more creates a year-round birding paradise.
The climate and soils support a mix of desert and mountain vegetation from scrublands to grasslands, to pinon/juniper and oaks uplands.Â Grasses include Sideoats, Blue, Black, Hairy, and Chino grama as well as Cane Bluestem, Green Sprangle-Top, Tobosa, and many others.Â Along the canyon floors, and especially on the north facing hillside slopes, there are PiÃ±on Pine, Juniper, daggers, and oaks.Â A variety of flowering plants and cacti provide habitat for migrating and resident birds, bats, and butterflies.
The four distinct habitat providences on the ranch created by elevation, slope, topography, soils, and vegetation provides a diversity rarely found anywhere in Texas.Â Quail hunting in the Desert, Big Horn Sheep in the Mountain Canyonlands, Elk and Deer in the Rolling Pine Highlands, and Pronghorn in the High Grasslands.Â Circle Ranch has it all!
The Circle Ranch, with its combination of geographic regional habitats, provides for the perfect location to manage and enjoy a variety for game and non-game species.Â Blue Quail hunting is second to none, as is the Desert Mule Deer, Elk, Big Horn Sheep, and Pronghorn.Â The ranch has a Level III Managed Land Deer Permit, providing for an extended season for Mule Deer and the opportunity for better management of the herd.Â Water distribution and road access, combined with excellent range condition and habitat provides for some of the best hunting in the state.Â Add the jaw-dropping mountain vistas, Circle stands alone.Â This area features all large ranch neighbors with low fences, including the Diablo Mountain Wildlife Management Area with a common focus of improving wildlife resources.
Free-ranging game species
- Desert Bighorn Sheep (sheep permits received in 16 of the last 18 years).
- Desert Mule Deer
- Collared Peccary (Javelina)
- Scaled (Blue) Quail
- Gambleâs Quail
- Mearns Quail (Texasâ season is closed)
- Whitewing Dove
- Mourning Dove
- Collared Dove
- Transient ducks in small numbers
Non-game species and rescue animals
- Wild Burros
- Alpacas & Llamas
- Prairie Dogs (6-Dog Towns)
Â Predators (not hunted, seemingly in healthy balance)
- Mountain Lion
- Chupacabra (alleged)
Birds of interest
- Transient waterfowl including ducks, curlew, seagulls
- Many songbirds
- Golden Eagles (many pairs nest in the ranchâs cliffs)
- Great Horned Owls
- Many other raptors
- Migratory Swallows (hundreds nest at HQ)
- Mexican Freetail Bats (the Carlsbad bat populations feed and roost on and around the ranch)
Water on the Circle Ranch comes from a perched aquifer of shallow abundant sweet water.Â Most wells are only 60 feet deep with one well being 1,200 feet deep.Â Seven of the wells have electricity from Rio Grande Electric with submersible pumps and two are solar.Â Widespread electricity over the ranch provides opportunities to pump water to high, elevated storage where it gravity feeds to the more than 200 water troughs.Â Â Â
- 50 storage structures
- 1-40,000-gallon tank doubles as swimming pool: very beautiful site and very cold water
- 200 plus waterers
- 15-miles of quail lines in desert, north and Rock Water Hole pastures
- 60-miles (estimated) pipeline
- 10-wells in service plus 1-well awaiting recompletion.
Sources of income
- Bighorn Permits
- Deer Hunts
- Pronghorn Hunts
- NRCS Subsoil Contracts
- Future Radio Tower Leases
- Grass Insurance
- Conveyed minerals are significant
- Almost all 50 sections are Mineral Classified, Free Reserve or Fee
Other Significant Features
- âMost important cave dwelling in far-West Texasâ according to Dr. Bob Malouf, former Chairman of Anthropology at Sul Ross State University.
- 80 x 80 x head-high cave
- The excavation is entirely under ranch control and currently suspended. It will require decades to complete.
- Recipient of National Geographic grants.
- Over 40 years, the excavation has produced extensive Pleistocene artifacts including
5 radio carbon charcoal dates (Arizona State University) that appear to predate earliest presumed human presence in North America by 25,000 years.
- Several unexplored caves.
- Many Native American campsites with grind holes and fire remains.
- Cornucopia Silver Mine shaft
- US Geological Survey markers
- Burch Carson inscription â Carson was a renowned Bighorn Sheep Inspector who explored Circleâs mountains 70-years ago.
Access and Area Amenities
- Circle Ranch has easy access compared to most far-West Texas ranches
- 6-miles north of IH10 on a county-maintained gravel road.
- Accessible from north via Sierra Blanca
- Exit # 129, Allamoore is at American Talc which is clearly visible to first time arrivals at all times of day and brightly lit at night
- Fuel and mechanical services are available at Sierra Blanca 20-miles west, and Van Horn 11-miles east.
- Driving times from Exit 129: El Paso 1:30; Marfa 1:30, Midland 2:40; Santa Fe 6:00, San Antonio 6:15
- From Allamoore Exit 129, there is no stoplight or stop sign west to Santa Monica or east to Jacksonville
Commercial aircraft access
- Only 100-miles from El Paso, Circle ranch has unique accessibility compared to other West Texas ranches
- HQ is less than two hours from El Paso International Airport
- El Paso International Airport is served by Allegiant Air, American Airlines, American Eagle, Delta Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Express
- Nonstop service to and from Las Vegas, Oakland, San Diego, Orlando, Dallas-Fort Worth, Dallas-Love, Chicago-O’Hare, Los Angeles, Phoenix-Sky Harbor, Atlanta, Denver, Austin, Houston-Hobby, Houston-Intercontinental, San Antonio
- 200 miles from Midland International Airport
Private aircraft access
- South gate is 30-minutes from the Culberson County Airport in Van Horn.
- 6,000-foot main runway
- 5,600-foot cross-wind landing strips
- ADF and GPS approaches
- Sells low-lead and Jet-A fuel
- Can take a loaded C-130; G-4’s and G-5’s
- Any aircraft can land at Van Horn without violating insurance provisions, allowing use of time-shared airplanes
- Van Horn has good, abundant (1,200) hotel rooms for pilots
Nearby town of Van Horn
- A small town with pharmacy, schools, hardware, grocery, auto parts, Dollar General, and other amenities
- Circle Ranch owns a nice Foremanâs House and adjacent vacant lot in Van Hornâs best subdivision, across from the Van Horn Hospital.
- Van Horn Hospital, has a good emergency room and helipad; Bezosâs organization has upgraded this facility.
- Carlsbad Caverns
- Guadalupe National Park
- Historic Fort Davis
- Big Bend National Park
- Big Bend Ranch State Park
The ranch has one of the best ranch staff teams in West Texas with a long history of operating and caring for this amazing ranch and its owners.Â Cooking, cleaning, gardening, equipment driving, guiding, water system management, dirt work, and cowboying, all under the guidance of an excellent foreman.Â Itâs a family of workers dedicated to making any owners use of the ranch seamless and enjoyable.
The Ranch is offered with all the operational equipment, tools, equipment, vehicles, and livestock.