The Mills Pecos River Ranch is located between I-10 and Highway 90 a few miles north of the Pandale Road river crossing. From Ozona to the north of the ranch, take paved FM 2083 south for 35 miles, then 6 miles of improved caliche Pandale Road to the property. From Comstock on Highway 90, take paved FM 1024 north to the north end of the ranch. Pandale Road runs through the property for several miles, making access very easy. The location is 45 minutes to Ozona and 1.5 hours to Del Rio. The ranch is located downstream from spring-fed Independence Creek, which changes the entire nature of the Pecos River from a muddy, beleaguered regional river into a clear aquifer supported spring-fed local river that resembles the Devils River to the east.
The Mills Pecos River Ranch has several fords where you can easily drive across the clear flowing waters on natural crossings.
The Mills Pecos River Ranch was first settled by Henry Mills, Sr. in 1923, and today his grandson owns, manages and ranches this unique part of Texas. History abounds on this ranch, as it was once part of the settlement of Pandale where there was a store and nearby post office supporting ranchers in the region. The two story headquarters house was built in 1924 from cut limestone blocks chiseled from cliffs along Howard Draw and hauled by wagons to the building site, creating a classic iconic early Texas home.
The ranch is situated at the convergence of three biologically distinct eco-regions in Texas; the Texas Hill Country to the east, the Chihuahuan Desert to the west, and the subtropical Tamaulipan Brushland to the south, creating one of the most unique wildlife habitats in the state. This working ranch enjoys more than 6 miles of crystal clear spring-fed Pecos River frontage, which provides some of the best recreation water in the country. The ranch fronts the Pecos River on both sides for more than a mile and a half, with three natural crossings making this private stretch for camping, hunting, and fishing unique among most ranches on the Devils and Pecos. Elevation is between 1,600 and 2,122 feet with numerous steep carved wooded limestone canyons, as well as gentle mesa tops. The river is divided between rapids, pools, riffles, deep holes, and wide lakes.
To the first-time visitor, the Pecos River seems almost out of place. What happened to the muddy river you cross on I-10? It’s a clear strong spring-fed flowing river that is beckoning you to swim, fish, canoe, jump into, or just stare at its endless journey as it flows by. On sunny days, it is an oasis of clear blue-green water, rivaling any river in Texas, with views all the way to the bottom of the limestone and gravel bed.
Another interesting aspect of the ranch is the prolific Native American rock middens, shelter caves, rock art, bedrock mortars, and occupation sites. The owner has taken great care in protecting these sites and many remain as if the ancient people who lived here just left.
Tamaulipan Brushland, Hill Country and Chihuahuan Desert habitats are all part of the Mills Pecos River Ranch. From Ocotillo and Sotol, to Live Oak and bull Mesquite woodlands, to Black Brush and Guajillo, the Ranch represents a crossroads of diverse habitats. The property’s browse and grasslands are in excellent condition as the ranch has evolved from a well-managed historic sheep ranch into today’s recreation uses: hunting, fishing, canoeing and just enjoying the scenic beauty. Native grasses, forbs, browse, brush, cacti and trees not only provide excellent habitat for game species such as whitetail deer, turkey, quail, and dove but also for non-game species such as Texas horned lizard, neotropical songbirds, Texas tortoise, Montezuma quail, Rio Grande beaver and native fish species.
The Mills Pecos River Ranch is one the most intact river environments in Texas as outflows from the Edwards Trinity Aquifer support unique streamside habitat such as willow, live oak, hackberry, mesquite, and many riparian plants, including a wide diversity of flowers and blooming cacti. The soils are deep along the river, creating a riverside bench of huge trees and lush grasses and browse.
The combination of river, canyons, topography, browse, and habitat creates a wildlife-rich environment for the hunter and wildlife watcher. From the abundant whitetail deer, Rio Grande turkey, dove, quail, and feral goats to neotropical songbirds, osprey, beaver, butterflies, fox, rabbits, and ringtail cat, the upland and riparian diversity of wildlife is unequaled.
The river itself is an important body of water for the region with its native fish fauna, as well as game fish like small mouth bass, black bass, and catfish. From fly fishing in the shoals and riffles, to bottom fishing the clear deep holes, this ranch is an angler’s dream.
Historic Headquarters House
- Built in 1924 using hand cut limestone blocks
- 4 bedrooms and 2 baths downstairs, 2 bedrooms upstairs
- Large screened back porch
- Two central AC units and zones downstairs
- Living room, dining room, and kitchen
- Huge trees and well-landscaped grounds and yard
- Brick well house and storage
- Manager’s home
- Concrete barn with electricity
- Two sets of working pens
- Several storage sheds and barns
The Ranch has more than 6 miles of frontage on the Pecos River with the entire ownership accessible for fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and tubing. Owning the mile and a half of both sides of the river is rare, creating a private valley where you can enjoy the river with little impact from the outside world. The Lower Pecos River is all private land with limited access for launching canoes. This ranch is perfectly situated for canoeing within its own boundaries or, for the hardy, a place to launch for a multiple overnight paddle to Amistad Lake at Highway 90.
The groundwater under the Mills Pecos River Ranch is very shallow and is part of the Edwards-Trinity or Plateau Aquifer. This abundant source of high quality groundwater is why the river is so clear and strong as outflows from associated springs upstream change the entire character of this stretch of the river.
There are four wells on the ranch, all working and supplying two concrete storage tanks, as well as various water troughs for wildlife and, historically, livestock.