Lion Mountain Ranch is comprised of 17,450 acres, some of the most scenic canyonlands in the Davis Mountains of Far West Texas. The ranch was originally patented and settled by S. Powell in the 1870’s then purchased by Josiah Winchester Espy in 1902 for $2 per acre and ranched for over 120 years as the Powell Ranch later purchased in the 1990’s and named Lion Mountain Ranch by its current owners. The Ranch is located on Highway 17 halfway between Balmorhea and Fort Davis just north of Wild Rose Pass and extends west into the wild canyons and mesas of the Davis Mountain with unobstructed views of West Texas mountains and grasslands beyond. It has a very accessible bottom-of-the-canyon main entrance road fronting on Highway 17 that winds up Short Canyon from its junction with Limpia Creek to the headquarters and beyond. This location is very remote and private surrounded by large heritage ranches but only 20 minutes to downtown Ft Davis. Lion Mountain Ranch is very close to area amenities such as the Davis Mountains State Park, Fort Davis National Historic Site, McDonald Observatory, Marfa, and Balmorhea State Park but is also very secluded tucked into the beautiful private valleys created by several canyons, creeks, springs, mountains, and mesas including Star Mesa, one of the area’s most prominent land feature.
17,450 acres in Jeff Davis County.
Lion Mountain Ranch is in the high to mid elevations of the Davis Mountains, a Sky Island of the Chihuahuan Desert with ranch elevations ranging from 4,300 feet to 6,200 feet. Short Canyon, Dry Canyon, and Big Aguja Canyon bisects this high mountain and mesa country creating some of the most scenic bluffs, rocky outcrops, canyons, meadows, huge trees, and mountains in the region. The heads of these canyons and their tributaries, including Bear Canyon and Ojo Grande Spring, create wooded lush riparian habitat and permanent pools of clear spring water surrounded with Big Tooth Maples, Pines, and Madrones. Huge Emory Oaks and groves of Chisos Red Oaks are scattered throughout the beautiful canyons, riddled with caves, bluffs, and rock outcrop palisades. From the high country on the ranch on Star Mesa and other promontories you have stunning views of the canyons below and to other area mountains beyond Ft Davis, Alpine, Marfa, and Marathon. This is rich high grassland and mixed woodlands with an excellent road network that accesses the scenic mountains and highlands. Short Canyon and Aguja Canyon run in the cool wet summers of the high Davis Mountains creating amazing riparian habitats. Lion Mountain, a ridge top feature on the western boundary, is an iconic feature seen from all around the ranch and is where the ranch today gets its name.
This Davis Mountains ranch is dominated by mile high grasslands of Cane Bluestem, Blue Gramma, and Sideoats Gramma with rhyolite palisades mountains studded with Alligator Juniper, Emory Oaks, Chisos Oaks, Cottonwoods, Cherry, Pinion Pines, Ponderosa Pines, Maples, Chinquapin Oaks, Madrones and Grey Oaks. Excellent grasses and Chihuahuan Desert plants provide habitat for the native animals, livestock and the people who live there. Short, Aguja, and Dry Canyon have a rich assemblage of riparian vegetation and huge cliff faces containing rare year-round springs for many wildlife species. The largest of these springs was called Ojo Grande Spring by the Espy family and contains native fish within a crystal-clear pool. This diversity of plants and habitat especially near and around the springs and riparian areas are unequaled in the Davis Mountains.
Because of the diverse habitat with springs, creeks, boulders, trees, grasses, and mountains there is an abundance of game and non-game animals and wildlife on Lion Mountain Ranch. This is big Mule Deer country and a hardy population of Aoudad Sheep make this a hunter’s paradise. The high 6,000-foot mountain mesas and woodlands are home to the Rocky mountain elk where they can be heard bugling in the fall months. There are also smaller animal and bird species found here like Javelina, Fox, Ringtail, Mountain Lion, Zone Tail Hawk, and Montezuma Quail. Native trees, brush, and grasses provide excellent habitat for these species and many native birds and other non-game animals. Wooded wet canyons and lush grasslands provide excellent habitat for migratory songbirds. Black Bear which were hunted out of the Davis Mountain in the 30’s and 40’s are now on the rebound and a number of bear sightings are becoming common in the Davis Mountain Range.
Hidden 4 miles winding up Short Canyon from the entrance is the old Powell Headquarters. Today it’s a remodeled 3br/3bath main ranch home, casita with 2br/1bath, and a 1br/1bath hunters’ cabin. In the fashion of Fort Davis amazing year-round climate there is a “summer house” with kitchen to enjoy and entertain in the great outdoors. Several Barns and equipment sheds round out the complex in a very private valley with views all around being on the ranch. The vast network of roads provided endless adventure and much of the ranch is untouched and ready to be explored. The Ranch has good fencing and several livestock pens.
Lion Mountain Ranch and its canyon systems has abundant ground and surface water with rare year-round springs. Bear Canyon is one of the most beautiful natural settings in the state and during late fall Maples and Oak leaves changes make this a wonderland of color. Ojo Grande Spring at the confluence of Big Aguja Canyon, Second Water Canyon and Dry Canyon is one of the largest springs in the Davis Mountains which starts the live water segment of Big Aguja Canyon running off the property and into T&P Lake on the adjoining ranch which years ago was piped 30 miles away to Toyah to supply water for steam driven trains. A large new lake located near the Headquarters fills up during summer rains and several other tanks, creeks, springs and natural water holes distributes water throughout the ranch. There are three water wells along Short Canyon, one of which is pumped up Star Mountain for wildlife and all supply a variety of water troughs.