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In a world where we are perhaps overly dependent on GPS—focused on getting from point A to point B as quickly and efficiently as possible—I’ve found that simply unfurling a road map and blindly jabbing a finger down on the page just to see what’s there is a surefire way of reopening my mind to the possibilities of exploration and adventure.
When the walk from the living room to the kitchen fridge seems like a long walk, dig into the stories that transport you to the far reaches of the state without ever having to leave the warmth of your armchair.
Earlier this summer, I strapped my aluminum canoe to the top of a friend’s truck and headed west to the Devils River.
If you’ve ventured out to Devils River State Natural Area in Southwest Texas, you know the skies can be awfully dark at night. Now the International Dark Sky Association is recognizing the 37,000-acre property for its relatively unspoiled skies with designation as a “dark sky sanctuary.”
“As Texas’ first International dark-sky sanctuary, Devils River SNA enjoys some of the clearest and starriest night skies in the continental United States,” says Adam Dalton, a program manager with the Arizona-based nonprofit association. “Owing to the area’s commitment to mitigating light pollution, the Devils River serves as a model for dark-sky conservation within the Texas State Parks system.”
The Devils River grows more popular every year as word spreads about its crystal-clear water and spectacular setting. With the increase of paddlers embarking on overnight river trips comes increased tensions with the landowners who own the river’s banks.
Americans are spending less and less time outdoors.
According to recent studies, we spend an average of 93 percent of our lives indoors, and children today spend half as much time playing outside as their parents did.
Bumping along an isolated dirt road in Southwest Texas, we spotted a group of tan spots on a distant hillside striated by limestone ridges. At first glance it looked like nothing but a scattering of rocks among the ocotillo and creosote bushes. In the focus of binoculars, however, the figures took shape as a herd of aoudads.