Enjoy all of the attractions that Amistad Lake Resort has to give!
67,000 acres of water along 540 miles of U.S. shoreline – this is Lake Amistad, one of the largest, clearest lakes in Texas!Lake Amistad is considered by many to be Del Rio’s biggest draw, offeri… read more
George Paul Memorial Bullriding Superbull takes place in Del Rio every April. This is the largest bullriding event in the United States, drawing folks to participate from all over the country. Su… read more
Whitehead Memorial Museum
The Whitehead Memorial Museum welcomes your visit when you are in West Texas. Unlike many other museums, the Whitehead Memorial Museum’s exhibits are spread throughout several buildings, each in … read more
Birdwatching is a major draw for the Del Rio area, especially in winter, when many species of birds migrate south and settle in Texas and Coahuila. The Del Rio Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation… read more
Val Verde Winery
Val Verde Winery was established in 1883 by Frank Qualia, an Italian immigrant who came to Texas to cultivate land being developed near the Rio Grande. Qualia was the first in Texas to plant Leno… read more
Alamo Village, in nearby Brackettville, is the site of John Wayne’s Alamo and an active movie location open to visitors. The set is located on the Shahan HV Ranch, a working ranch on Highway 647,… read more
Amistad National Recreation Area offers hikers a variety of trails to explore, even though the recreation area was created primarily for water-based recreation… read more
Amistad Dam is the largest of the storage dams and reservoirs built on the international reach of the Rio Grande River. The dam was dedicated in 1969 by United States President Richard M. Nixon… read more
Ciudad Acuna, Mexico
No visit to Del Rio would be complete without a trip to its sister city, Ciudad Acuña. You can hop a bus from Del Rio to the bridge or park at the border if you’d like; from here it’s a quick taxi ride to the city… read more
Native American Pictographs
The Amistad NRA area is home to dramatic 4,000 year-old rock art. These mysterious paintings adorn rock shelter walls in the upper reaches of Amistad Reservoir… read more
Fishing at Lake Amistad, Del Rio, Texas
67,000 acres of water along 540 miles of U.S. shoreline – this is Lake Amistad, one of the largest, clearest lakes in Texas!Lake Amistad is considered by many to be Del Rio’s biggest draw, offering acres of blue glass on the Texas/Mexico border. The lake is part of Amistad Recreation Area, managed by the National Park Service. It is fed by the Pecos, Rio Grande, and Devil’s River; limestone deposits and solid earth lend the water an extraordinary clarity and deep turquoise quality.
Amistad is the Spanish word for “friendship,” and certainly the two countries building the lake felt the tie of friendship. In fact, the U.S. and Mexico had two bronze eagles placed at the center of the international dam to evoke the spirit of cooperation between the two countries. Formed in the 1960s, the lake and dam were originally conceived as a reservoir and power plant with an eye toward recreational use. The Acuña flood of 1954 was still fresh in the minds of many, and so the dam was also a method of flood control. While the lake still serves all these purposes, recreation is now its primary use.
Amistad Recreation Area attracts people internationally not just for boating and houseboating, but also camping, waterskiing and wakeboarding, nature hikes, and especially fishing. The lake holds several variations of bass, catfish, sunfish, and gar, not to mention various other fish species. Lake Amistad is known as one of the best bass lakes in the country; with warm weather nine months out of the year, Amistad can be fished when other lakes have little to offer. Tournaments are held here several times a year, with anglers catching bass weighing eight pounds and more on a regular basis. Notably, the big bass for 2006 weighed in at over 15 pounds.
Rodeo in Del Rio, Texas
George Paul Memorial Bullriding Superbull takes place in Del Rio every April. This is the largest bullriding event in the United States, drawing folks to participate from all over the country. Superbull attracts not just diehard rodeo fans but members of Congress and even Olympic athletes.
The Superbull event is named in memory of George Paul, who was born and grew up in Del Rio. Sadly, he was killed in an airplane accident in 1970 at the age of 23, ending what many in pro rodeo believe could have been the greatest professional bull riding career of all time.
The 2002 Superbull marked 25 years of George Paul Memorial Bullriding. Past champions have included Denny Flynn, Lane Frost, Cody Lambert, Tuff Hedeman and Jerome Davis. The Paul family produces the Superbull each year at the Val Verde County Fairgrounds.
Bad Company Rodeo is known for being the first rodeo production team to use rock music as part of the show, and that tradition has not changed. BadCo still rocks the house every September at the Dále Gas Pro Rodeo. Dále Gas is Spanish for “give it the gas,” and that’s exactly what happens – BadCo stomps that pedal and revs the crowd. Del Rioans gather at the Val Verde County Fairgrounds to watch some of the finest bullriders, steer ropers, barrel racers, and bucking broncos in the world. A highlight of the show is a daredevil motorcycle jump over the BadCo trailer by Troy “The Wild Child” Lerwill. Rodeo clowns, a children’s calf chase, and rock and roll round out the weekend.
Whitehead Memorial Museum
The museum is dedicated to serving Del Rio and preserving its local heritage.
The Whitehead Memorial Museum welcomes your visit when you are in West Texas. Unlike many other museums, the Whitehead Memorial Museum’s exhibits are spread throughout several buildings, each in itself of historical significance. The museum is dedicated to serving Del Rio and preserving its local heritage.
The Whitehead Memorial Museum was begun forty years ago. In 1962, the Whiteheads, a local ranching family, purchased the vacant Perry Mercantile Building and donated it to the city of Del Rio and Val Verde County to house a museum. Since that time, the museum has expanded into twenty-one exhibits on more than two acres of land.
Among the attractions are a replica of Judge Roy Bean’s Jersey Lilly Saloon; an authentic frontier log cabin; and the Cadena Nativity, recognized by the state of Texas as cultural folk art. The gift shop is located in a former mission. On the grounds are the graves of Judge Bean and his son, Sam.
A special kids’ monthly campout features storytelling around a campfire and breakfast. The museum is available for events with full wedding, party, and event coordination.
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 9:00 am-4:30 pm; Sunday 1:00-5:00 pm. Call for more information on special events.
Winter birdwatching in Del Rio and Coahuila
Birdwatching is a major draw for the Del Rio area, especially in winter, when many species of birds migrate south and settle in Texas and Coahuila. The Del Rio Chamber of Commerce, in cooperation with the Texas Department of Parks & Wildlife, maintains a checklist of the birds in the vicinity; there is also a birdwatching tour once a month.
In addition, the city of Del Rio has an area set aside just for birdwatching. Named Laguna de Plata, this 70-acre plot of grassland and marsh is a favorite spot for waterfowl and wintering birds. Laguna de Plata is open daily from dawn to dusk.
DEL RIO SUGGESTED BIRDING LOCATIONS
Amistad National Recreation Area/Lake Amistad
• Spur 454 – San Pedro Campground: Good for desert birds; very good for migrating and wintering sparrows. Good for butterflies in season. • Spur 406: Good for desert birds; in summer use spotting scope for Interior least terns over Lake Amistad. Good for butterflies in season. • Hunt Area 1: Great for desert birds. Hunters may be present during certain times of the year; call National Park Service at (830) 775-7491 for hunting status. Located on west side of Highway 90 West, just beyond bridge over Lake Amistad. Park on highway side of railroad tracks in front of locked gate and pass-through. • Bosque along the Rio Grande below Amistad Dam: Very good for riparian birds. Open by guided tour only – check with the National Park Service (830) 775-7491 for schedule.
• Calderon Elementary School Nature Trail: Good for upland desert birds. • Duck Ponds: Good for aquatic birds. • River Road: (Follow Vega Verde Road past Gravel Pits to dead end) • Laguna de Plata: (on Garza Lane) Good for wintering waterfowl and winter grassland sparrows. • South Del Rio near Winery: (Valenti Street and River Street, off Nicholson, and Guyler Lane off Qualia Drive) Good for migrating warblers, green and blue jays.
Val Verde Winery in Del Rio
Val Verde Winery was established in 1883 by Frank Qualia, an Italian immigrant who came to Texas to cultivate land being developed near the Rio Grande. Qualia was the first in Texas to plant Lenoir grapes; he began making wine for family and friends and soon went commercial. After his death, his son, Louis Qualia, took over the vineyards, introducing the Herbemont grape to Texas in 1933.
Today, the winery is the full-time occupation of third-generation vintner Thomas Qualia. Qualia remains mindful of the hard work and wisdom that preceded him and holds fast to the promise to give Val Verde wines an excellent variety and quality. Many of his wines have garnered acclaim from wine connoisseurs, particularly his Don Luis Tawny Port, which has won awards from Houston to New York.
2006 marks Val Verde Winery’s 123rd year of continuous winemaking. It is the oldest bonded winery in the state of Texas and the only winery operating in Texas from the late 1950s to the 1970s. Val Verde Winery recently received the Land Heritage Award from the Department of Agriculture for single-family ownership of the vineyards for over 110 years.
Wines currently produced at Val Verde Winery:
Chardonnay • Sauvignon Blanc • Muscat Canelli • Texas Rosé Cabernet Sauvignon • Merlot • Sangiovese • Tawny Port
Val Verde Winery is located at 100 Qualia Drive. Visitors enjoy a free tour and wine tasting. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
For more information or shipping details:
Val Verde Winery 100 Qualia Drive Del Rio, TX 78840
Site of John Wayne’s Alamo
Alamo Village, in nearby Brackettville, is the site of John Wayne’s Alamo and an active movie location open to visitors. The set is located on the Shahan HV Ranch, a working ranch on Highway 647, seven miles north of Brackettville, Texas. Host to movies beginning in 1951, the set has proven versatile enough to serve in over 200 productions over the years, including such classics as Lonesome Dove and Two Rode Together. Roy Rogers, James Stewart, and Charlton Heston are among the stars who have made movies here.
The Alamo Village is the largest and most complete outdoor set in the United States, boasting the only replica of the Alamo in the world. This 1836 town includes over thirty full-scale buildings and period furniture as well as the John Wayne Western Museum. A cantina serves up fine food and dancing, and three gift shops offer quality jewelry and western memorabilia.
The ranch hosts special events throughout the year. The Alamo Village Trail Ride takes place twice a year, giving guests the chance to participate in an authentic Texas longhorn cattle drive. For the Gunfighters Competition, groups come from all over the nation each July for a showdown in the streets and prizes for dress and performance. Labor Day weekend sees the annual Cowboy Horse Races, with live music, trail rides, and a barbeque dinner among its highlights.
The ranch is also available for parties, tours, and receptions; treats can range from cowboy poets and trail rides to trick roping and mariachi bands. Each event is personalized for groups as small as 15 and as large as 1500.
Hiking Amistad National Recreation Area trails
Amistad National Recreation Area offers hikers a variety of trails to explore, even though the recreation area was created primarily for water-based recreation.
Two short nature trails, at the Pecos River Picnic Area, and just east of the Diablo East Ranger Station, have interpretive signs identifying common plants. The new Sunrise Trail is 2.1 miles long and connects the park Visitor Center and San Pedro Campground.
Other informal hiking options exist. Visitors can walk the shoreline, and the park’s Hunt Areas are open to the public year-round. Hikers will only encounter hunters during hunting seasons.
Be sure to have a copy of Amistad NRA’s Official Map and Guide, which shows the park’s boundaries, since hiking on adjacent private land is not permitted.
Hiking Safety Tips
- Always carry enough water (1 gallon per person per day).
- Hike during cooler hours of the day.
- Always use sunscreen and wear protective clothing.
- The landscape is full of plants with thorns; wear heavy-soled hiking boots.
- Watch out for venomous snakes. If you encounter a snake do not make any sudden movements. Stop, then slowly back away from it. Do not kill the snake. Snakes are protected by federal law, and play a very important part in the desert ecosystem.
- If you plan to hike alone, always let somebody know where you are going and when you will return.
- Take only pictures, leave only footprints. All things inside National Park Service boundaries, living and non-living, are protected by federal law. The removal of plants, animals, artifacts, rocks, etc. is prohibited.
Amistad international dam
Amistad Dam is the largest of the storage dams and reservoirs built on the international reach of the Rio Grande River. The dam was dedicated in 1969 by United States President Richard M. Nixon and Mexico President Diaz Ordaz.
The primary purpose for which Amistad Dam was constructed is flood control and water conservation storage for the benefit of the United States and Mexico. The dam is 6.1 miles (10 km) long, stands 254 feet (77.4 meters) above the riverbed and consists of a concrete gravity spillway section within the river canyon flanked by earth embankments. The dam has sixteen (16) spillway gates capable of releasing 1,500,000 cubic feet (42,670 cubic meters) per second. The dam is operated and maintained jointly by the United States and Mexico Sections of the IBWC. The reservoir impounded by the dam extends up the Rio Grande River approximately 75 miles has a surface area of 65,000 acres (26,300 hectares) and a volume of 3,124,260 acre feet (3,886,578,000 cubic meters) at conservation elevation of 1117.00 feet (340.460 meters) above mean sea level.
Ciudad Acuna, Mexico
City of Acuna, Coahuila, Mexico
No visit to Del Rio would be complete without a trip to its sister city, Ciudad Acuña. You can hop a bus from Del Rio to the bridge or park at the border if you’d like; from here it’s a quick taxi ride to the city.
Acuña is a shopper’s delight thanks to its many stores along Hidalgo Street. Don’t miss Indio Boots with a huge selection of western boots in various leathers and hides. The city makes it easy to start holiday shopping early with a wide selection of handmade fine leather goods to crafts tempt shoppers looking for unique gift items.
Don’t worry about shopping ’til you drop: you’ll find plenty of restaurants and bars in this area, too. A must-do is Crosbys, known for its Tex-Mex food, steaks, seafood, and fish from nearby Lake Amistad. Other popular stops include La Macarena Restaurant Bar, built in 1942, Amigo’s Pub, serving Mexican dishes and seafood, and Panchos, both a bar and an expansive shop.
For nightlife fun, The Corona Club features both country and rock music and visitors can dance the night away on the outdoor patio. And don’t be surprised if the club looks familiar; you might just recognize it as the set for Robert Rodriquez’s El Mariachi and Desperado movies.
Native American Pictographs
Rock art in Amistad NRA caves
The Amistad National Recreation Area is home to dramatic 4,000 year-old rock art. These mysterious paintings adorn rock shelter walls in the upper reaches of Amistad Reservoir. Boaters can usually access Panther and Parida Caves (depending on lake level), and hikers can go on a guided tour at nearby Seminole Canyon State Park and Historic Site.
Once known as Painted Caves Station, was a welcome stop for travelers riding on the Southern Pacific’s transcontinental railroad in the 1880’s and early 1890’s. Though the station was only open for nine years, from 1883 to 1892, travelers had already painted graffiti over and adjacent to the prehistoric pictographs at the site.
NPS excavations in 1967 revealed that, though horribly looted, the site still had deeply stratified and well-preserved archeological materials, portions of which date back more than 5,000 years. Today, Parida Cave’s expansive interior features more than 300 feet of designated trails, interpretive signage, a boat dock, and an unparalleled opportunity to experience the sights and sounds of a remote prehistoric rock shelter.
Panther Cave is the region’s most famous pictograph site. The rear wall of the shelter is covered, floor-to-ceiling, with hundreds of motifs which collectively form an uninterrupted panel more than eighty feet in length. The namesake of the site, a giant red-painted mountain lion or panther, is over ten feet long from nose to the tip of the tail. To reach Panther Cave boaters should launch at the Pecos River boat ramp; the boat ride is about twenty miles round trip. From the boat dock at Panther Cave, visitors climb a sixty-foot steel staircase up to the rockshelter.
A steel fence and an elevated catwalk limits where visitors can walk and helps reduce potential damage to vegetation and buried archeological remains. The steel fence, designed to maximize photographic vantage points, was completed in 1996 by the NPS. Unobtrusive interpretive panels provide visitors with information about the pictographs, the prehistoric cultures that once lived in the reservoir basin, and the need to protect and preserve Panther Cave as well as to the other sites in the region.