Driving north from I-10 across lower desert ranchland, one can see an amazing escarpment approaching with the county road heading up to higher elevations. At the front gate where there is a wonderful transformation from desert into 5,000 foot lush grassland. The entire western and southern boundaries are steep rocky rims, falling 500 feet and creating spectacular views of area mountains including the Franklins, Organs, Cornudas, Guadalupes, Quitmans and distant mountains into New Mexico and Old Mexico.
Ranch on Top has been reconfigured to its original acreage of 45,393 acres. Historically this ranch leased the adjoining University lands of 108,000 acres and has been a working headquarters for a huge cattle operation. An 8,400 by 100 foot paved runway is next to the Headquarters with two cross caliche and grass strips of 4,500 and 5,000 feet. Alamo Canyon and several canyons cut into the ranch boundary, providing excellent habitat for mule deer and other game and non-game animals. Ranch on Top is very usable and accessible while still having mountain views and scenic vistas.
Ranch on Top is just that, a ranch on top of a high desert plateau of yucca grasslands and steep rims and vegetated canyon heads. This vast ranch lies in an elevation range between 4,250 and 5,182 feet, allowing for a mix of vegetation from the mid-high Chihuahuan Desert such as Spanish dagger, yucca, sotol, and cholla with dominant grassland of blue grama, sideoats grama, black grama, tobosa, bear grass, and cane bluestem to broad creosote grass flats and vegetated canyons. One can easily pick out this hidden grassland by just looking at Google Earth where suddenly on top of this impressive escarpment there is lush vegetation that looks very similar to the Marfa Grasslands in Presidio County.
Ranch on Top is an island grassland habitat for a large population of mule deer, Pronghorn, Blue Quail, Mourning Dove, White Wing Dove, javelina, and many other game and non-game species. Rugged canyons next to lush grasslands are perfect to support a very large population of desert mule deer where one can find many trophy class animals. This grassland is known also for some of the highest-scoring Pronghorn. Here you can still find large populations that have not been diminished like many parts of the Trans-Pecos.
The Headquarters, built in the 1970s has numerous houses, buildings, outbuildings, and a trap shooting course, as well as a huge airport and hangar. The following is a list of just some of the buildings:
Guest house and lodge
Workshop and barn
Back-up generator barn
150 x 140 foot hangar with 14 x 60 foot doors
Horse trap and stalls
There are 4 shallow wells and 1 deep well providing water for cattle, wildlife and domestic use. The shallow wells are excellent sweet water from solar pumps and submersible electric pumps. The deep well is 2,100 feet and produces a little saltier water in huge volumes, but adequate for livestock needs on the ranch. There is an additional pump jack well on the Preacher Ranch which is the smaller tract to the east.
Ranch on Top is located in Hudspeth County in the SW corner of the Diablo Plateau and is divided into a large main ranch of 27,002 acres and a smaller separate ranch of 3,545 acres called the Preacher. This ranch was originally put together by Lee Moore from El Paso in the 1930s and is still owned by his daughter and run as a working Cattle operation. This is cattle country at its finest and is a hidden jewel high in the Chihuahuan Desert yucca grasslands with amazing rims and deep incised canyons. Ranch on Top is located on a county road heading north 13.5 miles from I-10 at Fort Hancock. The ranch headquarters is 20 miles from the interstate.
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