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  • Candace Ahlfinger

Country Living and Wildlife Just Miles from DFW

My husband and I visited Glen Rose, Texas with our 10-year-old granddaughter as a quick getaway after months of staying home in light of Covid-19. Our requirements for this trip were different than in the past. Our first priority, other than having a great time, was staying away from people which is very different than our usual priorities. And while Glen Rose is less than 2 hours from Dallas, the laidback atmosphere transported us to a much simpler, quieter time to relax and refresh.

We booked a night at Country Woods Inn ( a Bed, Barn, and Breakfast close to the center of town. Don’t get the wrong picture in your head, though. This B, B, & B makes you feel as though you are in the country.

Saddle House Cottage at Country Woods Inn

Country Woods Inn has 11 different overnight venues that offer the perfect fit for a couple or a large group. Each place has its own feel. We stayed in the Saddle House which was the farm’s original mechanics shop. The owners transformed the one-room building into a comfy space with two large comfortable beds, a kitchen, and sitting area. Just outside our door was a grill and fire circle. (Chris, one of the owners, immediately brought us firewood so we could have s’mores that evening, even though we decided later that it was just too hot!) We found thoughtful gestures throughout the cabin such as family videos, games, and even barnyard bingo. Our granddaughter fell in love instantly with the tree swings outside our door. One tree held 7 swings, all of which were a different type. I didn’t even know that many types of tree swings existed!

Our explorations quickly took us to the animals, especially the bunnies. I gave up trying to count all the bunnies, but children, and children at heart, could feed and pet bunnies and ducks of all shapes and sizes. Children were encouraged to name the rabbits. (Our granddaughter’s favorite was dubbed “Graham Cracker” because he reminded her of one of her favorite snacks.) She also made friends with the llama, goats, and sheep which she handfed carrots. (Of course, they convinced us they were starving!)

Feeding the Family-Friendly Llama and Goats

Another advantage of this rustic, fun place is its location on the Paluxy River. We made the short walk several times to wade and swim in the pleasant waters. (Warning: August in Texas means low waters that can host bacteria. Stay clear of stagnant water.) You can also walk along the river to downtown, about 0.5 miles, but the thermometer read over 100° and we decided it was just too hot! We’d love to go back to this quick getaway, especially when it’s only 80° with cooler nights so we can sit around the fire circle.

Paluxy River

Fossil Rim Park gave us another option for social distancing and having fun. We purchased tickets online and were ready for our drive through the park. We had visited before, so we were prepared to ration our bag of food so it would last our entire visit. The self-driving tour was the best social distancing option. As soon as we crossed the first cattleguard our animal experience began as we were greeted by deer…and lots of deer! Axis Deer, European Red Deer, Fallow Deer, and Blackbuck waited hungrily at every turn. The Common Wildebeests, Arabian Oryx, and Aoudad were also on hand at every turn giving us baleful looks as though they hadn’t been fed in years. (Somehow the long line of cars made liars of them, but the animals were still convincing.)

We loved feeding the giraffes that carefully took the food from our hands and gave us great photo ops. We decided that our next visit would be during a cooler time of the year and of the day so the animals were more active. We had good photo ops for zebras, ostriches, emus, and even cheetahs and rhinos during our visit. The casual drive took about 2 hours with a stop at the gift store at the middle of the drive. (Indoor restrooms were closed due to Covid-19, so Port-a-Potties were available at the start and middle of the drive. The café was open for takeout, but the Children’s Petting Area was closed.)

Giraffes Gained a Special Place in our Hearts

Glen Rose holds other kid-friendly activities centered around the Paluxy River including Dinosaur Valley State Park. (You can pay for a day pass or buy a year pass for all Texas State Parks.) We took our bathing suits and water socks and enjoyed the cool water while seeing the dinosaur tracks made 140 million years ago by Acrocanthosaurus as they chased Sauroposeidon for dinner. Thankfully, a helpful local showed us where to find the tracks. (They were marked with ropes, but the ropes were very difficult to see from the bank.) Once we knew what we were looking for we spotted multiple tracks in other areas as we waded and swam. We wished we had brought a picnic to eat while we dipped our feet in the river and enjoyed the shade. We want to visit again when it’s cooler so we can enjoy hiking some of the many trails nearby.

Dinosaur Tracks at Dinosaur Valley State Park

Glen Rose was a fun break from our Coronavirus-induced home stay that gave us a chance to have new experiences while still social distancing. Everyone we met was extremely friendly and helpful in our favorite West Texas way. We can’t wait to go back since there is more to experience again including The Promise, a wonderful outside musical presentation about the life of Jesus, and barbecue that we heard was excellent.

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