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Title: Trans-Pecos  
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Subject: Southwestern United States, Texas, List of counties in Texas, Trans-Pecos, Allium coryi
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Arid Region
Ocotillo in the Chihuahuan Desert of the Trans-Pecos
Country  United States
State  Texas
Highest point
 - location Guadalupe Peak
 - elevation 2,667 m (8,750 ft)
 - coordinates
Lowest point
 - location Pecos - Rio Grande Confluence
 - elevation 300 m (984 ft)
 - coordinates
Area 31,479 sq mi (81,530 km2)
Population 856,187 (2010)
Density 27 / sq mi (10 / km2)
Website: Handbook of Texas: Trans-Pecos
Rio Grande valley in the Big Bend area

The Trans-Pecos, as originally defined in 1887 by the Texas geologist Robert T. Hill, is the portion of Texas that lies west of the Pecos River.[1] The term is considered synonymous with "Far West Texas", a subdivision of West Texas.[2] The Trans-Pecos is part of the Chihuahuan Desert, the largest desert in North America. It is the most mountainous and arid portion of the state, and most of its area (outside of the city of El Paso) is vast and sparsely populated, comprising seven of the ten largest counties by area in Texas. The area is well known for the natural beauty of the Big Bend, and has one of the highest proportions of publicly owned land in the continental US.[3]


The Trans-Pecos region consists of nine counties: Brewster, Culberson, El Paso, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Pecos, Presidio, Reeves, and Terrell counties (See table below). Brewster County, the largest, has a land area of 6,193 sq mi (16,040 km2). To put this figure in perspective, consider that the land area of Brewster County is approximately 10% larger than the entire state of Connecticut, yet it has a population density of only 1.4 persons per square mile compared to the 723 persons per square mile that reside in Connecticut. However, Brewster County is not the least populated of the nine counties that comprise the Trans-Pecos. Terrell County, which borders both the Pecos River and the Rio Grande, is the least populated county in the Trans-Pecos region. According to the United States Census of 2000, Terrell County had a total population of 984 residents occupying a land area of 2,358 sq mi (6,107 km2) resulting in a population density of less than 0.5 persons per square mile.

The Trans-Pecos is a region of extremes, and at the opposite extreme from sparsely populated Terrell County is El Paso County, which is the smallest but most populated of the nine counties. El Paso County has a land area of only 1,015 sq mi (2,629 km2), yet it has a population of 800,647 individuals, resulting in a population density of 789 persons per square mile, a value that exceeds the 723 persons per square mile population density of Connecticut.

Overall, the total population of the Trans-Pecos amounts to 856,187 residents occupying an area of 31,479 sq mi (81,530 km2) resulting in a population density of around 27 persons per square mile (10 persons per km2), less than a third of the population density of the state as a whole.

Road transportation

Interstates 10 and 20 are the largest freeways in the Trans-Pecos region. Major federal highways include US Highway 90 and US Highway 67, which are partially co-signed; Highway 90 continues from Alpine east to Del Rio, while Highway 67 runs south from Marfa to the United States-Mexico border at Presidio/Ojinaga, after which it continues as Mexican Federal Highway 16. State Highway 17 begins in Pecos and traverses Balmorhea State Park before joining Route 67 in Marfa, while State Highway 118 begins shortly after the junction of Interstates 10 and 20 near Kent and continues south to Study Butte at the entrance of Big Bend National Park.

See also


  1. ^ Hill, R.T. 1887. The topography and geology of the Cross Timbers and surrounding regions in Northern Texas. The American Journal of Science, 3rd Series, 33:291-303.
  2. ^ Greene, A.C. 1998. Sketches from the five states of Texas. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 176 pp.
  3. ^ Hammond's Complete World Atlas. New York: C.S. Hammond and Company, 1951.

External links

  • Trans-Pecos Geology Resources Walter Geology Library, The University of Texas at Austin
  • Photos of West Texas

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