The Dalton Gang Ranch
Jon and Dusty Ayres started constructed the Ayres Ranch house in the 1980s at a cost of approximately $1,000,000. They purchased the land from the State of Texas, including Executive Mineral Rights. We bought it in October 2016 because it is such a unique property and completely off-grid. The monolithic house is constructed of three super insulated, heavily steel reinforced concrete domes buried under 13’ of dirt, includes over 4,000 square feet of living area. The south facing surfaces are covered with beautiful river rock. The foundation is a steel reinforced concrete ring beam. Vertical steel bars are imbedded in the ring beam footing, then attached up into the steel reinforcing of the dome itself. The rock work is exquisite from the patterns on the exteriors walls to the landscaping. There are two large patios with pavers. The east patio with recessed lighting has rock walls surrounded by oleanders and figs. It is the main entry into the house with a gated entry and a 6” solid wood front door. There is a monumental rock that is 4’ high and 7’ wide. Twin grinding holes have been hollowed out in the top of the rock. Sometime in the past, lightning struck the rock cleaving it into two. The west patio is covered and has rock columns, also with pavers. There is an outdoor wood burning built-in cook pit. The 16’ by 60’ long insulated glass sunroom spans the entire length of the front of the house. With the high ceilings and large windows, it makes the interior bright as well as cool. There is even a Japanese soaking tub. The sunroom has a large room that has the entry into the house and a smaller room. Again, there are beautiful rock walls. The floor in this area is Saltillo tile and Mexican pavers. There are exterior doors to the main room and two bedrooms, all gated. All doorways are wheelchair accessible. The house is completely self-sustaining with solar, propane, and a well. The water is pumped by a windmill. Good water is located 100’ down and the well is drilled down to 165’ bottom. The well is cased to the bottom with two 10’ strainers. Well pipe is 3 ¾” cast iron topped with a 16’ Aeromotor-Chicago windmill which keeps the 60,000 gallon concrete storage tank full. The tank is about 100’ above the house which gives adequate gravity pressure for the house, RV, garden and trees. There is also a back-up pressure tank. A new septic tank was installed in 2012.
Explore the House
When you enter the main dome, you will see the soaring 42’ ceiling with a huge skylight. All the floors are Saltillo tile. There are living and dining areas in the great room. Because there is a wall of windows looking into the sunroom, it is bright and sunny. There is a large kitchen with plenty of cabinets and open shelving. It has a separate cook room which traps and vents off heat from the propane stove. A Sunfrost refrigerator/freezer runs off DC current so it uses little electricity. A front loader washing machine is in the kitchen. Next to the kitchen is the office area with an open beamed ceiling. The living room is wired for the satellite dish which provides TV, telephone and Internet service. There is also a LAN telephone. It has a DC ceiling fan. Above the kitchen and office areas, is a loft with two bedroom, each with a closet. The coat closet, staircase, and both ground floor bedrooms have unique hand carved doors. From the living area, you enter the second (26’) dome. All the solar equipment is kept in this room. There is a full bath with double custom sinks, tankless water heater, and propane clothes dryer. This dome has a skylight for the two bedrooms. Each bedroom has a full bath with unique tubs/showers, custom sinks and closets. One bedroom has a DC ceiling fan. From the kitchen, you will go through a short passage way into the third dome (20’). It is completely lined with shelves and has a concrete floor. It maintains a 75-78 degree F temperature year round. Large date palms are in front of the house, and smaller ones line each side of the house. Oleanders and figs are scattered throughout. Below the house is a large garden area with a drip irrigation system on timers. The garden has 16 beds – 4’ wide x 16’ long each. They were made about 3’ deep and layered topsoil. The bed is lined with rocks. Below the garden is a fully insulated 40” long shed. It has rolling doors on both ends and a concrete floor. There is also a side entrance. Below the shed are the hook ups for a RV with electrical, water and sewer hookups.
There are 399 acres of land (all surveyed) surrounded by mountains on all sides. The sunsets and sunrises are spectacular. Because there is practically no ground light, the stars are vivid, even being able to see the Milky Way. It is bordered on the entire west by the Sierra Madres Mountains of Mexico, on the northeast by the Colorado Mountains, and on the southeast by the Chinati Mountains. It is at a 3,400’ elevation. The official description is South half of Section 44, D&P Block 2; Presidio County, Texas (official Texas State survey by Malcolm Bamburg 6/29/1992). It is located 700 miles west of Houston. It is also three miles from the Rio Grande River (as a bird flies), the northern border of Mexico’s Frontier Provinces. Sited in the lower Chihauhau Desert, called home by traditional Apache Indians, between the Chinati and Sierra Madre mountains, it settles back into a south facing hill. Section 44 has a complete New Zealand high tencel wire perimeter fence which excludes domestic livestock but allows wildlife to pass freely.
The Ranch is located approximately 5 miles northeast of Highway 170 from Ruidosa, TX. The Ruidosa General Store has all the staples, refrigerated and frozen foods, wine and beer, and ice. The owner also makes unique leather products, all from hand, available for sale. The store is open 7 days a week.
The Chinati Hot Springs are located east of the Ranch. There are comfortable accommodations and a community kitchen for you to enjoy both the hot springs and the swimming pool. It is 37 miles from Ruidosa to Presidio, TX where there are multiple department stores, a larger grocery store, hardware stores, post office, and county offices. There is also a medical clinic and pharmacy. Presidio is 60 miles south of Marfa, TX, the county seat for Presidio County.
The drive on Highway 170 from Presidio to Lajitas is one of the top ten most scenic drives in the United States. The Rio Grand River meanders along the border with Mexico.
There are several outfitters for river trips, hiking and horseback riding. Lajitas Spa Resort has a golf course, high end restaurants and bars, multiple types of accommodations, and a RV park. East of Lajitas is Study Butte with hotels, RV parks, and restaurants, and Terlingua, home of the famed Chili Cook-off in November. East of that is the Big Bend National Park which is beautiful from the Santa Elena canyon to the highland meadows covered with snow in the winter. Continue north from Study Butte for 80 miles to Alpine, TX, the county seat for Brewster County.