Wildcat Bluff Discovery Center is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization focused on nature education and providing access to the outdoors. Established in 1992, Wildcat Bluff was dedicated to preserving and conserving the natural areas of the land for aesthetic, scientific, and educational purposes. It would also serve as a natural habitat for wild animals and plants.


With over 650 acres of land, Wildcat Bluff has 7 miles of hiking trails, including an ADA-accessible paved path with informational signage about the history of the area, its geology, and the flora and fauna that can be spotted.



  • 1881
    • Joseph S. Glidden, the inventor of modern barbed wire, sought to further publicize his product. Doing great in the Midwest and based in Illinois, Glidden looked to the south to expand and bought 95 sections of land (about 60,800 acres) in the Texas Panhandle. This became known as Frying Pan Ranch.


  • 1898
      • Glidden transferred ownership of Frying Pan Ranch to his son-in-law, William Henry Bush. Glidden passed away 8 years later, and Bush inherited the land and properties previously owned by him as he had no other heirs. Eventually, Frying Pan Ranch became the Bush Estate and the town of Bushland.


  • 1963
    • With housing developments in Bushland and Bishop Hills surrounding the area now known as Wildcat Bluff, the portion of the West Amarillo Creek running through the land eventually dried up. This was partially due to the surge of mesquite trees that were introduced by cattle. A windmill was added to the land in 1963 to secure a water source for the area’s cattle and other wildlife.
    • In its prime, West Amarillo Creek had a fishing hole where many community members learned where to swim or cool off aside from the local swimming pools. There also used to be a dancefloor for partying during the summer.
    • West Amarillo Creek is one of many historical sites at Wildcat Bluff. What’s now used as the Visitors Center was an old ranch house lived in by one of the original founding board members of Wildcat Bluff, Charlene Barnard, whose father leased the land for close to 50 years. Built in 1963, you can still see remnants of the old home in the bones of the building when you visit.


  • 1992
    • Seeing the housing developments forming, the Bush family wanted to provide a space where people could still access nature amid urban development. Wildcat Bluff Native Habitat was created in 1992. Caroline Bush Emeny, the daughter of William Bush, donated the land.
    • Wildcat Bluff was a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization from the beginning. The contract in which Caroline donated the land outlined that Wildcat Bluff had to preserve and conserve the natural areas of the land for aesthetic, scientific, and educational purposes and serve as a natural habitat for wild animals and plants.


  • 1998
    • Wildcat Bluff Native Habitat started being referred to as Wildcat Bluff Nature Center.
    • The Visitors Center was officially transformed from a house into what we see today. A wrap-around porch was added, and the roof was extended to cover it.


  • 2001
    • Wanting to expand Wildcat Bluff Nature Center as an educational resource, funds were raised to start building the Gilvin Science Education Building and most of the funding came from the Amarillo Area Foundation’s Gilvin Fund. Soon after its construction, Libb’s Trail, an ADA-accessible paved trail behind the Visitors Center, was also created. Libb’s Trail was named by the lead gift donor, Mike Hughes, for his friend Libb Wallace, who had passed in an accident when he was nine years old.


  • 2013
    • The Quanah Parker arrow was added in front of Wildcat Bluff’s Visitor Center in 2013. Part of an art installation series, Quanah Parker Trail is meant to be a road trip compiled for the Texas Plains Trail Region, a 52-county area that takes in both the Panhandle and the Plains of Texas. Every arrow along the trail represents a place with a real or legendary connection to the famous chief, the Comanche, or other Plains Indians. The research plaque was done by Vikram Shaw, who was then a student at Amarillo High School.


  • 2021
    • The Board of Wildcat Bluff Nature Center approached the Don Harrington Discovery Center to discuss a merger of the two organizations. In September 2021, DHDC took over operations of Wildcat Bluff to continue to operate and preserve the nature center for many years to come.


Wildcat Bluff Discovery Center’s Gilvin Science Education Building has an extensive collection of taxidermied and preserved specimens, including mammals, insects, reptiles, geology specimens, and fossils.


Part of the Texas Heritage Trails tourism program started by the Texas Historical Commission, Wildcat Bluff also has several archaeological sites along its trails. Labeled with informational signage, visitors can do self-guided hikes and go at their own pace or look into Guided Hikes highlighting these spots. 

In its Visitor Center, multiple live animals are displayed as examples of what can be found in the area and are used for educational purposes.



Wildcat Bluff Discovery Center currently has eight trails: Libb’s Trail, Tascosa Trail, Lower Bluff Trail, Upper Bluff Trail, Windmill Trail, Wild Kitten Loop, Gnarly Mesquite Trail, and the Ranch Road. Altogether, the hiking trails total just under 7 miles of pathways.


See also

Joseph Glidden

Barbed wire

Frying Pan Ranch

Bushland, Texas

West Amarillo Creek

Texas Heritage Trails program

Quanah Parker Trail

Don Harrington Discovery Center