Sunday, April 29, 2012

Balmorhea TX and the Davis Mountains…

Fort Davis National Historic Site

Davis MountainsWe arrived in Balmorhea State Park on Friday afternoon and even though the beautiful desert spring fed pool is closed we decided we will enjoy our stay here anyway. Why is it closed? Because a few tourists complained to the park staff that they were bitten by something unknown and it caused their skin to itch… You have to be kidding!!!

Chihuahuan desert belowWith the hot daytime temperatures we hoped to enjoy swimming in the pool but instead it can now only be seen behind a large locked chain link fence. There seems no real reason to close this beautiful spring fed pool so perhaps they should have simply posted a warning sign to all tourists that they may encounter nature at the pool and nature may bite them… Afterall they haven't closed the nearby Chihuahuan desert because of some Fort Davis National Historic Siteunknown biting creatures there – and there are plenty of them I can assure you… Well, enough ranting and on to what else this area has to offer.

The Chihuahuan desert is a special place to me since it was in this desert that I made many backpacking excursions during the Christmas break in many of my working years. Our first night here was no exception as I breathed in the crisp dry and relatively uncontaminated desert air… while listening to the sounds of the vermillion flycatcher and the the house finches nearby.

Fort Davis National Historic SiteWe took in the desert landscape where the cacti meets the mountain and wins… The gnarly desert mountains rise up from the Chihuahuan desert and provide the perfect backdrop for the impending sunsets to come. Our first sunset here was grand albeit not as spectacular as some that remain to be seen but the lengthening shadows on the craggy mountaintops provided some dramatic compositions on the vast landscape south of us.

scenic 75 mile loopSaturday’s journey was a 130 plus mile drive including a scenic 75 mile loop encompassing much of what the Davis Mountains has to offer. Leaving Balmorhea and heading south we drove to Fort Davis, a small western town with little to offer other than an interesting court house and a historic jail house. Next we stopped at Fort Davis National Historic Site where we saw a movie and took a self guided tour where we learned the history of the Buffalo Soldiers and visited buildings they left behind… More scenic driving through the foothills of the Aoudad SheepDavis Mountains where we saw an introduced species, Aoudad Sheep, also known as Barbary sheep or Aoudad Goat, which are native to the Desert Mountains of the Sahara region,


McDonald Observatory.

As we ascended the mountains the desert grasslands began to give way to Sharon in the Davis Mountains TX junipers and piñon pines. Then the sporadic ponderosa pine started to appear as we neared the 8,378' Mt. Livermore, which is the second highest mountain in Texas and home to the McDonald Observatory. We drove up to the top and took a free self guided tour of one of the telescopes and watched a brief movie about its development.

Then it was time to begin descending the Davis Mountains until we spotted the Davis Mountains State Park. This would be a nice stop for an  Indian Lodge RV as there are a couple of highlights: the Indian Lodge and skyline drive. The Indian Lodge was built by the (CCC) during the early 1930s and if you have ever seen anything they built you would be impressed. They also built a rode called skyline drive which provides a stunning panorama of miles and miles of Texas…

Great Day…  Great Drive… Sunday we will move over to the Guadalupe Mountains National Park for a while to take in a couple of nice hikes…

fires in the MTsNote: There has been several fires in the Davis Mountains that have not been contained. With the dry air and winds they have had to evacuate some residents of the Davis Mountains. The picture at left shows the smoke from the fires as seen from our campsite. Sad to see such a site and we hope no one gets injured in these fires.


  1. You had another interesting day trip in the Texas wilderness.

  2. I've always wondered at folks who say Texas is a long boring ride over nothing. I guess they don't know where to look!

  3. Perhaps the problem at the pool is swimmer's itch. That can be pretty unpleasant, I know first hand.

  4. Terrible news about the pool. People are sometimes ridiculous!
    We loved the Davis Mt. area. Stayed there a few days in March. So sorry you didn't stay for the Night Star Gazing party. It was one of the exciting things we have done. They put on a terrific educational program. Safe travels.

  5. I, too, am unhappy about the pool being closed. I remember that being the main attraction. Thanks for taking me back to the beautiful Davis Mountains. We also stayed for the star party and loved it, even though it was mighty cold.

  6. We spent 2 months in Texas this year and you are showing us things we still haven't seen, guess we'll have to spend some more time in Texas, so much more to see!

  7. Certainly agree with you that they should leave it up to the visitors whether they want to take a chance with a swim or not. Just post the situation and let people decide. So sorry to hear about the fires. Hope the smoke isn't too bad where you are.

  8. When I was there in March, I thought I saw a sign about them closing the pool in April or May for a scheduled annual cleaning. I wonder how they go about that, they must have to divert the natural spring water somewhere else. What do they do with all of the water in the pool???

  9. We heard that it was a skin rash and there was some concern about chemical pollution.

  10. We feel the same way as you towards the closing of the natural pool. A sign posted warning you should be enough, then each and every person can make up their own minds.

    Love the area you are in, I know we would enjoy it there.

    Don't forget to vote for us,

    Kevin and Ruth

  11. In the late 70s, my husband and his brother (NC guys) had just moved to Houston. They had a sailboat and saw Balmorhea Lake on the map. So here they go, driving 500+ miles across TX towing a sailboat. You can imagine the looks they got along the way, only to discover, when they arrived, that it was a swimming lake!

  12. I realize those are forsbobet doggies but I would be hard pressed not to eat one ;)

  13. Great trip. We love the area. I was just researching to see what the ware bug situation was at the springs. We stopped and swam there about 3 years ago after a backpacking trip. We are not afraid of a bug or two. However we swam and dove for a couple of hours and got bit by these water bugs and it was a complete nightmare. Thousands of Bites all over the body. Highly itchy and it lasted for two weeks. They had warning signs which we blew off as being no big deal. It was a big deal. I love the springs but it is not worth it if the bugs are still active.