We 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!!!
With 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 unknown 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.
We 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.
Saturday’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 Davis 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,
As we ascended the mountains the desert grasslands began to give way to 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 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…
Note: 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.