Winter in the Davis Mountains

Moon rising over the Davis Mountains as seen from Skyline Drive, Davis Mountains State Park
Moon rising over the Davis Mountains as seen from Skyline Drive, Davis Mountains State Park

There are a few very special places that I’ve visited in my lifetime that I would go out of my way to convince others to visit at least once in their own lifetimes, and far West Texas is one of these places.  We recently visited this area again, and I want to share a little more about our trip and this area in today’s post.  To say this place is remote is a vast understatement, so just getting there is part of the whole unique experience.

After Christmas, we took off in the motor home with our dogs for an entire week of vacation to the Davis Mountains of far West Texas, which is quickly becoming one of our favorite places on earth to visit.  When traveling, there is “getting away,” and then there is really “getting away.”  Fort Davis and the Davis Mountains definitely fall into that second category of really “getting away,” and we just love visiting this area largely for that reason.  It is literally in the middle of nowhere, and it has a very special and unique beauty that we have not seen anywhere else, with the possible exception of the Big Bend National Park area.  We also have a little family history in this area from my parents’ generation, but nothing that I remember myself.  I loved to hear the stories of my parents’ visits out west, though.  Perhaps that is one reason this place means even more to me, especially when I envision those big family reunions that they spoke of at the big ranch on the hill.

This year’s trip was marvelous once again.  While the weather was quite nice during our visit, we were fortunate to get out just before a huge snowstorm hit the area two days after we left.  While it would be neat to be there for a big snow event like that and take lots of gorgeous snow pictures there in the desert mountains, it would also be tough to deal with the motor home in those conditions, especially if we had to drive in it.  So, while we missed the big storm, it was neat to see some great pictures online from others that were there for it.

What I won’t do in this post is go into all the detail about our trip, mainly because it was just a great week of camping, hiking, riding the motorcycle on some nice sightseeing ventures, camp cooking and lots of relaxing.  What I will do is share some of my pictures that will hopefully convey the unique beauty of this area.  A few pictures are from our cell phones, as I don’t always take my big camera along for the ride when we are on the motorcycle.

Driving to Fort Davis through the Davis Mountains at sunset is one of the best driving experiences ever, and pictures will never begin to do it justice.  There is also a great little state park in Balmorhea, which makes for a quick rest stop for us, since we have our Texas State Park Pass that allows us to get in for free to any state park.  In the winter, Balmorhea State Park is pretty much deserted, but in the summer, it stays full much of the time.  We didn’t visit the Fort Davis National Historic Site in town on this trip, but it is certainly one of the highlights of the area for a new visitor, along with the famous McDonald Observatory and the stunning 75 mile Scenic Loop Drive.  But, you certainly don’t have to go to the observatory to see the stars here, especially on a moon-less night.  It is worth a trip to this area just to see the amazing night sky alone, since the Fort Davis area is one of the darkest places in our hemisphere with little to no light pollution.  You will likely never again see stars like you will see them here on a clear night with no moon.  I was literally stunned the first time I witnessed it myself.  We had a full moon on this trip, though, which was beautiful on its own.

Driving in West Texas with sunset coming soon
Driving in West Texas in the middle of nowhere with sunset coming soon
Sign on I-10
Sign on I-10 for the turnoff to the Davis Mountains
Entering the Davis Mountains at sunset
Entering the Davis Mountains at sunset
The drive from Balmorhea to Fort Davis through the mountains is beautiful
The drive from Balmorhea to Fort Davis through the mountains is beautiful
Davis Mountains at sunset
Davis Mountains at sunset with a golden, pink hue covering everything in sight
Mountain sunset
Davis Mountains drive at sunset
Gorgeous colors at sunset
Gorgeous colors at sunset in the Davis Mountains
Davis Mtns SP a
Our “pet” mule deer at our campsite, Davis Mountains State Park
Davis Mtns SP b
Another deer at the top of Skyline Drive, Davis Mountains State Park
Davis Mtns SP d
Amazing sunset seen from Skyline Drive with the Indian Lodge below, Davis Mountains State Park
Davis Mtns SP e
Wonderful pink hues grace the mountains and sky at sunset, McDonald Observatory in the distance
Davis Mtns SP f
The sun is almost gone for the day, Davis Mountains State Park
Davis Mtns SP g
Courtyard view at the Indian Lodge, Davis Mountains State Park
Davis Mtns SP h
From the Skyline Drive Overlook, you can see forever, Davis Mountains State Park
Davis Mtns SP i
Old CCC structure on Skyline Drive, Davis Mountains State Park
Davis Mtns SP j
View of the Indian Lodge and the campgrounds from Skyline Drive, Davis Mountains State Park
Davis Mtns SP k
The world-famous Hobby-Eberly Telescope at McDonald Observatory
Ft Davis a
Fort Davis is a great little town with historic hotels and fun shops

There are a few things that are good to know for first time visitors to this area.  If you ever decide to visit Fort Davis and/or the state park there and plan to spend the night in the area, be forewarned that you need to have a reservation in advance.  I learned this the hard way on my first trip to this area a few years ago and had to drive about 35 miles before eventually finding a room for the night, and that was even on a weekend in February, not in the height of summer travel here.  Also, make sure your vehicle is in good working order any time of the year.  Having car trouble or running out of gas in this unforgiving country could be a really bad experience.  Camping at the state park is such a great experience, but there are a few javelinas that roam around, especially at night.  We always make sure to keep our dogs away from them as best we can.  One of our fun memories was taking a “star walk” on our first night of camping in the state park last year when it was pitch black, and hearing a pack of javelinas “snort” at us as we walked by, never once seeing any of them until we were right on them. 😉

Javelina, Davis Mountains State Park (2011 photo)
Javelina, Davis Mountains State Park (2011 photo)

Mountain lions and snakes are sometimes spotted, too, although we have never seen one.  Don’t let these few cautionary things keep you from visiting this area, though.  Like I said, this is now one of our most favorite places to visit.  There are many, many Texas treasures to see, and this one has to be toward the top of anyone’s list!

Our state park RV adventures will continue in April when we plan to take a full week of vacation and visit yet another new park!

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Author: DK

Blogger at My Five Fs (Faith - Family - Food - Fotos - Fun) and Animal Wonder. Empty-nester that now shares life with my hubby and our two standard poodles. Enjoys camping in our RV, taking and editing photos, trying new low-carb recipes, baking pretty decorated cookies for special occasions, walking daily, spending time with family and friends when we can, playing with the dogs, and is grateful to God for every single day of this blessed life and for the opportunity to share and connect with some great people here.

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