Heading West

Mostly, I want to encourage you to just drive from Alpine to Fort Davis to Balmorhea, as it is some of the prettiest and most unique scenery in the state.

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West Texas Route

I just put this suggested itinerary together for a fellow RVer who was interested in a possible alternate route as they are planning to leave south Texas soon, but thought I would also share it here for others as well.

I have nothing against I-10 once you leave Kerrville headed west, but there is really nothing all that special to see on the way either.   If taking I-10, though, I recommend a stop at South Llano River State Park for a night or two.  It is a small but very scenic state park on the Llano River and is quite popular for RVers.  If you have the time and take I-10, stopping in Fredericksburg would be nice.  The Nimitz Museum and Becker Vineyards are great places to visit.  Becker is a few miles outside of town.  Fredericksburg is just a neat place.

Here is the route I would personally take, though.  (Additional information: If you plug the route in from Harlingen to El Paso, Google Maps will show about a five hour time savings by taking I-10 vs the route I shared.  However, there is a good stretch of I-10 leaving the hill country and into far West Texas that is 80 mph on I-10.  No RVer is going to drive that fast, I hope, so there really is not that much time savings by taking I-10.  It’s great if you’re driving a car, though, and as far as interstates go, it is pretty nice, although remote.)

Garner State Park – one of the oldest and most scenic state parks we have visited in Texas, on the beautiful Frio River.  Just avoid it on the weekends, if possible, especially in the summer months.  It is extremely popular on weekends but very nice any other time.  We camped right on the river, and I am more than ready to go back there again.  Lost Maples State Natural Area is nearby, but I don’t recommend driving a large rig there from Garner.  It is akin to driving over a steep mountain pass on a two lane road with no shoulder.  Just take your car over from Garner instead, if you have time to drive over there.  Garner is one of the few state parks that allows winter Texans in the winter months because it is a huge park as far as RV sites, and visitation is much lower in the winter.

Amistad Reservoir and National Recreation Site – this is still on our “to visit” list, but since it is on the way to the mountains of far West Texas, it would be a nice stop.  There are boon-docking sites in the national recreation area or RV parks in town nearby.

Late addition: Seminole Canyon State Park –  Mona Lisa of The Lowe’s RV Adventures also recommends a stop at Seminole Canyon State Park on this route, too.  I have not yet visited this unique park, which is located west of Amistad Reservoir, but she highly recommends it and enjoyed their visit there recently.  She recommends camping here instead of Amistad, too.  Thanks for that recommendation!

Alpine – The Museum of the Big Bend – yet another place on our “to visit” list after we visited Alpine on our most recent trip to the area.  There are also several RV parks in town, but I recommend heading on to the state park in Fort Davis to camp, if possible.  This is a good place to refresh groceries, gas, etc., too.  Far West Texas is a remote place.

Mostly, I want to encourage you to just drive from Alpine to Fort Davis to Balmorhea, as it is some of the prettiest and most unique scenery in the state.  You will be just fine in a large rig, as it is good two-lane road the entire way.  Please don’t drive this as night and miss this pretty scenery.  Watch out for “suicide pigs” – javelina that sometimes can be found on the road in morning and evening hours.

Note: While not on this route, the eclectic little town of Marfa is a very popular tourist destination these days, and the official Marfa Lights viewing platform is located on this same highway between Alpine and Marfa.  Marfa may or may not be for you, though, so before traveling there, just do a little research ahead of time.  Prada Marfa is also much further out past Valentine and probably not worth the long drive there and back.  But, if you should continue directly on this highway to Van Horn and El Paso, you will see these sights.  I highly recommend taking the scenic drive listed above from Alpine to Fort Davis to Balmorhea instead.  The drive between Marfa and Fort Davis is just not as scenic.

Davis Mountains State Park – obviously one of our favorite places to visit each year in any season!  50 amp sites are highly coveted but the 30 amp sites are also nice and are often available when the 50 amp sites are booked.  We have stayed in both.  Fort Davis National Historic Site, 75 Mile Scenic Loop, McDonald Observatory, the neat little town of Fort Davis, the historic Indian Lodge (built by the CCC), and the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center are just some of the things to see here.  The 75 miles scenic loop is especially impressive.  Bird watching and hiking are big activities here, but it is also just a beautiful place, even in the RV sites.  In town, there is a decent grocery store where you can also buy gas.

Balmorhea State Park – a nice place to camp or to just make a quick stopover to see the world’s largest (and very historic) spring-fed pool, built by the CCC.  Only 45 minutes from Fort Davis.  There is one nice convenience store for gas.  Recommend having a full tank when you leave Fort Davis or Balmorhea headed west.

Cattleman’s Restaurant – on the way to El Paso, one of the most memorable places we have ever dined.  I remember the views are just extraordinary at sunset.  It is about 30-45 minutes east of El Paso, just off of I-10.  It’s been quite a while since we’ve dined here, but I believe it is still as good as ever.

White Sands National Monument – if you’ve never been here, it is a must see at least once!  I can’t help with a recommendation as to where to park the RV, though, since we have not RV camped in this area.

We have spent a lot of time in the Ruidoso – Cloudcroft – Alamogordo area (especially Ruidoso) and have RV camped in the national forest at Cloudcroft.  If you have more time in this area, it’s a great area to visit and spend some time.  You cannot drive the RV directly between Alamogordo and Cloudcroft, unfortunately.  There is another way to get there that circles up closer to Ruidoso, then cuts back into Cloudcroft.  You can drive a car directly between Alamogordo and Cloudcroft, though, and it is a great drive as long as your brakes are in good shape.

Of course, diverting down into Big Bend National Park is certainly another possible addition, if time permits.  Driving Big Bend is a great road trip in the car, and you could leave the RV in Marathon, Alpine or Fort Davis for the day and take a picnic lunch along.  We’ve considered doing that many times while in Fort Davis and will probably do it at some point ourselves again, hopefully soon.  Big Bend is just an amazing place.

Hope this helps, if you’re interested in possibly taking a more scenic route west and seeing some great sights!

D
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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.

11 thoughts on “Heading West”

  1. I had been looking at taking the Rio Grande (sort of) route all the way to EL PASO so some of these I have looked at. We’ll see how the trip goes and how I handle the heat. I’ve never been quite like this before and while it’s not something that ‘worries’ me, I’m not at all comfortable. I was even researching to see if I might have gotten sun-stroke or something but none of the conditions/symptoms really match up so I think it’s just a cumulative That’s IT! feeling! All you suggestions are wonderful. If we don’t do them this time I’m sure we will in the future. I just wish our departure from TX was in a better frame of mind. I’m afraid I”m not being very rational at this point. I just want out and cooler. sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you will be pretty amazed at how different it is once you get out of the more humid areas down there. Garner has both the water and shade trees and should be very, very nice right now, just about a perfect time to go there and to far West Texas, too. I can’t tell you how much we loved Garner, and I’m surprised more out-of-state visitors don’t go there. And, everyone knows how I feel about the Davis Mountains. haha

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I sincerely do thank you for your help. I wish I was in a more adventurous mood right now as I don’t want to fly by places that are wonderful. It’s normally hard for me NOT to be upbeat. But right now I’m just hanging in there.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for enlightening me on a couple of unique stops in TX we have yet to explore. I’m noting for next season’s excursion. I agree that Balmorhea and White Sands are both worth seeing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Garner is a truly wonderful park. In summer, it is the “Disneyland” of our state parks, though. It can take hours to stand in line and just get checked in on some Fridays, holidays, etc. The rest of the year it is an amazing place. Palo Duro Canyon in my part of the state is pretty much the same way. They are already having long lines to get in the park on weekend mornings apparently. I haven’t even written about some of our favorite places to visit yet… Palo Duro Canyon, Caprock Canyons, Garner, South Llano River, etc. I’m a bad blogger! 😉

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      1. Since we don’t plan on visiting TX in the summer it probably won’t be a problem. It seems ALL state parks everywhere get full on weekends thus we always try to get a res. You’ve listed some interesting places we’ll be sure to check out. Will you be heading to CO this summer?

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        1. We are still discussing summer options right now, as our son wants to come along on a summer trip now that he has paid vacation time available. I would love to make a long weekend trip to Rocky a regular thing now. Gosh, we loved it there, and it is such a short flight for us. But, we are also talking about some other summer trip options with him, too. It helps if we can take the RV and the dogs with us. Costs us $50 a day to board them, and try to not do that very often. We are probably not ready to bring the RV to Rocky. Too much time on the road vs. vacation days off. Makes more sense to fly right now. Open to any suggestions! We thought about renting a yurt at Golden Gate Canyon for a couple of nights, then heading to Estes Park and Rocky. Still sounds good to me, and we might even consider just taking my car and driving there, too. Our rental car there last year was quite bad, and we got concerned while in Rocky.

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  3. Great recommendations! We missed every place you mentioned during our Texas adventure this spring. We loved everywhere we went but just didn’t have time to explore the western part of Texas. We especially loved Inks Lake and Palo Duro Canyon. Safe travels!

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    1. Yes, we also love both of those parks, too! I grew up vacationing around Lake LBJ and Inks Lake, so that area will always be special to me. We have only RV camped at Inks one time, but we adored our site right on the lake in May when we visited. We live in the Texas Panhandle and truly enjoy the canyon parks, both Palo Duro and Caprock Canyons. Actually, we frequent Caprock Canyons more these days now and have grown very fond of it, for sure. The official Texas bison herd is there, descendants of the Charles Goodnight herd, and as of last October, they can now roam freely throughout the entire park! So far, we have not had any in our site, but a group of 60 wandered by us at the end of the RV campground road. It was fabulous and such a neat experience. I have a bit of family history in Fort Davis, although the relatives that lived on a ranch there are all now deceased, unfortunately. My parents shared some great memories from trips there, though. So, that area is even a bit more special to me for that reason. Thanks for stopping by, and safe travels to you!

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  4. Since you mentioned Amistad Reservoir, I think a stop at Seminole Historic Canyon State Park is a must and would actually be a better stop than Amistad 🙂
    This is really helpful for those who have not discovered Far West Texas. Except for Garner State Park, we had stopped at most on your list.
    At Cloudcroft is also a Sun Observatory at the top of Neptune. Check it out when you are in the area, no star party however.

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    1. I forgot about Seminole Canyon being on this route and will update this post with that suggestion. Just wanted to give them an alternate route to consider to see some of this area and bypass I10. There are so many parks and places I still need to write about at some point, and Garner is one of them. We had it mostly to ourselves in late April two years ago and loved it. I actually want to make a summer trip sometime to experience it in the summer and float the river, crowds and all, just to say that we’ve had that great experience that some friends have shared with us. The cypress trees along the river are just beautiful, and we truly enjoyed our week there.

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