Fort Davis, TX
A mile high, big, clear skies, bright stars...the Davis Mountains of West Texas rank among my favorite places in the world. My father began taking me and my siblings to camp and hike in the region in the 1960s. You could say we all have it in our blood now. We have hiked the Big Bend, Guadalupe Peak, Mt. Livermore, and many points in between. Our base of operations, however, has always been Fort Davis, where my father eventually purchased an old adobe house that was built in 1911.
Many people do not know that the elevation of the town of Fort Davis is one mile—the same as Denver. During the summer months when the weather in Central Texas bakes us into oblivion, I like to drive out to the Davis Mountains where the daytime highs are usually in the low 90s with no humidity, and at night the thermometer dips into the 60s.
The fort was established in the 1850s to guard westward wagon routes against the Apache and Comanche. It was also the home at one point of the 25th Infantry, also known as the Buffalo Soldiers. At night one can drive to McDonald’s Observatory and take in a Star Party with a tenured astronomy professor from the University of Texas who will explain the vast canvas of the West Texas night sky. You can also try your luck and drive to Marfa at night to view the infamous Marfa Lights, an unexplained phenomenon of dancing lights on the prairie (disclaimer: this author has been about a dozen times but only seen them once). During the hot days take a plunge into the crystal-clear water of the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool at Balmorhea State Park about twenty minutes from Fort Davis.
But the real gem of the region is Big Bend National Park. A hike on the beautiful south rim takes about eight hours. Although I have only just returned from there, I am already looking forward to my next visit.