Davis Mountains State Park Review & Rating
Davis Mountains State Park Overview:
Davis Mountains State Park is a 2708 acre park in the Davis Mountains four miles northwest of Fort Davis. It is also about halfway between the Guadalupe Mountains, Big Bend Ranch State Park, Carlsbad Caverns, and Big Bend National Park. The Park is nestled in the valley of the beautiful Davis Mountains which is the most extensive mountain range in Texas. The Davis Mountains were formed by volcanic activity around 65 million years ago. As such the terrain is rugged, rocky, steep, and covered with trees, brush, and cactus.
Davis Mountains State Park has also been around for awhile but not quite as long as the mountains. The Park was built in the 1930's by the Civilian Conservation Corp. You would never know the park is that old because all of the structures and facilities look new and are really clean and well maintained - the Davis Mountain Park staff should be commended for their effort to keep this Park pristine.
Amenities and Fun Things To Do:
You have a variety of sites to choose from when you camp at Davis Mountains State Park - open to heavily treed sites, pull through or back-in, sites at the base of the mountain or along a dry creek bed, or equestrian and hike-in primitive sites. There are 34 sites with water and electric, 33 with water only, 27 with water/electric/sewer, 6 backpack in (4.5 miles one way) sites, as well as a few primitive equestrian sites. The sites have a picnic table (some are covered) and grill and most are spacious and well treed. What a great place to camp and enjoy nature - in fact deer, quail, and even javelinas meandered up to and around our picnic table. In fact, one evening as we were playing cards at the picnic table, 5 javelinas came close to our table and after I snapped a couple pictures of them, I turned around to see the rest of our group on standing on top of the picnic table yelling "look out for the wild boar!" I hate to think what they might have done if we saw a bear or mountain lion. We understand the Park is also well known for a wide variety of birds and we did see a number of bird watchers sneaking around with their binoculars tied to their eyeballs.
If you don't want to camp, then the rustic but very cool Indian Lodge is the place to stay. The Lodge sits on a bluff overlooking the Park and it has 39 rustic guest rooms, meeting rooms, a beautiful pool, and the Black Bear Restaurant which is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with big portions and reasonable prices. Indian Lodge was also built by the CCC and was modeled after southwestern Indian pueblos and it has white adobe walls that are more than 18 inches thick. You'll find a nice patio area with a firepit, a lobby with a great view and comfortable sofas, and easy access to trails.
Davis Mountains State Park has some excellent hiking and biking trails. There are over nine miles of hiking and equestrian trails that go up and down the mountains and range from one mile to over 3 miles long. There is also a 4.5 mile hiking trail from the Park to the Fort Davis National Historic Site. For mountain bikers there is a 3.5 mile trail to the top of one of the mountains with a majestic panoramic view.
Some of the other Park amenities include:
- very clean restrooms and showers
- small interpretive center
- dump station
- picnic area and playground
- a large amphitheater
- a Park store
- scenic drive and overlook
The Park and the Lodge also have a number of events and programs throughout the year which you can find on their website. You won't get bored at this Park and you really need more than a couple days to enjoy all the Park and surrounding area has to offer.
A Typical Texas Outsider Day:
On our recent visit as a part of our trip to Big Bend (click here to learn more about this fantastic and fun trip) we really enjoyed our two day stay at Davis Mountains State Park. The following is just some of the things that we did during our stay. After a hearty breakfast the ladies blazed a trail to the top of a nearby mountain to the scenic overlook. I took the car up to the overlook with a couple bikes so we could bike down one of the trails back to our site. Turns out we missed the top part of the bike trail and instead took our bikes down the hiking trail - mostly carrying the bikes, trying to avoid cactus, rocks, sticker bushes, and the steep descent. Needless to say the wife was swearing at me the whole time. We eventually connected with the bike trail and rode it back to the campsite. Our friend, took the opposite route and started at the bottom and rode to the top - a little more than halfway up a steep climb, he got two flats and was forced to walk back down. I had checked with a Park Ranger (a very sweet and helpful 60 year old lady) about biking on this trail and she said "no problem, it's not that strenuous or difficult" - wow, she must be a tough little lady, we found it to be fun, strenuous (if you ride up), and very challenging. When you get to the top, there is a picnic table and a fantastic 360 degree panoramic view forever! You can drive up, bike up the trail, or hike up to the scenic overlook - well worth the trip.
We also biked around the campground and up to the Lodge for lunch. The Lodge is fantastic and well worth a stay. We also took a couple other hikes but one of the highlights was visiting nearby McDonald Observatory.
McDonald Observatory is 13 miles down a very scenic drive and is well worth a visit. They offer very informative 90 minute tours of the Observatory and telescopes.
Cool Nearby Activities:
One of the advantages of staying at Davis Mountains State Park is the number of things to see and do nearby, some of which include:
- tours of McDonald Observatory
- a hike or drive to nearby Fort Davis Historical Park
- the 74 mile scenic loop
- historic Ft Davis is fun to explore
- the scenic Limpia, Madera and Musquiz canyons are nearby
- the ghost town of Shafter is worth a visit
- check out Marfa and play golf at the highest elevation golf course in Texas
- and you're not that far from Big Bend Ranch State Park and Big Bend National Park
- Overall Rating:
- Scenic Beauty:
- Things To Do:
Additional Pictures of Davis Mountains State Park
Texas Outside uses a tough rating scale and it’s difficult for a campground to get a “10”. Each park is rated on:
- Scenic Beauty: a campground that is flat with no trees or character gets a “1” and hills, lots of trees, beautiful lake site, and lush ground cover gets a “10”
- Park Condition: the cleaner, well kept, and maintained campgrounds receive high scores
- Amenities: we are looking for lots of amenities like restrooms, dump stations, playgrounds, boat ramps, shelters, concession stand, rental toys, and more.
- Campsites: low scores are given for sites that are right next to each other (good for getting to know your neighbors, but not what we’re looking for when we’re camping); have no lantern holder, no water or electricity, no fire pit, no grill, or no picnic table (or it’s rotten wood); have no trees and no view; the ground cover is crushed rock (my bare feet hate that stuff!); and they require a lot of work to get your rig level.
- Things To Do: Bonus points are given for campgrounds that offer lots of fun things to do at the park or very nearby – this includes: biking, hiking, climbing, boating, entertainment, golf, swimming, fishing, volleyball, horseshoes, and more