Travel & Destinations

Fort Davis and the Davis Mountains

It's a West Texas adventure

As the sun dipped below the horizon, casting a warm glow over the rugged peaks of the Davis Mountains, I stood in awe of the majestic view unfolding before me. Fort Davis, the highest town in Texas at 5,050 feet above sea level, captivated me. This charming destination offered more than lofty altitudes; it unfolded a tapestry of history, astronomy, and breathtaking landscapes.

Fort Davis is a repository of historical treasures and celestial wonders. From echoes of the Texas-Indian wars at the Fort Davis National Historic Site to cosmic revelations at the McDonald Observatory, our journey unveiled the blend of past and present in this West Texas gem.

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Charming Main Street in Fort Davis.

A Town Steeped in Character

Nestled at the foot of the Davis Mountains, Fort Davis welcomes you with its laid-back charm and authentic Western flair. Stroll through its streets and immerse yourself in the historic buildings and unique shops. Once a strategic outpost, the town radiates a warm ambiance that beckons visitors to explore its West Texas heritage and uncover regional treasures. Discover art galleries showcasing local talent and boutique shops offering one-of-a-kind finds.

Fort Davis isn’t just a relic of the past; it’s a thriving community that cherishes its heritage while embracing the present.

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Experience a restored enlisted men’s barracks, Fort Davis National Historic Site. | Photo by John Avant

A Texas Legacy— Fort Davis National Historic Site

Tucked beneath the imposing cliffs of the Davis Mountains, Fort Davis National Historic Site is a testament to the tumultuous legacy of the Texas-Indian wars and the Civil War in West Texas. Limpia Creek gracefully winds through the box canyon, bordered by trees, adding to the site’s scenic beauty. Serving as a vital link on the San Antonio-El Paso Road, Fort Davis was a lifeline for travelers during the conflict.

The well-preserved post, now one of the finest examples of a frontier military outpost in the Southwest, allows visitors to step back in time and wander through restored officers’ quarters, barracks, and a hospital. 

At its zenith, Fort Davis had more than 600 inhabitants. As the threat of Native American attacks diminished, the fort was abandoned in 1891. Today, visitors can explore the meticulously restored sections of the defense, gaining insight into the lives of the men and women who shaped the West during a pivotal era in American history.

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Discovery begins at the McDonald Observatory.

Stargazing Marvels: McDonald Observatory

Immerse yourself in the world of astronomical wonders at McDonald Observatory, perched atop Mount Locke. It is the best place to see and learn about outer space. Participate in guided tours, attend captivating star parties, and marvel at the celestial ballet unfolding through powerful telescopes. As a leading center for astronomical research, McDonald Observatory offers a cosmic experience that transcends earthly boundaries, making it a must-visit for astronomy enthusiasts and casual stargazers. It is advisable to secure your reservations before arriving to ensure a seamless and enriching experience.

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All roads lead to magnificent views.

Nature’s Bounty: Davis Mountains State Park and Beyond 

Take advantage of the 75-mile Davis Mountains Scenic Loop, winding through the heart of remote Texas landscapes. Ascend Limpia Canyon, marvel at Locke and Fowlkes Mountains, and soak in the panoramic vistas. 

With a peak elevation of 6,700 feet, this hidden gem offers a visual feast of wildlife, rock formations, and untamed beauty. As we paused to let a herd of javelinas cross the road, a golden sunset cast a warm glow over the Davis Mountains — a picturesque backdrop to our road trip memories.

Explore the Davis Mountains, centered around the 8,383-foot Mount Livermore (Texas’s 5th highest point). Visit Davis Mountains State Park for a day of outdoor adventures. Hike the historic Skyline Drive Trail, discover 1930s stone structures, and explore the Emory Oak Wildlife Viewing Area, renowned as the “fanciest bird blind in Texas,” which is like a garden shed with holes for viewing. Ascend 700 feet to Limpia Creek Vista for stunning views. The interpretive center showcases exhibits, wildlife viewing, and a pollinator garden, providing a comprehensive glimpse into the region’s natural beauty.

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The historic Indian Lodge.

Timeless Stay: Embracing the Past at Indian Lodge

Surrounded by Davis Mountains State Park, the historic Indian Lodge exudes adobe charm and rustic allure. Constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s, this mountain oasis offers 39 rooms adorned with local timber interiors. Relax amidst the white adobe walls, take a refreshing dip in the pool, and soak in the ambiance of Southwestern regional romantic architecture.

A stay at Indian Lodge transcends everyday accommodation; it’s a journey back in time, connecting you with the rich legacy of the CCC. Don’t miss the opportunity to dine at the Black Bear restaurant within the lodge, offering a delightful blend of regional flavors in a cozy setting.

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The beautiful landscape of the Fort Davis area.

West Texas Adventure 

Embarking on a road trip to Fort Davis promises an unforgettable blend of history, natural wonders, and small-town charm that will be a treasure in your memory for years.

Jeff Lynch 7488 W jpgWe are honored to collaborate with Jeff Lynch, a renowned landscape and nature photographer based in Fort Davis, Texas. In this article, Lynch beautifully captures the essence of the Lone Star State, focusing on the Fort Davis region and the Davis Mountains of West Texas. Through his lens, Lynch offers a unique perspective on the natural world, inviting others to discover and appreciate the wonders of Texas. His work has been featured in prestigious publications such as Texas Monthly, San Antonio Magazine, and Cowboys & Indians. Explore more of his captivating work at  


Sharon Kurtz

Sharon Kurtz is a freelance writer and photographer. Her passion is travel, telling stories, and tussling with her four-legged friends. As a baby boomer who loves adventure, she welcomes opportunities to share stories of people, places, food, and flavors around the corner or around the world. A regular contributor to fyi50+ Magazine, she's published 200 articles in various digital and print publications. Austin, Texas, is home with her husband and three spoiled dogs when not searching out new adventures. You can follow her travels on Instagram and Facebook.

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