Most people come to Balmorhea State Park by way of I-10, where it calls to road-weary travelers like a siren. For us, it was our last stop after an incredible, yet exhausting week-long camping trip in the desert and mountains around Fort Davis. We had taken an early morning hike above the historic fort, and as the thermometer inched its way up into the mid-80’s, all we could think about was cooling off in the largest spring-fed pool in the world!
Balmorhea isn’t like an oasis in the desert, it actually is one. The surrounding Chihuahuan desert offers little in the way of escape from the sun, but up from the earth rushes San Soloman Springs in Balmorhea, at over 1 million gallons an hour, bringing life to the semi-arid region. When we arrived, the pool was already filled with happy children, sun-bathing parents and even a few scuba divers, who enjoy the crystal-clear waters that go up to 20′ in depth in some places!
The pool use is included with the state park admission of $7/day for anyone 12 or older. A state park pass, $70, will get you and your family free admission 365 days a year.
Be aware that there are no lifeguards on duty, and young children should always be closely supervised. Lifejackets are allowed, as are pool floats and toys.
The diving boards, one in the shallower end for young children, one in the 20′ depth and a higher dive for the more adventurous!
You will have to share the water with the residents of the springs, including the rare Comanche Springs Pupfish, which is only found in the waters of San Soloman Springs.
In the 1930’s, under Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, the Civilian Conservation Corp, CCC, employed thousands of men to work on state parks and projects around the country. The swimming pool at Balmorhea Springs was one of those projects, as was the bathhouse and cabins, which are now a stucco-covered motel in the park. There are also RV and tent camping sites available.
Know Before You Go
Grab a table under the trees for a picnic lunch, or purchase something from the pool’s concession stand.
The water is a constant 72-74 degrees, year-round.
While sunscreen isn’t prohibited at the pool, common sense tells us that this is a very sensitive ecosystem, and we should use chemicals sparingly. Opt for rash guards and hats while playing in the water, when possible, and remember to increase your consumption of foods rich in vitamins C & D, which is easy as summer fruits become available!
Things To Do in (near) Toyahvale
Take the scenic drive through Wild Rose Pass to Fort Davis. This was the only route for the Butterfield Stage Line, and you can imagine the fear of traveling through this narrow pass, awaiting an ambush from the Mescalero Apaches.
Visit Davis Mountains State Park, hike down the mountain to historic Fort Davis, and enjoy the small town filled with restaurants and shops!
In the small but scenic town of Balmorhea, we found Jo’s Bar and Grill, the only place to eat. The cheeseburger and brisket, smoked on site, were both good, and my kids loved playing horseshoes in the yard and running through the water sprinkler! There was only ourselves and another family in there at 3pm, but I was told it gets a little more lively after 7pm. Click HERE to visit their website.
Balmorhea State Park
9207 Tx-17, Toyahvale
Click HERE to visit their website.
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