Where High Desert Meets Mountains: 12 Things To Do in the Far West Texas Town of Fort Davis

Fort Davis in West Texas’ Chihuahuan Desert sits on the northernmost edge of the Big Bend Region, and as such is the perfect place to begin your adventure!  If the wide open spaces of Big Bend National Park seem a little overwhelming, you’ll find comfort in the Fort Davis’ picturesque setting at the base of the Davis Mountains, with cute shops and restaurants, so alarmingly popular they are at risk of becoming trendy.  But the history of Texas swells here with reminders of the not-so-long ago past during a tour of the Fort.  A trip into the mountains brings you to a place where you can reconsider your smallness in the world, and the universe around you, then bringing you back to earth with a grasp of the world and wonders around us as you venture into the desert on a morning walk.  If you listen, you’ll hear the desert calling you, and surely you should go!


The small town of Fort Davis offers plenty of things to do.  With an elevation of 4892′ above sea level, it is the highest elevation of a town in Texas, and with is comes the slightly cooler, dry summer temperatures, making it a perfect year round destination.  I’ve listed 10 of our favorite things to do in Fort Davis, enough for a long weekend.  Gas up the car, stock the RV, pull out the tent or just book a room and create some memories!

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1.McDonald Observatory  On a beautiful drive up into the Davis Mountains is the McDonald Observatory, where you can take a tour of the observatory or attend a twilight program, a night viewing or a star party!  Reservations are highly recommended, and sell-out weeks in advance, especially during peak times!

2. Davis Mountains State Park   Spend a day hiking, biking or just exploring all there is to do at Davis Mountains State Park!  Make the drive up Skyline Drive to take in the incredible sunrise!   Hike oThe park offers RV and tent camping, as well as Indian Lodge, a 1935 Pueblo Indian style scenic, historic hotel in the mountains.


3. Fort Davis National Historic Site  Fort Davis is one of the best surviving examples of an Indian Wars’ frontier military post in the Southwest. From 1854 to 1891, Fort Davis was strategically located to protect emigrants, mail coaches, and freight wagons on the Trans-Pecos portion of the San Antonio-El Paso Road and on the Chihuahua Trail.  Take the hike down, or up, to Fort Davis State Park.

4. Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center and Botanical Garden  Explore the hiking trails, the nature center and garden to learn more about life in the desert.  It’s most amazing after a brief rain, when many of the plants suddenly burst forth into blooms and the smell of rain in the desert is amazing!

5. Davis Mountain Broom Shop  A broom shop may seem like an unusual place to seek out on vacation, but this unique shop, located in Downtown Fort Davis, is really very interesting.  You can watch as they demonstrate how they make their brooms, on a shaker-style loom using local wood from nearby ranches and broom-corn.  Looking to buy, it’s suggested to pre-order your broom.

6. Balmorhea Rock Shop  My kids and I love rock shops, and my husband doesn’t get them at all, which is what makes Rock Shops so cool, you either get them or you don’t.  When you arrive at this little shop, they’ll give you a short tour of the shops, rocks and other items for sale.  Call in advance and you can even book a rock hunting trip!

7.  Fort Davis Drug Store and Hotel   The undisputed center point of Downtown Fort Davis, this scenic historic drug store has a soda fountain and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

8. Rattlers and Reptiles   (432) 249-2572    View more than 100 live reptiles and amphibians on exhibit at the famous Rattlesnake Museum. You can also meet local desert mammals, venomous arachnids, and insects.


9.  Herbert’s Caboose Ice Cream Shop  After a day of shopping or hiking, stop in this fun little Ice Cream Shop selling Blue Bell Ice Cream, a treat in the desert!

10. Scenic Loop Drive   We usually incorporate this drive into a visit to the McDonald Observatory, but the 75-mile loop, which takes you up to an elevation of 6700 feet, the highest public highway in Texas, affords you incredible views!

11. Historic Hotel Limpia  This restored hotel, built in 1911, is the perfect place to spend your Fort Davis weekend, either staying in a room or lounging under one of the shade trees with a drink from the Blue Mountain Bar and Grill.

12.  Historic Prude Ranch  Spend a day horseback riding or book a cabin and spend the weekend at this ranch in Fort Davis!

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