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Hiking, Exploring and Camping at Davis Mountains State Park

Hiking, Exploring and Camping at Davis Mountains State Park


By avatar  Stacy
Posted On 11/25/2019 14:02:39
Trip Date 10/08/2019  

Camping | Texas | Fort Davis | Review of Davis Mountains State Park | Indian Lodge | Campgrounds in West Texas | RV Camping near I-10



Barely a week after returning from six weeks of cruise ship and independent international travel, we began planning a three week fall camping getaway. Other than spending one week in the Phoenix, AZ suburb of Gilbert to visit family, we had a clear slate.

With several weeks remaining on our Texas State Parks Pass, we searched for state parks with campgrounds in west Texas. We found Davis Mountains State Park with available campsites. As it was our first visit to the park, we decided on a two night stay. We'd be able to take advantage of the 50% discount on the second night of camping and we would have some time to explore. (Little did we know, we'd even have the opportunity to see Indian Lodge, a second site within the park boundaries.)

If you are planning to drive through west Texas and are in search of RV camping near I-10, check out this review of Davis Mountains State Park. Located in the city of Fort Davis not far from the highway, read about options available within the park for overnight stays. People interested in biking, hiking, horseback riding and more will find plenty of trails. Those with more time can take advantage of several cities all within a short drive of the park.



Campground Amenities at Davis Mountains State Park

Based on the canyon's rock walls, it is estimated that the Davis Mountains were formed from volcanic activity which occurred at least 25 million years ago. Evidence of human life in the area dates back a minimum of ten thousand years and includes both Native Americans and the Spanish.

Situated within the foothills of this mountain range, Davis Mountains State Park was established in 1933. Between 1933 and 1935, the Civilian Conservation Corps hired men who qualified for public assistance and were between the ages of 17 and 25 to work on conservation projects. These men were paid $1.00 per day plus the necessities of housing, food, clothing and medical care. The creation of Davis Mountains State Park was one of the first projects for which the CCC was responsible within the state.


Entering Davis Mountains State Park

Entering Davis Mountains State Park

In addition to constructing living quarters including a mess hall and recreation hall, the "CCC Boys" built stone fireplaces, picnic tables and steps inside the park. My favorite project of these very talented men has to be the switchback laden five mile Skyline Drive. This road traverses from the valley level campground to a mountain ridge and is still traveled upon by today's visitors to the park.


Scott Admiring Skyline Drive, the Handiwork of the CCC

Scott Admiring Skyline Drive, the Handiwork of the CCC

No visitor should miss out on enjoying the picturesque view from the "window" within the CCC built stone and rock overlook standing at the end of the drive.


Stone and Rock Overlook Built by Civilian Conservation Corps

Stone and Rock Overlook Built by Civilian Conservation Corps

Don't Miss the Awesome View!

Don't Miss the Awesome View!

Campgrounds were added to the state park in 1967. In addition to primitive campsites, campers can now choose from 26 full hook-up sites, 34 campsites offering electric and onsite water and 33 sites with shared access to water. Both landfill trash and recycling dumpsters are available near bathhouses. During our two night stay, all areas that we visited within the park were clean and well maintained.



The restroom / bathhouse located nearest the full service campsites has both "community" and accessible rooms for men and women. In addition to standard toilet stalls and sinks, the bathhouse has uniquely (albeit poorly) designed shower areas. While the actual shower stall does have a privacy curtain, the changing areas are shared. The accessible rooms each have a shower, toilet and sink. Ice is offered outside of the bathhouse for a requested $2.00 donation per bag.


Davis Mountains State Park Bathhouse

Davis Mountains State Park Bathhouse

Although none were offered on the Sunday or Monday during which we stayed at the park, I was surprised at the wide selection of "Walks and Talks" offered on all other days during the week. Led by either rangers, hosts or staff of the park or lodge, visitors can choose from an amazing offering including both day and night events. Whether it is hiking, exploring nature or learning about the park's history, or even bird watching or gazing at the stars that interests you, make sure to find out what is going on during any stay at the park.


Davis Mountains State Park Amphitheater

Davis Mountains State Park Amphitheater

Also found within the grounds of the state park are an Interpretive Center and the Emory Oak Wildlife Viewing Area. Both bird blinds offer indoor and outdoor viewing areas plus stations for feeding and watering visiting birds. In addition, the Interpretive Center has multi-media exhibits to help visitors increase their knowledge on the wildlife that make their home within the park.


Emory Oak Wildlife Viewing Area

Emory Oak Wildlife Viewing Area

Interpretive Center

Interpretive Center

Just a Few Minutes in the Interpretive Center

Just a Few Minutes in the Interpretive Center

We paid $37.50 for our two night stay at Davis Mountains State Park. Because we are holders of the Texas State Parks Pass, the total reflected both the waiver of the $6.00 per person per day park entrance fee as well a 50% discount off of our second night of camping. Without the pass, our total cost would have been $74.00 for two adults camping for two nights.



Campsite Amenities at Davis Mountains State Park

As of early 2019, reservations (including site selection) can be made online through Reserve America. Campsites can be reserved for a minimum of one day up to the standard 14 day maximum at Texas State Parks. We were able to make our online reservation for Campsite 26 just days before our early autumn arrival.

Once checked in at the park office where a park permit is issued, it is time to find your site. If you have at least one passenger traveling with you, we highly recommend that they closely follow your route on the park map. The combination of keeping an eagle's eye watch for signs within the park plus monitoring the map closely will help ensure that you don't miss a turn. (Signage leading to some camping areas are not well positioned for easily finding campsites.)



Campsite 26 has pull-through parking on a paved pad. The site was litter free upon our arrival and has full hook-ups including cable TV. Connections for 50-amp electric, water and sewer are all on the driver's side of the camper. As the hookup for cable television is on the opposite (entrance) side of the RV, a long cable connection is required.


Water, Sewer and Electric Hookups at Campsite 26

Water, Sewer and Electric Hookups at Campsite 26

Campsite 26 is not level - it has a very noticeable slope toward the rear of the site. Due to the position of the pad, parked RVs are covered in sunshine during virtually all daylight hours.


Front of Davis Mountains State Park Site 26

Front of Davis Mountains State Park Site 26

There are large trees surrounding one side of the campsite which includes the grated fire pit. For those traveling with outdoor chairs, the trees provide a shaded area perfect for comfortable afternoon relaxation. (Due to the location of the trees, there is no place to hang hammocks.) Campsite 26 has a covered aluminum picnic table which stands on a concrete base located several steps above the parking pad.


Covered Picnic Table at Davis Mountains State Park Site 26

Covered Picnic Table at Davis Mountains State Park Site 26

While we enjoyed an excellent selection of cable television channels during our evenings inside "RV There Yet?", the park's wi-fi service was intermittent at best. Neither of us had any phone or data service through either Verizon or T-Mobile while in the campground area. Both cell and data service was available, however, while on Skyline Drive within the park boundaries.



Favorite Campsites at Davis Mountains State Park

We set out on foot with our map of Davis Mountains Campground in search of our favorite campsites. (We always like to be prepared should we decide to camp at a park for a second time!)


Aerial View of Sites 17 - 27 (Sites 1 - 16 are Visible in the Distance)

Aerial View of Sites 17 - 27 (Sites 1 - 16 are Visible in the Distance)

In addition to primitive campsites, the state park has four camping areas. Although priced slightly higher ($25.00 per night plus daily entrance fees), pull-through Sites 1 - 27 are most appealing to us as most will accommodate larger rigs and have full hook-ups (30- / 50-amp electric, water, sewer and cable television). Cable hook-ups on all sites are on the side opposite from electric, water and sewer connections.

The full hook-up sites are split into two sections. Although the sites are less level, we prefer Sites 17 - 27 as they are slightly larger. With a nice view and a comparatively flat parking pad, Site 18 ranks as our favorite. All other sites in the range have similar features. As long as an available site in the section would accommodate "RV There Yet?", we would choose it over others within the park.



In our opinion, the lower hanging power cables which must be passed under when traveling to or from Sites 1 - 16 make those sites less appealing. Sites 1 and 2 are accessible sites and Site 16 is a Park Host site.

All things considered, Sites 3, 5 and 7 are our sites of choice within the section. Although the uncovered picnic table at Site 3 is not as well shaded as the other two, the remainder of the site has good shade and it is long enough to accommodate our RV. Site 7 is the shortest of the three sites, and the picnic tables at Sites 5 and 7 are well shaded in the afternoon.


Davis Mountains State Park Campsite 3

Davis Mountains State Park Campsite 3

Back-in Sites 28 - 61 have 20-/30-amp electric, on-site water and relatively easy access to the park dump station, however no cable television ($20.00 per night plus entrance fees). No sites within the 28 - 45 range will accommodate the 33 foot length of our RV. Although some sites in the 46 - 61 range would be long enough, all sites are in full sun with no covered picnic tables.

Friends or families camping together might enjoy Sites 50 & 51, 56 & 57, 58 & 59 or 60 & 61. Backing into each site within the pair begins on the same entrance before veering to the left or right. Shared space between the pairs of sites helps make cooking and/or dining together easier. The shared area would also be great for kids wanting to play together as well as adults wanting to chat or share supplies.

Priced at $15.00 per night plus entrance fees, Sites 62 - 94 have shared water, however no other utility connections.



Indian Lodge

One of the projects built by the Civilian Conservation Corps within Davis Mountains State Park was Indian Lodge. Originally a 16 room lodge, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department expanded the historic motel to 39 rooms in 1967. Constructed of adobe with an architectural style mimicking a multi-level Pueblo village, Indian Lodge offers all of the services that one would expect at a full-service hotel.


Indian Lodge

Indian Lodge

In addition to a meeting room and swimming pool, the Black Bear Restaurant serves breakfast and lunch each Wednesday through Sunday.


The Swimming Pool at Indian Lodge

The Swimming Pool at Indian Lodge

Much of the interior decor and furnishings inside Indian Lodge are original. The quality of the pine ceilings and hand-carved cedar furniture is second to none. Materials and workmanship used for the expansion project all complement the original style.


Just a Sample of the Workmanship within Indian Lodge

Just a Sample of the Workmanship within Indian Lodge

Although we were unable to see any of the rooms, we did have the opportunity to learn about the lodge by exploring some of the public areas. When the lodge first opened in 1935, automobile travel was replacing travel by train. The lodge was designed with these road trip travelers in mind. Museum-like displays tell the story about construction of the lodge as well as the men who built it.



Hiking at Davis Mountains State Park

The trails at Davis Mountain State Park are popular with backpackers, equestrians, hikers and mountain bikers. As we only had one full day at the park, we had nowhere near enough time to tackle all of them. Round trip hikes range from 0.6 miles to over 5 miles:
  • The 0.6 mile easy Headquarters Trail allows hikers to enjoy canyon views;
  • At 1.8 miles round trip, the moderately difficult Montezuma Quail Trail requires ascending and descending;
  • Following the road traveled by the CCC while building the park, the moderately difficult Old CCC Trail is 3.2 miles round trip;


    Trailhead to Old CCC Trail

    Trailhead to Old CCC Trail

  • Rated moderate in difficulty, the 5 mile (round trip) Limpia Creek Trail starts on level ground before climbing upward;
  • Starting at the Interpretive Center, the Skyline Drive Trail is 5.2 miles round trip and is rated as moderate in difficulty;


    Hiking Along the Skyline Drive Trail

    Hiking Along the Skyline Drive Trail

  • At 5.6 miles and the longest of the trails, the moderately difficult Sheep Pen Canyon Loop is said to pass some of the best views in the park; and
  • At about 2 3/4 miles round trip, the Indian Lodge Trail is the most challenging of the park's hikes.



Both the Skyline Drive Trail and the Old CCC Trail connect with trails leading to the Fort Davis National Historic Site. As we had toured the historic site just two years earlier, we thought it would be fun to get a view of the fort from above.

We "cheated" by driving up Skyline Drive and parking at the scenic overlook. From there, we hiked to the end of the Skyline Drive Trail. We then connected onto the historic site's North Ridge Trail and hiked to a bench where we had a great view looking down at the fort (about 1.5 miles round trip).


Looking Down at Fort Davis National Historic Site

Looking Down at Fort Davis National Historic Site

Marfa, Texas

In addition to the Fort Davis National Historic Site which is just a two mile hike from the state park, the quirky city of Marfa, Texas is also a short drive away. Make sure to read our post titled "Marfa, Marfa, Marfa: 11 Things to Do and Sights to See in and around Marfa, Texas". In addition to a selection of photos, this article will give you a number of ideas sure to enhance your stay at Davis Mountains State Park.

Camping in West Texas

If you were to name your favorite places to camp in either a tent or RV in western Texas, which campgrounds or RV Parks would make the top of your list and why?







Hiking, Exploring and Camping at Davis Mountains State Park











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