The Longdogs

The Longdogs
Willy, Harley (back center), and Gretchen

Davis Mountains State Park in Texas....a Very Cool Place

Wednesday morning we headed north to Ft Davis TX and Davis Mountains State Park. It rained Tuesday night in Terlingua and the forecast said that it was going to be raining in Ft Davis. The further north we went, the colder it got. We were rather concerned that we would be setting up in freezing rain but we lucked out and only got the really cold part.  Okay, okay, it was really cold for those of us from South Central Texas. We were climbing as we headed north and we could see bigger mountains ahead.

The Davis Mountains State Park is set into a valley and there are trees! But it was cold!

First view of the Indian Lodge. Lots more on that later. Pretty impressive right?
 
When I made our reservations, I was unable to get one of the full hookup sites which was fine as we have large tanks. We were assigned a site at the end of one of the campground roads which was a real nice site but somewhat challenging to get into to say the least. After we finally got in, it was worth it. I do have to say that the nicest thing about the full hookup sites is that they are all pull-throughs and very easy to get into for nearly any size rig. Hmmmm. Anway, you can see my fiver about in the middle of the picture. The park was definitely not full.

The park is not right in the middle of the biggest mountains. This is looking down into the park.

We went up the scenic drive and there certainly was some dramatic scenery. I think that the white buildings on top of the mountain in the distance is the Davis Observatory. We thought about getting tickets for the Friday night Star Show but decided it really was too cold for us.

Looking down the other side, you can see Ft Davis down below.


We did manage to see a little wildlife while we were up top.


There were picnic tables and a stone shelter at the top of the scenic drive....just some more work of the fabulous Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). They left us such a great legacy.

A picture frame for the view!

A little too chilly to grill out but a nice touch to the picnic area.

There are a number of trails in the park....one leads all the way over to Ft Davis National Historical Sit.

The kids picked up their Junior Ranger packages. It was a backpack with all sorts of goodies inside like binoculars, a compass, pamphlets on birds, wildlife, flowers, snakes, etc. One of the first activities they wanted to do was the geocaching group led by one of the rangers. They had a blast. The ranger explained all about geocaching and gave them each a gps and a number of groups set out looking for the four "planted" geocaches. There were a number of kids and the ranger sent them off in different directions to find the caches. The last thing they did was find a registered geocache. Morgan especially was hooked on geocaching so I think we will be doing more in the future. This is a view of our site. We had a ton of room behind the RV as park of the site but our 31 foot RV took the whole length of the parking area and we had to squeeze the truck in next to it.


The second day we did a tour of the Ft Davis National Historic Site but I have a separate post for that. The third day it finally warmed up and we headed up to the Lodge to check it out. More trails led from here.

This is the outdoor courtyard of the lodge.

There was a wishing well.
 
They even provided the coins and had very specific directions on how you needed to make your wish. Who could resist? Not this group.

The lodge is fantastic, another great CCC project. Campers are welcome to come in and look around. Some of the lodge guests were relaxing in front of a big fire place while we walked around. The original lodge had 16 rooms and is designed similar to sprawling pueblos in New Mexico. It is adobe construction made with bricks of straw, was and soil extracted from the are. The 40 pound blocks form 18 inch thick walls up to three stories in some places. Hand hewn pine vigas and river cane latilla ceilings add rustic charm. Some of the original hand hewn furniture is still in daily use. The lodge now has 39 rooms and a full service restaurant. The Davis Mountains State Park was one of the earliest CCC projects in Texas. It was developed between 1933 and 1935. It is a mile above sea level.

Morgan was hooked on the Ranger led talks so she and I headed over to the Interpretive Center for a Rocks and Gemstones talk. It was given by a campground visitor who regularily camphosts at this park. He stopped by for a visit on his way north and they asked him to give the talk. It was great. He was very hands-on with the kids.

He had samples of geodes and quartz because this is his hobby. He gave the kids each a rock hunter hammer and a piece of rock with peridots in it. His wife was down on her hands and knees helping the kids as well.

Next up was panning for gold. He had a bag of soil from a gold hunting spot and showed the kids how to do it. There were real specs of gold in there and each kid got to keep the tiny piece in their panning.


He told us he bought the sample bag at one of the locations he frequents for $25 and has pulled about $200 worth of gold out of it so far. This was one of the flowering bushes near the Interpretive Center.

There are some neat drives in the area. This would be a great area to hit in the summer because it is cooler here than the surrounding area.

Saturday morning we headed north to Balmorea State Park.




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