On the Road
Fort Davis: Gaze at the stars from your perch in the highest town in Texas
At an altitude of 5,050 feet — nearly a mile! — Fort Davis is the highest town in Texas. And that comes with an express list of benefits, including a cooler climate, mountain scenery, incredible wildlife, impressive stargazing, and so much more.
There are so many things to do in and around this town way out West, but start with this list.
Unwind in town
Reserve a room at the historic Limpia Hotel and relax in the friendly little downtown, where you can browse shops and galleries with unique art and gifts, antiques, funky artisan finds, gourmet pecans, locally produced wine, and more.
Definitely don’t miss the Fort Davis Drug Store, which first opened in 1913 and has now become a full-service restaurant, soda fountain, and hotel, keeping its 22-foot old-fashioned soda fountain where you can order homestyle staples and, of course, ice cream sundaes, shakes, and malts.
Take a mini road trip
The Davis Mountains Scenic Loop is a good way to get the lay of the land after you arrive. It’s a 75-mile jaunt through wide-open, windswept, desert prairie and twisting, winding mountain roads that will take about two to three hours to complete — if you don’t stop for photo opps.
Swing by the Stone Village Tourist Camp and Market, near the base of Sleeping Lion Mountain, where you can grab all the makings for a picnic lunch; the Point of Rocks roadside park or the Madera Canyon Trailhead are good places to stop along the way.
Invite yourself to a star party
Nestled in the Davis Mountains atop Mount Locke, The University of Texas at Austin’s McDonald Observatory is about a half-hour drive from downtown Fort Davis. And it’s worth the mileage, because you’ll be rewarded with unrestricted views of the surrounding high desert landscape.
The real fun begins when the sun sets and the celestial magic begins. Sign up for a Star Party for an open-air constellation tour and live telescope view of the glittering, starlit skies.
Get a history lesson
Step back in time at the Fort Davis National Historic Site, which is one of the best surviving examples of an Indian Wars' frontier military post in the Southwest. From 1854-1891, 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. Tour through the restored historical buildings and then hike one of the trails on-site.
Hit the trail(s)
If biking or hiking is your happy place, head to Davis Mountains State Park. It’s home to miles of trails, ranging from easy loops to more strenuous out-and-backs. The 4.5-mile Skyline Drive Trail is a good one, with popular viewpoints that meander up and down mountain ridges and valleys.
And you don’t even have to leave for the night. You can set up at one of the campsites or grab a room at the cozy-cool Indian Lodge, with its white adobe walls and historic aura. The lodge also has the Black Bear Restaurant, if campfire cooking’s not your thing.
Stop and smell the flowers
The Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center is about five miles south of Fort Davis and is home to botanical gardens that highlight the diverse flora of the area and one of the world's largest collections of Chihuahuan Desert cacti and succulents, with around 200 varieties.
There are also five different trails you can hop on, from easy, short strolls on the Hummingbird Trail and Butterfly Trail to the longer Clayton’s Overlook Trail with its 360-degree views.
Learn more about this destination and see a calendar of events — save the date for fireworks on July 2 and the Viva Big Bend music festival July 27-31, which includes performances at Fort Davis’s Audrey & Tyrone Kelly Outdoor Theater — here.