FORT DAVIS, Texas — The rugged beauty of the West Texas desert is on display in the historic town of Fort Davis. With an elevation of more than 5000 feet, it’s also the highest town in Texas.
The charming town of Fort Davis gives the feel of an old-west frontier town. There is so much to see and do though, as you soak up the rich history and enjoy the grandeur of the Chihuahuan Desert.
Our visit began four miles southeast of Fort Davis, at the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center and Botanical Gardens. It's more than 500 acres of semi-desert grasslands and five miles of hiking trails.
Executive Director Lisa Gordon tells me you can’t miss Miter Peak.
“It's named that after the Bishop's Cap, like in the chuck in a Catholic Church that they wear, and people always come in," said Gordon. "And that's the first thing they ask us is 'what's the name of that mountain?' It's almost anywhere out here that you're hiking and walking.”
Gordon says the hiking can vary from moderate to a little more difficult.
We spent most of our time strolling the half-mile-long Trans-Pecos Natives Pass Nature Trail inside the fenced botanical gardens. It was a joy seeing the variety of species of Chihuahuan Desert plants.
“Every time I come out here, every day, I think how beautiful it is. There have been times when I'm leaving work, actually saying to somebody, I'm leaving work," said Gordon. "And then I think it's hard, hard to even call it work because it is so gorgeous and it's such a pleasure to be here.”
Gordon says a must-see is their collection of cacti.
“That's our museum collection. There are about 200 different Chihuahuan species and subspecies of all the desert cacti. It's one of the world's largest collections, and those have been flowering since February," Gordon said. "And every day there is something new. Lots, lots of them. They've got the most beautiful flowers on them.”
The mountain vistas to enjoy as you drive near Fort Davis are something to behold.
And Fort Davis is the county seat of Jeff Davis County. In the quaint old-west town you’ll find the lovely classic revival courthouse that features a beaux arts clock tower. It claims the highest elevation of any of the state’s courthouses.
Of course, Fort Davis gets its name from the U.S. cavalry post that was established in 1854. It’s one of the best surviving examples of an Indian war’s frontier military post in the southwest.
After 1867, the town of Fort Davis was crucial as a base for travelers and hunters. Speaking of travelers: the historic Indian Lodge at Davis Mountains state park provides comfortable accommodations as you enjoy the mountain climate. The original portion was built back in the 1930s by the civilian conservation corps and is beautifully maintained by the state of Texas.
If you just want to relax or see the many sights, it’s here.
Allow yourself plenty of time to enjoy all this part of Texas has to offer.