Fort Davis



In the foothills of the scenic Davis Mountains and 335 mi/540 km northwest of San Antonio, Fort Davis is quite a contrast to most Texas towns—it has mountain scenery (at 5,050 ft/1,540 m, it's the highest town in the state), low humidity and, even in the summer, gets wonderfully chilly at night.

Fort Davis grew up around a U.S. Army outpost established in 1854 at the crossroads of the Chihuahua Trail and the Butterfield Overland Mail Route. Fort Davis National Historic Site, the restored army post, occupies a pretty location in front of a hillside. Costumed staff help re-create an 1800s atmosphere, and music drifts from the fort's public address system several times a day to conjure up the ceremonies that took place when the fort closed in 1891 ( Davis Mountains State Park, just outside of town, has hiking trails, a campground and the Indian Lodge motel, constructed in the 1930s.

Don't miss visiting the University of Texas' McDonald Observatory atop Mount Locke, northwest of town: Its lofty perch yields great views (go at sundown), and there are both guided and self-guided tours of the observatory area, as well as a visitors center, gift shop and cafe. (If you're there around dusk, you might get to see one of the huge turrets swinging around to take a look at the stars.) If you're there on a Tuesday, Friday or Saturday evening, you can take part in amateur "star parties" where you can look at the heavens through small telescopes. In addition, one of the big telescopes is made available for public stargazing once a month, usually on the Wednesday closest to the full moon (reservations required).

Texas Highway 166 makes a 75-mi/120-km scenic loop around 8,382-ft/2,554-m Mount Livermore (the loop begins and ends in Fort Davis). We think this is among the nicest drives in west Texas—rolling hills, towering mountains and abundant wildlife (including pronghorn antelope).

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