Sunday, September 27, 2015

A GPS App to Map Our Hikes

I'm still learning how to use my Smartphone. At the same time, I'm trying really hard to not become a Smartphone junkie. Still, there are a few apps I see that can be quite useful.

One of the first apps I downloaded was a GPS app to map our hikes and walks. Since I'm not trying to promote one app over another, I won't list the app I downloaded, but I will tell you a little about it.

Actually, the app will do more than simply map my hike. It will provide generic caloric information regarding food, track gear, and perform other calculations and information related to "workouts". But I'm really only interested in data related to hiking.

I tested the app on one of our recent walks. We try to walk anywhere from 3 to 6 miles every other day. Of course, sometimes the weather prevents our doing so, or perhaps out health might restrict us. But when all conditions are good, we are pretty good about keeping to this schedule. In the past, I've used Google Maps to measure distances at the places we walk. On the morning of the test, we decided to do our favorite loop walk at the state park (San Angelo State Park). According to Google Maps, this loop is right at 5 miles.

The GPS determined our starting location, and I pressed the button to begin. It began tracking our movements almost immediately. During the walk, distance, duration, current pace, and calories burned were recorded.

As an example, here are our stats for the walk.
  • Distance: 4.92 miles
  • Duration: 1:31:29 (1 hour 31 minutes and 29 seconds
  • Pace: 1 mile every 18 minutes and 36 seconds (18:36)
  • Calories burned: 697
It even tracked my speed by mile. For the first mile, for example, I walked at the rate of 18:54 per mile (18 minutes and 54 seconds). The second mile was 18:47, the third mile 18:10, and the 4th mile 18:20. Since the last mile was not quite a mile, my speed was better, coming in at 17:55. I was pleased with the time. Basically, we walk at a pretty steady pace, and our time did not diminish as our walk continued. In fact, the first 2 miles were our slowest. That section of the loop, by the way, contains the hilliest terrain, and that pretty well explains the slower time. The final 3 miles are along a pretty level surface.

I can save my hikes and, I suppose, can even post them, even though I've not tried this yet. I have pulled up other hikes/walks in our area, though, so others are definitely using this feature.  I had hoped that I could record waypoints with this app, but I've yet to see how to do this.

And one final feature I've not utilized but is of interest to me is the tracker feature. If I understand this correctly, this feature will allow others to track my location. This could be useful, especially considering my age. By activating this not only on my device but also on my wife's and my daughter's, they could locate me. So, were I to go on a lengthy hike in the backwoods one day and not return at the expected time, they could track my location. But I need to study this more and ensure that it is secure enough. After all, I don't want just anyone tracking me.

Monday, September 21, 2015

We've Gone Over to the Dark Side

Donna and I resisted for a long time. I guess we were among the last holdouts. But we finally gave in to our baser desires and crossed that line and joined the dark side.

Yes, we bought two smartphones.

Since retiring, we've been living on fixed incomes. We've done everything we know of to keep operating expenses down. I resisted smartphones because (1) the phones themselves are more expensive than the old flip phones we used, and (2) the plans are more expensive. I also feared becoming a smartphone zombie; you know, one of those people obsessed by their smartphone to the point that they lose all face-to-face social skills.

Because we are traveling so much in our trailer lately and plan to travel even more over the next few years, we finally decided it might be advantageous to get some smartphones. I do see a great need to be able to check highway routes while on the road, not to mention look up RV parks and other information.

So, we've spent the past couple of weeks learning how to use the phones. We've been downloading the apps we think we need, and we've been learning how to use them.

And we're really trying to become smartphone zombies. Now we can go out to eat and text each other from the same table. It surely beats talking to each other, don't you think.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Movie Review: A Walk in the Woods

I've read Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods twice (see "Good Reads: A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson" from June 2013). I really enjoy that book. It relates the author's attempt -- with his friend Stephen Katz -- to hike the Appalachian Trail (see "The Big 3 Hiking Trails of the Continental U.S.A." from June 2013). So when I learned that there was a movie being made by the same name of the book, I was eager to watch it.

Donna and I went to see the movie recently. I was entertained by the movie. After all, I'm a fan of Robert Redford; I have been since I first saw him in The Chase, which also starred Marlon Brando and Jane Fonda. Jeremiah Johnson ranks up there as one of my favorite all-time movies, as much for the scenery as for the story. But Redford -- who is cast as Byrson -- is pushing 80 years old. When Bryson published his book in 1998, he was under 50 years of age. That's a big age difference, and it made me wonder just how accurately the movie would follow the book.

Well, the movie does not accurately follow the book, nor does it pretend too. The movie is only loosely based on the book. If you are a fan of the book, you will see many, many deviations from the book, such as the scene with the bears. But the spirit of the book does find some life in the movie, and the movie takes on a life of its own.

Basically, Bryson (Redford) and his childhood friend Stephen Katz (Nick Nolte) set out to hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. They are old geysers, and part of the movie deals with both of them facing the reality of their lives. As in the book, Katz is the central comic figure in the movie. The scenery is beautiful and made both Donna and me want to find a trail and set out.

Don't look for the movie to even follow the basic plot of the book. It doesn't. But it seems to work. I had hoped that the movie would deal more with hiking the Appalachian Trail, such as gear, trail shelters, and trail life, but it dealt with these only briefly if at all. And if colorful language upsets you, this is probably not a movie you need to watch. I was put off with the language, and I did not see that it really contributed to the plot at all.

But I enjoyed the movie. I find it harder and harder to find movies that entertain me these days. So many veer way off into a fantasy world of unbelievable, choreographed stunts that I'm frustrated by the whole thing. At least A Walk in the Woods stayed grounded.

Monday, September 14, 2015

How Do We Spend Our Time When Camping?

When we camp someplace, we try to stay active, but our days are often filled with down periods. I thought you might be interested in just how we do spend our time, so below is a day-by-day account of what we did for the week we were in the Davis Mountains.


We left San Angelo about 8:00 AM and stopped at a roadside park outside Ft. Stockton to make sandwiches in our trailer around noon. We finally arrived at Davis Mountains State Park about 1:30 PM. We made 2 or 3 passes through the campground before settling on a campsite. After securing the site with the office, we took our time setting up. Since we were going to be there a week, we wanted to get everything arranged right. We also had to make a run into town to pick up a couple of items needed for our site, and by the time we returned, there wasn't a lot of day left. We did, however, drive to the top of Skyline Drive and admire the views. We then returned to camp, showered, ate a light supper, and turned in for the night.


We rose early and walked about 3 miles or more along park roads. Even when on vacation -- yeah, a vacation from retirement -- we try to get our exercise in. We visited most of the camping areas as well as Indian Lodge. Back at camp, we showered, grabbed a snack, then jumped in the truck for a drive around the Davis Mountains Scenic Loop. When we returned to Ft. Davis at the end of the loop, we enjoyed tostadas and nachos at Cueva De Leon, a local restaurant. Back at camp, we relaxed, enjoying our million dollar views of the mountains. We especially enjoyed watching vehicles riding the switchbacks of Skyline Drive to the top of the mountain and back. Just before dark, a mule deer leisurely wandered through our camp.


After breakfast, we drove to Alpine. First stop was the Lost Alaskan RV Park to pick up some RV supplies. While there, we drove through the park. It's a nice park, and probably the best in Alpine. Should we ever want to stay in Alpine, this is the park we'll go to. Next stop was the local Radio Shack to look for a power cord. From there, we visited the Museum of the Big Bend, then took a short stroll through the quad of Sul Ross State University. On our way out of town, we filled up with gasoline, then headed to Marfa. Just east of Marfa, we stopped at the Marfa Lights viewing area. After a brief look around Marfa, we headed back to Ft. Davis, where we shared a malt, cheeseburger, and onion rings at the Fort Davis Drug Store. Yummy! Then back to camp, where we spent a relaxing evening sitting outside reading and enjoying the view and weather. Just before turning in, a family of javelina wandered through the campground.


We went for another 3 or 4 mile walk along paved park roads in the morning. Back at camp, we had a very late breakfast, which Donna cooked on the portable stove outside. It was nice cooking and eating outside, watching folks moving about the park. After breakfast, I napped while Donna aggravated some aggressive birds around camp. Later, we drove into town for milk, vegetables, and other food. That evening, we attended a program at the nearby Interpretive Center: "Plants and Animals of the Davis Mountains." It was very interesting. Then back to the trailer for showers and bed.


We attended two presentations at the Indian Lodge this morning. At 9:00, we attended "Strong Backs and Willing to Work!", a program about the Civilian Conservation Corps with emphasis on how their efforts affected this area. At 10:00, we attended "Highlights of the Davis Mountains" a program on the wildlife, plants, and history of the  park. We then returned to camp for lunch. After lunch, we sat outside and watched as weekend visitors began arriving. We always enjoy watching campers come in to a park. We are always interested in their RVs, their equipment, and how they go about setting up camp.


We were moving slowly this morning. After a light breakfast, we drove the 35 or so miles north to Balmorhea to visit that park. We camped there in a tent about 30 years ago, but had not been back since. It was nice to see it again. After leaving the park, we drove on into nearby Balmorhea and toured the small town and drove to the small lake just south of town. Then we returned to the Davis Mountains for a mid-afternoon lunch at the Black Bear Restaurant at the Indian Lodge. Donna had the veggie burger while I had a very good chicken fried steak.  After lunch, we just relaxed the rest of the day. From our site, we watched several people hiking the trails on the slopes to the north of us.


We took another walk around the park this morning, then came back to camp where Donna cooked another late breakfast outside on the camp stove. Since we were scheduled to leave in the morning, we spent the evening hours packing gear for an early start. We'll rise early tomorrow and try to be gone shortly after it gets light. It's about a 5 hour or so drive home, then we have to unload the trailer. It will be a long day.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Balmorhea State Park

It was just over 30 years ago when we first visited Balmorhea State Park just outside of the small town of the same name just off Interstate 10 west of Ft. Stockton. Our daughter was quite young then, and we had a cabin tent. We spent one night there enjoying the swimming pool formed by the prolific San Solomon Springs. The next day we headed to the Davis Mountains State Park. We have never returned to Balmorhea until our recent trip to the Davis Mountains.

Simply put, Balmorhea State Park is a party park, and I don't necessarily mean this in a negative way. Almost everyone who visits the park does so for one reason -- to swim in the world's largest spring fed swimming pool. The park exists because of San Solomon Springs, which gush about 15 million gallons of water a day. Canals crisscross the park and continue out into the surrounding area. If you drive through nearby Balmorhea --  4 miles away -- notice the canal of clear water running parallel to the highway through the center of town. Water from the springs also help form nearby Balmorhea Lake, a 550 acre lake just south of Balmorhea. The springs create a cienega, a desert wetland, which has been restored in recent years. The water also attracts a large number of birds and, in turn, bird watchers. This park is truly an oasis in the desert. And believe it or not, scuba diving is permitted in the springs, which reach a depth of about 25 feet.

The shallow arm of the pool, which is in the shape of a V. The springs are at the vortex of the V, which is at the far end of this picture. The deep end forms the other arm of the V- shaped pool.

Viewing windows are designed to allow a below water look at the cienega, but the panes were dirty -- and the water a bit murky -- making visibility practically impossible.

Above-water view of the cienega, looking towards the San Solomon Courts.

Click on this image to see a larger image; perhaps then you can see the 2 smaller turtles as well as the larger one.
Balmorhea Lake, just 2 miles south of Balmorhea, is fed by a canal from San Solomon Springs as well as by Sandia Creek.

2 endangered species make San Solomon Springs their home: the Pecos Gambusia and the Comanche Springs Pupfish. The Pecos Gambusia, which eats mosquito larvae thereby keeping the mosquito population in check, lives only in a few select places in Texas and New Mexico. The Comanche Pupfish once thrived in Comanche Springs in nearby Ft. Stockton, but now that those springs have dried up, they live only in San Solomon Springs.

Canal that runs behind San Solomon Courts in the center of the park.

There are 34 campsites in the park, but none with sewer connections. However, cable is provided, and that is rare in Texas parks. There is also a small motel, the San Solomon Springs Courts, with 18 rooms available.

Camping area at Balmorhea State Park.

Another view of the camping area at Balmorhea State Park. Angle looks toward the Davis Mountains.

We visited the park on a Saturday, and the place was packed, even though the current temperature was below 80 and skies were overcast. Water temperature from the springs remains steady at between 72 - 76 degrees. Folks were entering the pool area carrying floats and dragging ice chests on wheels. It was quite lively. It's good to see folks enjoying nature, but the place is just too busy for us. We were happy to get back to our Davis Mountains State Park.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Museum of the Big Bend

I've spent a lot of time in the Big Bend region of Texas in the last 20 years or so. When I worked for Region 18 Education Service Center in Midland, Texas, I routinely visited the 30+ schools in our assigned area, especially those in the Big Bend region. After all the time I've spent in the area, I'm sort of embarrassed to admit that I had never visited the Museum of the Big Bend in Alpine, Texas. On our recent trip to the Davis Mountains, I corrected that oversight.

Main entrance to Museum of the Big Bend on the campus of Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas
The museum is located on the campus of Sul Ross State University in Alpine, home to  just over 2000 undergraduates. Admission to the museum is free, but donations are appreciated. The museum is staffed by some very friendly and helpful West Texas folks who will make you feel right at home.

As museums go, it is not very large. However, the exhibits are well done, and they are designed to introduce visitors to the distinctive natural history, human history and confluence of cultures in the Big Bend region. One notable exhibit during our visit was the Big Bend Plein Air exhibit. En plein air is a French expression which means “in the open air” and is particularly used to describe the act of painting outdoors. The Plein Air paintings currently on display were produced by the Plein Air Painters of the Four Corners region (the area where Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico meet).

The museum is a great place to start off a tour of the Big Bend region as it will introduce visitors to the history and culture of the area. Flash photography is not allowed, so some of my pictures may seem a bit dark.

Replica of a carreta such as was used not only in the Big Bend region but in many areas of the American Southwest

Chuck wagon display.
Plein Air Exhibit
Buffalo Soldier Exhibit

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Davis Mountains Scenic Loop

The Davis Mountains Scenic Loop is a good way to get to know the Davis Mountains. The loop begins and ends in Ft. Davis, and is about 80 miles long, give or take a few miles depending on your source. The highest elevation on the loop is about 6700 feet, and there are plenty of beautiful views and interesting sites along the way.

It really doesn't matter if you go in a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction. I've driven the loop two times now, and I've gone in a counter-clockwise direction both times.

From Ft. Davis, follow Texas 118 northwest up Limpia Canyon, following Limpia Creek and its beautiful cottonwood trees. About 3 or 4 twisting miles outside Ft. Davis, you'll pass the entrance to Davis Mountains State Park on your left. Just another mile or so past the park is the Prude Ranch, which provides various outdoor activities for young people and their families. Just beyond the Prude Ranch is Limpia Crossing, a private development consisting of home sites on small acreages.

The next few miles provide some of the most interesting views on the loop as you approach McDonald Observatory atop Mount Locke. If you keep your eyes open, you will see the observatories atop Mount Locke throughout the drive, even as you approach Ft. Davis near the end of the loop.

Observatories atop Mt. Locke (McDonald Observatory). Note top of observatory atop smaller mountain on right.

Mountain scenery along highway on the approach to Mt. Locke.
Up to Mount Locke, the road has been quite good, with smooth surface and solid shoulders. Once past Mount Locke, though, the quality of the road declines a bit. It becomes a bit bumpier, for example, and the shoulders disappear. The country takes on a little wilder look, too. There is little traffic along the loop, though, so take your time and enjoy the scenery.

One of the most beautiful places along the loop is Madera Canyon. There is a large roadside park here, so this shady area is a good place for a picnic lunch. The trailhead for the Madera Canyon Hiking Trail of the Davis Mountains Preserve of the Nature Conservancy is located here as well.

Trailhead to Madera Canyon Hiking Trail

View from Madera Canyon

Madera Canyon Roadside Park

A few miles past Madera Canyon, take Texas 166 to your left (west). You will now have Sawtooth Mountain in your sites. It stands at 7687 feet. Also in this area is Mount Livermore (Baldy Peak) at 8378 feet. It is the tallest mountain in the Davis Mountains and the fifth tallest in the state. The 4 tallest peaks in the state are all in the Guadalupe Mountains in Culberson County.

It's easy to see how Sawtooth Mountain got its name.
Of to the right, just before you come even with Sawtooth Mountain, is the Rock Pile. It looks exactly like what its name implies. The Rock Pile is on private property, so stay on the road to admire it. In fact, most of the land along the scenic loop is privately owned.

The Rock Pile
At times along this stretch, you'll cross cattle guards, so watch out for grazing livestock. Also start looking south, as some of the views extend to the Mexican border.

At Ranch Road 505 (the Valentine Highway), Highway 166 begins turning east. Soon on your right you will come to the Bloys Encampment, site of the Bloys Camp Meetings. Established in 1890, the camp meetings provided an opportunity for families in this remote area of mountainous West Texas to congregate each year to worship and seek fellowship. It has grown over the years and now attracts about 2500 people each year. It is quite a story of faith and frontier fellowship.

Some of the facilities at Bloys Encampment
About 10 or so miles outside of Ft. Davis, the Davis Mountains Resort is located on the left. This is another development providing small acreage and home sites. This development gained national attention in the late 1990s when one of its residents declared his home was the embassy for the Republic of Texas and that Texas had been illegally annexed to the United States. After numerous encounters with local and state law enforcement officials, he was arrested and removed from the property.

Closer in to Ft. Davis is an interesting road side park on your left. It looks much like a rock pile itself. It is reputed that Kit Carson carved his initials on a rock in this Point of Rocks park in December 1839, but I have been unable to verify this. In fact, there seems to be some confusion over which pile of rocks the name carving incident actually occurred. Some of the local literature I have read says it is the Point of Rocks roadside park (shown below) while other sources indicate the name carving incident occurred at the Rock Pile, mentioned a few paragraphs above. I have also been unable to find a picture of the name carving.

Roadside park
10 miles later the road intersects with Texas 17 for the final 2 or 3 miles back into Ft. Davis. Below is a map of the loop with points of interest indicated.

Guide to the Scenic Loop

  1. Davis Mountains State Park
  2. Prude Ranch
  3. Mt. Locke and McDonald Observatory
  4. Madera Canyon
  5. Rock Pile
  6. Sawtooth Mountain
  7. Bloys Encampment

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Images of Davis Mountains State Park

Below are some pictures that I took from Davis Mountains State Park on our recent trip. I say "from" because some of the images are of places outside the park, but were taken from vantage points within the park.

This was taken from our campsite, spot #24. If you look carefully at the hill, you'll see a road that switchbacks up. The road is called Skyline Drive and offers good vantage points for seeing the country around the park.
Donna really enjoyed sitting out. Daily highs stayed below 90 during our trips, and mornings and evenings were a bit nippy. From our site, we could watch vehicles climbing Skyline Drive at all times of the day.

I zoomed in to show how the road has been cut into the hill. At top left, the road goes around to the backside of the hill and then travels along a ridge for at least a mile or so to a scenic outlook.

The next 6 pictures are taken from Skyline Drive.
Camping area as taken from switchback. Our trailer is center left, next to covered picnic table. Keesey Creek runs left to right in picture, and most of the trees are located along the creek.

Indian Lodge up the valley.
Entrance to park off Highway 118. Follow the road up past Prude Ranch on to McDonald Observatory.
Mitre Peak, about halfway between Ft. Davis and Alpine.
Large tomato hot house along Highway 17 just outside Ft. Davis on the way to Marfa.

Donna in the scenic outlook with Ft. Davis in background.

The next pictures are taken from other areas of the park.

Trailhead for the Montezuma Quail Trail along the main park road.

Indian Lodge, as seen from main park road.

Patio of the Indian Lodge. Entrance to Black Bear Restaurant is through door under covered area to left.
Bird viewing area from inside the Interpretive Center. There is also a viewing area outside. Interpretive Center has a few displays, and some programs are presented here. There is a small garden outside as well.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Davis Mountains State Park: August 2015

Donna and I just returned from a week long trip to Davis Mountains State Park. This park is an old friend to us. We have been camping there for over 30 years. When our daughter was young, we'd pitch a tent in a campsite along shady Keesey Creek. Summers there have always been great. The mile-high altitude and clean mountain air means cooler temperatures, with daily highs usually in the upper 80s or lower 90s and nightly lows around 60 degrees, give or take. With the weather so hot lately in the San Angelo area, we were seeking relief from the high temps, and we found it in the Davis Mountains. A couple of nights, the lows hovered around 52. Now that is some crisp weather for August in Texas!

The 2,709 acre park is located about 4 miles northwest of the small but interesting town of Ft. Davis. The Civilian Conservation Corps began work on the park in 1934. Oak and juniper trees are common throughout the park, especially along Keesey Creek, which roughly parallels the main park road from the entrance to the Indian Lodge. In recent years, the park has acquired additional land across Highway 118. This land now forms the Limpia Canyon Primitive Area. This area, ranging from about 4,900 feet of elevation to 5,700 feet, provides primitive and equestrian camping and 11 miles of equestrian trails.

The park offers more than 100 camp sites, ranging from primitive hike-in sites to 30 and 50 amp full hookups. To my knowledge, the park is one of the few in the state park system that provides cable TV hookups. Because of its remote location, you need cable or a satellite system to pick up TV reception. We were unable to even pick up a radio station or a cell phone signal. WiFi was available from our site, but the signal was week. We were able to check email and do some basic web surfing though, such as looking at maps, researching places to visit, and so forth.

Our campsite, #24. All sites in our camping loop have covered picnic areas on cement slabs.
Typical water only site along Keesey Creek a short walk away from Indian Lodge.

View from back of our trailer. Both the Headquarters Trail and the Montezuma Quail Trail are visible from our campsite, and we spent a great deal of time following hikers' progress on these trails. The Montezuma Trail goes over the top of this mountain near the center of the picture, then heads south (left) behind the mountain.

View of our campground and mountains beyond. Our trailer is second rig from left.

This picture is from same position as one above, and taken just seconds later. That is our truck and camper on left. Note the hikers on the trail. There are 2 of them. In very center of picture is hiker with yellowish shirt, black pants, and small dark backup. Other hiker is to the left in darker colors than blend into landscape.

As regards full hookup sites, there are 2 areas to select from. All full hookup sites, by the way, are pull through. Sites 1- 16 are located along Keesey Creek and have pretty good shade. Most of these sites are pretty level as well. However, the trees on some sites really crowd the pads and would probably be difficult for larger rigs. But during the summer, these sites are probably preferable. Sites 17 - 27 are on a slope, but the actual pads are fairly level considering. You will probably only need to level from front to back. There is little shade available for these sites, but views are much better. You might consider these sites during cooler months when the sun would be welcome. We stayed in site 24, but next time we will probably pick 23 or 27. Because of the slope, some sewer connections may be located above the outlet on your rig, thereby causing gravity to work against you.

But when you're in the Davis Mountains, you really don't want to spend your time watching television anyway. There is so much to do in the park and surrounding area.

Bird watching is very popular, and the park provides the Cadillac of bird blinds along the main park road. An additional bird viewing area is available at the Interpretive Center. Hiking is also very popular at the park. In addition to numerous shorter trails within the park, the Skyline Trail connects the park to the nearby Fort Davis National Historic Site. See park map for trail details. We really enjoyed sitting in our site and watching hikers cross the slopes of the mountains around us, especially on the Montezuma and Indian Lodge trails.

Exterior of bird blind along main park road.

Interior of L shaped bird blind.
Park staff is very active, offering numerous programs and activities. During our stay, the following programs were available:
  • "Hike with Homeless Dogs!" A short hike along Skyline Drive Trail with homeless dogs.
  • "Plants and Animals of the Davis Mountains" A discussion of the plants and "critters" of the park and surrounding area.
  • "Strong Backs and Willing to Work!" Program about the Civilian Conservation Corps and its impact on the park and Ft. Davis.
  • "Highlights of the Davis Mountains." Program on the wildlife, plants, history of the park, and other places of interest in the area.
  • "Are You Curious?" Learn about some of the interesting "critters" in the park.
  • "Weekly Birding Walk to the Seep!" 1.25 mile loop to the seep in the Primitive Area.
  • "Welcome to the Davis Mountains!" Program about what makes the Davis Mountains special.
  • "Weave Your Own Basket" Learn how to make baskets with natural materials.
  • "Knots for Campers" Learn how to tie knots.
  • "Full Moon Hike up the Mountain!" Walk up the mountain at night and learn about the moon, stars, and night "critters".
Programs highlighted in yellow above are the ones we attended. These are just some of the activities held the week we were at the park. I do not if we just happened to be there at a good time, or if they always offer this many activities, but we enjoyed the ones we attended. Learning about the park and area only enhances your stay and makes it so much more enjoyable.

Amphitheater, located next to our campground loop.

Interpretive Center. Bird blind behind center can be viewed from both inside and outside on right. Center is just a short walk from our campground and marks start of Skyline Drive Hiking Trail.
One of the great things about this park is the Indian Lodge, a 39 room hotel constructed to resemble an adobe village. Rooms are rustic and well maintained and provide nice lodging if camping isn't your thing. The Black Bear Restaurant at the lodge provides well-prepared and reasonably priced meals daily. At the end of a long day of hiking, it's nice to take the short drive or walk to the Black Bear for a good meal if you don't feel like cooking.

Entrance to Indian Lodge. Office in center. Tall building on left is the Black Bear Restaurant.

Walkway/balcony outside upper level rooms of Indian Lodge.
View from upper level walkway of Indian Lodge. Note pool below. View looks in an easterly direction toward park's entrance.
We were a bit disappointed during our stay to see only a few critters. One evening a mule deer wandered through our site. The next night, a javelina sauntered through, while a small family passed on the other side of the campground. We saw numerous rabbits and birds, but nothing larger. The Davis Mountains are home to some interesting animals, including mountain lions, aoudads (barbary sheep, which are really goats), mountain sheep, golden eagles, montezuma quail, and many, many others. There is a large bird population.

For previous blog entries on the Davis Mountains and surrounding areas, see the following: