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.|
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.|
|The Rock Pile|
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|
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.
|Guide to the Scenic Loop|
- Davis Mountains State Park
- Prude Ranch
- Mt. Locke and McDonald Observatory
- Madera Canyon
- Rock Pile
- Sawtooth Mountain
- Bloys Encampment