One prime spot to see the best of West Texas is via the Davis Mountains Scenic Loop. This loop covers 75 miles through “Texas’ Alps” in and around Davis Mountains State Park. Drive this stretch of highway, and you’ll see everything from 8,000 mountain tops to rolling green hills and lush valleys.
This is a truly unique drive you won’t find many other places. So it’s worth adding to your road trip lists!
Driving the Davis Mountains Scenic Loop
Without stopping, this loop should take just about two hours. But what’s the fun in that? The key is to pull over and hop out of the car to take in not only the sights and sounds but the history of the area too.
Most people will start in Fort Davis, at the intersection of Highways 17 and 118. From there, follow TX-118 North to TX-166 South. Follow 166 as it loops south, and it will meet back up with TX-17 just south of Fort Davis.
Here are some of our favorites stops along the way.
Fort Davis National Historic Site
The first stop for lots of people is at the Fort Davis National Historic Site. Remember, in the mid to late 1800s; this area was still wide open and mostly unpopulated by those from the East. So Fort Davis was a military frontier outpost.
Davis Mountains State Park
Just because this is a nice driving loop, it doesn’t mean you don’t want to miss out on Davis Mountains State Park. Here you can use the picnic tables for a lunch break, hike or bike some of the trails, spend a night camping, or even check out some of the local bird watching opportunities.
W. J. McDonald Observatory
The University of Texas at Austin houses the W. J. McDonald Observatory here, a leading astronomical observatory not just in Texas but across the country. Before you hit the loop, check out their website as they host free events throughout the year for visitors for star gazing.
As you turn off TX-118 and onto TX-166, you’ll get some stunning mountain views. The main peak is Mt. Livermore, which extends over 8,000 feet above sea level. Keep your eyes peeled to the road, and after a few miles, you’ll come across a huge rock outcropping conveniently named rock pile.
Not too far off the intersection with Highway 505, you’ll enter a small area called Barrel Springs. It might look like a rolling scrub now, but it wasn’t all too long ago that this area was a well-known stagecoach stop. Keep your eyes peeled to the side of the road for signs.
Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute
Just south of Fort Davis, on TX-118 South, you’ll find the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute. This nature center has a botanical garden and walking and hiking trails to explore. It also hosts a few small exhibits on mining and has a gift shop too.
There are plenty of ways to enjoy a day driving the Davis Mountains Scenic Loop. So pack a lunch, get a full tank of gas and explore! If you’re visiting for any length of time, be sure to check out the most affordable hotel deals in the area, on our sister site HotelCoupons.com.