Big Bend National Park is full of thrilling adventure — it’s around every turn and from above! — but the fun doesn’t have to stop at the park’s boundaries.
Easy-going adventure is just around the bend.
3640 Dark Sky Drive, Fort Davis
Admission: Varies based on the program. To attend a star party at the observatory, it’s best to make reservations weeks in advance.
Also: Even though it’s Texas, dress warm at night, or at least warmer than you think you need to. Make sure to stop at the visitors center, too. Check out the solar viewing, where you’ll see plasma jets four times the size of earth shooting out of the side of the sun.
400 N Harrison St. C-101, Alpine
Three must-see highlights:
Tall Rock Shelter: The real thing — a rock painting — is deep in an inaccessible canyon in the Davis Mountains. The replica on display is every bit as mysterious. The horizontal and vertical lines are bold and loud, like an ancient artist had something to say but lacked the proper tools to say it precisely. Archaeologists think the tear-drop shaped drawings at the top of the lines might represent human heads.
Livermore Cache: A look at the collection of more than 1,000 arrow points and fragments found in the 1890s under a cairn at the 8,378-foot-summit of Mount Livermore.
La Carreta: A reproduction of what is believed to be the first wagon to enter what is now the United States.
630 S. Oakes St., San Angelo
Self-guided tours: Adult, $3; military, $2; senior (60 and older), $2; students (7 – 17), $1.50; children (6 and younger), free.
Built in 1867, the fort was designed to protect frontier settlements. Today, 23 (out of an estimated 40) original and restored buildings border an open field, and visitors are encouraged to take self-guided tours of the grounds. (As of March 8, guided tours were not offered.)
Walk into the living quarters and the first thing you will notice is the smell — faintly musty, like the upstairs of your grandmother’s house. The room on the left is finely appointed — fancy couch, intricate woodworking, etc. The other side is sparse — a bed, dresser, and chest, and nothing else. The difference is intentional and meant to show that an officer lived on one side and an enlisted man lived on the other.
Click on the image above to view the slideshow.
Photography: Ethan Tweedie Photography/Courtesy McDonald Observatory, Courtesy Museum of the Big Bend, (slideshow) Courtesy Fort Concho Museum
From the July 2019 issue.