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Davis Mountains
Area/Range

Davis Mountains

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Davis Mountains

Page Type: Area/Range

Location: Texas, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 30.60955°N / 104.12842°W

Object Title: Davis Mountains

Activities: Hiking, Scrambling

Season: Spring, Fall, Winter

Elevation: 8381 ft / 2555 m

 

Page By: txmountaineer

Created/Edited: Sep 11, 2007 / Aug 23, 2009

Object ID: 335829

Hits: 20291 

Page Score: 93.1%  - 41 Votes 

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Overview

 
TNC - Davis Mountains Preserve Cabin
 

The Davis Mountains are purportedly named after U.S. Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, who was later more-famously recognized as the President of the C.S.A. Incidentally, he had the surrounding land known as Jeff Davis County and the corresponding county seat of Fort Davis named for him as well.

The mountain range encompasses a large area from just south of IH-10 at it's northern boundary (the northernmost ranked summit, Point 6580', lies only ~10 miles from the highway) to TX-166 in the south. It extends northeast to just shy of the Reeves County line where the Barrilla Mountains commence and southeast of Fort Davis to where the Twin Mountains of the Puertacitas Range stand guard. The west flank of the range simply falls away to a large drainage, on the other side of which rises the Van Horn Mountains and the Sierra Vieja.

The Davis Mountains are larger than both the Texas Guadalupes and the High Chisos ranges, however, there are two different types of peaks in the chain that borrow from the characters of these two other massifs. It would be overly simplistic to classify them as higher and lower, but there is some truth to this method.

The smaller category are the desert peaks which have very little vegetation on their slopes and few large animals beyond an occasional grazing cow-ntaineer. These tend to be lower in elevation, however, some of the 7,000'+ peaks that stand as lonely sentinels fall into this group as well.

The mountains standing in lofty groups hold unexpected flora and fauna that are remnant of a time when Texas was much cooler and wetter than it is today. Black bear, mountain lions, mule deer, ponderosa pine and even aspen are some of the more startling residents of the high-country. The central part of the Davis Mountains falls into this category; sheer cliffs, wide expanses of evergreens and countless wildflowers flowing through the meadows all seem out of place but quite welcome.

The geology of the area is largely igneous, though the volcanoes that once spewed magma on the land that would become Texas lie further south and west. The Davis Mountains were created about 65 Million Years Ago as uplifted igneous intrusions with a smaller portion of extrusive rock interspersed. Based on geologic similarity, in several millions of years, this range will appear quite similar to Oklahoma's Wichita Mountains as they exist today.

On this page, you'll find a list of all the summits in the range above 2,000 m (6,561 ft) and links to any pages that have been created here on SP. If you have enough information to submit one of these peaks, please do!! Not only will you find information about the summits within the Davis Mountains, but you can also get beta on all the other activities available within the immediate vicinity. This gorgeous corner of the Lone Star State is not a crowd-frequented destination by any stretch of the imagination. I'm actually posting this page with a bit of hesitation, because I really don't want to see that change! ;-)

Getting There

Getting to the Davis Mountains always entails a drive. El Paso, ELP, (195 mi away) hosts the closest international airport, though Midland / Odessa, MAF, (162 mi away) has a regional air-field serviced by most major carriers.

    There are a variety of ways to reach the area depending largely on the scenery you'd like to see as well as your ultimate destination:
  • If you're coming from El Paso (IH-10 eastbound), taking US-90 in Van Horn provides the most direct route to Fort Davis, though you'll skirt just south of the range along TX-166 out of Valentine.
  • From Midland (IH-20 westbound), the most direct way is to take TX-17 South once you get to Pecos. This takes you through some beautiful desert foothills as well as the historic town of Balmorhea, a worthy destination in it's own right.
  • An alternate approach from either big city is to take TX-118 South from IH-10 to go through the heart of the Davis Mountains. You'll reach a fork where you can chose to head directly to Fort Davis (TX-118), passing the Davis Mountains Preserve, McDonald Observatory and Davis Mountains State Park. The alternative is to follow the longer, but amazingly beautiful Scenic Loop into Fort Davis via TX-166.
Davis Mountains Area
 

Red Tape

 
Red Tape ... er, um ... Red Gate
 

This is West Texas after all...

The bulk of the Davis Mountains are on private ranch-land, and as a result, most of the peaks are off-limits to the hiking public without specific owner permission. Thankfully, though, The Nature Conservancy owns a 32,000 acre tract of land (with conservation easements on 65,830 acres of adjoining property) encompassing the highest summits in this range. A fews days and weekends each year, they offer public access to the Davis Mountains Preserve for absolutely no charge.

Additionally, the few landowners with whom I've made contact have been very friendly and open to having hikers visit their properties. As long as you treat both them and their land with respect, many of the peaks in the Davis Mountains can be climbed.

Although some people are frustrated at the lack of free-and-open access, I offer the alternative. Visits to this portion of the Davis Mountains are characterized by few crowds and comparatively little evidence of human presence. This peaceful isolation is in stark contrast to most places in our world today. Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon and struggled to get away from the din of other visitors even in the backcountry? If this rings true and unspoiled nature is what you're craving, then make plans to visit the Davis Mountains during one of the open days or weekends. If not, why are you going to the mountains in the first place? ;-)

Davis Mountains Preserve

 
Davis Mountains Evening
 
 
TNC s McIvor Visitor s Center...
 
 
Approaching Mt. Livermore
 

About The Preserve: The wild and remote Davis Mountains is considered one of the most scenic areas of Texas. Indeed it is one of the most biologically diverse. Rising above the Chihuahuan desert, the range forms a unique “sky island” surrounded by the lowland desert. Animals and plants living above 5,000 feet are isolated from other similar mountain ranges by vast distances. These are true ecological islands, preserving living remnants that occur otherwise nowhere else in Texas.

Republic of Texas??: In the late 90's this area became known to the world for all the wrong reasons. One local resident decided that Texas had been illegally annexed to the United States and proceeded to announce that he represented the true government of Texas and declared his trailer to be the "embassy" of the Republic of Texas. After leaving a trail of bogus liens and other disruptions this group took hostages bringing the wrath of the Federal Government down on their heads. Today the ring leader of the group is in jail, the "embassy" has been burned down and the property where it stood now belongs to the Nature Conservancy. - Added for general curiosity and historical (?!?!?) significance.

What to See - Plants: Plant life is diverse and presents interesting contrasts. On the wetter, shaded slopes is a montane forest, including ponderosa pine and small but thick stands of quaking aspens sheltered under a cliff beneath Mount Livermore. South-facing slopes are dominated by pinyon pine, gray oak, alligator juniper and mountain mahogany. Madrone trees dot the valleys and deep canyon streambeds. Eleven rare species of plant are known, including the Livermore sandwort, many-flowered unicorn plant and fringed paintbrush.

What to See - Animals: Mountain dwelling wild animals include the black bear and mountain lion. The group of birds in the higher elevations, including the Common Black-hawk, Golden Eagle, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, and Montezuma Quail, is more closely associated with western mountain ranges than birds across the rest of Texas. Some species nest here and nowhere else in Texas.

This system is also of importance for bird migration. Various birds of prey, ten species of hummingbirds and some of the other gems of America, including the painted redstart and Grace’s warbler, migrate through the Davis Mountains. In just a relatively short time we have found on the property Mexican Spotted Owls and Slate-throated Redstarts, two very rare birds for Texas.

2009 Calendar:
(Last updated on 27 Jul 2009)

Please, no pets allowed at Preserve events.

    2009 Davis Mountains Preserve Events
  • September (Open Weekend): Jason Wrinkle contacted us and said that the open weekend in September has been canceled.

  • October 24 (Day hiking): The Preserve is open for self-guided hiking, birding and picnicking from 8:00AM to 4:30PM. Reservations are not required. - Contact: Jason Wrinkle at jwrinkle@tnc.org or (432) 837-5954.
  • December 5 (Christmas Tree Hunt): Contact Jason Wrinkle for more information; jwrinkle@tnc.org or (432) 837-5954.

  • December 12 (Christmas Tree Hunt): Contact Jason Wrinkle for more information; jwrinkle@tnc.org or (432) 837-5954.

Fees: The Davis Mountains Preserve is open free of charge for hiking and camping in accordance with their Open Access days and weekends. Check TNC's website for the latest planned open activities. (Current as of 08 Jun 2009)

    Please visit the following webpage for up-to-date information, programs and activities:
  • Davis Mountains Preserve - (432) 837-5954

Davis Mountains Preserve Roads & Trails
 

Information excepted from The Nature Conservancy - Davis Mountains Preserve website linked above.

Davis Mountains State Park

 
Cacti in the Davis Mountains
 

History: Davis Mountains State Park, 2708.9 acres in size, is located in Jeff Davis County, four miles northwest of Fort Davis, approximately halfway between Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Carlsbad Caverns, and Big Bend National Park. The original portion of the park was deeded to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department by a local family. Original improvements were accomplished by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1933; the park has been open to the public in since the late 1930s; formal campground facilities were added in 1967. - Text from the TPWD page for Davis Mountains State Park

Activities: Activities include camping, sightseeing, nature study, stargazing, picnicking, hiking, backpacking, day and overnight equestrian use, mountain biking, and interpretive programs. Attractions include scenic drives, two scenic overlooks, and 4 miles of hiking trails connecting with Fort Davis National Historic Site.
 
Flowers in the Davis Mountains
 

Indian Lodge: This unique inn, built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), is located within Davis Mountains State Park. Lodging features a full-service restaurant, complimentary morning coffee service and modern rooms including heating, A/C, cable TV, telephone and maid service. Meeting facilities are available as well. Pets are not allowed at Indian Lodge, so if Fido is with you, look for other accommodations.

Fees: Park Entrance fee is $3.00 per day, per person 13 and older staying for day use only. The fee is $2.00 per day per person 13 and older staying overnight. Children 12 and under are free. Campsites range from $6 - $20 depending on facilities, so check the website for more information.(Current as of 13 Sep 2007)



Information excepted from the Davis Mountains State Park website linked above.

Fort Davis National Historic Site

 
Artillery Demonstration at Fort Davis National Historic Site
 

History: Fort Davis is one of the best surviving examples of an Indian Wars' frontier military post in the Southwest. From 1854 to 1891, Fort Davis was strategically located to protect emigrants, mail coaches, and freight wagons on the Trans-Pecos portion of the San Antonio-El Paso Road and on the Chihuahua Trail.

Activities: Hiking, self-guided tours and living history programs (including artillery demonstrations) are available to all visitors. For children, age 8 - 14, the "Mystery of the Talking Walls" challenge is available. Under adult supervision, children follow a map and gather clues; they then have to DECODE a secret message. For those younger than 8, there are Junior Ranger Programs as well.

Fees: Park Entrance fee is $3.00 per person for visitors 16 years and older (7-day pass). Children 15 and under are free. See the NPS website for details about group entrance fees. (Current as of 13 Sep 2007)



Information excepted from the Fort Davis National Historic Site website linked above.

McDonald Observatory

 
McDonald Observatory
 

History:Located atop Mt. Locke and Mt. Fowlkes, The University of Texas at Austin maintains the state-of-the-art McDonald Observatory. Work accomplished on the 4 telescopes and other astronomical observation equipment has led to some of the most exciting developments in our quest for knowledge about space.

Activities: The Frank N. Bash Visitors Center at McDonald Observatory provides interactive displays and programs for visitors to learn more about what goes on in the dark, clear skies of West Texas. Visit McDonaldObservatory.org for more information on visitor programs.

Fees: Costs vary by program, but admission to the Visitors Center and self-tours of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope are free of charge. Please visit the McDonald Observatory website for information on program reservations and fees. (Current as of 13 Sep 2007)

    Please visit the following webpage for up-to-date information, programs and activities:
  • McDonald Observatory - West Texas: (432) 426-3263 - Austin: (512) 471-3303


Information excepted from the McDonald Observatory website linked above.

Ranch Life

 
Livermore Ranch
 

Up until quite recently, this part of West Texas changed little over the previous hundred years. Although now some developers and speculators threaten to turn this beautiful desert oasis into a resort town, you can still see the true wild west on display! Many of the ranches which have been family owned and operated for over a century are open to the public for leisure retreats in the Fort Davis area. Some fantastic places to stay in the Davis Mountains are as follows:


The Peaks

 
Davis Mountains Map
 

CONTRIBUTIONS NEEDED! If you have any photos of the peaks in the Davis Mountains, please post them to this site. Also, regarding access, I've listed "Restricted" in green, "Private" in yellow and "Closed" in red. Since I haven't contacted any land owners that have denied access, currently no peaks are listed as Closed. If you have any access updates, please leave a comment and I will update the page accordingly.

    Access Categories:
  • RESTRICTED: These peaks are known to have open hiker access, but any such access must be coordinated with the land owners or managers.
  • PRIVATE: These peaks are on private land where it is not known if the landowner will grant access (e.g. they haven't been contacted yet, or they response on a case-by-case basis).
  • CLOSED: The closed peaks lie on private property and the landowner has denied access to willing hikers. Always remember to honor the rights and privileges of the property owners, treating them with respect!

Finally, a note on the ranking numbers; the first number is the peak's rank within the Davis Mountains, whereas the number in parentheses is the ranking out of the entire State of Texas. For inclusion as a "ranked" summit, I've followed the "Colorado Rule" requiring 300' of prominence.

  Rank Summit Elevation Parent Prominence Access
My favorite Picture - Mt. Livermore
 
1
(5)
Mt. Livermore 8,381'
(2555m)
Guadalupe Peak 3,936'
(1200m)
Restricted
-
DMP
Mescalero Mountain
 
2
(9)
Mescalero Mountain 8,060'
(2457m)
Mt. Livermore 400'
(122m)
Restricted
-
DMP
Brooks Mountain from Mt. Livermore
 
3
(12)
Brooks Mountain 7,780'
(2371m)
Mescalero Mountain 640'
(195m)
Private
-
Livermore
Ranch
Paradise Mountain
 
4
(13)
Paradise Mountain 7,740'
(2359m)
Mt. Livermore 440'
(134m)
Private
-
Beckenstein
Ranch
Pine Peak
 
5
(15)
Pine Peak 7,710'
(2350m)
Mt. Livermore 770'
(234m)
Restricted
-
DMP
North Face of Sawtooth Mountain
 
6
(16)
Sawtooth Mountain 7,686'
(2343m)
Mescalero Mountain 1,426'
(435m)
Private
-
Sawtooth
Mountain
Ranch
&
York
Property
Richman Mountain
 
7
(17)
Richman Mountain 7,650'
(2332m)
Mt. Livermore 350'
(107m)
Restricted
-
DMP
Black Mountain & Telescopes
 
8
(20)
Black Mountain 7,544'
(2299m)
Pine Peak 1,404'
(428m)
Private
-
Eppenauer
Ranch
Whitetail Mountain
 
9
(23)
Whitetail Mountain 7,485'
(2281m)
Mescalero Mountain 505'
(154m)
Restricted
-
DMP
Point 7418
 
10
(24)
Point 7418' 7,418'
(2261m)
Paradise Mtn 318'
(97m)
Private
-
Beckenstein
Ranch
Point 7,375
 
11
(26)
Point 7375' 7,375'
(2248m)
Whitetail Mtn 315'
(96m)
Restricted
-
DMP
Bear Mountain
 
12
(28)
Blue Mountain 7,311'
(2228m)
Paradise Mtn 1,571'
(479m)
Private
-
Beal Property
McDaniel Mountain
 
13
(31)
Bear Mountain 7,256'
(2212m)
Sawtooth Mtn 1,036'
(316m)
Private
-
Gearhart
&
York
Properties
Point 7,140
 
14
(32)
McDaniel Mountain 7,235'
(2205m)
Whitetail Mtn 655'
(200m)
Restricted
-
DMP
Point 7,095
 
15
(36)
Point 7140' 7,140'
(2176m)
Paradise Mtn 320'
(98m)
Private
-
Davis
Mountains
Resort
Subdivision
Point 7,060
 
16
(37)
Point 7095' 7,095'
(2162m)
Sawtooth Mtn 395'
(120m)
Private
-
Sawtooth
Mountain
Ranch
Point 7000 +
 
17
(39)
Point 7060' 7,060'
(2152m)
McDaniel Mtn 480'
(146m)
Restricted
-
DMP
GoogleEarth Rendering of Brown Mountain
 
18
(41)
Point 7000'+ 7,000'
(2134m)
Bear Mtn 780'
(238m)
Private
-
York
&
Coy
Properties
Geronimo Mountain
 
19
(42)
Brown Mountain 6,983'
(2128m)
Point 7418' 483'
(147m)
Private
-
Robison
Property
Sheep Pasture Mountain
 
20
(43)
Geronimo Mountain 6,963'
(2122m)
Point 7000'+ 703'
(214m)
Private
-
Coy
Property
Point 6,950
 
21
(44)
Sheep Pasture Mountain 6,960'
(2121m)
Point 7095' 980'
(299m)
Private
-
Coy
&
Long X
Properties
Brooks & Mescalero Mountains
 
22
(46)
Point 6950' 6,950'
(2118m)
Sheep Pasture Mtn 410'
(125m)
Private
-
Coy
&
Long X
Properties
Guide Peak from Mt. Locke
 
23
(53)
Point 6900' 6,900'
(2103m)
Brooks Mtn 320'
(98m)
Private
-
Livermore
Ranch
  24
(60)
Point 6860' 6,860'
(2091m)
Point 7418' 320'
(98m)
Private
-
Robison
&
Unknown
Properties
Mt. Locke
 
25
(62)
Guide Peak 6,842'
(2085m)
Black Mtn 582'
(177m)
Private
-
Eppenauer
Ranch
Spring Mountain
 
26
(66)
Mt. Locke 6,782'
(2067m)
Guide Peak 562'
(171m)
Restricted
-
McDonnell
Observatory
Point 6726
 
27
(68)
Spring Mountain 6,752'
(2058m)
Bear Mtn 892'
(272m)
Private
-
Coy
Property
(Probable)
Point 6693
 
28
(70)
Point 6726' 6,726'
(2050m)
Bear Mtn 346'
(106m)
Private
-
Gearhart
Property
  29
(71)
Point 6700' 6,700'
(2042m)
Point 7060' 560'
(171m)
Restricted
-
DMP
Gavina Ridge
 
30
(74)
Point 6693' 6,693'
(2040m)
Pine Peak 574'
(175m)
Restricted
-
DMP
  31
(75)
Point 6686' 6,686'
(2038m)
Point 7000'+ 346'
(106m)
Private
-
Coy
Property
Robbers Roost Mountain
 
32
(76)
Gavina Ridge 6,680'
(2036m)
Pine Peak 540'
(165m)
Private
-
Eppenauer
Ranch
Point 6626
 
33
(79)
Robbers Roost Mountain 6,634'
(2022m)
McDaniel Mtn 734'
(224m)
Private
-
Caldwell
Ranch
Point 6580
 
34
(80)
Point 6626' 6,626'
(2019m)
Black Mtn 326'
(99m)
Private
-
Eppenauer
Ranch
  35
(81)
Point 6624' 6,624'
(2019m)
McDaniel Mtn 364'
(111m)
Private
-
Locke's
Gap
Ranch
  36
(86)
Point 6601' 6,601'
(2012m)
Mt. Locke 381'
(116m)
Private
-
H. E.
Sproul
Property
[img:533807:aligncenter:thumb:] 37
(87)
Point 6580' 6,580'
(2006m)
Robbers Roost Mtn 960'
(293m)
Private
-
Unknown
Property

Images