Over mother’s day weekend my mom and dad came into town and wanted to go camping with the family. Due to some other obligations we couldn’t be gone long. So we headed down to Balmorhea State park for a short overnight trip.
Balmorhea State Park
Balmorhea State Park is located southwest of Balmorhea, Texas in the foothills of the Davis Mountains. We arrived in the park just before sunset with enough light to set up camp. With the tentsup we took a quick look around before heading off to McDonald Observatory for a late night star party.
Our campsite near dusk with the Davis Mountains in the distance
At McDonald Observatory Star Party
My wife nearly stepped on this walking back from the restrooms Friday night. She said it looked like a stick at first.
The next morning we woke to a gorgeous day. We took our time getting ready and enjoyed a nice camp breakfast before heading down to Fort Davis again to check out the fire damage. Click here to see my post on the Fort Davis Fire Damage. We couldn’t stay long as we wanted to get back to swim at Balmorhea before time to go home. Balmorhea after all was the reason we were there. My mother has more than just a passing interest in scuba diving, and had heard Balmorhea was a great place to dive (more on that in min). She had never see the park and we weren’t going to leave without getting in the water.
What is currently Balmorhea state park was built around San Solomon Springs by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the early 1930s. San Solomon Springs is one of the largest in Texas producing nearly one million gallons of water an hour, or 23-28 million gallons a day. I think we will all agree that is a significant amount of water. The water stays a constant 72 to 76 degrees which normally would feel cold to me, but with temperatures reaching 100 degrees before noon I was anxious to get into the cool clear water.
Cool Clear water at Balmorhea State Park
We spent most the day enjoying the cool water. Balmorhea features some of the clearest and cleanest water around, which makes it great for underwater photography. I had yet to really utilize the underwater capabilities of my GoPro Hero cam so I brought it along to take some video. Below is a video that gives a taste of what it is like to swim at Balmorhea.
One of the interesting things about Balmorhea State Park is the appearance of the spring. When the CCC constructed the 3.5 million gallon “pool” they made it to look just like that…a pool…but only from above the water. Below the water the “pool” has a natural bottom from which the spring bubbles up.
The clean clear water supports a variety of fish including Catfish, Comanche Springs pupfish and the Pecos gambusia. All of which can be seen as you swim in the pool.
The Spring was “improved” to look like a pool by the CCC
The Spring Pool at Balmorhea State Parak
Some of the Fish that you can swim with at Balmorhea State Park
The spring fed water exits the pool via this beautiful stream. From here it goes to irrigate several farms and eventually ends up in Balmorhea Lake.
This Owl was nesting in a tree at Balmorhea State Park
Another interesting thing about Balmorhea State Park is how it has become a Texas Scuba Diving destination. You usually doesn’t think of the desert as a place to scuba dive, yet scuba divers from all over the state come to dive at Balmorhea. Part of this is due to the depth of the pool, which is 25 feet deep near the middle. I spent most of my time snorkeling with only the occasional deep dive. Unfortunately I couldn’t last long under the water. I must admit it would have been neat to be able to swim near the bottom for extended periods. It is safe to say I can add Scuba Diving as yet another expensive hobby that perks my interest.
Scuba Divers at Balmorhea State Park
Directions: The park is located 4 miles southwest of Balmorhea on State Highway 17, in Toyahvale. From I-10 westbound, take Balmorhea exit (exit #206); FM 2903 south to Balmorhea; State Highway 17 west 4 miles to the Park. From I-10 eastbound, take Toyahvale/Ft. Davis exit (exit #192); Ranch Road 3078 east approximately 12 miles to the park.
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