Millions of gallons of water in the desert: Balmorhea State Park

Balmorhea State Park TX cabins near spring-fed waters (photo by Sheila Scarborough)The San Solomon Springs have been an oasis for centuries here in western Texas, pouring 22-28 million gallons of spring water daily out into the Chihuahuan Desert.

From 1936 – 1941 during the US Great Depression, the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) built an enormous swimming pool around the springs, plus outbuildings and a small group of adobe cabins called the San Solomon Courts, all of which is still enjoyed today as Balmorhea State Park (pronounced Bal-mo-RAY.)

I stayed in one of the cabins with my parents – they were small and pretty Spartan, but very quiet because of the thick adobe walls. Waterfowl, swallows and lots of other wildlife kept us company as we watched a swirling red sunset over the nearby Davis Mountains.

Update: I forgot to mention that the cabins facing the stream in the photo are numbers 13 – 17. I’d ask about availability of those when making reservations.

A small cienega (desert wetland) was added to the complex in later years, to try to restore the area’s original natural habitat. There’s a small observation deck and another spot where you can look underwater through thick glass panes, although the lighting was bad midday and we couldn’t see any fish.

Balmorhea is on the edge of the Texas Pecos Trail Region, just before you enter the Texas Mountain Trail Region heading west. Be sure to check their websites or pick up a brochure – it’s too easy to blast through this part of Texas on Interstate 10 without really seeing any of it. If you go through in late summer or early fall, pick up a Pecos melon; they’re delicious cantaloupes and are grown in the nearby town of Pecos.

Here’s a nice video about Balmorhea State Park from Texas Parks and Wildlife – look for the scene where you see the spring water bubbling right up through the sandy bottom of the swimming pool. Direct link to the video.

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