5 Best Things to Do in West Texas

Last updated: July 29th, 2023 | Originally published: June 27, 2023
things to do in west texas

West Texas is more than cowboys and the Interstate 10. It is also home to lengthy stretches of nothing and a hot, dusty climate. In addition to that, it has been described as unsightly, lonely, and dull. However, despite the prima facia starkness of the landscape, there are some beautiful and interesting things to do in West Texas.

Believe it or not, you will find the largest spring-fed swimming pool in the world here, as well as some of the darkest skies in the USA. In addition to these anomalies, West Texas is home to two National Parks and a National Historic Site.

Our family spent a week trekking across these parts and it was a remarkable experience. The following are what we found to be the five best things to do in West Texas. We hope you enjoy!

1. Big Bend National Park

things to do in west texas
Things to Do in West Texas

Along with Carlsbad Caverns, Big Bend National Park is the strangest and most surprising of the US national parks. The landscape has the appearance of Mars, and the rules of geology are clearly broken here. Mountains spring forth from the desert landscape in haphazard, almost comical abundance. One mountain may appear as a pilgrim’s hat; another like an ankylosaurus buried on its side. In the distance, the Chisos Basin stands like a brooding citadel. It is a circus of the countryside, and one of the best things to do in West Texas.

Read more about Big Bend National Park.

2. Guadalupe Mountain National Park

things to do in west texas
The face of El Capitan

Guadalupe Mountain National Park park encompasses 86,416 acres of mountains, canyons, and sand dunes, and it is known to be the world’s largest Permian fossil reef. It is an impressive place to behold, punctuated by the inimitable feature known as El Capitan! At 8,751 feet, Guadalupe Peak is the highest point in the state of Texas. Climbing to the top is not only the highlight of the park, but one of the best things to do in West Texas.

Read more about Guadalupe Mountain National Park.

3. McDonald Observatory

things to do in west texas
Things to Do in West Texas

McDonald Observatory is a research unit of The University of Texas and one of the world’s leading centers for astronomical research. Observatory facilities are located atop Mount Locke and Mount Fowlkes in the Davis Mountains of West Texas, which offer some of the darkest night skies in the continental United States. The stars of the show are The Giant Magellan Telescope, with seven mirros spanning 25 meters, and The Hobby-Eberly Telescope, one of the world’s largest optical telescopes ideal for searching for galaxies, black holes, and more, are the stars of the show. Be sure to catch a Star Party!

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4. Balmorhea State Park

Balmorhea State Park
photo credit: Texas monthly

One of the best things to do in West Texas is splash in the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool. More than 15 million gallons of water flow through the pool each day, gushing from the San Solomon Springs.  Swim, scuba dive, geocache, study nature, and bird watch at Balmorhea S.P. The park has picnic sites, an outdoor sports area, a playground, and 34 camp sites.

5. Fort Davis National Historic Site

Fort Davis National Historic Site
Photo credit: Altered perspectives.us

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. Here you can enjoy perusing living quarters and facilities, and learn about historical facts and figures. Fort Davis is one of the best things to do in West Texas while on your way to or from Big Bend N.P.

An Honest Conclusion for Things to Do in West Texas

things to do in west texas
Prada Marfa Art Installation

Big Bend National Park is a winner. Guadalupe Mountain National Park is striking as well, and you’re within an hour of Carlsbad Caverns in south New Mexico — making it a National Park twofer! But what really makes this region awesome are Balmorhea State Park and the McDonald Observatory.

If you’re passing through these parts, there are some very cool things to do in West Texas. We would recommend you spend some time here before you die.

Thank you for stopping by our website! We are the Hoffmann family, a full-time RV family that has split residence in Seattle, Washington and San Antonio, Texas. We have special needs children that we homeschool, and work travel assignments for the Veteran Affairs Hospital. If you would like to learn more about us, check out our Start Here and Biography pages. In the meantime, God bless and travel happy!

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