Texas Travel

City Spotlight: Fort Davis

By Chet Garner 3.2.21

In my book, the Davis Mountains in West Texas are one of the most beautiful mountain ranges in the country. They aren’t your traditional rocky, jagged mountains, but the rolling, green, monstrous summits are breathtaking to behold. In some places, the elevation gets to be over a mile high, creating an exquisite backdrop. It’s truly the place to go to escape it all.

Tucked away in this undulating mountainscape is the highest town in Texas: Fort Davis.

A Winding History

Established in 1854, Fort Davis has experienced a history that’s nearly as winding as the mountains in which it resides. It has served as a stronghold on the frontier, a refuge for travelers, and a summer resort for wealthy Gulf Coast residents in the 1900s. Most notably, Fort Davis was the regimental headquarters of the Buffalo Soldiers, freed slaves who were hired by the U.S. government to serve at frontier forts across Texas and protect the settlers.

The fort itself is still standing today. If you’re interested in its stories, there are plenty of tours with a raised level of authenticity, from costumed characters to the firing of the fort’s cannons.

When the sun goes down, head up to the McDonald Observatory. It’s a premier astronomy research observatory and is used by University of Texas at Austin students, as well as the foremost astronomers from around the world, to study the cosmos. It’s not always open to the public, but sometimes they have “star parties” where you can visit and look through the massive telescopes yourself (during non-pandemic times).

The Peak of Natural Majesty

If you’re the outdoorsy type, the Davis Mountains State Park is just northwest of town and a great entry point for aspiring hikers. If you’ve got some experience under your belt, however, I recommend the Davis Mountain Preserve. It’s a grueling hike to the peak of Mount Livermore (or Baldy Peak, as it’s known to the locals), but it’s honestly one of the most beautiful hikes I’ve ever done in Texas.

A bit of history behind Mount Livermore: When settlers first discovered the peak, they found a cache of 1,000 hand-crafted arrowheads that had been left on the summit. Native Americans considered the area to be a spiritual place, leaving these arrowheads as a gift to those who had passed into the afterlife.

Fort Davis Food

Mountainous Appetite

If your stomach is grumbling after your hike, head back to town for some delicious eats. There are three spots I highly recommend in Fort Davis:

  • Stone Village Market: Right in the middle of town, Stone Village Market is a trendy, organic grocery store that was part of a renovated old motor inn from the mid-1900s. Their deli makes all kinds of tremendous sandwiches.
  • Blue Mountain Bar & Grill: If you’re looking for a bougie dinner experience in the mountains, you can’t beat this spot. They offer a unique spread of southwestern, chef-driven cuisine, such as tender-cut steaks, Gouda cheese fries, and grilled mountain trout.
  • Fort Davis Drug Store: This is your quintessential small-town drug store that offers all the best local fixings and an old-school ice cream counter. My order: any of their many hamburgers with a side of homemade onion rings and a chocolate milkshake for dessert.

Discover more Texas towns with the Daytripper here.

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