Looking at the map as we set our course from Truth or Consequences, NM we saw a state park along Interstate 10 in the heart of West Texas around the town of Balmorhea. West Texas is big, hilly and dry. The countryside is creosote and prickly pear cactus that climb up and down dry dusty limestone hills. The towns are small and desperate. Ranching and oil dominate the economy. The speed limit on the county road is 70 and on the interstate it’s 80, but it’s so big that even at these speeds it takes a long time to get anywhere.
So it was with satisfied relief that we exited off the freeway and into the town of Balmorhea with its big trees and small canal running down the center. We followed the signs and the canal to the state park where arriving after 5pm we were still able the find a camp spot for $14.
The San Solomon Springs feed the park and the town with an abundant supply of mineral water. In 1906 the town was formed and the water harvested for irrigation, and in the 1930s the CCC build a motel and large swimming lake. The spring feeds 28 million gallons of fresh water into a huge V shaped swimming pool daily. The pool, with it’s art deco design, looks like it should be at a 1920’s Fitzgerald mansion rather than a West Texas park. They call it a pool but it’s more like a lake. The water isn’t treated with chemicals—it’s stocked with fish—and swimmers share the lake with water fowl and the Texas soft shell turtle.
The park offers camping, CCC vintage motel kitchenettes, and swimming from 8am to sunset in a pool that has crystal clear water at a constant 71 degrees. The park is such a contrast; water, birds, fish, turtles, trees and grass all thriving in the middle of the Texas desert. A true oasis, it offers a sheltered respite from the the harsh desert terrain.