Desert Oasis

Posted by on March 5, 2012

Sunrise in the West Texas Oasis of Balmorhea

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 public swimming "pool" is really a fresh water, spring fed, man made lake.

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 CCC vintage motel was surrounded by fresh water canals. The water was so clean you could see fish and turtles swimming.

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.

The motel rates were $60 - $70 a night.

Bright red bridges cross the little canals at multiple spots.

From the bridges, we watched the Texas soft shell turtles hunt catfish.

The water in the pool was clear. So clear we could see the little fish. Sara thought that maybe they'd give her a pedicure.

The fish were interested in her, but not her feet - they liked the algae she kicked up.

Balmorhea State Park in West Texas is a hidden gem. A true desert oasis.

One Response to Desert Oasis

  1. Aunt Jo Ann

    We too have been there – you did a great job describing it! Hope you are having fun & enjoying the trip 🙂