To get a good overview of the park, take the winding Skyline Drive up the mountain. At dusk, purple mountaintops fade into the distance at the back of the valley. In the morning, the sun splashes on the white-washed Indian Lodge notched into the canyon.
As you rise over the peak to the far side, the Chihuahuan Desert and distant mountains reach to the horizon. After a couple of switchbacks, the road ends at a Civilian Conservation Corps overlook down toward Fort Davis, with stone windows that frame the landscape.
Intersecting canyons marked by lush creek beds cut through the heart of the park.
Cottonwoods and willows border Limpia Creek as it bisects the
park from west to east. Large Emory oaks and gray oaks line its
tributary, Keesey Creek. Limpia and Keesey canyons provide
habitat for abundant and varied wildlife. The canyon treefrog,
black-tailed rattlesnake, Montezuma quail, mule deer and an
occasional mountain lion…
Catch the Milky Way from atop the park’s Skyline Drive, or travel about a half hour up the road to the famous McDonald Observatory for a star party.
The park has about 12 miles of hiking trails and seven miles of bring-your-own-horse equestrian trails.
- Indian Lodge Trail (2.5 miles) The most rugged trail, which begins behind the lodge, is a steep climb up and and steep climb down. Its rocky path follows the ridge of the mountains with spectacular views on either side. In the distance you can see the telescope domes of the McDonald Observatory. Two large rock cairns mark the mountains’ peaks. If anything, the trek down is steeper than the climb up. Eventually, it meets up with the Montezuma Quail Trail. At the end, to get back where you started, you’ll need to make a short hike back up the road to the lodge.
- Montezuma Quail Trail (2 miles) is a short hike through the brush, with a “luxury” bird blind at its start that attracts a variety of sparrows, warblers and desert birds.
- Skyline Drive Trail (4.5 miles) This long trail follows the ridge above the park broken every once in a while by the road that snakes across its path.
- Old CCC Trail (3.5 miles roundtrip) is a longer hike along the rim of the valley.
- Limpia Creek Equestrian Trail (More than 7 miles) This mix of loops and spurs covers more than 7 miles if you do an out-and-back on all of them.