As one travels west on I-10 or I-20, out of the vast desert, on the horizon, slowly rises the purple mass of the Davis Mountains, the largest mountain chain entirely within Texas. Elevations range from 3,500 to 8,000 feet as they rise above the Chihuahuan desert. The mild climate and volcanic soils support a most biologically diverse selection of mountain flora and fauna.
The mountains receive more rain than the surrounding Trans-Pecos area and therefore have vegetation not found in the desert lowlands, such as pi¤on pine, black cherry, alligator juniper, live and dwarf gray oak, yellow and limber pine and the unusual and rare Madrone tree. The fall colors truly rival the best of northern and eastern states.
Hikers, bikers and wildlife and bird watchers enjoy the mountain trails of Davis Mountain State Park. The trails stretch out along ridge tops and offer vistas of desert grasslands and mountains. A 74-mile scenic loop drive goes through Madera Canyon, where spectacular rock paintings and pictographs decorate canyon walls. The lack of city lights enhances the view of night skies at the University of Texas McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis.
Southeast of El Paso, Fort Davis is located 30 miles northwest of Alpine on TX 118.