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Balmorhea State Park Guide — Swimming, Birdwatching, and More

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Amar Hussain
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Amar Hussain

Senior Content Contributor

771 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 63U.S. States Visited: 9

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications incl...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

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With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now Editor-in-Chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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Balmorhea State Park is a serene desert oasis that offers a refreshing escape from the scorching heat. The park boasts the world’s biggest spring-fed pool, an ideal spot for tourists worldwide to swim, scuba dive, and unwind.

The park caters to every visitor’s interests, be they a history buff, nature lover, or someone looking for a break from their daily routine. The park draws over 200,000 visitors annually who come to explore its scenic beauty.

How To Get to Balmorhea State Park

Where Is Balmorhea State Park?

Balmorhea State Park is situated in Toyahvale, Texas, at the base of the Davis Mountains. The park covers 46 acres of the western desert, with a unique underground spring as its main attraction. The nearest major city is Balmorhea, which is only 4 miles away from the park.

Balmorhea State Park Opening Hours and Seasons

This park is open throughout the year. The park is open from 8 a.m. until sunset or 6 p.m., whichever comes first. However, some of the facilities within the park may have different hours or close for various events. It is advisable to call ahead to ensure that the activities you plan to do are available when you visit.

Nearest Airports to Balmorhea State Park

Multiple airports are located within a 200-mile radius of the park, but the closest one is more than 120 miles away. Of the numerous options available, 2 airports are commonly used by travelers visiting this Texas park.

Cavern City Air Terminal (CNM)

Cavern City Air Terminal is situated in Carlsbad, New Mexico, which is around 127 miles away from the park. It typically takes approximately 2.5 hours to reach the park from this airport. Advanced Air is the only airline that serves this airport, offering flights to and from Albuquerque and Phoenix.

Once you arrive at the airport, you will need to arrange a rental car or a ride-sharing service to complete the rest of your journey to the park. Although this airport may have fewer flight options, it could still suit your travel needs.

Midland International Air & Space Port (MAF)

Midland International Air & Space Port is the nearest major airport to Balmorhea State Park, situated in Midland, Texas, about 130 miles from the park. The airport offers over 20 daily departures with nonstop service to Dallas Fort Worth, Dallas Love Field, Denver, Las Vegas, and Phoenix, and it is served by several well-known airlines, including Envoy, Southwest, and United Express.

Although it is a bit further than the option in Carlsbad, it takes less time to drive to the park from here, at just over 2 hours. You can easily arrange a rental car or other transportation to the park from here.

Driving to Balmorhea State Park

The park is in Toyahvale, 4 miles southwest of Balmorhea on State Highway 17. To reach the park from I-10 W, take the Balmorhea exit (exit 206) and then follow FM 2903 south to Balmorhea.

After this, you need to take State Highway 17 west for 4 miles. On the other hand, if you are traveling from I-10 E, take the Toyahvale/Ft. Davis exit (exit 192) and then travel east on Ranch Road 3078 for approximately 12 miles till you reach the park.

Taking the Train to Balmorhea State Park

Unfortunately, there is no direct train service to this park. However, you can take Amtrak to Alpine, about an hour away. Once you arrive in Alpine, you can take a taxi or rent a car to get to the park. It’s important to note that although there isn’t a direct train service to the park, the journey to Alpine is picturesque, and you’ll be able to enjoy some stunning views of the surrounding landscapes.

Bottom Line:

If you’re up for a little adventure, taking the train to Alpine is definitely worth considering.

Taking the Bus to Balmorhea State Park

There isn’t a direct bus service to Balmorhea State Park, but an alternative can get you quite close. Greyhound provides service to Pecos, Texas. This station is approximately a 50-minute drive from the park. Taking the bus is an excellent choice for those who want to relieve themselves of the stress of driving and relax while enjoying the journey to the park.

Getting Around Balmorhea State Park

Balmorhea Aerial
Image Credit: Chase A. Fountain via TPWD

When visitors arrive at the park, they will be directed to the parking area, where they must leave their vehicles. From there, they can begin their exploration of the park on foot using this map. This allows visitors to fully immerse themselves in the park’s natural beauty, taking in all its sights, sounds, and smells. Walking also provides visitors with an excellent opportunity to get some exercise and fresh air while enjoying the scenery.

What To See and Do at Balmorhea State Park

Balmorhea State Park offers many exciting activities for visitors of all ages. From swimming in the pristine waters of the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool to exploring the park’s diverse wildlife and hiking trails, there is something for everyone. Take a moment to discover the top experiences visitors enjoy during their stay at this magnificent park.

Birdwatching

The park is a breathtaking natural haven for birdwatching enthusiasts. With its diverse range of habitats and ecosystems, the park is home to various bird species. From the beautiful white-winged dove to the tiny, colorful warblers, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

As you explore the park, bring your camera and binoculars to get an even closer view of these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. The park provides the perfect backdrop for capturing stunning photographs of the birds in flight. 

Whether you’re an avid birdwatcher or just looking for a peaceful escape into nature, Balmorhea State Park is the perfect destination. With its serene atmosphere, diverse wildlife, and beautiful landscapes, it’s no wonder that birdwatchers from all over the world flock to this park to observe the fascinating bird species that call it home. 

Geocaching

Geocaching is an outdoor adventure game that has gained immense popularity at this park. In this activity, players use GPS-enabled devices, such as smartphones or handheld GPS units, to navigate to specific coordinates and locate hidden containers or caches.

The caches can come in various sizes and types and may contain a logbook for players to sign or small trinkets for trading. Geocachers usually leave an item in the cache and take something in return. This modern-day treasure hunt is a great way to explore the park and discover hidden gems while having fun.

Snorkeling and Scuba Diving

Balmorhea State Park offers a unique opportunity to explore the underwater world and cool off during hot summer days. Visitors can rent snorkeling and scuba diving equipment from a nearby facility to discover the diverse aquatic life thriving in the crystal-clear waters of the park. From colorful fish and algae to fascinating rock formations, there’s no shortage of wonders in the park’s underwater ecosystem.

Swimming

Balmorhea State Park Swimming
Image Credit: Chase A. Fountain via TPWD

This park is renowned for its pristine waters, which make it an ideal destination for swimming enthusiasts. The park features a 1.3-acre spring-fed pool, which maintains a constant temperature of 72 to 76 degrees throughout the year. Visitors can also explore the diverse marine life that inhabits the pool, including various fish species and aquatic plants.

Bottom Line:

Balmorhea State Park is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to cool off and enjoy a refreshing swim in natural, unspoiled surroundings.

Best Times To Visit Balmorhea State Park

This park is a fantastic destination to visit anytime throughout the year. However, some seasons may be better than others, depending on the activity you wish to partake in.

Best Time To Visit Balmorhea State Park for Ideal Weather

Weather can significantly impact the enjoyment of a trip. Therefore, planning your trip around the expected weather conditions is always a good idea. May would be the perfect time for ideal weather. During this month, the temperature generally ranges from the mid-50s to the upper 80s, and the rain chances are relatively low. These temperatures are perfect for outdoor activities and exploring the park.

Best Time To Visit Balmorhea State Park To Avoid the Crowds

December is ideal for visiting if you want a peaceful and crowd-free experience while exploring the park. As it is less popular among visitors during this month, you can take your time to discover the park’s natural beauty and enjoy the serene environment. So, plan a visit to the park in December and relish the experience of wandering through its wonders at your own pace.

Best Time To Visit Balmorhea State Park for Water Activities

June is the best time to visit this state park for water activities. With temperatures ranging from the mid-60s to mid-90s, it’s perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving. Don’t forget to bring sunscreen and clothing that can be worn in layers. Enjoy the park’s scenic trails and other outdoor activities during the longer days and warmer evenings.

Cheapest Time To Visit Balmorhea State Park

It may seem not easy to save money while traveling, but it can be achieved with proper research and planning. The most cost-effective time to visit the park is mid to late September. During this period, flights and accommodations are usually at their lowest throughout the year.

Annual Events at Balmorhea State Park

The Polar Bear Plunge is an annual event that locals and tourists eagerly anticipate. This plunge takes place every year on the first day of January. Although it may seem absurd to jump into the world’s biggest spring-fed swimming pool during winter, the water temperature remains between 72 and 75 degrees throughout the year, so you may not feel as cold as you would expect.

Where To Stay Near Balmorhea State Park

When planning a trip, finding a suitable place to stay is one of the most important tasks. Luckily, there are many lodging options available both within the park and in the nearby areas. Take some time to explore the different accommodation choices near this state park.

Inside the Park

To stay within the park, you have 2 options to choose from. You can sleep under the stars or have a more traditional lodging experience. Whatever your preference, there is an option that will meet your needs.

Camping

Balmorhea State Park RVs
Image Credit: Chase A. Fountain via TPWD

Balmorhea State Park is a great place to camp if you’re looking for a peaceful and scenic spot. With 34 campsites available, you’ll have plenty of options. Each campsite has water and electric hookups to make your stay comfortable.

Hot Tip:

These campsites are currently closed for renovations. The park is undergoing some upgrades to improve the facilities, and the campsites are expected to reopen in the near future. You may want to check ahead to see when the campsites will be available again.

San Solomon Springs Court

Nestled within the beautiful confines of the park, San Solomon Springs Court provides a unique lodging experience for visitors. Initially constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, this historic facility has been a popular choice for guests ever since.

The metro-style lodging option boasts a range of rooms and suites that cater to every need and preference. From cozy single rooms to spacious family suites, guests can choose from various options that meet their requirements.

Hot Tip:

Sadly, the facility is currently closed for renovations, but once it reopens (possibly in 2024), visitors can enjoy its comfortable amenities and charming ambiance.

Towns Near Balmorhea State Park

Many towns near the park serve as excellent home bases for visitors who prefer to stay outside the park’s boundaries. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful stay in a small community or a more lively experience in a bigger city, you can find the perfect solution within a short drive of the park.

Balmorhea, Texas

Balmorhea is a charming small town that offers visitors a fantastic opportunity to experience the beauty of nature at Balmorhea State Park. Located just a few miles from the park, this town is an ideal place to stay for those who want to explore the park’s breathtaking scenery and unique wildlife. 

The town offers plenty of options for lodging, ranging from quaint bed and breakfasts to comfortable hotels. Visitors can also enjoy delicious meals at the town’s many restaurants, which offer a variety of cuisines to suit all tastes. For those who love outdoor activities, there are numerous hiking, biking, fishing, and swimming opportunities in the town and its surrounding areas.

Balmorhea is truly a hidden gem in Texas with its friendly locals, scenic beauty, and endless recreational opportunities.

Pecos, Texas

Pecos is a picturesque city located just 50 minutes away from Balmorhea State Park. Its proximity to the park makes it an ideal home base for visitors exploring its natural beauty. Pecos offers a variety of activities and attractions to keep visitors entertained, including hiking trails, museums, and historical sites.

The town’s dining scene is also worth exploring, with numerous restaurants serving delicious local cuisine. When it comes to accommodations, visitors can choose from a range of options, from cozy bed and breakfasts to modern hotels.

Where To Eat Near Balmorhea State Park

There are no restaurants inside the park, but plenty of options are nearby. The surrounding cities offer a variety of cuisines. Check out the top-ranked restaurant in the closest town to the park.

La Cueva De Oso Restaurant

La Cueva De Oso Restaurant is a must-visit destination for those who love Mexican cuisine. Located in Balmorhea, this restaurant has earned a reputation for serving some of the best Mexican food in the area.

Open daily for lunch and dinner, it offers a menu of classic Mexican favorites such as tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and fajitas. It also has various vegetarian and gluten-free options available to cater to a diverse range of dietary preferences. 

The restaurant has a cozy and inviting atmosphere, with friendly and attentive staff who will ensure that you have an unforgettable dining experience. Whether you’re a local or just passing through, La Cueva De Oso Restaurant is definitely worth a visit.

Balmorhea State Park Facts

Balmorhea State Park
Image Credit: E via Flickr (license)

1. A New State Park

This Texas State Park was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s and opened to visitors shortly after. It was officially established and opened in 1968.

2. A New Town to Settle

Balmorhea is a charming town founded in 1906. The town is centered around a 14,000-acre tract of land blessed with natural springs, providing a picturesque landscape. The town’s unique location has made it a popular tourist destination over the years, with visitors attracted to the area’s stunning natural beauty.

3. What’s in a Name?

This state park was named after 3 land developers who founded the townsite. Their names were Balcum, Morrow, and Rhea. Those names were combined to make Balmorhea.

4. San Solomon Springs

San Solomon Springs is part of a chain of interconnected springs in the Balmorhea region. Most spring water originates from a vast underground aquifer system, which starts 400 miles northwest of the park. The rainfall from the Davis Mountains also fills the springs.

5. Astonishing Flow

The San Solomon Springs flow at an astonishing rate of approximately 15 million gallons per day, which is enough water to fill over 300,000 bathtubs.

Final Thoughts

Balmorhea State Park is an amazing destination for exploration. The park offers many activities, from exploring the rich history to enjoying the natural setting. Plan your visit to this park today and experience the charm that attracts so many visitors to this part of Texas every year.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to visit Balmorhea State Park?

Adult entry fees are $7 per day. Children 12 years and under are free of charge.

Can I paddle or boat Balmorhea State Park?

Paddling and boating are not allowed at Balmorhea State Park.

What attractions should I see near Balmorhea State Park?

Some attractions visitors enjoy taking in near Balmorhea State Park include Davis Mountains State Park and Indian Lodge.

Can I fish at Balmorhea State Park?

Fishing is prohibited at Balmorhea State Park.

Amar Hussain's image

About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.

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