We have lived in Texas for over twenty years, but for some reason, we have never visited Big Bend National Park. We still haven’t! (Actually, my husband visited it when he was single.) However, our first stop on this very laid-back vacation was Fort Davis, an old army post which apparently is a must-see for all Big Bend visitors. And rightfully so.
Ft. Davis is a partially restored old army post on the San Antonio – El Paso Road. It served as a post from (roughly) the 1850s to the 1890s. It is incredibly picturesque – nestled in a mountain range. It is exactly the type of terrain you’d expect to see John Wayne, Henry Fonda, and Jimmy Stewart saddling up their horses in order to go protect the passing westward bound wagon trains.
Quite a few of the original buildings and most of the foundations are still there. The National Park Service has restored and furnished several buildings – one of each “type” >>> enlisted men’s barracks, officers’ quarters, officers’ servants’ quarters (Can you imagine that?!), and the commanding officer’s quarters (Wow-zee!). But by far, the most interesting building for us was the restored and refurnished hospital. I commented to my husband that seeing the doctor’s black bag open on the table as you walked into his office would have made me re-think just how sick I really felt. That’s the effect the gleaming, shiny saw would have had on me!
I think Ft. Davis is well worth the detour off of I-10 between El Paso and San Antonio. It looks like Alpine is the nearest town with lodging. We only spent two hours at the fort because my husband felt a little tired, but you could easily spend three to four hours walking round the site itself. And, there are actual trails for those who are more adventurous.
P.S. Be sure to get the “Bugle Calls” sheet from the ranger on duty. It’s fun to be able to identify what the bugle calls signify as they are played throughout your visit.