TEXAS STATE PARKS
Natural Economic Assets
STATE PARK PROFILES
Davis Mountains State Park
and Indian Lodge State Park
Jeff Davis County
Davis Mountains State Park is located in far west Texas in the Big Bend country, among three major national parks – Guadalupe Mountains, Carlsbad Caverns and Big Bend. The 2,709-acre state park is located four miles outside of Fort Davis.
The park is located within the most extensive mountain range in Texas. Among its attractions are a six-mile scenic drive on Skyline Drive, two scenic overlooks and 12 miles of hiking trails, some of which connect with the Fort Davis National Historic Site. The park has a hike and bike trail and miles of primitive routes for backpacking. Visitors are allowed, with a permit, on Skyline Drive for stargazing. An additional 10 miles of backcountry hiking trails are available in the Limpia Canyon Primitive Area. Keesey Creek flows through the state park, forming a picturesque canyon. Area visitors can also drive a scenic 74-mile loop that begins directly outside the park.1
The park has more than 100 campsites, including 27 full-service sites equipped with connections for electricity, cable television, water and sewer. According to Park Superintendent Maria Trevizo, the full-service sites will soon expand to include wireless Internet (Wi-Fi).
Davis Mountains State Park had 98,101 visitors in 2007.
The park features an equestrian campsite, allowing visitors to bring their own horses to ride in the primitive areas. Trevizo says the park welcomes all pets.2 In August 2006, the park was named one of the state’s 10 most dog-friendly sites by Texas Parks and Wildlife magazine.3
Trevizo says the park is considered one of the top birding areas in the state, and every January the park hosts a public bow and arrow hunt for javelina.
The park offers many educational opportunities. Its amphitheater is the site of interpretive programs on flora and fauna. A park host is available at various times of the year to lead bird walks and nature walks for visitors and area school children.
Park visitors can participate in summer programs in June, July and August. The nearby Sul Ross State University Planetarium in Alpine provides stargazing programs in the park.
Retired Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) employees lend a hand providing educational programs on area wildlife such as snakes and pronghorn antelope.4
Portions of the park soar more than a mile above sea level. Although the park sits within the Northern Chihuahuan Desert, it gets an occasional snowfall in the winter months. Evenings are cool year-round, and visitors are advised to bring a jacket to wear after sunset.5
Indian Lodge is located within the Davis Mountains State Park. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built the 39-unit lodge in the 1930s. The lodge was originally 16 units built in the style of a Southwestern Native American pueblo. Some of the rooms are furnished with handmade cedar furniture. In 1967, Indian Lodge underwent a major renovation and modernization. It was refurbished again in 2006.
According to Superintendent Al Tobola, the lodge was completely booked the day after it opened following the renovations. Currently reservations are recommended three to six months in advance. The lodge is already fully booked for some dates in July 2009.6 In August 2007, Indian Lodge was named “Park of the Month” by the TPWD. The lodge offers a swimming pool for guests. The full-service restaurant “The Black Bear” is not limited to inn guests and serves all visitors.7
In 2008, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named the Fort Davis area one of a “Dozen Distinctive Destinations” and noted the state park and its attractions as one of the distinctive features of Fort Davis. To receive the designation, communities must provide cultural and recreational experiences different from the typical vacation destination.8
In August 2007, Indian Lodge was named “Park of the Month” by the TPWD.
Davis Mountains State Park had 98,101 visitors in 2007.9 Guests at Indian Lodge are not charged an entrance fee.
The park and its sister facility, the Indian Lodge, frequently end the year with positive net revenue. In 2007, revenues were $359,950 for the Davis Mountains State Park. Operating expenses – excluding the costs for major capital repairs and employee benefits – were $352,705, leaving a modest $7,245 net gain. Indian Lodge’s revenues in 2007 were $1,356,985, against operating expenses of $1,258,553, leaving a net gain of $98,432 for the year.10
Davis Mountains State Park and Indian Lodge are vital parts of the community. According to Lisa Nugent, executive director of the Fort Davis Chamber of Commerce, “Our community could not survive without the state park.”
Nugent says the motel and hotel tax generated by visitors coming to the park benefits the Fort Davis community. “The state park and the tourism it brings help keep area folks employed,” says Nugent. “This economic benefit allows local residents to remain in the area by earning income from the park.”
According to Nugent, “This year travel is down across Texas by 12 percent. But at the same time, travel to Fort Davis is up 12 percent due in part to the attraction of the Davis Mountains State Park.
Davis Mountains State Park contributed $2,181,202 in sales and $905,393 in personal income to Jeff Davis County in 2006. Indian Lodge State Park contributed $3,683,690 in sales and $1,439,420 in personal income to Jeff Davis County in 2006.
“Families are not taking as many (vacation) breaks during the year,” she adds. “Instead they are extending their stay an extra day or two.” Superintendent Trevizo concurs, saying that park visitation and entrance fee collections are up from last year. Superintendent Tobola says that high gas prices have not deterred guests from visiting Indian Lodge; the number of guests here continues to match historic patterns.
Trevizo says the area’s cool weather, even in summer, helps attract guests. Trevizo says the park average’s daytime temperature ranges from the low to middle 80s, and nighttime temperatures drop to 60 degrees.
Nugent estimates that about 80 percent of visitors to the area are Texans, with the remaining guests coming from neighboring states and as far away as New England.
The park sees visitors from the Midland/Odessa area, Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston, Trevizo says. Lately the park has seen more visitors from Mexico.
The park hosts many Boy Scout, Girl Scout, YMCA Indian Princesses and Indian Guides campouts throughout March and August. Tervizo says the Boy Scouts especially like to hike from the Fort Davis Historical area into the park. University students come during spring break to catch up on schoolwork. They perform geological surveys, gather surveys on birds, conduct bird banding and collect insects, amphibians, grasses, flowers and rocks.
Nugent says she receives positive comments from visitors. “Once visitors come to the area, they are likely to return,” she says. “Tourists come out and see one of the best state parks in the state.”
Trevizo also notes return visitors. “I know we are far, but once people come, they don’t want to leave and get back to their busy lives. We see generations of families come back year after year.”
According to Nugent, “The Indian Lodge is the crown jewel of the state park’s system. Without the Black Bear restaurant at the Indian Lodge, we would have difficulty serving visitors to Fort Davis. The restaurant is an important part of the community.”
“Because of the remoteness of the area and the limited number of food establishments, it would be very difficult to serve visitors who come for special events without the Black Bear,” Nugent says.7
According to a study conducted by John Crompton of Texas A&M University, Davis Mountains State Park contributed $2,181,202 in sales and $905,393 in personal income to Jeff Davis County in 2006. The park also created 56.6 jobs and generated $10,906 in sales tax revenue for the county in that year. Indian Lodge State Park contributed $3,683,690 in sales and $1,439,420 in personal income to Jeff Davis County in 2006. The park also created 96.8 jobs and $18,418 in sales tax revenue for the county in that year.8
Summary Economic Impacts
Davis Mountains State Park and Indian Lodge State Park, Jeff Davis County
|2006 County Sales||2006 County Resident Income||2006 County Employment (Full-Time Equivalent)||2006 County Sales Tax Generated|
Source: Texas A&M University.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Direct Spending (Fiscal 2007)
|Revenues||Operating Expenses*||Net Income|
* Includes salaries, operating expenses and minor (non-capital) repair.
Source: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.
- 1 Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, “Davis Mountains State Park,” pp. 1-3, http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/davis_mountains/. (Last visited September 18, 2008.)
- 2 Interview with Maria Trevizo, superintendent, Davis Mountains State Park, Fort Davis, Texas, July 24, 2008.
- 3 Melissa Gaskill, “Dog-Friendly Parks,” Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine, (August 2006), p. 4, http://www.tpwmagazine.com/archive/2006/aug/ed_4/. (Last visited September 18, 2008.)
- 4 Interview with Maria Trevizo, superintendent, Davis Mountains State Park.
- 5 Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, “Davis Mountains State Park,” p. 4.
- 6 Interview with Al Tobola, superintendent, Indian Lodge State Park, Fort Davis, Texas, July 29, 2008.
- 7 Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, “August 2007 Park of the Month: Indian Lodge: Restored Indian Lodge Worth West Texas Trip,” pp. 1-3, http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/park_of_the_month/archive/2007/07_08.phtml. (Last visited September 18, 2008.)
- 8 National Trust for Historic Preservation, “National Trust for Historic Preservation Announces 2008 List of America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations,” (Washington, D.C., February 7, 2008), p. 2, http://press.nationaltrust.org/content/view/205/162/, (last visited September 18, 2008), (Press Release); and National Trust for Historic Preservation, “Fort Davis, TX,” (Washington, D.C., 2008), pp. 1-2, http://www2.preservationnation.org/dozen_distinctive_destinations/2008/Fort-Davis/. (Last visited September 18, 2008.)
- 9 Data provided by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, “State Park Sites, Acreage, and Visits,” with Texas Comptroller’s office calculations.
- 10 Data provided by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, “Revenue Less Operating Costs, FY 2006-2007,” with Texas Comptroller’s office calculations. Amount may not total due to rounding.
- 11 Interview with Lisa Nugent, executive director, Fort Davis Chamber of Commerce, Fort Davis, Texas, July 23, 2008.
- 12 Texas Coalition for Conservation, The Economic Contributions of Texas State Parks in FY 2006, by John L. Crompton and Juddson Culpepper, Texas A&M University, Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences (Austin, Texas, December 2006), http://rptsweb.tamu.edu/faculty/Crompton/Crompton/Articles/3.10.pdf. (Last visited September 18, 2008.)