Davis Mountains State Park to host centennial celebration amidst lodge, trail renovations

Davis Mountains State Park will host a special day of hikes and talks to celebrate the centennial anniversary of Texas State Parks this Saturday. Photo courtesy of Davis Mountains State Park.

FORT DAVIS — Davis Mountains State Park will host “Mile-High Mountains Fest,” a free recreational bash to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Texas State Parks system from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. this Saturday, May 13. 

Reservations are not required and the entire community is welcome. Special programming includes guided hikes, tabling by local organizations, live music, face painting, crafts, and talks from area experts on geology, bears, the history of the Indian Lodge and more. Picnic areas will be available, but attendees will need to bring their own food and drinks. 

Park employees Charlie Ewing, interpretive ranger, and Aimee Oliveri, assistant superintendent, said the welcoming spirit of the centennial event and varied activities is purposefully in keeping with Texas State Parks’ recent efforts to broaden its reach to new audiences.

“Getting people outside who may have never been to our park before or to a state park at all, just expressing that there is something for everyone here [is our goal],” said Oliveri. “There’s a state park out there for you, and that’s really the message we’re trying to send.” 

Davis Mountains State Park, a 2,000 plus square acre public recreational area and the highest elevated park in Texas, is also undergoing restorations to one of its main trails and to the Indian Lodge, visitor accommodations originally constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1935. 

Reconstruction of the CCC trail, which has been closed for an extended period of time, is slated to be completed in time for this Saturday’s event, said park employees. While the portion of the trail that features old stonework built by the CCC was still holding up, other parts of the trail experienced continual washout due to rain events, and park employees and volunteers were working to solve drainage problems and reopen the route. 

The historic Indian Lodge, which underwent additions of a pool, restaurant and two newer lodging wings in the 1960s along with other periodic renovations, has been closed for renovation since early 2023. Oliveri said the much-needed renovations that were occurring would hopefully be completed by early 2024. 

“We’re getting new water lines, new boilers, key cards for the doors — things that will make operations there much easier and much more comfortable for our guests,” said Oliveri. 

Funding for the renovations, in part, comes from a Texas State Law passed in 1993 which allocates a portion of sales tax on sporting goods to the state park system for park operations. 

See the full schedule of the Davis Mountains Centennial Celebration below:

9 a.m. — Guided Hike #1 (Easy, 30 min. round trip) Headquarters Trail to Emory Oak Bird Blind. Meet at Park HQ/Front Office.

9 a.m. — Guided Hike #2 (Moderate/Challenging, 2 hours round trip) Skyline Drive Trail to Scenic Overlook. Meet at the Interpretive Center.  

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. — Local partner group table presentations, face painting, and craft station at tent area (sites #86-94) including Sul Ross Center for Big Bend Studies, Master Naturalists (Tierra Grande Chapter), Fort Davis National. Historic Site, Grand Companions (Pet Adoption), Fort Davis Chamber of Commerce, Fort Davis E.M.T./Vol. Fire Dept., TPWD Wildlife Biologist & Natural Resource Specialist.  

10 a.m. to NOON — Presentations at the Interpretive Center 

  •  10 a.m. — Geology Talk w/ Sacha Ashworth (TPWD-Indian Lodge staff)
  •  10:45 a.m. — CCC/Indian Lodge History w/ Tim Roberts (TPWD Regional Cultural Specialist)
  • 11:30 a.m. — Water Conservation in the Davis Mountains w/ Nic Havlik (TPWD Regional Natural Resources Specialist)

1 to 3 p.m. — The Last Call Band performs at the Group Picnic Area 

3 to 5 p.m. — Presentations at the Interpretive Center 

  • 3 p.m. — Geology Talk w/ Sacha Ashworth (TPWD-Indian Lodge staff)
  • 3:45 p.m. — Bears in the Davis Mountains w/ Krysta Demere (TPWD Wildlife Biologist)
  • 4:30 p.m. — CCC/Indian Lodge History w/ Tim Roberts (TPWD Regional Cultural Specialist)

5:30 to 7 p.m. — Mile-High Mountains Fest Trivia Contest at the Group Picnic Area 

For more information, visit tpwd.texas.gov/calendar/davis-mountains/mile-high-mountains-fest