166. The surprising Bounty of State Parks

The Surprising Bounty of State Parks: Few roadtrip moments are as rewarding as taking a chance on a virtually unknown State Park in the middle of nowhere and finding that it has, say, the largest spring fed swimming pool “in the world.” Such was the case at Balmorhea State Park, in the wild big empty of West Texas, where we stumbled upon just such a gem. The cool spring water here remains a constant 76 degrees, just warm enough for a swim or two during the hottest part of an otherwise blustery February day. The pool itself is magnificent; 1.7 acres in size, 25 feet deep in parts, filled with catfish and softshell turtles and ringed by diving boards and the picturesque Davis mountain range. We loved this place so much we camped a second night.

And then on to New Mexico, where we lucked again into City of Rocks State Park, in the vast Chihuahan desert region of the state. This park, centered around an odd burst of giant, volcanic-era boulders, rises from the plains like a great spilled basket of Easter eggs. In the daytime, the park is populated mostly by day tripping New Mexican families, who were happy to wave and herald the arrival of a VW Bus the color of their state flag. And at night, what’s left is a handful of campers willing to go it without electricity beneath an umbrella of stars and planets so bright you can read a map by it. This was one of our favorite campsites of the year and although we couldn’t stay an extra night, I’m certain we’ll be back here someday.


  1. Jeremy says:

    Yes, but what I’m wondering is if any patterns in those bright stars foreshadowed NCAA Tournament bracket picks next week?

  2. lw says:

    “Balmorhea” sounds like a skin condition involving open sores and the yellowest of pus. And yet its waters look so clean, green and inviting. I would like to be there right now. Just right this second, please. Where can I get my own magic orange bus that finds all the best places?

  3. Sloan says:

    I’d recommend trying The Nickel Ads, power pole flyers or any west coast college campus around tuition payment time.

  4. The Chez says:

    Are you going to paint a zia symbol on the side of the van?