Balmorhea State Park is a lovely place to visit with impressive natural phenomena and interesting history behind it all. Not only does Balmorhea State Park have the largest spring-fed swimming pool right here in the Texas desert, but it’s also fed by San Solomon Springs, which is the largest spring in the surrounding area. San Solomon Springs has been helpful in providing water to wildlife and humans for thousands of years, but it wasn’t turned into a park until the late 1930s. Forty-six acres were set aside for preservation, and not only did the area benefit from it, but the building of the park helped those suffering during the Great Depression by giving them paying jobs.
So where does the name of the park come from? Turns out, there were four men known for forming an irrigation company here and their names were E.D. Balcom, H.R. Morrow, Joe Rhea, and John Rhea. The name “Balmorhea” was created in their honor by creatively combining all four last names.
Nowadays, this park is the perfect summer RV vacation spot where you can cool off from the hot 90-degree desert heat. Nothing quite beats a dip in a pool on a hot day. Even in the dead of winter, temperatures can get as high as in the 60s, which is warm enough for a quick dip if you’re brave enough. In fact, the water stays between 72 and 76 degrees year-round. Whenever you decide to bring your RV here, you’ll be guaranteed a fun time.
If you're wanting to explore more of the outdoors then take a trip down to Davis Mountain State Park, which is about 30 miles south of the park. Here you can hike, swim, geocache, and enjoy the texas mountains by car, horse, or on foot.
Balmorhea State Park is a little oasis in the Texas landscape. The park is on TX-17 in Toyahvale, just four miles south of Balmorhea. The I-10 will get you to TX-17 as it crosses the state. RVers traveling along the I-10 from El Paso should be aware of lower clearance near Sierra Blanca. Otherwise, it is an easy drive with no obstructions. There is a gas station close to the park where you can also buy snacks and drinks. The little town of Balmorhea is just 4 miles away and offers basic supplies. The closest large town is Fort Stockton, which is nearly 60 miles to the west along I-10.
Getting to the park in an RV is easy as far as navigating goes - the parking options are where you might run into a few bumps. Due to the park’s small size, there aren’t many roadways to drive on, but the roads that are inside the park are made to accommodate large vehicles and RVs with ease.
Since the park is on the small side, parking is very limited and easily becomes overcrowded. If you’re just visiting for the day, you’ll likely have to park outside the park entrance and walk the rest of the way in. You can park on the side of the bordering country road, or on private property across the highway, with permission of course. If you are coming to RV camp, you may have a difficult time fitting larger RVs in the back-in sites, but the pull-through sites should work just fine.
In the last few years, Balmorhea State Park has received more attention than its size can handle. There are only 33 total campsites inside the park, and making reservations is highly recommended in order to ensure that you get a spot. Sometimes making reservations months ahead of time is required in order to get a spot during the busiest summer months. Most of the RV sites are pull-through, but there are some that are back-in. The back-in sites are not recommended for larger RVs. The maximum RV length is 77 feet.
Most of the sites do have water and electricity available. Some sites even have cable TV that you can access while camping here. Whichever campsite you choose, you’ll be guaranteed a picnic table at the site and restrooms nearby. Pets are welcome.
While the campsites that you’ll find in the park are available for walk-up, it is highly recommended that you make reservations in advance, as there are no guarantees that sites will be available without reservations. If you do choose to do a walk-up here, you may want to do it during the off-season when there are not as many people visiting the park. Balmorhea State Park is very popular, and the 46 acres that it contains can only hold so many campers. The campsites are perfect for RVers and tent campers alike.
There are 33 sites with electricity, some of which also offer cable TV. Some are pull-through and some are back-in so book the option that suits your RV best. All the campsites offer water hookups and have their own picnic table and grill. Toilets and showers are located in the communal restrooms nearby. There is a little creek flowing through the campsites with lots of green grass, making it a beautiful place to sit back and unwind after a day at the pool. At night you can enjoy a dark black sky, perfect for stargazing in peace. Between May and September, the days are quite warm but it cools down a lot at night. Remember to pack a light jacket in your camping trailer for the evenings and some mosquito repellent. The maximum RV length is 77 feet, and pets are welcome.
If you wish to stay somewhere a little nicer than in your RV when you visit, you can choose to stay in a room here. If it’s just you and your significant other, a one-bed bedroom might do just the thing. There are only two of these available though, so you may want to reserve them ahead of time. If you’ve brought more company or just want something a little bigger, you should check out the three-bed suites. These are more popular, and there are 16 of them in total. These are perfect for family vacations, but keep in mind that the price goes up for each person staying. Whether you choose a one-bed or three-bed court, you’ll have a mini-fridge, microwave, and TV, along with the essentials like electricity, water, and bathrooms. The San Solomon Springs Courts are the perfect place to stay for a romantic getaway or family vacation.
This is a great place to stop for a picnic lunch on your journey. If you're not in a hurry to move on, pack a picnic basket and enjoy the whole day at the pool. You won’t have to worry about having to find a shady spot to have a picnic when it’s only 60 or 70 degrees. The days during the colder months are the perfect temperature for eating hot or cold food, and there are plenty of spots to set up your meal in the park.
If you're taking a break from swimming, you may like to enjoy playing some basketball. Near the playground, there is also a basketball court. Practice your hoop skills, or challenge the whole family or group of friends to a game. When you visit during the offseason, it’ll be much easier to focus on all the fun without the heat of summer making you stop for a break. In the summer you can take a break between periods to quickly jump in the pool to refresh yourself.
Let your kids get out some of their energy at the playground after a nice picnic with the rest of your group. Even the adults can swing on the swing sets if they feel like it! There’s nothing quite like a simple swing every now and then, and when you come during the offseason, the heat isn’t nearly as bad either. The playground will keep the little ones entertained for a long time as they run, climb, swing and play games together.
This modern-day version of a treasure hunt is the perfect way to get the kids and teens as excited as you are about exploring the park. Caches are hidden in all of the state parks throughout Texas, including this one. You can download the GPS coordinates on your phone and head out to see who can find it first. If you're planning to do geocaching regularly then make sure to download a geocaching app for easy access to cache coordinates.
During the off=season, you can see the birds that are native to the area as well as all of the migratory birds that are visiting for the wintertime. The springs are the perfect place to spot waterfowl, giving you ample opportunities to identify different kinds of birds and maybe even snap some pictures of them. The Cienega, a re-created desert wetland, is home to some endangered fish and other animals and attracts many birds. When you have a quiet moment, take the chance to enjoy the birds who visit this park.
When you visit Balmorhea State Park, your child has the opportunity to become a junior ranger and learn all about the park. They can even get a free junior ranger journal to complete, drawing, observing, and writing about their discoveries as they explore the park. The park also has a junior ranger explorer pack that visitors can borrow. This pack contains a magnifying glass, binoculars, animal/bird guides and stationery for explorers to record their findings.
If you’re looking for a great spot to host a family get-together such as a family reunion or birthday party, you can reserve the group hall here at the park. It holds up to 50 people, has a large seating area, and has two restrooms available. You’ll also have access to a stove, a refrigerator, and a kitchen sink. The group hall is quite close to the pool, playground and basketball facilities so everyone can enjoy some fun in the sun as the day goes on.
When you visit the park, you’ll be immersed in the unique desert wetlands, which is home to some unique species of fish such as the Comanche Springs Pupfish and a rare species of catfish. You might also get to see some deer, squirrels, and javelina. The spring and summer are perfect times to try to spot these animals.
One section of the pool is 82 feet deep and a perfect place to practice scuba diving. In order to scuba dive here, you’ll need to either be a certified scuba diver or come with someone else who is certified. The scuba diving opportunities that you’ll find here are not exactly for beginners, but there are lots of possibilities for the more experienced scuba divers. If you'd like to learn how to scuba dive visit the dive shop right outside the park as they offer scuba diving training.
Visitors come to Balmorhea State Park to swim, this is by far the biggest and most popular attraction to the park. The spring-fed pool has different depths in the various sections. One section is 13 feet deep, another is up to 25 feet deep in some spots, and another is 20 feet deep and has a couple of diving boards. The temperature of the water tends to remain around 72 to 76 degrees year-round, regardless of the outside temperature. It’s the perfect place to cool off and create fun-filled summertime memories with the whole family.