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Beautiful Balmorhea State Park: A True-to-Life Texas Oasis

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Sounding more like a name from “Middle Earth”, Balmorhea State Park isn’t intimidating in the least. If anything, it’s the most inviting spot in the area, considering the average temperatures and the lay of the land in West Texas. Rather an oasis in a desert landscape, artesian springs rise to the surface at a flow rate of between 22 and 28 million gallons per day which is, by any standards, an extraordinary amount of water to find in such high and dry desert environments, and makes for truly exceptional relief on a hot Texas day.

The World’s Largest Artesian Spring-Fed Swimming Pool

Beautiful Balmorhea State Park: A True-To-Life Texas Oasis

Photo: Facebook/Wander Y’all

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The source for the park’s swimming area, and the entire reason behind it becoming a national park, is a large underground aquifer system moving water through limestone and following fault lines, beginning close to 400 miles northwest of the springs. Supplemented by rainfall that drains from the nearby Davis Mountains, it enables Balmorhea to become the world’s largest artesian spring-fed swimming pool, measuring a little more than 77,000 square feet.

Construction Using the Civilian Conservation Corps

Beautiful Balmorhea State Park: A True-To-Life Texas Oasis

Photo: Facebook/Katherine Bayer

History tells that in 1934, the Texas State Parks Board bought the springs and the surrounding land and recruited Company 1856 of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to alter and mold this natural phenomenon into a state park. The CCC crew rerouted the natural wetland area and built a 1.75-acre pool around the springs, while at the same time constructing two bath houses, a concession building, and a motel (named San Solomon Courts). All of this was operated through a private concessionaire up until 1968, after which the state park managed the facilities which were open to the public, now hosting more than a quarter million visitors per year.

Swimming and Scuba Diving in a Texas Desert Playground

Beautiful Balmorhea State Park: A True-To-Life Texas Oasis

Photo: Facebook/Danny Kaufman

The 49-acre park presently includes an operable motel, as well as campsites, and the springs feed not only the swimming area but also a ciénega (also known as a desert wetland) as well as canals which are home to various invertebrates, turtles, and many endangered species of fish. At an average temperature of 72 to 76 degrees, and a depth of approximately 25 feet, Balmorhea Park’s swimming area is amazingly clear, and requires no chlorination due to its constant flow. Visitors can also scuba dive and explore the basin of the springs. In a place where shade trees are few and far between, and the landscape is flat and dry, it’s a true-to-life oasis. If you’re on your way to cool your heels in this Texas desert playground, please note that a state park day pass is required to access the pool, and the pass office closes before the pool actually does…so check the park pass sales times before making the trip.

Sources:

Texas Pecos Trail

Texas Outside

Atlas Obscura

Texas State Parks – Balmorhea