We reached the park at about 10:00 A.M. and got checked in. I picked up our State Park Pins to add to our collections and we drove down to our campsite. The boy scouts that had been using that site weren't out yet (they don't have to be out until 2:00) so we drove around the park to see if we could find some good spots for pictures. We drove up scenic Skyline Drive - knowing there would be some good pictures at the top. We stopped at the first little turn-off and got out to see the view. This is only part-way up the mountain and this was my first shot at the park.
Trees along the ridge at Skyline Drive
We drove to the top, near the only cell tower, and I got a picture of the Indian Lodge.
Indian Lodge from the top of Skyline Drive
From there we decided to drive on back down and check to see if our campsite was ready yet. Sure enough, the boys were gone, and to give credit where credit is due - the campsite was as clean as a whistle! We started setting up camp quickly. We got the tent up with only minor glitches and we were loading our supplies inside when I glanced up and this little charmer was peeking in the door!
Our first visitor
I ran and got my camera and chased her around the campsite until I could get a shot - actually I took about 20! She wasn't afraid of us at all and seemed quite used to the hulabaloo of a packed park.
After we completed setting up the camp we went back up Skyline Drive, past the peak to the other scenic overlook. This is where the CCC built a small camp when they were here building the road, the stone guardrail and the Indian Lodge back during the depression. There is a lovely shelter here now with a "picture window" where you can stand sheltered from the wind if you like and still see the scenery below. I took these shots from the top.
Loved this old tree
Some of the desert flora along the side of the mountain
I was surprised to see these lovely flowers growing alongside the rocks
The view of one of the trees from one of the trails
Couldn't resist this rock and cactus against the beautiful Texas sky!
This is a side veiw of the rocks in front of the shelter with the picture window.
After a while at the top we decided drive back down to the Indian Lodge. It took us a little while to figure out the parking, but we finally found a spot out back, and I immediatly HAD to get this shot of the rock formation and lone tree on the top!
The formation at the beginning of Indian Lodge Trail
Rick demonstrates that getting just the right shot isn't always easy!
Perhaps later I can add a link to the actual shot he took here!
We finally stopped taking pictures long enough to go to the Black Bear Restaurant to have a bite to eat. We both chose the CCC Chicken sandwich we had read so much about on Yelp...we were NOT disappointed. One sandwich for the two of us would have been plenty and it was really good! We had a little visitor come by and sit in the tree next to the window while we were eating.
Our lunchtime visitor - outside the window!
We left the Lodge and drove to the headquarters again so I could get a hat - sadly I left mine at home and I would need one with the amount of wind and sun we were already seeing! I was lucky enough to be walking by just as this trio of Montezuma Quail decided to cross the road toward the Montezuma Quail Trail!
Quail at the Quail Trail crossing!
View of the desert valley leading up into the mountains.
We finally found the viewing station they have set up out there - it is REALLY nice with a shelter and some seating, along with a small trail and historical markers that talk about the town. We found a nice bench with some friendly Austin visitors that didn't mind sharing with us and I sat down to wait for the lights.
After a nice sunset (I couldn't get pictures because there was a HUGE fence set up around the field, not to mention so many people to shoot around) the stars started coming out. We saw a couple of lights that "MIGHT" have been Marfa lights, they glowed and disappeared, then glowed and disappeared again, but after that it was pretty much only car lights out in the mountains. We stayed until 9:30, saw lots of constellations, and 3 planets in the sky, then decided to call it a day and head back to the park, our tent, and bed.
What an amazing first day this had turned out to be!!!!