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The Davis Mountains of Texas: An Oasis in the Desert

by | August 30, 2018

The Davis Mountains in Far West Texas, also known as the “Texas Alps”, are a “sky island”, and the mountains’ tallest peak, Mt. Livermore at 8,378 ft., is the second highest mountain peak in Texas. Though not as high as Guadalupe Peak in the Guadalupe Mountains, the Davis Mountains are quite unique and have their own notable features.

Thirty-five million years ago during a period of intense volcanic activity, the Davis Mountains were formed from massive eruptions that built up shield volcanoes. Palisades that characterize landmarks in the Davis Mountains like Sleeping Lion Mountain and Limpia Canyon were created by a peculiar feature called columnar jointing. Not only do the Davis Mountains have rare landmarks, but they are the largest mountain chain contained entirely within Texas. The mountains are especially unique in West Texas in that they are the center of an area of higher rainfall, receiving up to eighteen inches annually, while the rest of the Trans-Pecos receives only eight to twelve inches. This extra rainfall allows for temperate vegetation to grow that is not found in the surrounding Chihuahuan Desert; an oasis of special flora and fauna.

Ponderosa pine, piñon pine, chinquapin oak, Emory oak, alligator juniper, dwarf gray oak, and Madrone trees are some examples of the incredible trees found in the mountains that thrive off higher elevations and heavier rainfall.

Many different species of animals also make their home in this “sky island” of West Texas. Mule deer, white-tailed deer, pronghorn antelope that are found the foothills and surrounding grasslands, and javelina are common, while more rare species are present such as the silverhaired bat, shorthorn lizard, band-tailed pigeon, Montezuma quail, mountain lions and the occasional black bear. These species may be seen not only in the state park, but more likely on well managed privately owned ranches within the Davis Mountains.

The Davis Mountains historically were not just home to animals and plants. There are spectacular rock paintings and pictographs found in the caves and a cache of arrowheads was found on Mount Livermore dating back to around 1,000 AD. Human occupation of the mountains goes back 9,000 years. While many of the ranches in these mountains continue to be productive livestock endeavors, tourism in the form of hunting and ecotourism play a large role as well. Several attractions such as the McDonald Observatory, Davis Mountains State Park, Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute and the beauty of the range makes the Davis Mountains a popular tourist destination in Texas every year. Between the unique biological diversity, rainfall and elevation, the Davis Mountains display a unique environment that cannot be found anywhere else in Texas.

 

 

The Lion Mountain Ranch that our firm is currently offering for sale is rich with wildlife including mule deer, white-tailed deer, aoudad, elk, mountain lions, scaled quail, Montezuma quail and dove. The flora found on Lion Mountain Ranch is diverse, from ponderosa and piñon pine in the higher elevations, numerous species of oak throughout and very unique cherry and big tooth maple trees. Our Lion Mountain Ranch offering is an opportunity to own a piece of Texas’ most intriguing “sky island”.


1. Handbook of Texas Online, “DAVIS MOUNTAINS,” accessed August 20, 2018, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/rjd03.
2. “The Davis Mountains of Texas,” https://www.davis-mountains.com/pages/Davis%20Mountains/davis02.html
3. “Texas: Davis Mountains Preserve,” https://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/texas/placesweprotect/davis-mountains-preserve.xml

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