Some places you won't ever hear about if don't ask around so when I met Rob from Families in Nature - Austin, I had to know if there were any hidden gems between South Llano River State Park and the McDonald Observatory. The recommendation I got from Rob is turning out to be one of the highlights of this entire journey and after only spending a few hours at a small desert oasis, I am kinda bent on coming back.
In the heart of West Texas is Balmorhea State Park, known as "the cool place in the high desert." Yea, this place is cool. Balmorhea's main attraction is a nearly 2 acre natural spring pool that maintains pleasant temps year round. As much as I love a leisurely swim in a warm spring, I couldn't take my mind off of what a special place I was in.
Having the chance to speak with Christy, one of the park interpreters, I learned what makes this place truly one of a kind. The spring is home to two highly endangered species of fish, one of which is found nowhere else. The spring pumps 15 million gallons of water per day and creates cienegas, or desert marshes, from its flow. You could say life really springs out of this place. High five for that dad joke.
Coming from the Midwest there is a special place in my heart for wetlands and all the ecological equity they carry. I'm drawn to where the life is, where there is diversity and abundance. In the high desert, while not lifeless, the calling of a true oasis is irresistible. You'd think I have explored every inch of the cienega as soon as possible but that wasn't the case.
If you've kept up with the poor job I'm doing on Instagram then you might know why I never made it to the cienega, however there were two really awesome occurrences that I am excited to share. But for the sake of brevity, I'm gonna include them in my next post. Sorry for the clif-hanger!