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Balmorhea - BirdForum Opus

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Photo by HelenB
The swimming pool, which is fed by the San Solomon Spring, at Balmorhea SP, West Texas, April 2003

United States, Texas


Balmorhea is a small town in West Texas, located in the foothills of the Davis Mountains. Nearby is the 45.9 acre Balmorhea State Park, where the San Solomon Spring supplies the water for its famous spring-fed swimming pool. Also nearby is Balmorhea Lake, which is also filled by the San Solomon Spring, and is well known for the variety of birds which use the area.

Photo by HelenB
Balmorhea Lake, which is fed by the San Solomon Spring, in West Texas, April 2003

Please note: Information for Balmorhea State Park ~

  • The spring-fed pool will be closed from Monday, May 4th to Sunday, May 10th, 2015 for its annual cleaning [1]


Notable Species

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Birds of Balmorhea SP & Vicinity

Birds you can see here include:

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Photo by HelenB
Greater Roadrunner at Balmorhea SP, W. Texas, April 2003
Photo by HelenB
Osprey at Balmorhea Lake, West Texas, April 2003

Other Wildlife

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Site Information

History and Use

San Solomon Springs have provided water for the native people for thousands of years. In 1849, they were called the Mescalero Springs, but were renamed by the first settlers, Mexican farmers, who dug the irrigation channels to water their crops. The 46 acre Balmorhea State Park was constructed between 1936 and 1941 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, (CCC), and utilizes the daily flow of 22-28 million gallons of water, to keep the swimming pool full of fresh water.

The construction of Balmorhea Lake began in 1916, when an earthfill dam was built. The lake was filled in 1917 and now covers an area of 573 acres. This reservoir is fed by Sandia Creek, flowing from the San Solomon Spring, to the northeast and is emptied by the Kountz Draw at its southern end. As well as being used for irrigation, Balmorhea Lake is a popular fishing and birdwatching spot, today.

Areas of Interest

The best part of Balmorhea SP, for birding, is the Cienega - a desert marsh which was reconstructed after the original one was destroyed during park construction in the 1930s. It is home to 2 endangered species of desert fish: the Pecos gambusia and the Comanche Springs pupfish. Several species of waterfowl and other birds make use the cienega. When visiting the swimming pool, look for nesting Barn Swallows under the eaves of the buildings by the pool.

Photo by HelenB
The San Solomon Cienega at Balmorhea SP, West Texas, April 2003

Access and Facilities

Balmorhea State Park:

  • Open 7 days a week all year (the busy season is March through Labor Day in Sept.)
  • $7 per day, 13 and older
  • Fees for camping vary - see [2]
  • San Solomon Courts has 18 motel rooms - see [3]
  • Map of park facilities
  • Swimming pool fed from the San Solomon Spring, 1.75 acres in size, has a maximum depth of 25 feet and has a constant temperature of 72 to 76 degrees Fahrenheit. 22 - 28 million gallons of water flow through it daily.
  • Beginning May 25th, the swimming pool hours are 8am - 8pm.
  • Access is limited - once the parking lots are full, no more people will be allowed in until a car exits (this does not include people with facility reservations)
  • There are no hiking trails in the park

The park is located 4 miles southwest of Balmorhea on State Highway 17, in Toyahvale. From I-10 westbound, take the Balmorhea exit #206; then FM 2903 south to Balmorhea; then State Highway 17 west 4 miles to the Park. From I-10 eastbound, take Toyahvale/Ft. Davis exit #192; then Ranch Road 3078 east, approximately 12 miles to the park.

Balmorhea Lake:
Balmorhea Lake is located 2 miles southeast of Balmorhea. It is about 600 acres in size and is used as a reservoir to store water until the local farmers need to irrigate their crops. It is a popular fishing spot, but is also good for birding. The best times to visit are: November to January for wintering waterbirds and July and August for migrating shorebirds. In the town of Balmorhea, take Houston Street off State Highway 17 and drive south until you reach the lake. There is an access/permit fee (amount not known at present). Spotting scope highly recommended.

Contact Details

Balmorhea State Park
P O Box 15
Toyahvale, TX 79786
Tel: 432/375-2370

External Links