The Spirit of Texas: Experience The Wild West in Ft Davis

by Penny Sadler /
Penny Sadler's picture
Jan 06, 2012 / 0 comments

Spirit of Texas: Experience The Wild West in Ft Davis

"It's the only town in the area where real people actually live and work," David Schreiber, owner of The Veranda Historic Inn located in Ft. Davis, Texas, says with pride.  He's comparing Ft. Davis to Marfa, a small town, 23 miles southwest which has become popular as a place for artists who own homes but don't actually live there. The city of Alpine, located 23 miles southeast is significantly larger, about 13,000 people and home to the Sul Ross State University. You can't say Alpine is not a real town. Perhaps because of the university, its in a class all of its own? Marfa and Ft. Davis have a rivalry going back 100 years or more. Ft. Davis was the original county seat in the Trans-Pecos area. A fire burned the court house and all election records were lost. Some years later, Marfa was declared the new county seat but the folks in Ft. Davis prevailed by creating a whole new county, Jeff Davis County. That's the quintessential attitude of this part of state. If it doesn't exist, create it. 


The Veranda Historic Inn located in Ft. Davis, Texas



Many people view Ft. Davis as just a stop on the way to Big Bend National Park. However, this is my second trip to the area and I've made it a destination unto itself both times. There's no traffic, no smog, no skyscrapers, no fast food, and often no cell phone or internet connection. What is there? Skies so clear you can see the Milky Way galaxy at night, a landscape so vast and stark you can't help but wonder what kind of people would live here.


Ft Davis National Park


Ft Davis National Park



Turns out some really interesting and friendly people live in the area. Since it is so sparsely populated, I imagine you'd have to get-a-long or get on out. Still, there's plenty of room for creativity and originality here. I met a woman who owns a home in Marfa, looks like an art gallery. She invited me and my friend to view her house and art collection after a 2 minute conversation. I don't think that would happen in Dallas, or in any other large metropolitan area for that matter.





I make my home at The Veranda and then travel out for day trips to enjoy and photograph the scenery and whatever else captures my imagination along the way. The Veranda has 8 rooms all with period furniture, high ceilings, and private bathrooms. I like the rooms on the east side that look onto a small courtyard. This was my second stay, but the first time with new owners David and Ana Schreiber. The B&B looks the same and still serves a delicious, homemade breakfast. My last breakfast there was a light cheese souffle with hand made buttermilk drop biscuits. Yum. There are two sittings for breakfast each morning in the formal dining room. I always go to breakfast as it's the perfect opportunity to meet and talk with other guests. Most are return visitors to the area and regulars at the Veranda, and are happy to share their travel stories and tips with you. I also love the sound of the bells at the courthouse chiming the hours just a few hundred yards away from the B & B.


Ft Davis Courthouse



Opportunities for camping, hiking, and viewing wildlife are a big draw year round. Not to be missed activities include the McDonald Observatory (go for a star party), the Davis Mountains State Park, Ft. Davis National Historic Site (listed as one of the best-preserved forts), and the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center.


But what I love most about the area are the wide-open spaces, the star filled skies, and the quirky folks that call it home.


Approximately 200 miles from El Paso International airport to the west and Midland/Odessa International airport to the east, Ft. Davis is also accessible via Interstates 10 and 20.




Penny Sadler is the Style/Travel Editor for Wandering Educators. For
more information on traveling in style, please see and




All photos courtesy and copyright Penny Sadler