I returned to West Texas this weekend for a family reunion held in Big Spring, which a lot of people from the Permian Basin have never traveled to. It’s still hot as heck (topped out at 115°F) but it has a stunning combination of the hills and trees of central Texas and the Chihuahuan Desert. You will see the merging of the ecological regions with the tall trees and plenty of cactus bushes.
When you enter Big Spring, you can’t help but see the limestone hills that dot the area. West Texas is notoriously flat. Big Spring is one of the last places going into the Permian Basin with hills as it is at the edge of the Edwards Plateau. Midland and Odessa, Texas, for example, are very flat. When I was a little girl, we would travel from Stanton to the “big city” of Big Spring to visit the parks and go hiking. I say “big city” because the city currently has a population around 28,000. However, compared to 2,000, it’s large. The town used to be larger when the Air Force had a base there, but the economy suffered when it was closed in the 1970s.
Also, don’t let the name fool you. This isn’t Eureka Springs or Hot Springs, Arkansas. The original “spring” is long dried up, although there is still water to be found at the nearby Comanche Trail Lake still has water that feeds into a few small springs. It is still a hot, semi-arid area that is currently under a severe drought. Many of the small lakes around and outside of town are dry, and the Comanche Trail lake itself was very lows.
The natural beauty of the town is still a great way to get away from the pumpjacks and flatlands of West Texas. If you are driving down I-20 and need a break, there are a few stops that will let you explore the town.
1 State Park Rd 8, Big Spring, TX 79720
Sitting on 382 acres, the large bluffs of Big Spring State Park are immediately visible as you enter the city and turn down State Park Road. As you enter the park, follow the curve to the left around to the scenic outlook. From here, you can see all the surrounding area. You can also go jogging or hiking, nature study, star gazing or mountain biking up the mountain. The limestone crevices and rock striations are also a geologist’s dream. When it’s 113°F outside, you can still see everything clearly from the confines of your air-conditioned car. I did get out, but heat like that will sear your skin. My hats off to the hiker climbing up the side of the mountain that day. Hey, at least it’s a dry heat?
100 Whipkey Dr, Big Spring, TX 79720
Long a staple of the surrounding area, people venture from small towns all around to visit the 400-acre Comanche Trail Park. The park has playgrounds, pavilions, hiking trails, bike and nature trails, tennis courts, baseball fields, a golf course, and a 6,900-seat limestone amphitheater. Park visitors can also use the large swimming pool and play center. You can drive around and see mesquite trees, sage bushes, cacti, natural grasses, and other types of flora that remind you that you’re driving around the edge of the Chihuahuan Desert.
101 Whipkey Dr, Big Spring, TX 79720
At the far north-eastern edge of Comanche Trail Park is Comanche Trail Lake. I am putting it separately as a large part of the lake is not within the Park. The entrance can be found off Highway 87 and Whipkey Dr. A number of ducks live within the park, and you can often see children (or big kids) feeding the ducks as they come out of the water and right up to you. There is also a small picnic and pavilion area if you wish to sit and enjoy the lake. You can even stand by the juniper trees for shade; if it’s hot enough, the ducks will join you.
10000 E Moss Lake Rd, Big Spring, TX 79720
East of the city is Moss Creek Lake, which has approximately 400 acres for both recreational and for domestic water use. Constructed in 1938, and its water levels vary with the seasons. Campsites and pavilions are also open for use by the public. The lake park also offers activities such as a paintball course, dirt bike course, playground, and beach swimming area. I’ve heard mixed reviews about the beach area from the locals. You can also go around the park and look at the local flora and fauna. Just remember that you are in a desert environment; don’t stray too far off the track as rattlesnakes and other animals are numerous.
5341 I-20 Frontage Rd, Stanton, TX 79782
I always knew that the lake was here but never had a name for it. I heard my aunt ask if I wanted to go to the Natural Dam Lake and it took me a moment to figure out what she was talking about. The “lake” is approximately 7 miles west of Big Spring on I-20. When it rains heavily, the lake fills up, but then the water will evaporate and leave behind the mounds of dirt that are left behind. Owned and operated by the Wilkinson Ranch, it usually is dry but is beautiful when it is filled. The lake has a capacity of 28,000 acres.
Located near the lake is the Outback Adventure Track or Baja Roja Trail for dirt bike and ATV riders. The trail is open on weekends and has motocross tracks available. You can play through the miles and miles of sandy trails. Camping and shaded areas are also available.
Additional Big Spring Attractions
Want to get away from the heat? Here are three other historical attractions to see in the area.
Heritage Museum & Potton House
510 Scurry St, Big Spring, TX 79720
Big Spring Municipal Auditorium
310 E 3rd St, Big Spring, TX 79720
Where to find it? (Map)