Description - Big Spring State Park is 381.99 acres located within the city limits of Big Spring in Howard County. Both city and park were named for a natural spring that was replaced by an artificial one. The park was deeded by the city of Big Spring in 1934 and 1935, and was opened in 1936.
Copyright: Texas State Parks & Historical Sites
The local prairie dogs viewing the visitors at the Big Spring State Park
Comanches and earlier Indian groups frequently visited the park area in the past, probably attracted by the permanent source of spring water. Spaniards may have first visited the area as early as 1768. However, the first recorded mention of the spring is from an October 3, 1849 entry in the journal of Captain R. B. Marcy of the U. S. Calvary on his return excursion from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Fort Smith, Arkansas. Other visitors to the park and spring include cattle drovers, and immigrants moving to new territories, as can be seen by carvings they left behind (circa 1917, turn of the century). Today the City of Big Spring occupies the area and is involved in several businesses such as agriculture, tourism, and the refining of petroleum. Nearby, Interstate 20 transports high volumes of traffic east and west across Texas. Shortly after the State of Texas acquired the park property in 1934, the park was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). The CCC was created during the "Depression" to employ young men unable to find jobs. Using limestone quarried on the site and quality workmanship, the CCC built the pavilion, headquarters, residence, pump house, and restroom. Their biggest project was the three-mile drive that loops around the mountain following the ledge of limestone rim rock capping the bluff. Retaining walls for the drive were built using large blocks of limestone, some weighing as much as two tons, and mortarless masonry techniques.
- Probably the biggest draw of visitors to this scenic State Park is its geological uniqueness. Much of west-central Texas is a relatively flat, dry region noted for its geographic monotony. Yet, the Big Springs State Park offers dramatic views from the CCC-built loop road. Early morning or sunset, joggers, walkers, and cyclists circle the loop, enjoying these views as they exercise. Campers enjoy stargazing or watching the sun set off of the 200-foot bluff. An elaborate Fourth of July fireworks display is one of the largest in the region.
Much of west-central Texas is a relatively flat, dry region noted for its geographic monotony. At Big Spring State Park, however, the northern limit of the Edwards Plateau is reached, culminating in a series of bluffs rising 200 feet above the rolling plains. The Edwards Plateau is a vast, relatively flat upland area stretching as far southeast as Austin and San Antonio. Thick beds of Lower Cretaceous limestone form the plateau, deposits of an ancient sea that once covered much of Texas. The eastern and southern parts of the plateau have been cut into hilly terrain known as the Hill Country. Big Spring State Park caps one of the limestone bluffs at the northern edge of the plateau. Below the bluff, known as Scenic Mountain, sprawls the town of Big Spring, named for a large spring which served as the only watering place for herds of bison, antelope, and wild horses within a 60-mile radius.
Howard County and Big Spring State Park are located in an area where three ecological regions merge. To the north and east are the western Rolling Plains; to the south is the Edwards Plateau; and to the west are the southern High Plains (also known as the Llano Estacado or the Staked Plains). The mixing of ecological regions results in a variety of plant and animal life since representatives from each region are often found overlapping in a relatively small area. Domestic livestock have not grazed the park land for over 50 years, and, as a consequence, vegetation typical for the semiarid region blankets the park. Large woody plant species include mesquite, shin oak, skunk bush sumac, and redberry juniper. Prickly pear and other cacti are common on the rocky slops of the park. Common wildlife such as cottontails, jackrabbits, ground squirrels, and roadrunners can often be seen, particularly early or late in the day. Even a small prairie dog town lies in a little valley on the south side of the park. Many of the area's numerous and varied bird species can also be observed. Watch for wildlife near our ponds. A burrowing owl population can be observed at a nearby airport.
Facilities at the park include 2 sites with water and electricity and 8 developed tent sites water nearby. All sites have a shade shelter over a picnic table, waist-high grill, and parking at the site. Other facilities include restrooms with no showers; a lighted, open, group picnic pavilion, which can accommodate up to 50 persons for group outings and may be reserved; playground facilities; and a Texas State Park Store. A seasonal interpretive center displays area Indian artifacts and fossils. The rustic pavilion is ideal for weddings or church, company, or graduation picnics.
Recreation - Recreational opportunities offered by the Big Springs State Park includes: nature study, hiking, mountain biking, camping, jogging and star gazing.
Climate - Located at an elevation of 2810 feet, the climate in Big Spring is warm and dry. The yearly mean temperature is 63 degrees. The average minimum January temperature is 40 degrees, and the average maximum July temperature is 82 degrees. The average rainfall is 18.4 inches, and the growing season is approximately 231 days. Current weather conditions can vary from day to day. For more details, call the park or Park Information at 1-800-792-1112.
Big Spring State Park is located 36 miles east of Midland or 100 miles west of Abilene. From Midland, take Interstate 20 East to Big Spring, take Business 20 exit eastbound (exit #174), turn right onto FM 700, and the park is located on the right. For westbound Interstate 20 traffic, take exit 181A, and the park will be on the left. For traffic off of US Highway 87, follow the brown park signs indicating to turn onto FM 700; you will make your turn near the VA Hospital.