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Explore Texas by motorcycle on the Davis Mountains Scenic Loop

McDonald Observatory Aerial

Located about 210 miles east of El Paso, Texas, the community of Fort Davis anchors this West Texas scenic loop. The town has the basic services you need when riding, making it a great base to start your Davis Mountains Scenic Loop adventure.

Crossroads of history

Fort Davis grew up in support of its namesake fort in the second half of the 1800s. These days, many visitors make the trek to the Fort Davis National Historic Site, which is the one of the most well-preserved western frontier forts of the 19th century.

In 1857, the U.S. Post Office requested bids for an overland mail service from Missouri to California. John W. Butterfield and his associates won the bid with a snow-free southern route, creating the Butterfield Company’s Overland Stagecoach and Mail Trail. Fort Davis was a station stop on the trail, and the last unpaved section of the original trail is still used in the town today.

Scenic Loop overview

The two main roads that form the 75-mile loop, Texas State Highway 118 (SH118) and Texas State Highway 166 (SH166), do not actually connect in Fort Davis. Texas State Highway 17 (SH17) runs concurrently with SH118 through town and is also called State Street. Starting at the traffic triangle in the center of town, where the two highways separate, follow SH17 southwest, heading toward Marfa. About 2-1/2 miles southwest of town along SH17 is the juncture with SH166. Turn right onto SH166 and ride around the western side of Mount Livermore. At 8,378-feet, it is the highest summit of the Davis range. 

SH166 ends where it connects to SH118. Turn right and head back toward Fort Davis on a roller-coaster ride through the Davis Mountains. Then gas up and ride the loop in the reverse direction. Or consider visiting some of the interesting sites in the area.


Scenic Loop Map


Points of interest

For us motorcycle riders, the journey is always more than just reaching a destination. It’s the adventure of seeing and enjoying everything in between the start and finish. Riding the Davis Mountains Scenic Loop will require a long journey for most of us, since it’s located in remote West Texas. While there, stop and enjoy the big skies and friendly folks—and check out these interesting places:

  • Fort Davis National Historic Site
  • Davis Mountains State Park
  • McDonald Observatory
  • Nature Conservancy’s Davis Mountains Preserve
  • Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute
  • Blue Mountain Trail Vineyard
  • Guadalupe Mountains National Park
  • Big Bend National Park

As you ride home from your Wild West adventures, you can understand why the song “Home on the Range” is the unofficial anthem of the American West. May your travels always be where “the sky is not cloudy all day.”

Till next time, ride safe!