One of the biggest and most historic states of all, Texas is situated in the South Central region of the United States. It has borders with the states of Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, and New Mexico, as well as borders with several Mexican states and a long coastline on the Gulf of Mexico. Known as the Lone Star State, Texas' capital is Austin and the state covers an area of 268,581 square miles, making it the second biggest. It has a population of more than 28.3 million, making it the second most populous state as well.

1. Texas

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Texas has a storied past, being claimed by Spain in the late 17th century. France also had a colony in Texas, and the area went under Mexican control for many years until conflicts that led to the creation of the independent Republic of Texas in 1836. Over 10 years later, in 1845, Texas was integrated as the 28th state of America, but remained the center of conflict during the subsequent Mexican-American War and became one of the Confederate States in 1861 leading up to the Civil War.

There’s a lot of history in Texas, and the state’s huge size also allow it to enjoy a huge variety of landscapes from prairies and forests to coastal swamps, deserts, mountains, and more. The wide variety of scenery around Texas leads to it having very diverse elevations from one area to the next. In terms of mean elevation, Texas is the 17th highest state of America, with a mean elevation of 1,700 feet (520 m) and an enormous elevation span of 8,741 feet (2,667 m).

2. Highest Elevation Point in Texas

Highest Elevation Point in Texas
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The area with the highest elevation in all of Texas is Guadalupe Peak. Also known under the name Signal Peak, this mountain is part of the Guadalupe Mountain range in western Texas. Guadalupe Peak can be found in Guadalupe Mountains National Park and has an elevation of 8,751 feet (2,667 m). It has a prominence of 3,029 feet (923 m). The peak is a popular hiking and climbing destination, with a 4.25 mile train leading to the top. A steel pyramid can be found at the summit of Guadalupe Peak to denote the highest elevation point in Texas.

3. Highest Elevation Town or City in Texas

Highest Elevation Town or City in Texas
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The highest populated place in the state of Texas is Fort Davis. This is a census designated place located in Jeff Davis County in the western part of the state. It covers an area of 5.6 square miles and had a population of 1,201 people at the last count in 2010. Fort Davis has an elevation of 4,892 feet (1,491 m), putting it above all of the state's major towns and cities. As its name suggests, Fort Davis was founded as a military installation in 1854 and was named after Jefferson Davis, the Secretary of War at the time.

4. Other High Elevation Locations in Texas

Other High Elevation Locations in Texas
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Due to the fact that there are many mountains to be found around the state of Texas, Guadalupe Peak isn't the only location in the state with an elevation above 8,000 feet (2,438 m). Other extremely high areas in Texas include Bush Mountain in Culberson County, which has an elevation of 8,631 feet (2,631 m), Shumard Peak, which has an elevation of 8,615 feet (2,626 m), Bartlett Peak, which has an elevation of 8,508 feet (2,593 m), and many others. El Capitan is another of the state's most famous natural landmarks, with an extremely high elevation of 8,085 feet (2,464 m).

Anyone planning a trip to Guadalupe Peak or one of the other mountains listed above around the state of Texas will need to be prepared to deal with the possible effects of altitude sickness. This condition can affect people at elevations of 8,000 feet (2,438 m) or higher and causes nausea, vomiting, headaches, shortness of breath, and other symptoms due to the fact that the air becomes thinner at high elevations.

Many of the major cities in the state of Texas are located at elevations much lower than the state average. The capital of Austin, for example, has an elevation of 489 feet (149 m). Other major cities include Dallas, which has an elevation of 430 feet (131 m), San Antonio, which has an elevation of 650 feet (198 m), and Houston, which has one of the lowest elevations in the state of only 80 feet (32 m). Therefore, the major city with the highest elevation in the state of Texas is San Antonio.

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More Ideas in Texas: McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis

The Frank N Bash Visitors Center is the starting point for a visit to the McDonald Observatory in Texas. The visitors center hosts a variety of tours, exhibitions, and public programs to educate the public on science and astronomy.

Permanent Collections

Guided day-time tours offer a close look at the research telescopes of the observatory and include access to the permanent exhibits and the 45-minute Solar Viewing Program, which allows guests to see the sun, our closest star, up close through the eyes of a telescopes filtered to specially view the sun. On the guided tours, guests will drive to the top of the hill to enjoy the view and learn about the surrounding Texas peaks, as well as visit two of the five telescopes of the observatory, the 107-inch telescope and the Hobby-Eberly telescope. The Harlen J Smith 107-inch telescope was the third-largest in the world when it was built in 1968. The Hobby-Eberly Telescope is among the world’s largest optical telescopes and was built in 1997.

The visitors center is open at night on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturdays for their Star Parties and Twilight Programs, which offer guests a night-time visit to the observatory to see the stars and other night-sky objects. Viewing nights on the 107-inch telescope allow guest to look through the telescope at three different objects under the guidance of a researcher. The 82-inch Otto Struve telescope and the 32-inch telescope are also used for viewing nights. Viewing nights are not suitable for children under 10 years old.

For those looking for a more intimate experience with a single telescope, the observatory offers special viewing nights. These nights are scheduled when the telescopes are not being used for research purposes, and the calendar of events may be found on the McDonald Observatory website.


The McDonald Observatory is a research arm of the University of Texas at Austin and is located approximately 450 miles west of the main Austin campus. Telescopes sit at the top of Mount Locke and the neighboring Mount Fowlkes in the Davis Mountains. This area was chosen for its distance from the city lights and its dark night skies. The facility was born in 1926 when W.J. McDonald, a Texas banker, gifted the bulk of his fortune to the University of Texas to seed an astronomical observatory. At the time, the University of Texas had no astronomy department of its own, and thus partnered with the University of Chicago in 1932 to begin building the observatory. The land was donated in 1933, and by 1939 the observatory was dedicated, with the Otto Struve telescope, which had been completed in 1938. The telescope’s dome once housed the entire observatory and even had sleeping quarters for the astronomers. At the time, it was the second-largest telescope in the world; it is still in use today. Today’s observatory makes use of several telescopes atop the two hills on site, and is also collaborating with eleven international partners to construct the Giant Magellan Telescope in Chile. It is expected to be the world’s largest telescope when complete.

Ongoing Programs and Education

The Twilight Program is offered three evenings each week and is a 60-minute educational program. The Modeling the Night Sky program is typically offered when the moon is not visible. In this program guests learn about the solar system and how we view objects in the solar system from our perspective here on earth. On nights when the moon is visible, the Earth’s Companion: The Moon program is offered. The moon program educates visitors on the phases of the moon, solar and lunar eclipses, and the features of the moon that will be visible to them should they choose to stay for the Star Party. The Star Parties takes place after the Twilight Programs and offer tours of the constellations and other night-sky objects through several of the telescopes at the observatory. Star Parties last approximately two hours. Reservations are required as these popular programs almost always sell out. Guests should be aware that all programs are partially outdoors.

In addition to the Twilight and Star Party programs, the observatory offers educational programming for school groups both onsite and via video conference, as well as materials and curriculums for teachers to use in their classrooms. The Ask an Astronomer program is an online Q & A where participants may ask questions and search answers to past questions on any astronomy subject.

The McDonald Observatory is nationally known as the producer of the StarDate radio program as well as the StarDate magazine and website.

3640 Dark Sky Drive, Fort Davies, TX 79734, Phone: 432-426-3640

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More Ideas in Texas: Bluebonnets in Texas

So-called for their resemblance to the bonnets worn by women in pioneer times, bluebonnets are the state flowers of Texas and one of the most beautiful natural sights the state has to offer. The term 'bluebonnet' doesn't actually describe one flower. Instead, it refers to five different species that are all found in the state of Texas and are all technically classed as the official state flower. Each and every year, the bluebonnets come out all around the state, adding a blast of color to the already beautiful Texas landscapes and inspiring people from all around the US and even further afield to visit the great state and see them for themselves.

The History of Bluebonnets in Texas

The beloved Texas bluebonnets have a wonderful history. Before European settlers even arrived on American soil, these pretty little flowers were admired by Native Americans, who even made folk stories about them. Early settlers from Spain rapidly fell in love with bluebonnets too, gathering up their seeds and planting them in other locations to admire them at their own homes, even giving them the nickname of 'El Conejo' which translates to 'rabbit' due to the little white tip of the flowers which looks like a little bunny's tail. Things to do in Texas

And as the years went by and the bluebonnets came out into bloom each spring, more and more people grew to associate their beauty and distinctive colors with the state of Texas, until the time when, in 1901, Texas Legislature designated bluebonnets as the official state flower without any opposition. At the time, it was believed that all bluebonnets in Texas were the same, but it was later discovered that the state was home to several different species, with at least five being identified in total. If any more bluebonnets are ever found in Texas, they'll be added to the official list of state flowers too.

Important Information about Bluebonnets in Texas

It's important to note, first of all, that in spite of their name, not all bluebonnets are actually blue. The vast majority of them are blue, but many can also be seen in white and shades of pink and purple as well, giving Texas bluebonnets a veritable spectrum of tones for all to admire.

The old adage of 'look but don't touch' is appropriate when talking about bluebonnets in Texas, as these flowers are a beautiful, natural part of the state's landscape and need to be preserved at all costs. With so many people visiting Texas to see these flowers, they are at risk of being picked and destroyed, so everyone is encouraged to be as respectful as possible.

Be sure to take some photos of the bluebonnets and admire their colors, but leave them be and be sure not to try tasting them as their leaves and seeds are poisonous to both humans and animals, so don’t forget to keep an eye on your family dog or any young children when admiring the Texas bluebonnets.

Best Places to See Bluebonnets in Texas

Bluebonnets start to bloom in March of each year and don't last too long, so if you want to see them, you'll have to act fast. They'll hold on through to April and May in most cases, but will struggle to withstand the warmer temperatures of summer. The dates of the bluebonnets blooming season can vary from year to year depending on the conditions, and the best places to see bluebonnets in Texas can vary too, but the following locations tend to serve up some stunning sights of the state's prettiest flowers.

- Ennis - With over 40 miles of bluebonnet trails to enjoy, the little city of Ennis is one of the best Texas locations for bluebonnets. The local Ennis Garden Club members are always analyzing conditions and checking up on the condition of the bluebonnets each year in order to inform visitors and locals alike about the best viewing spots.

- Kingsland - Located in the Hill Country of Texas, Kingsland has been a really great spot for Texas bluebonnets in recent years. Old disused railroads serve as a prime blooming spot for the state flower, with lots of nice walking trails for all the family to enjoy. If you want to take some unique photos of these gorgeous flowers, this is a great place to be.

- Burnet - Bluebonnets are so popular and beloved in the town of Burnet that they even have their own annual festival. With around 30,000 visitors each year, the Bluebonnet Festival is a big part of Burnet's calendar, featuring all sorts of fun activities and, of course, world class panoramic views of these famous flowers in full bloom.

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More Ideas in Texas: Prada Marfa, Texas

Prada Marfa is located 1.5 miles northwest of Valentine, Texas, off US Highway 90 and around 26 miles northwest of the city of Marfa. It’s an installed sculpture created by artists Elmgreen and Dragset. It was inaugurated on October 1, 2005, and the artists call it a “pop architectural land art project.”

The sculpture’s inspiration came about as the artists were watching the encroaching gentrification of Chelsea, whereby they hung two signs reading “Prada… coming soon” on the window of an art gallery. It was a playful poke at the consumerism that follows popularity. However, the signage caught the eye of Yvonne Force Villareal and Doreen Remen, who used their Texan Ballroom Marfa base for their nonprofit Art Production Fund to bring Prada Marfa into existence.

The sculpture, which by all appearances has the facade of a functioning Prada store, exists in, essentially, the middle of nowhere. The message and point of the piece is to once again highlight the frivolity and vapid pointless state of modern day consumerism. Prada themselves seem to have a sense of humor at least, and have leant their trademark to the art installation; they also provided genuine Prada wear from the fall/winter 2005 collection, chosen by Miuccia Prada herself.

Only a few days after the debut of the art installation, there was a break-in and an act of vandalism. The storefront was defaced and the word “Dumb” spray-painted on the sides of the structure. Six handbags and 14 right-footed shoes were stolen. Either the criminals didn’t get the message or they were marking the building with a grading of their own thievery.

The sculpture was never intended to receive repair or upkeep and was supposed to be allowed to slowly degrade and rot back into the environment; however, after this almost instant act of vandalism they did repair, repaint, and restock. The new Prada handbags had no bottoms and instead hide security systems that alert local authorities to their movement. It could be said that such instant violent interaction with the art installation shows how strongly it speaks to its audience. It certainly did wonders for the piece’s art coverage. It was vandalized again in 2014, and Texas-based artist Joe Magnano was subsequently arrested and tried for the crime.

The site has recently received more attention and an increasing amount of patronage due to the fact that Beyoncé visited the art installation and posted an image of her jumping outside the monument on her social media accounts. Since then, a recreation of the photo has been on the bucket list of many fashion-conscious followers, perhaps in direct conflict with the sculpture’s actual message.

Critics claim that the piece relies too heavily on context to get its message across, and instead of criticizing consumerism and celebrity they are supposed to be highlighting, they are in fact celebrating it. This is a feeling mirrored by the Texas Department of Transportation, who consider it a billboard and have deemed it unfit due to it falling outside of regulated specifications.