Nocturnal Delights in Texas: Devils River and a Chainsaw Massacre

From the pristine and calming Devils River to the adrenaline-pumping location for shooting The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, whatever your taste for nocturnal enjoyment might be, one -- or both -- of these locations make for a truly memorable journey.

Devils River State Natural Area

About 400 miles southwest of Dallas / Fort Worth -- and just 66 miles from the Rio Grande -- is the truly remarkable 37,000 acre Devils River State Natural Area which offers an amazing ecosystem to experience and along with some of the most enchanting views of the stars at night.  

Devils River was recently designated the first International Dark Sky Sanctuary in Texas and is only the sixth one worldwide with this classification. What this translates to is that the park is so remote and unaffected by light pollution that it is quite literally one of the absolute darkest places at night in the entire United States.  

Devils River is uniquely situated where three ecological regions merge together -- the Edwards Plateau, the Chihuahuan Desert, and the Tamaulipan mezquital -- which offers biological diversity rarely witnessed anywhere in the world. There are numerous rare species, flora, and fauna that thrive within the park which provide amazing opportunities for photography or painting/sketching.

It’s worth noting that visiting Devils River is not for the faint of heart as it is a one-mile hike from the parking lot to the park and all supplies must be carried in -- and trash carried out.  But it’s worth the physical work to experience the pristine, clear, spring-fed river and visually stunning canyons.

For those with a love of night time photography -- or to simply stargaze -- there are four other “Dark Sky” areas recognized within the Texas State Park system; the others include:

  • Big Bend Ranch State Park
  • Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
  • Copper Breaks State Park
  • South Llano River State Park

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Gas Station

Once you’ve enjoyed the wonders of Devils River, you can free-fall back into the groove with a little psychological adrenaline punch by making plans to drive about 300 miles east to Bastrop, Texas -- which is just south of Austin -- and spend the night at The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Gas Station!

That’s right, a real blast into cinematic history and pop culture awaits you if you are daring enough to sleep over in one of the four lovingly restored -- yet creepy -- cabins that are located on the property.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) follows a group of friends who fall victim to a family of cannibals while on their way to visit an old homestead. Although it was marketed as a true story to attract a wider audience and as a subtle commentary on the era's political climate, its plot is entirely fictional. However, the character of Leatherface and minor plot details were inspired by the crimes of real-life murderer Ed Gein.

If you get the munchies, the popular We Slaughter Barbecue is on the grounds where they offer up some tantalizing brisket and sausages.

A word of caution: the four cabins book up far in advance and while they are affordable at around $129 per night, there is a strict 60-day cancellation policy.