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Plants & Animals

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 since the 1920s, and as a consequence, vegetation typical for the semiarid region blankets the park. Large woody plant species include mesquite, shin oak, skunkbush sumac and redberry juniper. Prickly pear and other cacti are common on the rocky slopes of the park. Common wildlife such as cottontails, jackrabbits, ground squirrels and roadrunners can often be seen, particularly early or late in the day. Many of the area's numerous and varied bird species can also be observed. Watch for wildlife near our ponds. A prairie dog and burrowing owl population can be observed at a nearby airpark.


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.