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AND TEXAS MOUNTAINS Fall 2021 - Summer 2022
BIG BEND & TEXAS MOUNTAINS TRAVEL GUIDE
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Welcome to the Guide Regional Map Big Bend National Park Crowdless Activity Ideas Guadalupe Mountains National Park Texas State Parks City Listings TEXAS MOUNTAIN TRAIL COMMUNITIES
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Alpine El Paso Fort Davis Lajitas Marathon Marfa Presidio Terlingua/Study Butte Van Horn ROAD TRIP CITIES
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Del Rio Fort Stockton Monahans Ozona Toyahvale/Balmorhea
Features 73 Texas Mountain Trail 74 Lodging in the Big Bend Region
THANK YOU for picking up a copy
of the 2021/22 Big Bend and Texas Mountains Travel Guide! This is the ninth year our team has had the privilege of publishing this travel guide. It has been published once a year since 1984, and approximately 90,000 copies are distributed. I’d like to thank Wendy Little and all the Texas Mountain Trail board members for their commitment to the travel guide and for the opportunity given to our team to publish it. I love to travel throughout the area, and even before I became the publisher I carried the publication with me for vital information and tips. It’s an incredible resource for anyone wishing to explore the region. For example, you’ll find information on various parks (state and national), as well as a city-by-city guide. In addition, we put together a feature story this year on real estate and lodging options in the Big Bend region (see page 74). The allure of the Big Bend region is strong, and whether you’re a first-time or repeat visitor, I hope you have a wonderful time in this amazing part of Texas. We have many important contributors to the travel guide, and you can read about some of them on this page, but in particular I’d like to thank the guide’s designer, Martha GazellaTaylor, who was born and raised in Odessa and went to Permian High School. As far as my background, I wear a few hats. In addition to being the publisher and founder of Texas Music magazine, I also produce Viva Big Bend, which is held in Alpine, Fort Davis, Marathon, Marfa and Terlingua. Our music festival is the last weekend of July each year. I hope you’ll find as much enjoyment in visiting this area as we do in promoting it. Thank you for reading the Big Bend and Texas Mountains Travel Guide, and happy trails! — Stewart Ramser, Publisher
A MESSAGE FROM
Texas Mountain Trail WELCOME TO the beautiful mountains of far West Texas! Enjoy our charming frontier communities, historic sites, cultural attractions and events, colorful sunsets and friendly people! Our Texas Mountain Trail nonprofit organization is proud to present the latest edition of the Big Bend and Texas Mountains Travel Guide with Ramser Media, and we hope it helps you get the most out of your stay. Since 2005, we’ve been reaching out to travelers with information about far West Texas, encouraging folks to spend their vacations in our mountains. This year, we plan to make your stay even better by offering the Texas Mountain Trail Passport! Visit your favorite places, get your passport stamped and win prizes! It’s that easy. Look for the passport inserted in this guide to get started right away. If the guide doesn’t have one, you can go to MountainTrailAdventures.com to request or download one. Kick back, enjoy the quiet, seek your adventure and have the time of your life! — Wendy Little
Martha Gazella-Taylor Martha GazellaTaylor is the designer for the Big Bend and Texas Mountains Travel Guide. She hails from Odessa, the “big city” of West Texas. She has since moved, gone to school, started a family and created a graphic design business in Austin, Texas. Ironically, it wasn’t until she moved to Austin — with its religious appreciation of fitness and the outdoors — that she found herself trekking back to far West Texas to see for the first time what the parks had to offer. She has been hooked ever since.
Lee Hoy Lee Hoy is a professional photographer and the owner of Big Bend Birding & Photo Tours. His mission is to share the beauty of Big Bend National Park and the surrounding region with others. Lee first went to Big Bend in August 1989 and saw a Canyon Towhee, which ignited a passion for birding and bird photography.
Jeff Lynch Jeff Lynch is a landscape and nature photographer based in Fort Davis, Texas. Jeff’s first two books of Texas landscape photography were Hill County Landscapes (2009) and Landscapes of the Texas Plains & Canyons (2010). He’s recently published Landscapes of the Davis Mountains and Big Bend Landscapes.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: CISCO GAMEZ, COURTESY MARTHA GAZELLA-TAYLOR, COURTESY LEE HOY, COURTESY JEFF LYNCH, COURTESY WENDY LITTLE
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PUBLISHER: Stewart Ramser EDITOR: Tom Buckley DESIGN: Martha Gazella-Taylor CONTRIBUTORS: Wendy Little
Rio Grande Grande Village Village
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Eagle Pass Piedras Negras
TEXAS MOUNTAIN TRAIL BOARD OF DIRECTORS Rio Grande
Robert Alvarez (Chair) — Visit Big Bend Randall Kinzie (Vice Chair) — Stone Village Tourist Camp & Market, Fort Davis Jennifer Turner (Treasurer) — Mountain Trails Lodge, Fort Davis Melissa Henderson (Secretary) — Fort Davis Chamber of Commerce, Fort Davis Bernie Sargent — Historian Carol Peterson — Gage Hotel, Marathon David Elkowitz (ex officio) — Big Bend National Park Jeff Harris (ex officio) — Magoffin Home State Historic Site, El Paso
Fort Stockton High School
COVER PHOTO: Sawtooth Mountain (7,686’), Jeff Davis County. Photo by Jeff Lynch.
James Rooney Memorial Park
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ENCOMPASSING MORE THAN 800,000 ACRES OF MOUNTAIN CLIFFS, DESERT EXPANSES AND TOWERING RIVER CANYONS, BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK IS THE KING OF TEXAS’ NATIONAL PUBLIC AREAS
M MANY FEATURES SET Big Bend apart from its national park brethren, including the fact that it is the only one to contain an entire mountain range — the Chisos — within its borders. Dedicated in 1944, the park is nestled in the bend of the Rio Grande River along the Texas-Mexico border, where outstanding examples of Chihuahuan Desert topography and ecology beckon nature enthusiasts from around the world. A land of contrasts, Big Bend contains geological marvels, historic and prehistoric treasures and an amazing diversity of plant and animal life across its dramatic range of elevations. From its lowest point of 1,850 feet in Rio Grande Village to Emory Peak at 7,825 feet, the park presents impressive changes in climate, with temperatures in the desert routinely 10 to 20 degrees warmer than in the mountains. Desert opportunities abound. Numerous trails — from short and very well developed to long, rugged and remote — offer exceptional views. Back-country roads lead to private backcountry camping sites available for both drive-in and backpacking options with a permit. Historic sites and ruins are numerous. Opportunities for solitude are many. Big Bend National Park is also arguably the most ecologically diverse park in the entire national parks system. It is known to have more species of birds, plants, butterflies, bats, reptiles and even ants than any other U.S. national park.
Choose Your Own Adventure
DO NOT MISS IN
BIG BEND SANTA ELENA CANYON Visible for more than 10 miles, this iconic area of Big Bend features dramatic limestone canyon walls created over time by the mighty Rio Grande.
HOT SPRINGS HISTORIC DISTRICT After an adventurous day in the
park, soak your tired bones here, where the water remains at 105 degrees Fahrenheit year-round.
FOSSIL DISCOVERY EXHIBIT This new exhibit (opened January 2017) explores the area’s paleontological and geological past, complete with replicas of fossils found within the park.
PANTHER JUNCTION VISITOR CENTER This is a must-stop for first-time visitors and those who haven’t been in a while. Get all fees, permits, maps and more here, and take a break to check out the new 22-minute on-demand film detailing the wonders of the park.
RAFTING THE RIO GRANDE Local outfitters provide guided trips along the Rio Grande, giving a whole new perspective to Big Bend National Park.
HIKING With over 150 miles of hiking trails, Big Bend is a hiker’s para-
The Chisos Mountains offer high-elevation hiking, with trails for all skill levels. The famed South Rim has both a dramatic drop-off and an unobstructed view to the horizon line on a clear day. Boot Canyon contains the largest trees in the park and some of the largest of their species in the country. Emory Peak Trail has undergone a complete reroute and has dramatic new views of both the south and north sides of the mountain. Birding is excellent in the mountains, especially in the spring and fall. GUADALUPE MTS. NP Spring sees the arrival of the Colima Van Horn Warbler. The only place that this bird H ALPINE is found in the U.S. is in the Chisos BIG BEND NP Mountains. Campers in the Chisos Basin will enjoy development boosts, including a newly rehabbed campground with much-improved facilities and new, night skyfriendly lighting. Also, a newly rehabbed porch at the lodge serving outdoor meals is ready to serve day visitors and campers alike. With over 150 miles of back-country dirt roads and 200 miles of trails, walking, hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding are all popular options for exploring the park. Some
dise. Two highlights: the Lost Mine Trail, which is medium difficulty and offers breathtaking views beginning midway, and the Window View Trail, which is worth the effort to catch a glorious Big Bend sunset through the “window” in the Chisos Basin.
CHISOS BASIN AREA This mountainous area in the center of the park is the most popular portion, though some overlook it. The park’s only hotel and restaurant are in this area, which is usually cooler than the surrounding desert, even during the summer.
ROSS MAXWELL SCENIC DRIVE This paved, 30-mile scenic drive showcases some of the best views in the park. There are many stops along the way, but don’t miss Sotol Vista with its satisfying overlook and view of the desert terrain, and Mule Ears, the perfect viewing area for another iconic sight in the park. A hiking trail to the formation starts from here as well.
BALANCED ROCK ON THE GRAPEVINE HILLS TRAIL This unusual formation — a giant boulder inexplicably balanced between two gigantic rounded rocks — is a favorite spot for selfies. Make the most of your visit to Big Bend National Park with a complimentary guided audio tour using your smartphone. Search “Just Ahead” in the App Store or on Google Play and look for the free “Big Bend” guide.
of the more popular hikes include the Window View Trail in the Chisos Basin, which is wheelchair accessible and perfect for a mountain sunset; Rio Grande Village Nature Trail, which offers some of the best birding in the region; and the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Trail at Dugout Wells, featuring native plant life identified along this half-mile path. The 118 miles of the Rio Grande that border the park wind through the Santa Elena, Boquillas and Mariscal Canyons. A river trip by raft, canoe or kayak is an unforgettable way to encounter the remote wilderness of Big Bend. Leisurely half-day floats to multiday camping trips are available. Santa Elena is the most popular outfitter trip with dramatic 1,500-foot canyon walls. Boquillas is a two-night/three-day trip on average but great for families with its Class II or less rapids at average water levels and many side hiking opportunities. There are three developed campgrounds in the park: Chisos Basin Campground, Rio Grande Village Campground and Cottonwood Campground, all with water, restrooms and some with primitive shelters. There is also an RV park at Rio Grande Village, the only location in the park with full hookups. Public showers and laundry facilities are available at the Rio Grande Village Store. Most of the campsites operate on a first-comefirst-served basis and fill up quickly in March, April and during the holiday season.
Plan Your Trip
The Chisos Basin Lodge can be reached at (432) 477-2291 or www.chisosmountainslodge.com. A limited number of sites in Rio Grande Village and Chisos Basin allow advance reservations from Nov. 15 to Apr. 15. Call (877) 444-6777 or reserve online at www.recreation.gov. Visit www.nps. gov/bibe or call (432) 477-2251 for more information. For a full list of Big Bend area activities, go to www.visitbigbend.com (the most complete reference source for all things greater Big Bend and Brewster County).
Events NATIONAL PUBLIC LANDS DAY
National Public Lands Day is a nationwide celebration of our country’s public lands. Held the last weekend of September each year, the event brings thousands of people to parks across the country.
ENTRANCE FEES Vehicle: $30 for a 7-day pass good at any park entrance $25 per motorcycle Individual: $15 for a 7-day individual pass (bicyclists and pedestrians) Annual Pass: $55 Allows unlimited entry for one year from month of purchase.
CAMPGROUND FEES The nightly fee for camping in one of the developed front-country campgrounds is $16 ($8 with Senior or Access pass). Individual back-country campsites require a $10 permit ($5 with Senior or Access pass), which can acquired at Panther Junction or Chisos Basin visitor centers in person or at www. recreation.gov. Special rates apply to commercial and noncommercial groups, as well as interagency officials, seniors and the permanently disabled. Inquire at the ranger station or call (432) 477-2251.
In the spring of 2013, the border crossing at Boquillas reopened as a result of enthusiastic advocates in both the United States and Mexican governments. The COVID-19 pandemic has closed the crossing, but it will hopefully open again soon. While a travel advisory is in place from the U.S. State Department for travel in Mexico, residents of the Big Bend area continue to enjoy an extremely low incidence rate, and a visible, supportive law enforcement presence.
W WHATEVER YOUR reason for
wanting to “get away from it all,” the Big Bend region welcomes visitors with physically distant and unique activities. What you’ll find here are some ideas that’ll be good for the soul – whether during a pandemic or beyond.
HORSEBACK RIDING For an authentic far West Texas experience, grab your favorite cowboy hat and head to one of the riding outfit-
This one has always been a favorite of those who want to get away from the crowds. Given the current climate, connecting with nature is at the top of the list for great vacation ideas. Everywhere you go in the Texas Mountain Trail is filled with great hiking opportunities, from the Franklin Mountains in El Paso, Hancock Hill (desk hike) in Alpine, Davis Mountains (Fort Davis) and of course all the amazing trails in the state and national parks. For ideas
BIKING Whether you’re a mountain biking enthusiast or open road biking is your passion, or you just like to putt around on a cruiser in town, far West Texas has trails and roads that’ll be just your speed. If you can’t bring your own, there are local shops and outfitters who rent bicycles.
As they say, “half the fun is getting there,” but in far West Texas, it may actually be more than half. The scenery is second to none in the state of Texas, and photos don’t really do it justice. FM 170, which runs along the Rio Grande between Study Butte and Presidio, is among the best and routinely makes “top scenic drives” lists in the U.S. The Davis Mountains scenic loop around Fort Davis is another driving attraction. This is just the tip of the iceberg, as there are beautiful vistas seemingly around every turn.
PUBLIC ART DISPLAYS When you’re tired of driving, pull over in any town in the Texas Mountain Trail, and you’re sure to find interesting and free displays of public art.
ROADSIDE ATTRACTIONS There’s a lot of open space in the Big Bend region, which makes it all the more interesting when you come across one of the region’s quirky roadside attractions. One of the highlights is Prada Marfa, which is actually 37 miles from Marfa (on the west side of Valentine), where Beyoncé and thousands of others have stopped for a selfie. Another popular stop is the Giant-themed art display/ murals (west of Marfa). If you’re able, check out the Marfa Lights viewing station between Alpine and Marfa at night. Yes, the Marfa Lights are real, and they’re still an unexplained phenomenon!
HISTORIC COURTHOUSES A great way to take in the history of Texas is through visiting courthouses. The details and beauty of these historic buildings are sure to impress. A couple notable courthouses in the Texas Mountain Trail region are Hudspeth County (in Sierra Blanca, the only adobe courthouse in Texas) and Jeff Davis (the highest elevation of all Texas courthouses).
ters (Fort Davis, Lajitas and Study Butte have good options). You’ll be sure to impress all your Instragram and Facebook followers.
on hikes in the Chisos Mountains (Big Bend National Park), visit https:// www.nps.gov/bibe/planyourvisit/ mountain_hikes.htm.
FAMOUS FILM SPOTS
With all the natural beauty that far West Texas is known for, it’s not a surprise that the area has been featured in some great motion pictures. Although it was released more than 60 years ago (1956), Giant, featuring James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor, still has left a mark on the area. Hotel Paisano in Marfa is where the actors stayed, and there is a mural at the Reata Restaurant (Alpine) as well as an art display just west of Marfa honoring the movie. You can also visit several of the filming locations of the cult-classic Fandango, starring a young Kevin Costner and Judd Nelson. This includes the Marfa cemetery, Alpine’s Sonic and of course the famous “Dom” rock off River Road/FM 170 between Terlingua and Presidio. Look up “Ultimate Fandango” online because occasionally fans of the movie meet up with some of the actors and go on a tour of the filming locations.
Park near Fort Davis and FM 2810 near Marfa. In the park itself, birders should check out the Rio Grande Village area, Cottonwood Campground and the Chisos Basin to experience a nice cross section of what the park has to offer. The best times of year to see birds are mid-March through June for breeding and resident birds, late August-early October for fall migrants and late November-January for winter birds. Information provided by Big Bend Birding & Photo Tours (local, licensed and permitted guide for the park).
Did you know more bird species have been spotted in Big Bend National Park than at any other national park in the United States? The Big Bend region is a mecca for birders coming to see some of the most beautiful and fascinating birds the country has to offer, including the Colima Warbler. Must-see locations in the region include Post Park in Marathon, Davis Mountains State
Perhaps the greatest show in far West Texas happens every night in the sky. Big Bend National Park is noted as having the darkest skies of any of the mainland U.S. national parks and is an International Dark Sky Park. But with so much wide open space, you can enjoy the skies at night from just about anywhere in the region. And of course there’s the world-renowned McDonald Observatory outside of Fort Davis for those who want to take their star gazing to the next level. The Big Bend & Texas Mountains Travel Guide has written features on the following subjects in the past: star watching, Big Bend films and scenic drives. Please visit our website, www. bigbendtravelguide.com to view our archives.
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MISS THE CROWDS
HIKING AND CAMPING
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ONE OF AMERICA'S BEST-KEPT SECRETS
OCATED NORTH of Van Horn on the Texas-New Mexico border, the 86,416 acres of Guadalupe Mountains National Park (GMNP) represent some of the most varied and beautiful hiking trails in all of Texas. With elevations in the park ranging from 3,689 feet at the gypsum dunes to the west of the Guadalupe Mountains to the highest peak in Texas, Guadalupe Peak, at 8,750 feet, visitors are treated to a tremendous diversity of native plants and animals. With 46,850 acres of designated wilderness, and an additional 35,484 acres which are eligible for wilderness study, GMNP preserves the largest wilderness area in the state of Texas. Established on Sept. 30, 1972, GMNP is part of the Guadalupe Mountains range, which stretches from Carlsbad, New Mexico,
to the salt flats and gypsum dunes just east of Dell City. Those gypsum dunes are the second largest in the U.S. and third largest in North America and the world after White Sands National Monument, New Mexico, and Cuatrocienegas Natural Protected Area (Coahuila, Mexico). Guadalupe Peak, and El Paso the surrounding Guadalupe Mountains, are part of an ancient marine fossil reef that was under the vast Delaware inland sea approximately 260 million years ago. It is regarded as one of the world’s best examples of Middle Permian geology, attracting geologists from around the world. In addition to the Guadalupe Mountains, the 400-mile, horseshoe-shaped El Capitán Reef is now exposed in the Glass Mountains, near Alpine, as well
as the Apache Mountains. In the Pine Springs Visitor Center (5,013 feet in elevation), educational videos and exhibits shed light on the geologic history of the park. Other exhibits showcase the abundant and diverse plant life and wildlife. Visitors may join a park ranger for an interpretive talk or walk on one the GUADALUPE MTS. NP park’s trails. Discover the cultural Van Horn history of the park at one Alpine of the heritage sites, such as the recently restored Frijole RanchHouse,WilliamsRanch, BIG BEND Pratt Cabin, remnants of Buffalo NP Soldier encampments or the Pinery Butterfield Overland Stage station. Explore the natural beauty and grandeur along the hiking trails, taking in views of everything from harsh desert landscapes to lush streamside woodlands rich in oaks and maples.
FEES AND PASSES Guadalupe Mountains National Park annual passes are $35 and cover up to four adult entrance fees. Sevenday permits are available at a rate of $10 per adult. Children under age 16 are free. Camping permits are $20 per site. Campsites for Pine Springs and Dog Canyon Campgrounds can be reserved at www.recreation.gov. America the Beautiful annual passes are $80 (good for entry, as well as other services and discounts at federal public lands). Senior Passes (age 62 or older) are $20 (annual) or $80 (lifetime). Lifetime America the Beautiful Access Passes are available free of charge to U.S. citizens with a qualifying permanent disability. Free America the Beautiful Military Passes may be obtained by active-duty military personnel (and dependents), veterans and Gold Star Family members. Free annual passes are also available to 4th Graders and volunteers with federal agencies. More information available at: www. nps.gov/planyourvisit/passes.htm
quire several hours and ample supplies, including at least one gallon of water per person per day (one quart per hour if it is hot). Trekking poles are recommended. Sixty percent of the park’s trails are available for horseback riding, though visitors must bring their own stock. Either by foot or horse, the park is a place to discover fossils and explore geologic and human history, observe native wildlife, view colorful wildflowers, capture great photos, create paintings or simply gaze into the wondrous, star-filled night sky.
Experience West Texas History Explore the Guadalupes
A hiker’s paradise, GMNP boasts more than 80 miles of trails, meandering through woodland canyons and lush riparian springs, as well as those zigzagging up steep switchbacks through the park’s rugged wilderness to Guadalupe Peak, Bush Mountain, The Bowl, Bear Canyon, Pine Top, McKittrick Ridge, Shumard Canyon, Hunter Peak, Dog Canyon and the distinctive El Capitán (which, at 8,085 feet above sea level, is an imposing sentinel at the west end of the Guadalupes). There are two short, easy hikes — the 0.4mile Manzanita Spring Trail or the 0.67-mile Pinery Trail — both of which are paved and wheelchair accessible. Moderate trails, such as McKittrick Canyon (4.8-6.8 miles, depending on the route), are available, as well as strenuous trails, such as the Guadalupe Peak Trail (8.4 miles) or The Bowl (9.3 miles). These trails re20 BIGBENDTRAVELGUIDE.COM
Discover the park’s Native American, cavalry (including the Buffalo Soldiers) and pioneer ranching history at one of the well-preserved historic sites. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Frijole Ranch History Museum features the homes and outbuildings of various Anglo settlers, including the Smith family who operated their small truck farm and orchard from 1906 to 1942. The Pinery is one of the best-preserved and highest staging outposts on the Butterfield-Overland Route, which ran from St. Louis and Memphis to San Francisco from 1858 until the outbreak of the Civil War. The Pinery station ceased operations in August 1859, when the route was shifted southward to give it better protection from raids and provide better access to water. Hikers in McKittrick Canyon may visit Pratt Cabin. Park visitors with a 4x4 vehicle and lust for adventure can visit the historic Williams Ranch, one of the earliest park homesteads with a well-
documented, albeit colorful, history. Before traveling that way, stop by the Pine Springs Visitor Center to check out a gate key, and be aware that the drive, though only a little over seven miles, takes about an hour. Guadalupe Mountains National Park has two front-country campgrounds, Pine Springs and Dog Canyon, a group campground and group picnic area at Frijole Ranch and 10 back-country campgrounds spread throughout the park. Obtain back-country camping permits at www.recreation.gov or the Pine Springs Visitor Center daily between 8 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. Entrance fees can be paid at any of the trail heads. Simply fill out the fee envelope and deposit at any trail head collection safe (the “iron ranger”). Display your detachable stub on your vehicle dashboard. Before you venture into the back country or before you leave to go back home, make sure to visit the GMNP bookstore in the Pine Springs Visitor Center to purchase a variety of books about the park, maps or postcards. If you would like to spend more time helping the park directly, inquire about the park’s Volunteers In Parks (VIP) program. For more information about Guadalupe Mountains National Park, visit www.nps.gov/gumo/ or call (915) 828-3251 ext. 2124 for updated information. ADDITIONAL INFO SOURCES:
Facebook: facebook.com/Guadalupe.Mountains/ Twitter: twitter.com/GuadalupeMtnsNP/ LEE HOY
Perhaps the most popular attraction is the brilliant fall display of red, orange and yellow bigtooth maples in McKittrick Canyon, which peaks in late October. Fall color displays may also be seen at Smith Springs, Devil’s Hall and Dog Canyon. Families with children will find Junior Ranger, Senior Ranger, Wilderness Explorer Junior Ranger, Junior Ranger Night Explorer and Junior Paleontologist programs chock full of age-appropriate activities. The park website (www.nps.gov/gumo/) provides a schedule of park activities and updates on fall color showings to aid travelers in planning their visits.
FROM TOP: LEE HOY, GARY NORED
THE STATE PARKS and State Historic Sites of the Big Bend and Texas mountains region showcase a panorama of West Texas scenes. From gushing spring waters to lofty, mile-high peaks, from the harsh grandeur of Chihuahuan Desert landscapes to museum-quality exhibits, Texas State Parks offer something for every taste. Here you will find safe, secure and wholesome environments for camping, picnicking, hiking, fishing, stargazing, hunting, rock climbing, cycling, boating, floating, birding, swimming, horseback riding, interpretive programming or peace and quiet. Stop in for a visit. You’ll be glad you did!
BIG BEND RANCH STATE PARK
Presidio The largest state park in Texas, with over 300,000 acres of Chihuahuan Desert wilderness, the park embraces
(432) 358-4444 (512) 389-8919 (reservations) www.tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/ big-bend-ranch BARTON WARNOCK VISITOR CENTER Terlingua and Lajitas The center serves as the eastern entrance to Big Bend Ranch State Park. Exhibits interpret 570 million years of geologic history and the five biological landscapes of the Chihuahuan Desert. It was named for famed botanist and 33-year Sul Ross State University professor Dr. Barton Warnock (1911–1998).
(432) 424-3327 www.tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/ barton-warnock
DAVIS MOUNTAINS STATE PARK Fort Davis Davis Mountains State Park, 2,709 acres in size, is located in Jeff Davis County, four miles northwest of Fort Davis, approximately halfway between Guadalupe Mountains National Park and Big Bend National Park. The original portion of the park was deeded to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department by a local family. Original improvements were made by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933; the park has been open to the public since the late 1930s, and formal campground facilities were added in 1967. The Davis Mountains, the most extensive mountain range in Texas, were formed by volcanic activity during the Tertiary geologic period, which began about 65 million years ago. These mountains were named after Jefferson Davis, U.S. secretary of war and later president of the Confederacy, who ordered the construction of the Fort Davis army post. Few Americans had seen the Davis Mountains prior to 1846. After the war with Mexico, a wave of gold seekers, settlers and traders came through
the area and needed the protection of a military post — Fort Davis. Fort Davis was active from 1854 until 1891, except for certain periods during the Civil War. In 1961, the historic fort ruins were declared a National Historic Site, and a vast restoration and preservation program was initiated by the National Park Service.
(432) 426-3337 www.tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/ davis-mountains FORT LEATON STATE HISTORIC SITE Presidio Fort Leaton is day-use only and offers picnicking areas, tours through newly restored and furnished rooms, plus exhibits on the region’s history: from 15th-century conquistadors to Ben Leaton’s 19th-century trading post to the present. The fort also serves as the western entrance for Big Bend Ranch State Park.
Four miles east of Presidio on F.M. 170 . (432) 229-3613 www.tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/ fort-leaton
FRANKLIN MOUNTAINS STATE PARK El Paso Hike, bike or run the rugged terrain of this 37-square-mile state park that sits on the norther edge of El Paso. Rock climbing is also popular in McKelligon Canyon or Sneed’s Cory.
(915) 444-9100 www.tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/ franklin-mountains TEXAS STATE PARKS PASS The Texas State Parks Pass is an annual pass that offers many special benefits to members. As a member, you and your guests enjoy unlimited visits to Texas State Parks, State Natural Areas and State Historic Sites without paying the daily entrance fees. The cost is $70 for a one-card membership. Learn more at: www.tpwd.texas.gov/ state-parks/park-information/passes/ VISIT: WWW.TPWD.TEXAS. GOV/STATE-PARKS/ TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE OTHER AREA PARKS AND PARKS ACROSS THE STATE OF TEXAS.
some of the most remote and rugged terrain in the Southwest. Mountain bikers, hikers and equestrians enjoy miles of trails that traverse “the other side of nowhere.”
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Alpine THE UNIQUE GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION NESTLED BETWEEN THREE MOUNTAIN RANGES GIVES ALPINE ONE OF THE MOST AGREEABLE CLIMATES IN TEXAS: WARM, SUNNY WINTER DAYS AND COOL SUMMER NIGHTS
DAVE HENSLEY/VISIT ALPINE TEXAS
HE AREA THAT would one day be Alpine had been an encampment for Native Americans, and then a campsite for cattlemen until a town of tents was created, consisting of railroad workers and their families. They called their settlement Murphyville, and it remained as such for five years until a petition by townspeople rendered a name change. At the time Murphyville became Alpine, there were already a dozen houses, three saloons, a hotel, a rooming house, a livery stable, a butcher shop and a drugstore, which also housed the post office. Alpine grew very slowly until Sul Ross Normal College (now Sul Ross State University) was opened in 1920. The opening of Big Bend National Park in the 1940s further spurred the growth of the town. Now, the high desert country, mountain ranges and access to neighboring towns and attractions are only a few of the wonders
was struck by a car several years that make Alpine a popular destiago. He now serves as an impornation. Situated within the great GUADALUPE MTS. NP tant teaching tool to the kids of Chihuahuan Desert between the greater Big Bend area. Big Bend National Park and Van Horn No matter what brings the Davis Mountains, Alpine, you here, Alpine is a great with its tree-lined streets and H ALPINE staging place for any far West university, is at the center of Texas adventure. There are the Big Bend region. BIG BEND NP ample lodging and dining opAs such, it serves as the portunities. See cowboys compettransportation and service hub ing at rodeo events, watch professional for far West Texas. In addition to the general aviation airport, Alpine-Casparis Mu- baseball in a historic ballpark, and see summer nicipal Airport, there is an Amtrak station and theater productions under a roof of stars. The access to the area via Greyhound bus lines, de- Lone Star Cowboy Poetry Gathering, Trappings of Texas, Artwalk, Viva Big Bend and livering visitors to all Alpine has to offer. The Museum of the Big Bend at Sul Ross Big Bend Ranch Rodeo are just five of the most is a favorite stop. For more than 70 years, the popular annual events. But perhaps what will keep you coming museum has collected and exhibited artifacts of the region, showcasing 11,000 years of back is the nearly idyllic climate. At 4,600 feet human history and culture. Kids will enjoy and perfectly situated between the Davis, Glass seeing the large pterosaur reproduction and and Del Norte Mountains, you’ll be hardmeeting “Big Ben,” a taxidermic, native black pressed to find more moderate, year-round bear. The museum came to have him after he temperatures in all of Texas.
Attractions HISTORIC WALKING AND A WINDSHIELD TOUR Take a leisurely stroll or drive around Alpine’s downtown for a glimpse of architectural history. A copy of the walking tour guide and map is available at the Alpine Visitor Center located at 106 N. 3rd St. www.visitalpinetx.com
SUL ROSS STATE UNIVERSITY
Established in 1920, the university’s picturesque campus overlooks Alpine and the surrounding valley. With years of history and its uniquely beautiful setting, the campus of Sul Ross is a delightful place to wander around. Many of the buildings are now designated as historic. Sul Ross is a member of the Texas State University System. With an average undergraduate class size of just 20 students, it’s the perfect setting for pursuing an associate, bachelor’s or master’s degree in Liberal Arts, Science, Fine Arts or any number of professional studies programs, such as Business Administration or Criminal Law. www.sulross.edu
MUSEUM OF THE BIG BEND
Located on the Sul Ross campus, the museum’s permanent exhibits explore the natural and human history of the region, honoring the contributions of Native Americans, as well as Spanish, Mexican and Anglo settlers. The museum hosts the nationally recognized Trappings of Texas exhibit and sale and was a winner in the 2021 Texas Travel Awards for Best Small Market Museum. Check the website or call (432) 8373143 for current hours of operation. www.museumofthebigbend.com
ALPINE COUNTRY CLUB GOLF COURSE Next to Kokernot Park, this nine-hole course is popular with visitors and residents alike. Cart rental and concessions are available.
PERFORMING ARTS AND LIVE ENTERTAINMENT
D KOKERNOT FIELD
For baseball enthusiasts, Kokernot Field will take your breath away. Styled after the famous Wrigley Field, this baseball diamond was built in the 1940s for the semi-pro Alpine Cowboys. The landmark stadium is now home to a recent professional incarnation of the team, also called the Alpine Cowboys.
ALPINE’S MURALS Alpine boasts a growing collection of colorful murals celebrating regional themes. In addition to “Big
Brewster” by Stylle Read (a long-time landmark at the Kiowa Gallery) and many other murals decorating the walls of downtown businesses, Alpine’s Artwalk recently unveiled another Stylle Read mural honoring Texas musicians at the PrintCo building. Alpine’s murals won the 2021 Texas Travel Awards in the category of Best Public Art Display (Small Market). www.visitalpinetx.com/murals
COUNTY COURTHOUSE HALL OF HISTORY
Take a walk through the great hall in the Brewster County Courthouse and step back through the years. On display are photographs from early Alpine and the surrounding area.
F HISTORIC MURPHY STREET Murphy Street, one block south of the railroad tracks, has gone through a revitalization. Visit the shops and restaurants and explore the deep history of Alpine.
HANCOCK HILL / “THE DESK” Located immediately behind Sul Ross State University is Hancock Hill (it’s the one with the big “SR” on it!). Owned by the University but open to the public, Hancock Hill is a great place to hike for panoramic views of Alpine. If you’re up for exploring, on the eastern edge there is a desk which overlooks the valley below. It may be hard to find if you don’t know where you’re going, so if you need directions, stop by the Alpine Visitor Center.
Events Due to COVID-19, events may have changed plans. Call or check websites to find out the current status.
ARTWALK Alpine’s biggest festival for the arts spans two days in November to showcase a variety of art exhibitions in many local businesses, all against a backdrop of festivities and live music through the evenings. (432) 837-3067, www.artwalkalpine.com
ELVA HARNESS/VISIT ALPINE TEXAS
Alpine offers a variety of stage performances and live entertainment throughout the year. The Theatre of the Big Bend features outdoor summer productions under the stars and against the backdrop of the Davis Mountains at Kokernot Park. And around town each week, live music events from open-mic nights to touring shows keep the nights lively. www.sulross.edu (Theatre of the Big Bend), visitalpinetx.com/events-calendar
ALPINE COWBOYS BASEBALL With roots going back to the 1940s, the Alpine Cowboys are the community’s professional baseball team in the Pecos League. Home games held at Kokernot Field from May through July are a refreshing event, especially set against the backdrop of Alpine’s surrounding mountains. For more information go to alpine.pecosleague.com.
BIG BEND RANCH RODEO The rugged, gritty workings of ranch life take center stage at this rodeo in August. Ranchers from all over the state come to test their mettle in events evoking real cowboy skills. (432) 3642696, www.bigbendranchrodeo.com
LONE STAR COWBOY POETRY GATHERING
TRAPPINGS OF TEXAS Trappings of Texas showcases the best of Western art and custom cowboy gear. Held in the fall at the Museum of the Big Bend on the campus of Sul Ross State University. Visitors and interested buyers can meet and visit with the artists and gear makers who have
works for sale at the Museum and at the public auction fundraiser. www.museumofthebigbend.com
The Lone Star Cowboy Poetry Gathering is a two-day event in February celebrating the oral tradition of the working cowboy in poetry, stories and music. Enjoy more than 50 performers in the classrooms and on the stages of Sul Ross State University’s campus. The event is formerly known as the Texas Cowboy Poetry Gathering and was rebranded in 2020 by the new festival producers.
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Viva Big Bend is an annual music festival held in far West Texas. Taking place the last weekend of July in Alpine, Fort Davis, Marfa, Terlingua and Marathon, VBB showcases more than 50 bands in 10 venues. Festival wristbands are good for all nighttime shows, and many of the shows during the day are free and open to the public. Additional information can be found at www.vivabigbend.com.
Shopping and Services
BIG BEND REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER
2600 N. Highway 118 (432) 837-3447 bigbendhealthcare.com Big Bend Regional Medical Center (BBRMC) is a 25bed, joint-commission-accredited, acute-care facility. Big Bend Regional has a Level 4 Trauma designated emergency department and offers 24-hour emergency care, ICU, medical/surgical rooms, OB care, imaging, pharmacy, laboratory and surgical services.
BBT 808 N. 5th St. (800) 592-4781 bigbend.com
BBT (formerly Big Bend Telecom) offers internet and voice services. The service area includes Alpine, Big Bend National Park, Fort Davis, Fort Stockton, Lajitas, Marathon, Marfa, Presidio, Sanderson, Terlingua and more.
OUT WEST FEED & SUPPLY
ranch properties. They also serve Presidio, Jeff Davis and Culberson Counties. As your agent and premier real estate company of choice, they will assist you from beginning to end!
SIERRA LA RANA
2600 East US-90 (432) 837-5792 outwestfeedandsupply.com More than just a feed store, Out West has western wear, and all materials and supplies for farming, ranching and more.
2 miles south of Alpine off Hwy. 118 (866) 757-2382 sierralarana.com Gated Ranch Community. Own your own land! Now offering large tracts from 10 to 150 acres in a recognized international dark sky community.
THE STABLE PERFORMANCE CARS
Food and Drink
511 W. Holland Ave. (432) 837-9789 thestablealpine.com At the Stable Performance Cars, the performance- and classic-car enthusiast has a comfortable place to visit and talk cars in a relaxed atmosphere.
Real Estate MTN. VIEW PROPERTIES 2100 W. Hwy 90 (432) 837-5518 mtnviewproperties.com Mtn. View Properties specializes in the marketing and sale of homes in West Texas, as well as commercial and
PLAINE 215 E. Holland Ave. www.plaine.coffee Plaine is a full-service coffee shop serving Big Bend Coffee Roasters any way you take it. The shop also serves Blue Bell ice cream and all-fruit smoothies. Also, try out the laundromat next door.
OLAF GROWALD/VISIT ALPINE TEXAS
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203 N. 5th Street (432) 837-9232 reata.net The world-famous Reata Restaurant has been serving legendary Texas cuisine since 1995 in Alpine. From chicken fried steak to calf fries, pepper crusted tenderloin or a cowboy rib eye, Reata is a true West Texas dining experience not to be missed.
SPICEWOOD RESTAURANT 2612 W. US-90 (432) 837-4227 qc7hotel.com Formerly Come and Take It BBQ, Spicewood Restaurant opened in 2019. On the western edge of town, the new owners (who also own the Quarter Circle 7 Hotel) have made upgrades to the building, including a new stage area.
6 HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS & SUITES
2004 E. Hwy. 90 (432) 837-9597 holidayinnexpress.com Indoor pool, fitness room.
209 W. Holland Ave. (800) 535-8040 | (432) 837-2800 thehollandhoteltexas.com Recently renovated historic downtown hotel. Trost & Trost architecture.
8 THE MAVERICK INN
1200 E. Holland Ave. (432) 837-0628 themaverickinn.com A roadhouse for wanderers: classic motor court, completely updated for the modern traveler.
QUARTER CIRCLE 7
2800 US-90 (432) 837-1100 qc7hotel.com Completely renovated recently. 17
5 HAMPTON INN
2607 W. Hwy. 90 (432) 837-7344 alpine.hamptoninn.com Indoor pool/spa, fitness room.
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ALPINE IS A HIGH-DESERT JEWEL WITH A GEM OF A PARK SYSTEM
LPINE, situated on a high plateau in the Chihuahuan Desert, is a friendly, bustling community in far West Texas. Its elevation — 4475 feet — produces sunny days and refreshingly cool nights. And while Alpine is just 4.7 square miles in area, the city offers a variety of outdoor activities thanks to a vibrant park system. “For a town our size, Alpine offers more parks than you’d think,” says Kirsten Moody, City of Alpine Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee
Chair (2018-2021). “We have places to exercise, play, picnic, run your dogs, swim or just relax on the grass under shade trees. And we have a brand new park, Pueblo Nuevo, being developed in the southeast quadrant of town.” Here’s a sampling of what’s available. Kokernot Park is the city’s largest multiuse park. Located on the city’s north side, it offers something for everyone, even four-legged friends. Families with younger children and toddlers will be pleased to find so many spaces specifically designed for kids’ enjoyment and safety. The 1400-square-foot shaded play area for toddlers and infants has small age-appropriate equipment
and sensory toys. Not only are children protected from the sun but also from hard falls thanks to the entire play area being on rubber mats. There’s also an ADA wheelchair-accessible swing set with paved access. As your children’s climbing abilities grow, so does the equipment, with two additional play areas with more advanced activities. If you want to get in some steps and enjoy beautiful views of Alpine, Kokernot Park has an extensive network of walking trails that will take you around the park, golf course, across the bridge and back again. The area also contains fitness stations scattered along the trail. You’re welcome to bring leashed dogs on the walking paths with you.
BELLA PEÑA-LANCASTER/VISIT ALPINE TEXAS
MURAL AT KOKERNOT PARK
Baines Park is located just a few blocks from downtown, next to Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church at the foot of “A” Mountain on the city’s south side. You’ll find Baines Park on the windshield portion of the Alpine Historic Tour: https://visitalpinetx.com/attractions/#historicwalking-tour. With equipment for toddlers on up to adults, this park offers a great place to stop and enjoy some playtime. Visitors can enjoy a full-size basketball court with eight-foot hoops, open grassy areas, five covered picnic tables and a six-seat shaded swing set with two infant bucket seats. Juan Medina Park is another of the four parks located on the south side of Alpine and is partially enclosed by a chain link fence since it’s located along Alpine Creek. Medina Park is a great place to enjoy a short walking loop that encircles the entire park. The swing sets and play equipment is targeted for younger kids ages 0 to 5. In addition to climbing and balancing equipment, play stations spark the imagination and engage kids’ senses. Your kids can even pretend to be the train engineer with the small stationary toy train built from barrels. Medina Park has picnic tables and grills available for use. Centennial Park is also included on the windshield portion of the Alpine Historic Tour since it is located next to the historic Centennial School. This park is geared for competitive sports competitions and practices with a full-size basketball court and baseball field. It offers a quiet area for walking and new restroom facilities. Railroad Park, an urban green space in the heart of downtown Alpine, is beautifully maintained by local volunteers and offers a wonderful place to take a break while sightseeing and shopping in the vibrant downtown area. From shaded benches, you can enjoy famous murals that decorate the downtown buildings. https:// visitalpinetx.com/attractions/#alpine-murals. The park is also home to two sculptures honoring Alpine’s rail history. There’s even a caboose. And you can get a drink for your animals too with the complimentary water and bowl.
FROM TOP: STEWART RAMSER; ELVA HARNESS/VISIT ALPINE TEXAS
On the Horizon
Kokernot Park is also home to a number of facilities — including soccer fields, baseball fields, tennis courts, and a sand volleyball court — for competitions and practices. Adjacent to the baseball fields is Kokernot Field with its trademark “06” brand. Built in 1947, this stadium is home to Alpine’s professional baseball team, the Cowboys. Learn more about the team’s wonderful history here: https://visitalpinetx. com/attractions/#alpine-cowboys-baseball. A skate park offers a safe place to enjoy various jumps and ramps; the swimming pool is the only public-use pool in Alpine and operates seasonally from roughly Memorial Day to Labor Day; and next to the pool and overlooking
the play areas is a large pavilion available for use — with a fee and reservations — by contacting Alpine’s Public Works Department via email at email@example.com. Hancock Hill and “the Desk” are high on the list for outdoor lovers. Visit Alpine recently created a handy trail map installed at the base of the mountain to guide you through the options. It’s a moderate climb to the top, then you cross more level terrain ultimately leading to “the Desk.” The original desk was hauled to the top about 40 years ago. Although new desks have replaced worn out ones from time to time, the tradition of signing names in a notebook at the desk is still intact.
Alpine, in partnership with Sul Ross State University, has undertaken an ambitious restoration project in the Kokernot Springs area that will create a long-term birding and outdoor activities destination. Visitors will be able to enjoy new hike and bike trails, bird-viewing opportunities and habitat restoration that will create a tranquil setting within Alpine for decades to come. Best of all, water will again return to the ponds and creeks at Kokernot Lodge as a result of the project. Alpine is home to more than 30 acres of beautiful city parks that offer plenty of space for people of all ages to get out and enjoy sunny days!
HUECO TANKS STATE HISTORIC SITE
World renowned for rock climbing, Hueco Tanks is also known for its many Native American rock paintings and unique geology. Pictograph tours are offered, and you can also hike, camp and picnic on the grounds. Call (915) 857-1135 before visiting. Annual Events: Hueco Rock Rodeo (February) Hueco Interpretive Fair (October)
FRANKLIN MOUNTAINS STATE PARK
WITH THE LARGEST URBAN STATE PARK IN THE U.S. RIGHT IN THE HEART OF THE CITY, YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO FAR TO START YOUR EXPERIENCE AS YOU WATCH the sun rise over a picturesque mountain backdrop, a city brimming with adventure comes to life. HEL PASO El Paso curves around a still-wild terrain of mountains and foothills that promise, after a short climb, a breathtaking panoramic view. Fresh-air excursions alone can give you plenty of reasons to get up and go.
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Add 320 days of sun to the equation and you can live a Hemingway novel in about a week — unless you’d rather use all that sunshine to relax by a pool. GUADALUPE El Paso’s native friendliness, MTS. NP warm sunshine and untamed mountains will make your trip Van Horn here the absolute opposite of a Alpine themed, fabricated experience. You Better El Paso Up!
BIG BEND NP
ZIN VALLE WINERY Spend the day at Zin Valle and experience their complimentary wine tasting, venture into the barrel room or simply enjoy a glass or bottle of wine on the patio or picnic while looking over the Zinfandel vineyard and the Franklin Mountains.
FROM TOP TO BOTTOM: COURTESY VISIT EL PASO; COURTESY VISIT EL PASO; COURTESY VISIT EL PASO
Hike, bike or run the rugged terrain of this 37-square-mile state park that sits in the middle of the city. Annual Events: Puzzler Mountain Bike Race (January) Lone Star 100 Trail Run (February) Poppies Festival (March) Coyote Classic Mountain Bike Race (April) Franklin Mountains Trail Run (November)
Davis TAKE A STEP BACK IN TIME AND TRAVEL TO A PLACE RICH IN HISTORY — A PLACE WHERE THE OLD WEST MEETS MODERN AMENITIES, AND THERE’S NOT A SINGLE STOPLIGHT
Davis Moun- home to four companies of the 9th U.S. Calvatains and surrounded by un- ry — African-American soldiers who became spoiled vistas of the Chihua- known as Buffalo Soldiers. Fort Davis soon huan Desert, the charming became a major military installation, and the little town of Fort Davis feels town grew right alongside it, boasting a dairy, far removed from the rest of lumberyard, bakery, furniture store, several hothe world. The town stretches just one mile with tels, a mercantile and saloons. Even after the fort closed, the community of most of the family-owned businesses centered Fort Davis grew as a ranching center, and by around the county courthouse and along the early 1900s attracted wealthy vacathe main street (Highway 118). It has tioners from the Gulf Coast seeking the feel of a western frontier town GUADALUPE MTS. NP the mild climate of the high desert offering a retreat to a simpler Odessa during the summer. The intrigupast and a chance to soak in Van Horn ing history of the area drew more the natural surrounding beauH FORT DAVIS tourists with the designation of ty, abundant wildlife and rich Alpine the fort as a National Historic history of the area. Site in 1961. Many of its buildings Fort Davis takes its name BIG BEND have been restored, making it one from the military post estabNP of the best surviving examples of a lished there in 1854 along the San frontier military post in the Southwest. Antonio-El Paso Road. The fort was Stargazers, birdwatchers, cyclists and hikers have manned by companies of the 8th U.S. Infantry to protect immigrants, freighters and mail also sought out the “Highest Town in Texas” for coaches from raids by Apache and Comanche access to the McDonald Observatory and Davis Indians in the area. Starting in 1867, the fort was Mountains State Park. IGH IN THE
DAVIS MOUNTAINS STATE PARK & INDIAN LODGE
Located four miles north of Fort Davis, this 2,700-acre park offers camping, hiking, picnicking and nature study. Four miles of hiking trails connect to Fort Davis National Historic Site, and two scenic overlooks provide the perfect spots for star gazing. Day and overnight equestrian use is offered. Within the park, the historic, pueblo-style Indian Lodge, built in 1933 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, has a swimming pool, restaurant and gift shop. The park is open yearround, and full RV hookups are available.
B MCDONALD OBSERVATORY A world leader in astronomical research, McDonald Observatory atop Mts. Locke and Fowlkes benefits from some of the darkest night skies in
Road and the Chihuahuan Trail. www.nps.gov/foda
CHIHUAHUAN DESERT D NATURE CENTER
the nation. The Frank N. Bash Visitor Center hosts Star Parties on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday evenings and is the starting point for tours and other programs. Informative exhibits can be found at the visitor center along with a gift shop stocked with unique and educational keepsakes. Program capacities are limited and reservations are required. Check the website for public program times and passes: www.mcdonaldobservatory.org
FORT DAVIS NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
Fort Davis was one the most important posts in frontier defense in the late 1800s with its strategic location at the crossroads of the San Antonio-El Paso
The 507-acre Nature Center, an affiliate of the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute, features 20 acres of botanical gardens, a cactus and succulent greenhouse with over 150 species of plants, nearly five miles of hiking trails, including about one and a half miles within the gardens, a geologic timeline with rock samples from the region, a Heritage Mining Exhibit, and the Powell Visitor Center, which includes exhibits and a gift shop. Modesta Canyon has a year-round spring, and Clayton’s Overlook has an impressive geologic display. There is a new bird blind with a 30-foot water feature, and shelter with side screens for additional viewing and photography. CDRI’s main fundraiser is a chuck wagon cookout and auction, which takes place in August. Located four miles SE of Fort Davis on Hwy. 118, the center is open 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Sat., and Sundays 12:30–5:30 p.m. (mid-March through October). www.cdri.org, (432) 364-2499
E SCENIC LOOP DRIVE
A 75-mile drive on the highest public highway in Texas starts in Fort Davis and winds past the Davis Mountain State Park, McDonald Observatory, Mount Livermore, Sawtooth Mountain and the Rock Pile. The route is also ideal for cycling with plenty of spots to rest and picnic, including a large, pineshaded area with tables in Madera Canyon.
THE OVERLAND TRAIL MUSEUM
On the historic San Antonio-El Paso Road, the museum has displays and photographs depicting early life on the western frontier and features a restored pioneer kitchen and early medical equipment. Open Tue.–Sat. 1–5 p.m, Sundays 2–4 p.m.
G HISTORIC JEFF DAVIS COUNTY COURTHOUSE Designed by the architectural firm of l. L. Thurman and Co. of Dallas, this building was erected in 1910–1911. 2011 marked the 100th anniversary of this concrete and stone Classical Revival edifice, featuring a massive portico, Doric columns, alternating horizontal bands of pink rusticated stone made of locally quarried materials and a Beaux Arts-style clock tower.
Events Due to COVID-19, events may have changed plans. Call or check websites to find out the current status.
TEXAS STAR PARTY Hosted at the Historic Prude Ranch, which is a 3,500acre, mile-high ranch. The event includes local tours, talks and evening programs. www.texasstarparty.org
CYCLEFEST Hosted by the Permian Basin Bicycle Association, Cyclefest has been based in Fort Davis for some 40 years. Cyclefest is a fun ride for anyone, held the third weekend in September. www.pbbatx.com
FRONTIER CHRISTMAS WEEKEND Always the first full weekend of December, festivities include a Christmas parade, a cookie baking contest, photos with Santa, hay rides around historic Fort Davis and kids holiday crafts.
THE “COOLEST” 4TH OF JULY Fort Davis provides a true slice of Americana in this annual small-town July 4 celebration dubbed the “coolest” in Texas thanks to the mountain temperatures and year-round dry climate. The community event — which draws visitors from all over — features a parade, a 5K Fun Run, a pie-baking contest, a cowboy hypnotist, live music, an array of vendors and a dance under the stars.
DAVIS MOUNTAINS HUMMINGBIRD CELEBRATION A four-day birding experience that offers field trips to unique birding habitats, guest speaking events, workshops, garden tours, banding demonstrations and an outdoor banquet. Usually held in August, birders and people who just love hummingbirds can explore the fascinating geology, flora and hummingbirds of the Davis Mountains Sky Islands. To register go to www.davismountainshummingbirdcelebration.com.
Lodging ATKINS ST
101 Memorial Square (432) 426-3237 hotellimpia.com
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Fort Davis National Historic Site
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2201 Texas 17 (800) 80-DAVIS fortdavisinn.com
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125 Blue Mountain Trail (432) 245-0750 chateauwright.com
MOUNTAIN TRAILS LODGE
FORT DAVIS DRUGSTORE
501 S. Highway 118 (432) 426-3481 mountaintrailslodge.com A naturalist’s dream! The lodge sits on 10 acres just south of town. Private porches offer sweeping views of the Chihuahuan Desert, mountains, birds and wildlife. Dark sky-friendly outdoor lighting is ideal for astrophotography and stargazing. Featuring 16 guest rooms in duplex cabins, an outdoor pavilion with gas grills, tables and chairs, and sitting and dining rooms in a restored 1930s motor court. Perfect for weddings and gatherings with friends and family.
2 STONE VILLAGE TOURIST CAMP
111 State St. (432) 245-0750 fddrugstore.com
STONE VILLAGE MARKET AND DELI 509 State St. (432) 426-3941 stonevillagetouristcamp.com Stone Village Market and Deli is any visitor’s “go to” for fresher, healthier choices in sandwiches, pre-packaged salads, soups, breads and baked goods. Located three blocks north of the courthouse. Dine in, sit out on the porch or picnic to go.
HEBERT’S CABOOSE ICE CREAM SHOP
509 State St. (432) 426-3941 stonevillagetouristcamp.com
1250 N. State St., (432) 426-3141 firstname.lastname@example.org
HEBERT’S HEIRLOOMS & RESALE MARATHON LANDFILL
3 KING LAND & WATER LLC
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101 Memorial Square , next to Hotel Limpia S 1ST ST (432) 426-3244 S 2ND
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600 N. State St. N 7TH ST (432) 426-2024 N 6TH ST KingLandWater.com N 5TH ST Offering unparalleled service for buyers and sellers N 4TH ST of ranches, unique homes and conservation properN 3RD ST N 2ND tiesST throughout the Lone Star State. Their experi385 90 ence is as vast as the landscape. AVEN
1250 N. State St. (432) 426-3141 email@example.com
UCKED BETWEEN Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park, Lajitas boasts a colorful history with a cast of infamous characters, beginning with giant marine reptiles and dinosaurs that roamed these parts over 65 million years ago according to fossils discovered in the vicinity. For centuries, Native Americans traveled through these parts along the Comanche Trail. Spanish explorer Antonio de Espejo used this historic river crossing, also known as Paso Lajitas or San Carlos Ford, in 1588. By the mid-1800s, Anglo-Americans had made their way to this remote location, eventually discovering quicksilver in the 1890s. The area’s booming mines led to the Lajitas Trading Post, which served workers
developed the community, and and handled goods and material GUADALUPE MTS. NP by the mid-1980s, the westerncoming from Mexico. Odessa themed resort was born, comThe early 20th century plete with a nine-hole golf brought a public school, Van Horn course, several lodging opchurch and U.S. post office tions and an airstrip. During to the small community of Alpine this time, the quaint commuLajitas. In 1916, the arrival of LAJITAS BIG BEND nity also included an unexpectMexican Revolutionary genH NP ed attraction: Clay Henry III, a eral Pancho Villa — a name that beer-drinking goat who even served was either worshipped or feared on a term as mayor of the West Texas town. both sides of the Rio Grande — resulted Today, the remote vacation destination in the establishment of a military outpost to protect the strategic mining industry. General is even grander, with an onsite spa, zip-line John J. “Black Jack” Pershing made an inspec- course and an 18-hole championship golf tion of the area along with his aide Lieutenant course that continues to be a top pick by golf and travel publications. Whether you’re George Patton during that time. For decades afterward, the Lajitas prop- drawn to the history, scenery or activities, erty changed owners several times before there are cowboy stories along with miners’ ending up in the hands of Walter Mischer in tales of drink and peril in every crevice of the 1977. The Houston entrepreneur restored and red rock buttes that encircle the area.
A COMMUNITY ALONG THE RIO GRANDE RIVER NAMED FOR THE SMALL FLAT ROCKS THAT BLANKET THE AREA, BORN OF ANCIENT VOLCANOES AND INLAND SEAS
Lodging LAJITAS GOLF RESORT
MAVERICK RANCH RV PARK (432) 424-5182 With over 100 sites including 60 pull-throughs, full hookups and amenities including shower facilities, swimming pool, laundry, TV room, dog park and more, Maverick Ranch is the ideal destination for the Big Bend region adventure seekers. Guests of the Maverick Ranch RV Park enjoy all of Lajitas Golf Resort amenities and activities, including Agave Spa, Black Jack’s Crossing golf course, trail rides, shooting activities, zip-lining Quiet Canyon and more.
Attractions AGAVE SPA There’s no better place to relax and unwind in the high Chihuahuan Desert than this luxurious spa on the Lajitas Golf Resort property. Sit back and enjoy a massage, facial or body treatment using herbal ingredients and stones native to the region.
BLACK JACK’S CROSSING GOLF COURSE This 18-hole championship golf course designed by Ryder Cup Captain Lanny Wadkins has been voted the “Best Course You Can Play in Texas” by the Dallas Morning News for the past six straight years, and Golfweek also ranks BJC the number one golf course you can play among all public access cours-
es in Texas. The course winds through the mountains, canyon and desert, capturing the beauty and drama of the Big Bend region while offering challenging golf for all skill levels.
EQUESTRIAN TRAIL RIDES Guided horseback rides work their way through hilly and desert terrain, offering sweeping views of the Big Bend wilderness. Riders can enjoy sunrise or sunset excursions, as well as one-hour, two-hour and half-day trail outings.
LAJITAS BOARDWALK The Lajitas Boardwalk offers a collection of interesting shops and venues to explore, including Red Rock Outfitters and Christina’s World for local and regional gifts, the Flat Rock Theater providing a cool afternoon escape and Licha’s Bakery with fresh-baked pastries.
variety of shooting activities available in Lajitas. Aim at sporting clays using a 12- or 20-gauge shotgun, or participate in a cowboy action shoot equipped with a shotgun, singleaction pistol or lever-action rifle. A combat course designed by a military veteran who served in Iraq simulates a run through an interactive environment.
The remote southwest Texas desert provides a gorgeous backdrop for a
A world-class zip-line tour of Quiet Canyon is a perfect way for adrenaline junkies to enjoy the breathtaking surroundings of the Big Bend area. Nine zip lines take riders from the upper canyon to the canyon floor. Three tour options available.
TOP PHOTO DENNIS MURPHY-D SQUARED PRODUCTIONS; INC.; BOTTOM PHOTOS COURTESY LAJITAS GOLF RESORT
(432) 424-5000 lajitasgolfresort.com Under new ownership since 2007, this 27,000-acre destination getaway features all the creature comforts and exciting adventures a visitor could want. From the Badlands Hotel to the Cavalry Post to the Boardwalk Condos, the resort boasts 101 well-appointed rooms decorated to match the remote property’s upscale Old West style. Lajitas is on the grow and now offers real estate opportunities that include the new luxury Lakeside Cottages, Boardwalk Condos or buildto-suit lots. Whether an investor looking for a return on investment via the Lajitas Golf Resort rental pool or those looking to make Lajitas their next home, with over 27,000 acres, there are a variety of options. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
MARATHON WHERE THE BIG BEND AND DARK SKIES MEET
J north of the entrance to Big Bend National Park sits Marathon — a quaint community that boasts a delightful climate, beautiful surroundings and friendly people. Situated in what is known as the Magnificent Marathon Basin and centrally located to many of the area’s unique attractions, Marathon hosts a range of folks — from astronomers gazing at the night sky to biking or birding enthusiasts to Big Bend hikers and explorers. One feature visitors can’t help but notice is the expansive starry sky over Marathon, which attracts astronomers and stargazers. Thanks to its remote geographic location, elevation and small size, the town has earned the rare distinction as an established, functional community under a
C OURTESY VISIT MARATHON TEXAS
JUST 40 MILES
“Class 1 Dark Sky.” (That’s as dark road and ranching — two indusas it gets!) Though increasing light tries that founded the town — are pollution prevents surrounding still an important part of the local economy. communities from holding Starting at the same distinction, the center of town, Marathon residents GUADALUPE MTS. NP Post Road runs and businesses inOdessa south for five tentionally proVan Horn miles to Post tect the breathPark — the site taking view and MARATHON H Alpine of a former cavtheir dark sky alry post known status from the BIG BEND NP as Camp Peña intrusion of exteColorado in the late rior lights. 1800s. With very little Marathon’s historic main street village sits a half-mile traffic and fabulous views, this west of the Highway 385 turnoff stretch is ideal for running, walkto Big Bend National Park. An- ing and biking. Wildlife such as chored by the legendary Gage deer, javelinas, turkey, jack rabHotel, the city center includes bits, quail and even an occasional shops, restaurants, galleries, gro- fox can be seen in the early mornceries and accommodations to ing or around sunset. Post Park itself boasts a beausuit every taste and need. Rail-
tiful, secluded pond and county park on the Peña Colorado Creek shaded by cottonwood trees and surrounded by the Caballos Novaculite Mountains. The historic spot is popular in birding circles as one of the few accessible sources of spring water in the Big Bend region. It also hosts the longest running community event in the Big Bend area: the Independence Day dance. Stunning geologic features surround Marathon, including the bluntness of Iron Mountain to the northwest and the lightness of the northern Glass Mountains, one of the few exposed uplifted coral reefs in Texas. While in Marathon, you’ll stand on some of the oldest rocks from the Paleozoic age (250–600 million years ago). The Marathon Uplift exposes the
For more information, visit marathontexas.com, themarathonfoundation.org and visitbigbend.com, as well as the Visit Marathon Texas Facebook page and Instagram account. instagram.com/visitmarathontexas www.facebook.com/marathontexas
Attractions CAMP PEÑA COLORADO (POST PARK) Five miles south of town, this shady oasis known simply as “The Post” was the original town site. Its location on the Comanche Trail necessitated the establishment of a cavalry post there. Although very little remains of the army post, it nevertheless gives the spot its current name. It is a popular location for dances, picnics and fishing, and is one of the best birding sites in the region.
MARATHON TEXAS CEMETERY Located off Post Road on the south side of town, the historic Marathon Cemetery has been in use since 1902. The peaceful grounds record the lives of early Marathon residents and is still in use today.
HALLIE STILLWELL HALL OF FAME MUSEUM Located 39 miles south on Highway 385 and six miles east on FM 2627, this family museum honors the memory of legendary ranch woman, teacher and author Hallie Stillwell. Call before going as their hours vary (432) 3762244.
GAGE GARDEN AND NATURE TRAIL Gage Hotel’s expansive landscaped garden encompasses 27 acres and includes meandering walking and running trails, ponds, lavender field, rose garden and blooming indigenous plants that flourish year-round attracting area birds and butterflies. The garden serves as an event venue for Gage weddings and private parties, but is open to the public daily.
BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK Marathon is the northern and eastern gateway to Big Bend National Park. A 40-minute drive takes you to the park entrance, where you are greeted with breathtaking desert vistas. After another 45-minute drive inside the park, you can find yourself in the cool, high Chisos Mountains Basin with a view across the river into Mexico.
SPA AT THE GAGE HOTEL The luxury spa at the historic Gage Hotel offers the ultimate in relaxation with massages, body treatments, facials and more. 102 W. Hwy 90, (800) 884-GAGE, www.gagehotel.com
MARATHON SKY PARK AT THE MARATHON MOTEL A unique concept/development to enhance the experience of visiting astronomy enthusiasts. Amenities include Wi-Fi, three-level concrete pads featuring 110 power and a shade cloth barrier to prevent any stray light intrusion. On most clear skied nights after dark, the park’s amateur astronomer will get out his telescopes and share his knowledge. Donations for his time go to improvements of the site and telescopes. (432) 386-4241
Events INDEPENDENCE DAY DANCE & CHILI COOK-OFF Held the weekend of the first Saturday in July, this event has been an influential part of Brewster County culture since its start in the early 1900s. Post Park hosts visitors from around the area for a community dance and CASIsponsored chili cook-off benefiting the Marathon Volunteer Fire Department. Other weekend events include a barbecue lunch, fun “dog and pony show,” parade on Main Street, live music and a fireworks show sponsored by the Gage Hotel.
VIVA BIG BEND The Viva Big Bend music festival takes place the last weekend of July and has brought live music to various locations in Marathon, including the Gage Hotel and Eve’s Garden B&B.
WEST FEST AND CABRITO COOK-OFF Held the third weekend of September, cooks vie for the top prize with cabrito (goat) specialties. You are invited to help judge not just cabrito, but other tasty West Texas treats such as steak, salsa, chicken, ribs, brisket, dessert and margaritas! Family friendly activities include washer pitching, cake walk, silent and live benefit auctions, live music and a dance. Benefitting local causes, including the Marathon Volunteer Fire Department.
MARATHON QUILT SHOW The Marathon Quilt Show is held annually in October. Enter a quilt or come see the talent of local quilters at this annual event. Judging in numerous categories. The Marathon quilters group will sell quilts. Raffle tickets to benefit the group with fun door prizes.
MARATHON PUBLIC LIBRARY The Marathon Public Library provides the community with the opportunity to borrow books and DVDs in a variety of genres. Printing services, Wi-Fi and programs for both adults and children are also available. Hours: Monday-Friday, 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. 106 NE 3rd Street, (432) 386-4136, www.marathonpubliclibrary.org
PHOTOS COURTESY VISIT MARATHON TEXAS
Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas and Oklahoma that were heaved up during the formation of the ancient supercontinent of Pangaea. Roadcuts east of town along Highway 90 and south on Highway 385 expose onlookers to spectacular features such as strike-slip faults, unusual folding and fossil fragments. Should you decide to make Marathon your destination, or when you’re ready to head down the road, you’re an easy distance from just about anywhere in the area. Alpine is a mere 30 miles, and another 26 miles will get you to either Marfa or Fort Davis. But if you’re like most, you’ll probably head south to Big Bend National Park. Good news: Marathon is closer to the park than any other town in the region at just 42 miles. Marathon also offers a wide array of short-term rentals, which can be found under lodging on the marathontexas.com website. Many of the properties can also be accessed through Airbnb, Home Away and VRBO (vacation rentals by owner). Marathon is sitting pretty as the locals’ haven and visitors’ uncovered jewel, just a hop, skip and a jump from all that welcomes visitors to far West Texas and its little corner of heaven.
MARATHON 2 MARATHON Held the fourth weekend in October, the annual 5K, 10K, half and full marathons take place each year on the Highway 385 course. Registrants can enjoy a pre-run pasta dinner at the Gage Hotel and a post-race fire department fundraiser lunch, awards presentation, dancing at the Marathon Motel and evening star party. www.marathon2marathon.net
FIESTA DE NOCHE BUENA Taking place the first weekend of December, Noche Buena (literally “the Good Night”) is the Spanish word for Christmas Eve. The evening consists of a family feast and is celebrated in many places around the world. This community event begins at dusk. Galleries and shops open, seasonal snacks are shared, and the holiday tree is lit! You can get in the holiday spirit joining in with Christmas caroling and hay rides. Mr. and Mrs. Santa make an appearance. A Mariachi band will be featured for the downtown revelers to enjoy.
MARATHON FISH FRY
DARK SKIES FESTIVAL DURING THE NEW MOON WEEKEND This festival (April 29-30, 2022) will celebrate Marathon’s dark skies with a variety of astronomy-related programs and activities, music and more on the grounds of Marathon Motel and RV Park.
Lodging ADOBE HACIENDA / ORTEGA HOUSE (432) 603-7333
THE BLAS PLAYNE (817) 938-4498 One of, if not the, oldest homes in Marathon. This historical house has been lovingly restored with close attention to retaining the character of a 100-plus-year-old adobe.
CASA LA VISTA (432) 386-2222 Be impressed by a rustic exterior. Inside all the comforts of home await you!
CASA VIEJA (310) 560-8758 A gorgeously restored home that was originally an old farmhouse built in 1917.
CASA WILMA (432) 386-2222 Solitude, beauty, escape.
EVE’S GARDEN ORGANIC BED & BREAKFAST (432) 386-7133 Seven separate, colorful, hand-built guest rooms (each with a private bath) surround a lush garden courtyard. Includes guest courtesy room and full organic breakfast.
GAGE HOTEL 8TH STREET ROCK HOUSE (281) 734-6796 The 8th Street Rock House is a onebedroom, one-bath house with a large eat-in kitchen and sleeps four.
(800) 884-GAGE Built in 1927 by famed architect Henry Trost, the recently restored Gage Hotel offers sophisticated laidback luxury at the “Gateway to the Big Bend.”
COURTESY VISIT MARATHON TEXAS
This fish fry fundraiser happens the second Saturday of February and goes
to make Post Park more user-friendly and to other local attractions (varies each year).
Located inside the J&G Alon convenience store, 901 Hwy. 90 West (432) 386-4238 Hours: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday (sometimes open on Saturdays) Grab a burger to go while getting gas on your way to Big Bend! Breakfast burritos, hamburgers, Mexican food, chicken sandwiches, fries, grilled cheese, cold drinks and beer. Eve’s Garden Organic Bed & Breakfast
BRICK VAULT BREWERY & BARBECUE
MARATHON MOTEL AND RV PARK
(866) 386-4241 Established in 1940, the recently renovated Marathon Motel features private cabins and full RV hookups complete with water, 30/50 amp electricity, sewer and cable television. The entrance is easy to navigate.
Food and Drink
100 N. 1st Street (432) 386-7538 Open Thursday and Friday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and dining until 8:30 p.m. or until food sells out. Saturday from noon to 10 p.m. and dining until 8:30 p.m. or until food sells out. Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. or until food sells out. The Brick Vault opened in 2018 and serves up award-winning barbecue and craft beer — a great combination for the weary traveler.
FRENCH COMPANY GROCER
LOS MUERTOS MEXICAN KITCHEN
LA LOMA DEL CHIVO HOSTEL (432) 244-7144 Enjoy a stay at this quirky hostel with its rambling alternative buildings made using recycled material, cans, bottles and paper.
SUNSET HOUSE (512) 844-0100 Unobstructed views of sunrises and sunsets from the 700-square-foot porch. The studio is well laid out for up to four guests.
MCGONAGILL HOUSE (432) 386-9755 Enjoy a local ranching family’s historic home, built in the 1940s. Roomy and cozy.
MY ADOBE HACIENDA/ MONROE PAYNE (830) 719-6067 Visit this historic home of Monroe Payne. Built more than 100 years ago, this adobe has been lovingly restored and provided with modern amenities making you feel at home.
RANCHO VILLA GUEST HOUSES (512) 423-2695 This adobe ranch house has mesmerizing mountain views from its numerous porches and patios.
SNUG HARBOR Three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a large kitchen with appliances and two covered porches with an outdoor living room plus hammocks make this spacious getaway a home away from home. See www.MarathonTexas.com for more info. 46 BIGBENDTRAVELGUIDE.COM
206 N. Avenue D (432) 386-4522 frenchcogrocer.com Open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily This quaint local store stocks classic grocery staples, natural foods, beer and wine, as well as camping supplies, gifts and artisan wares. The deli offers homemade sandwiches, salads, bread, cookies and coffee.
12 GAGE RESTAURANT & WHITE BUFFALO BAR In the Gage Hotel - 101 Hwy 90 West (432) 386-4205 gagehotel.com The bar is open daily from 3 p.m. until 11 p.m. (or midnight if they’re having fun!). Restaurant seating is from 6 p.m. with last seating at 9:40 p.m. on weekends and 8:40 p.m. on weekdays. Extraordinary Texas-inspired fine dining and bar experience.
BIG BEND PIZZA 900 Hwy 90 (432) 386-8883 Open Tuesday through Thursday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. Homemade, fire-roasted pizza.
303 N. 1st St. (432) 216-1200 Open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Mexican cuisine and handcrafted cocktails.
OASIS CAFE 113 NE 1st Street (432) 386-4233 Open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Texan and Mexican deliciousness.
V6 COFFEE BAR 101 Hwy 90 West (432) 386-4205 Open daily from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Hearty breakfast and a bistro-style lunch with beer, wine and full espresso menu.
Art Galleries EVANS GALLERY Three doors down from the Gage on Main Street (432) 386-4366 jameshevans.com If you don’t see someone in the shop, give James a call, and he’ll stop by. The longest-running gallery in the Big Bend and featuring the photographs of James H. Evans. Evans has been operating out of Marathon since 1988 and is the author of Big Bend Pictures (in its 3rd printing) and Crazy from the Heat.
E. DAN KLEPPER GALLERY 105 N. Avenue D (432) 386-6789 edanklepper.com Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. E. Dan Klepper is a fine artist, photographer and writer exhibiting his largescale works of photo-based art and sculpture at Klepper Gallery. His book of fine art photography and essays titled Why the Raven Calls the Canyon can also be found at the gallery.
Shopping RUSTY RABBIT (432) 386-3597
V6 COLLECTION GIFTS 101 Hwy 90 West (432) 386-4205 Open Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Gage Hotel’s uniquely curated collection of local art, area books and hand-crafted decor.
FROM TOP: JACK HOLLINGSWORTH; JASON RISNER
ART, MUSIC AND CULTURE CAN ALL BE FOUND IN THIS WEST TEXAS OASIS
city of Marfa sits in the high desert of Texas, surrounded by distant mountains in daylight and mysterious ghost lights at night. Fittingly named after a character in a novel, Marfa has a history of attracting creative spirits. Founded as a railroad water stop in the 1880s, the city limits are still bound on all sides by working cattle ranches, many still operated by their original descendants. On any given day you can find these natives in one of the many fine restaurants, businesses or events Marfa offers, along with visitors from all over the world. On the surface, it’s a typi-
cal rural town — a main street, a courthouse, churches and unique homes. Look deeper and you will find restaurants and art collections to rival New York or Berlin, a hotel filled with movie stars’ memories and unrivaled eclectic accommodations. This close-knit and diverse community takes pride in its rich cultural past, and makes deep investments in the future by way of volunteerism and community involvement. Until the 1970s, Marfa was best known for the ghost lights and as the film location for James Dean’s final picture, Giant, also starring Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and Dennis Hopper. The classically beautiful Hotel Paisano served as the center of activity during the making of the movie. Now, the well-appointed
has on permanent exhibit rooms offer modern conwork by such artists as veniences while preGUADALUPE John Chamberlain serving the spirit of MTS. NP Odessa and Dan Flavin. its past. If you are While in unable to stay Van Horn Marfa, don’t forthere, a visit is a MARFA H get to find your must — sit by a Alpine way to the viewroaring fireplace ing station east in the lobby or BIG BEND NP of town where you enjoy the outside can study the mystery courtyard and founof the Marfa Ghost Lights tain. In 1971, Donald Judd, the as they dance across the foothills renowned minimalist artist, of the Chinati Mountains. Seen moved to Marfa from New York by the earliest settlers to the area, City with the intention of perma- they continue to mystify travelnently installing art. Since Judd’s ers and passersby and are part of death in 1994, two foundations the continuing enigma and magic have been working to maintain that is Marfa. It’s impossible to capture the his legacy: the Chinati Foundation and Judd Foundation. The magic of Marfa in just a few pages. Chinati Foundation now occu- For more, go to visitmarfa.com or pies more than 10 buildings and call (432) 729-4772.
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FROM TOP: PAPALOTE PRODUCTIONS, LEE HOY, CITY OF MARFA
A MARFA MYSTERY LIGHTS
Marfa’s Mystery Ghost Lights were first documented by rancher Robert Ellison in 1883. Many theories about the source of these curious lights abound, but no one has ever been able to fully explain the phenomenon. Swamp gas, phosphorescent mineral displays, ball lightning, UFOs and wandering spirits of Apache ancestors have been proposed. Whatever the cause, these playful lights above Mitchell Flat are an enduring attraction. You’ll find a roadside park and viewing center complete with restroom facilities, picnic tables and long-range viewing devices along Highway 90 just eight miles east of town.
B PRESIDIO COUNTY COURTHOUSE Built in 1886, the Goddess of Justice stands atop this elegant Second Empire-style domed structure that was restored in 2001. A climb to the cupola provides a 360-degree panoramic view of the Marfa Plateau, Chinati Peak and nearby Davis Mountains. Hours are 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Monday through Friday. BIGBENDTRAVELGUIDE.COM 49
MARFA AND PRESIDIO COUNTY MUSEUM
Housed in an 1880s adobe known as the HumphrisHumphreys House, this museum features displays of Giant, the Chihuahuan Desert, local military and county history, and a collection of panoramic photography by Frank Duncan. Hours 1–5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
MARFA LIGHTS FESTIVAL The Marfa Lights Festival takes place each Labor Day weekend, with many of the activities surrounding the historic Presidio County Courthouse. The festival begins on Friday when food and craft vendors open their booths. Saturday morning starts with a 5K walk/ run and a parade down Highland Avenue. Live music is featured throughout the weekend.
a heated pool. The Paisano hosted the stars of the movie Giant and now serves as the social headquarters for Marfa. Enjoy patio dining by the fountain at Jett’s Grill with views of the exquisite Trost architecture.
MARFA MUNICIPAL GOLF COURSE The highest golf course in Texas, situated at 4,882 feet above sea level, this 9-hole course offers not only well-kept greens but also 360-degree views of blue mountains and open ranchland. It is a wonderfully manicured surprise in the middle of the desert mountains. (432) 729-4043.
Art CHINATI FOUNDATION , JUDD FOUNDATION and BALLROOM MARFA
PRADA MARFA Prada Marfa, by artists Elmgreen & Dragset, is one of the most iconic site-specific artworks in the world. Modeled after a Prada boutique, the sculpture houses luxury goods from the famed brand’s fall 2005 collection of bags and shoes in what some refer to as “the middle of nowhere.” Don’t blink and miss this landmark just west of Valentine, Texas, on Highway 90, a quick 30-minute drive from Marfa.
Events Due COVID-19, events may have changed plans. Call or check websites to find out the current status.
Excursions FORT DAVIS — MCDONALD OBSERVATORY A drive through the Davis Mountains offers a peek into the past and beyond into outer space. McDonald Observatory’s world-class instruments give a look into deep space, and offer fascinating tours of the grounds, telescopes and “star parties” that rival anything you’ve seen or done before.
PINTO CANYON Some of the most scenic West Texas views imaginable await you on the FM 2810/Pinto Canyon Road out of Marfa. Great for cars, road bikes or by foot, take an adventure along sprawling ranches toward the Chinati Mountains on this low-traffic ranch road.
RIVER ROAD CHINATI WEEKEND Chinati Weekend invites the local community as well as friends and colleagues from across the country and around the world to come to Chinati for a weekend of open viewing of the permanent collection, special exhibitions, talks and music — all offered free to the public. www.chinati.org
TRANS-PECOS FESTIVAL OF MUSIC + LOVE The annual Trans-Pecos Festival of Music + Love takes place in September and imports music and fun to Marfa. El Cosmico offers alternative lodging options to travelers in the forms of renovated vintage trailers, yurts, a teepee and campsites. 50 BIGBENDTRAVELGUIDE.COM
Scenic doesn’t begin to describe the wonders along the route that follows the Rio Grande to Big Bend Ranch State Park and Big Bend National Park. Whether it’s a history tour of Fort Leaton outside of Presidio or the mining “ghost town” of Terlingua, River Road is picturesque at every turn. You’ll want to factor in time to make plenty of stops.
207 N. Highland (866) 729-3669 hotelpaisano.com A historic hotel with 41 rooms, fantastic gift shop and
THUNDERBIRD HOTEL 601 W. San Antonio St. (432) 729-7777 thunderbirdmarfa.com The Thunderbird Hotel is a quiet boutique hotel with 26 stylish rooms. The outdoor courtyard has plenty of shade at the poolside cabana by day, and fire pits for socializing on cool nights.
EL COSMICO 802 S. Highland Ave. (432) 729-1950 elcosmico.com El Cosmico is a unique bohemian hotel and one of the most iconic places to stay in West Texas. Enjoy a stay in a spacious yurt, cozy safari tents or one of many unique trailers, each decked out with its own personality and comfort in mind.
HOTEL SAINT GEORGE 105 S. Highland Ave. (432) 729-3700 marfasaintgeorge.com Marfa’s newest and most modern hotel offers 55 rooms with fine design and attention to detail. La Venture, the Saint George’s in-house restaurant, offers a full bar and delicious meals for guests of the hotel and visitors to Marfa.
Food and Drink WATER STOP 1300 W. San Antonio St. Open 7 days a week, 11 a.m. -3 p.m., 5:30 p.m.-11 p.m.
are three nonprofit art spaces at the hub of Marfa culture. Occupying much of former Fort D.A. Russell, the Chinati Foundation is a contemporary art museum founded by the artist Donald Judd, with permanent installations by 13 artists. The Judd Foundation offers guided visits of Donald Judd’s formerly private live and work spaces. Ballroom Marfa features revolving exhibits of international acclaimed artists, along with numerous music events and performances throughout the year. Reservations are required for all three, so book before you go! www.chinati.org, www.juddfoundation.org, www.ballroommarfa.org
A small but excellent menu of fine diner food. The chicken and waffles never disappoint, and you’ll want to add a fresh juice, iced coffee or one of their specialty cocktails. Stylish indoor or relaxing patio dining available.
CONVENIENCE WEST BARBEQUE 1411 W. San Antonio St. conveniencewest.com Friday-Saturday, 5 p.m. -sold out Convenience West takes it’s place among Texas’s famed barbecue joints. The perfectly seasoned and slow smoked meats are the star of the show, but it’s the unique take on traditional sides that sets CW apart.
COCHINEAL 107 W. San Antonio St. cochinealmarfa.com A sleek and sophisticated restaurant with a rotating menu of fine dining. Indoor and outdoor seating and an incredible cocktail bar make for a perfectly intimate experience.
MARFA BURRITO 515 S. Highland Monday-Saturday, 6 a.m. - 2 p.m. Marfa Burrito is a staple and a must-visit for those in the know. Ramona’s burritos will stick to your ribs and power a day of art viewing and shopping.
CAPRI Enjoy a perfectly crafted cocktail at the bar or sit outside under a blanket of stars, surrounded by native plants and trees. The perfect place to cap off your night.
Shopping WRONG MARFA 110 Highland St. wrongmarfa.com Open 7 days a week, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. Wrong Marfa is owned by long-time Marfa residents and artists. Part store, part gallery, all fun, there is always something that will tickle your fancy at Wrong.
COMMUNITIE 122 Highland St. Open 7 days a week, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. Communitie is the perfect Marfa mix of minimalist aesthetic and West Texas sensibility. This is where you will find all the necessities, like wide-brimmed hats, bolo ties and a simple silk slip dress. Dogs welcome!
MARFA BOOK COMPANY 300 South Kelly St. marfabookco.com The go-to resource for west Texas literature, art and events in Marfa. Visit their website for a schedule of events and most up-to-date hours.
10 most scenic drives in the United pathways for themselves in the desStates. Famously called the “Rivert. Presidio garners its name GUADALUPE MTS. NP er Road,” the section between from the historic Mexican Odessa Lajitas and Presidio in Big fortress of Presidio del Norte, Van Horn Bend Ranch State Park paralwhose ruins are in presentAlpine lels the Rio Grande closely for day Ojinaga, Mexico. 27 miles, as both the river and Each highway that leads PRESIDIO the road curve, climb and fall to Presidio offers magnificent H BIG BEND NP through the borderland mounviews along the Texas Mountains of Mexico and the United tain Trail. Heading south from States. The steepest climb on River the city of Marfa on US 67, sweeping views of the wide-open spaces and big skies Road will take you up and over the “Big Hill” make the route a panorama of brilliant colors of the Bofecillos Mountains, where the Rio at sunrise and sunset. For scenery-seekers, Grande valley unfolds beneath the sheer volPresidio acts as the gateway to the western en- canic cliffs across the border. Like the river, oral tradition and storytrance of Big Bend Ranch State Park; visitors can check in to the park through Presidio’s telling culture have shaped the Big Bend reown Fort Leaton State Historic Site, a fortified gion over the course of generations. However, trading post established on the Chihuahuan one story has no place in Presidio-Ojinaga culTrail in 1848. If you’re coming from Big Bend ture: that borderlands are scary and dangerous National Park through Big Bend Ranch State places. Presidio has regularly ranked as one of Park on FM 170, you’ll be driving a route that the safest towns in Texas. If you look beneath National Geographic has named one of the top the surface, you’ll find that the International
RESIDIO SITS on the borderland of Texas and Mexico, where locals often say, “the River has never divided us.” The two largest rivers in this region of the Big Bend join one another here in Presidio: the Rio Grande and Rio Conchos. It has a long and documented past as a cultural crossroads and has served as a traveler destination for centuries. Native tribes and early settlers were drawn to the rich soil of the area historically known as “La Junta de los Rios.” Water is life, and that truth is accentuated here in the unique landscape of the Chihuahuan Desert. The first Spanish explorers came to Presidio in the 16th century and continued to settle the area by establishing numerous missions and garrisons. The La Junta floodplain of the Rio Grande has given the area a long history of continuous settlement, trade, and humans finding inspiration from the Rio to carve out
LA JUNTA DE LOS RIOS
Port of Entry is patrolled by U.S. Customs and Border Protection and acts as the gateway to some of the best shopping in the region. Grab your passport and make the drive across the border! Once you arrive in Ojinaga, Mexico, population 30,000, you’ll have your pick of authentic Mexican restaurants and shops that sell colorful, local wares. If you’d like suggestions on what to do and see in Ojinaga, do not hesitate to ask a Presidio local. Search far and wide, and it is likely that you will not find a friendlier community to visit. Through thousands of years of continuous settlement, the people of Presidio have cultivated a culture of hospitality and family that is as rich and genuine as the soil of La Junta de los Rios. An example of great adobe soil architecture is the American Legion Post No.176 building established in 1933, which has been remodeled and is now open. The legion is a nonprofit organization whose members have helped by volunteering to restore the face of Santa Teresa de Jesus church built in 1912 and is home to a parish that is known as the home of the FIRST Christmas celebration in Texas, in 1683. Visit the restaurants and stores in Presidio and you will find that no one remains a stranger here very long. The people who live here, sharing ideas, history and community, are happy to help you discover the borderlands culture that is so unique to Presidio.
PHOTOS BY HANNAH GENTILES
Art and Culture
Presidio hosts a rich art and cultural scene, noticeable from the moment you enter town. The city’s water tower features a mural painted by world renowned street muralist El Mac. Presidio is also home of La Junta Heritage Center, a nonprofit organization developed in the memory of A. Kelly Pruitt, a Texas artist who’s been featured in Who’s Who in American Art. Several examples of Pruitt’s work can be seen in local Presidio businesses. Various other murals have been contributed by local artists, such as Laurie Holman. One mural honoring “The Lady in Blue” represents the First Christmas in Texas, which, according to local leg-
end, took place in Presidio in 1683. Visitors can also appreciate traditional architecture and building techniques, as featured in local adobe structures, including the historic Santa Teresa de Jesus Church. The latest artist to create a mural is Mariell Guzman invited by the Cultural District Association. Her piece celebrates the natural beauty of the Chihuahuan Desert in an array of beautiful bright colors. Her art can be viewed next to Harper Hardware down O’Reilly Street in downtown Presidio. Presidio’s new water tower can be seen as you enter town on Highway 67, with its historical name: Presidio “La Junta de Los Rios.”
Remember Seeing Stars at Night?
One of the Big Bend Ranch State Park’s greatest asset is that it is designated a Gold Tier International
Attractions A RCS COMMUNITY BUILDING AND ST. FRANCIS PLAZA The plaza is an oasis of shade, fountains and greenery in downtown Presidio. The location of the Farmers Market held every Saturday morning.
B SANTA TERESA DE JESUS CHURCH Est. 1683, on O’Reilly Street, the church was rededicated in October 1983 in its tricentennial year.
C FORT LEATON STATE HISTORIC SITE Visit one of the largest fortified adobe structures in Texas. Constructed in 1848 after the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, Fort Leaton served as the sole supply depot for a 500-mile stretch of the Rio Grande and held a prominent place on the Chihuahua Trail. Interpretive exhibits highlight the area history and day to day life in the 1800s. Fort Leaton also serves as the western visitor center for Big Bend Ranch State Park. (432) 229-3613, https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/ fort-leaton
Dark Skies Park. With a City of Presidio Resolution in place, the visibility of the night sky is protected from outdoor light pollution and now other tri-county cities and governments have also come aboard with their own dark skies resolutions. The Big Bend region is now designated as a Dark Sky Reserve, the largest in North America. This is now the best place to view the black canopy overhead. At night, stare upward and you’ll find a view that’s breathtaking, like you’ve never seen in the big cities. On Saturdays in October and November, Presidio celebrates this view with singer-songwriters at the Dark Skies Music Festival at Saint Francis Park in downtown Presidio. https://www.darksky. org/our-work/conservation/idsp/parks/
D BIG BEND RANCH STATE PARK
This massive park of almost 300,000 acres flanks the “River Road” and features trailheads, small recreation areas, primitive camping and river access points. (432) 358- 4444, www.tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/big-bend-ranch
E FM 170 WEST — MOTORCYCLE RIDE TO RUIDOSA AND CHINATI HOT SPRINGS About 36 miles northwest of Presidio on FM 170, Ruidosa, a once thriving agricultural community, today is home to a general store. Also at the end of FM 170 is Candelaria, a beautiful drive often not seen by most visitors. The Chinati Hot Springs features constant 110-degree, mineral-rich waters that have been regarded for their healing qualities for well over 100 years. As you drive upriver you will see the Texas Historical Marker for the Chinati Cemetery locally known as Los Indio’s Cemetery. Visit the historic Ruidosa Church El Corazon Sagrado de la Iglesia de Jesus and its unique adobe arches crafted by the Ruidosa community in 1915. www.chinatihotsprings.net
F SHAFTER Twenty miles north of Presidio on Highway 67 are the remains of a once prosperous silver mining town. Extensive ruins are visible, though fenced against trespassing. The Shafter Cemetery features aboveground rock burials, some of which date back to the 1880s. Shafter is Texas’ only working silver mine operated by Rio Grande Mining Company.
G OJINAGA, MEXICO
An easy drive across the international bridge, Ojinaga welcomes visitors with a variety of excellent restaurants and shops, a casual atmosphere and friendly, helpful locals. The cultural museum is a must-see on the road from the international bridge. facebook.com/ojinaga.chih.mx
H LA JUNTA DE LOS RIOS
The future home of La Junta Heritage Center is under development. La Junta de los Rios is a historic farming and trading area at the junction of the Rio Grande (called Rio del Norte by the Spanish) and the Rio Conchos.
ELEPHANT ROCK & PROFILE OF LINCOLN
This bizarre rock structure can be viewed from Highway 67 just outside of Shafter. Another favorite rock novelty, the profile of Lincoln can be viewed from Highway 67 just north of Presidio.
PRESIDIO AQUATIC J CENTER Pool open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Beat the heat in a pool designed for all ages, zero entry to 8.5foot diving area. Featuring a 90-foot, figure-eight slide and other water features to get you wet. Bathhouse and showers, great place to cool off after adventures in the Big Bend. http:// presidiotx.us
PRESIDIO ATHLETIC COMPLEX The Presidio Athletic Complex can be found at 1144 E. O’Reilly. Where baseball is king – and visitors are welcome!
K PRESIDIO/OJINAGA INTERNATIONAL PORT OF ENTRY (432) 229-3349 99400 Highway 67, PO Box 1959 Presidio, Texas 79845 Go through the port of entry to visit Presidio’s sister city, Ojinaga, and 54 BIGBENDTRAVELGUIDE.COM
enjoy a unique tourism opportunity. The expansion of the bridge is in progress to improve international tourism and trade with Mexico. For ease in crossing, bring your passport. Friendly community with good food and shopping. U.S. currency accepted in most places. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, open to traffic 24/7.
L A BIKER’S DELIGHT: FM 170 EAST (RIVER ROAD) National Geographic magazine calls FM 170 to Presidio one of the “Top 10 Scenic Highways in North America” and RideTexas.com Reader’s Choice calls it the “Best Road Next to a River.” On two wheels or more, River Road is an adventure with side roads and stops to explore.
M WET DREAM GALLERY
Located at 712 O’Reilly Street, this contemporary art gallery presents art shows from international artists, along with limited edition print and books. Opening Spring 2022. Friday, Saturday and Sunday 12-7 p.m. and by appointment). For more information, email hi@ wetdreamgallery.com.
N PRESIDIO AMERICAN LEGION 176 Established 1933. All visitors welcome.
O EL CEMENTERIO DEL BARRIO DE LOS LIPANES (1790) Located within the town at the intersection of Barton Avenue and Market Street. A historical marker to be erected in 2022.
Located behind Harper Hardware store. Complete with picnic tables, swings and a teeter-totter for kids.
Q B.J. BISHOP WETLANDS
Bird watching area (26 acres) one-half mile from Fort Leaton on FM 170 East.
Events Due to COVID-19, events may have changed plans. Call or check websites for current status.
FOURTH OF JULY An annual celebration is held at a citydesignated area. Includes a fireworks show, food vendors and fun for the whole family. Admission free. Vendors, please contact City Hall at (432) 2293517 for details.
DARK SKIES MUSIC SERIES Enjoy the summer with singer-songwriters performing on Friday evenings at 7 p.m. in St. Francis Park located in downtown Presidio, starting in October to November. Admission is Free.
PRESIDIO INTERNATIONAL DRAG STRIP FM 170 West Monthly Saturday night races.
SANTA TERESA FIESTAS
ties. Home away from home for artists, birders and adventurers.
RIATA INN MOTEL 99205 US 67 North (432) 229-2528 Presidio’s Motorcycle Boutique Motel. Riders will find a home away from home and extras one not might expect traveling on a bike. Riata is certainly the motorcycle-friendly place for all travelers to stay in Presidio. www.riatainnpresidio.com
Santa Teresa de Jesus Church. Each year the church committee hosts a two-day celebration with traditional food, arts and crafts. There is a raffle with all proceeds going directly to the church’s insurance and needs. Call (432) 229-3235 for more information.
RIO BRAVO RANCH
FIRST CHRISTMAS IN TEXAS
THREE PALMS INN
Santa Teresa Catholic Church conducts Christmas mass, and the public is invited.
PRESIDIO COMMUNITY FARMERS MARKET Every Saturday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., rain or shine. Live music. Held between St. Francis Park and City Hall.
(432) 229-3302 email@example.com Camping, large tent sites, shade structures, fire rings, grills, picnic tables, Chinati potty, BIG KAHUNA outdoor shower.
1200 N. Erma Ave. (432) 229-3211 A great place to stay in Presidio. Comfortable rooms, pool, internet, and offers the Oasis Restaurant open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. www.threepalmsinn.com
Food and Drink THE BEAN CAFÉ
Lodging BIG BEND RANCH STATE PARK-BUNKHOUSE (432) 358-4444 https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/bigbend-ranch
CIBOLO CREEK RANCH (432) 229-3737 cibolocreekranch.com 30 miles north of Presidio
LOMA PALOMA RV PARK On FM 170, 4 miles east of downtown (432) 229-2992 84 wide, pull-thru sites. Showers.
PRESIDIO LODGE & DASP RV PARK 99140 Hwy 67 (as you come into town) (432) 209-9565 A hilltop campground with cabins and RV spaces with beautiful views in all directions.
LA CENTINELA riobravoranchtx.com (432) 229-3302, firstname.lastname@example.org Private 2/2 architecturally designed adobe house on FM 170, overlooking the Rio Grande with luxurious ameni-
(432) 229-3131 Coffee shop and restaurant located in downtown Presidio in front of City Hall.
EJ’S DRIVE THRU (432) 229-2976 1004 Foothill Blvd. Family run. Fast food, burgers, hot dogs, wings and beer. Open daily: 12 p.m.- 12 a.m.
EL CHANGARRITO (432) 229-2274 Next to the railroad tracks on East O’Reilly Street Mexican food, shaded outdoor dining.
EL PATIO RESTAURANT (432) 229-4406 Popular Mexican restaurant located in front of Santa Teresa de Jesus Church near downtown. Open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
INSPIRE NUTRITION 600 W. O’Reilly St. (575) 361-5709 Coffee/Nutrition shop in downtown Presidio across from City Hall. Inspire Nutrition offers a variety of healthy nutritional shakes, energizing teas, pre/postworkout drinks, protein doughnuts and more. Free Wi-Fi.
SUBWAY SANDWICH SHOP
Seeking a week’s journey by canoe through some of North America’s most remote wild rivers canyons or a scenic day float, hike or drive. We tailor a custom experience for you.
(432) 229-2505 223 W. 1st St.
Outfitters and Tours
101 E. O’Reilly St. (432) 229-3223
Family-run bakery known for its crescent rolls and for tamales and menudo on Sunday.
M&R CAFÉ (432)229-2424 New downtown café serving coffee, lattes, breakfast and lunch. Open Monday-Friday, 6:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m. Enjoy the outdoor seating.
OASIS RESTAURANT Next to Three Palms Inn on Errma St. (432) 229-3998 Open 7 a.m.–10 p.m. daily. Good food and desserts.
(432) 229-3713 or (305) 336-2787 angellexpeditions.com Full-service outfitter serving the greater Big Bend area. River rafting, canoeing, kayaking, jeep tours, hiking, mountain biking and camping. Single and multi-day trips available, tailored to your interests and schedules. Rental cabins available. Highest ranking on TripAdvisor!
PINK FLAMINGO 902 O’Reilly Street (915)497-5338 @thepinkflamingo_presidiotx Colorful shaved ice shop serving snow cones, ice cream and delicious coffees. Open Monday-Friday, 6:30 p.m.-9:30 p.m.
PONCHO’S PIZZA, TAXI SERVICE
bigbendjeep.com Self-guided Big Bend Jeep tours in safety and style. Daily and weekly rentals. Travel the famous River Road, explore historic sites or experience a memorable 4x4 adventure.
PRESIDIO TRADING POST & CANTINA
FAR WEST TEXAS OUTFITTERS
(432) 229-3916 River Road at FM 170 E. & Rio Grande Ave. Open evenings. Variety of chicken wing flavors. Best in town.
NIETO’S 903 W. O’Reilly St. (432) 229-3220 Full selection of cowboy jeans, belts and hats, as well as a ladies section.
MONTANA WESTERN WEAR & ALSE MISC. 1120 O’Reilly Street (432) 229-3224 Full selection of cowboy jeans, belts and hats, as well as a ladies section. Alse is a specialty store with a wide variety of useful personal products. From makeup to electronics.
DY CONVENIENCE STORE 104 W. O’Reilly (432) 229-4488
FRONTIER TRAVEL CENTER US 67, next to Riata (432) 229-2777 Open: Monday-Saturday 5 a.m.-11 p.m. and Sunday 6 a.m.-11 p.m.
BIG BEND JEEP RENTAL
144A N. Puerto Rico St. and US 67 (432) 229-2663 (432) 295-0447 (taxi service) Next to the Presidio International Bridge.
UETA DUTY FREE STORE Large building close to International Bridge (432) 229-3766 Some items may be bought on the spot, others like liquor and cigarettes (up to 40% off retail) can only be exported to Mexico at the international bridge. Limit for bringing back liquor. Tax per liter: $3.75 with 4-liter limit per person.
NAPA AUTO PARTS 405 E. O’Reilly St. (432) 229-3982
ROHANA TIRE 907 E. O’Reilly St. (432) 229-2525
DOLLAR TREE, FAMILY DOLLARS, DOLLAR GENERALS AND MELROSE
PRESIDIO 67 VALERO
(432) 229-2054 or (512) 632-4041 email@example.com
Hwy 67 (432) 229-4949
All on Business 67 They may not have everything you want, but they have everything you need!
TOM’S SERVICE STATION
203 O’Reilly St. (432) 229-3259 RALPH ENGLAND ST
IL D LV LOUVAIN BLVD
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109 N. Erma on Business US 67 (432) 229-3424
504 N. Erma on N. Business 67 (432) 229-3776 portersgrocery.com Popular stop for travelers looking for beverages, groceries, ice, fuel and money order. It is a full-service grocery store, deli and bakery.
PANADERIA DON JOSE
BROOKS ST BEACH AVE
PRESIDIO TOURIST INFO AVAILABLE AT CITY HALL (507 W. O’REILLY ST.). FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK, CITY OF PRESIDIO, TEXAS WWW.PRESIDIOTX.US (432) 229-3199
ORLA ER RIV
INGUA TERLand STUDY BUTTE
THE PLACE TO GO TO GET AWAY FROM IT ALL
T 56 BIGBENDTRAVELGUIDE.COM
industry suffered, leading to a reduced need When the sun goes down, enjoy some of the for mine labor and, ultimately the closure of best celestial viewing in the country. Each year on the first Saturday in Nothe Chisos Mining Company in 1942. Though many miners moved on, rem- vember, more than 10,000 “chiliheads” nants of their time in the far West Texas com- convene in Terlingua for two annual chili munity remain. The Terlingua Ghost Town, cook-offs: the Chili Appreciation Society’s International Chili Championship and which is on the National Register of the Frank X. Tolbert/Wick Fowler Historic Places, features what’s left Memorial World Championof miners’ homes, their church GUADALUPE MTS. NP ship Chili Cookoff. These and Perry’s hilltop mansion, Odessa annual events feature cosalong with several capped Van Horn tumes, live music and seriand abandoned mines — ous competition. They have most notably the California Alpine come to personify Terlingua Hill, the Rainbow, the 248 and spread the reputation and the Study Butte mines. TERLINGUA BIG BEND H NP of this unique Texas village No trip to the area is worldwide. complete without a visit to the The neighboring community of front porch of the Terlingua Trading Company — what was once the com- Study Butte (pronounced “stoody byoot”) pany store of the Chisos Mining Company. may be lesser known, but it is the economic From this popular gathering place, onlookers hub of the area and has a similar history can get to know the locals while taking in a steeped in mining. Today, stores, lodging and sweeping view of Big Bend National Park and other amenities cater to tourists enjoying all the Chisos Mountains, including the hard- that the Big Bend region has to offer. to-miss formation known as “Mule Ears.”
TO THE EAST of Big Bend State Park and to the west of Big Bend National Park sits the Terlingua/Study Butte area, which attracts visitors looking for West Texas adventure. Rafting on the Rio Grande, mountain biking, camping, hiking and motorcycling are popular outdoor activities throughout the region, and many such trips begin in this tiny community. But the adrenaline-rushing tourist activities aren’t what originally put Terlingua on the map. That honor goes to cinnabar, a bright mineral consisting of mercury sulfide — an important ore of mercury and used by Native Americans as body pigment. Its discovery in the 1880s brought miners to the desolate Chihuahuan Desert and spawned the Chisos Mining Company, founded by Howard Perry in 1903. For more than two decades, the operation extracted quicksilver, which was used in the manufacture of gunpowder cartridges and shells. Business boomed, particularly during World War I, and the small town of Terlingua blossomed around the mines. But once the Great Depression hit, the quicksilver
BARTON WARNOCK VISITOR CENTER
TERLINGUA TRADING COMPANY
The Center serves as the eastern entrance to Big Bend Ranch State Park. Exhibits interpret 570 million years of geologic history and the five biological landscapes of the Chihuahuan Desert. It was named for famed botanist and 33-year Sul Ross State University professor Dr. Barton Warnock (1911–1998). www.tpwd.texas. gov/state-parks/barton-warnock
Housed in the former company store of the Chisos Mining Company (100 Ivey Rd.), this is a modern-day version of the trading post that served trappers, settlers and cowboys along the Rio Grande. Today, the gift shop and community gathering place sells gifts influenced by Mexico and the southwestern U.S., including books, maps and art. (432) 371-2234, www.ghosttowntexas.com/ terlinguatradingcompany.html
HISTORIC TERLINGUA AND TERLINGUA GHOST TOWN On Highway 170, five miles west of 118 Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996, the Terlingua Historic District holds the largest concentration of mining architecture in the area. Some buildings have been restored as shops, restaurants and homes, including the Starlight Theatre and the Terlingua Trading Company. Other remnants, such as miners’ homes, an area church and the Perry Mansion, are weathered ruins. The Terlingua Ghost Town also includes capped and abandoned mines left over from the early-1900s mining boom and a boot hill cemetery. www.ghosttowntexas.com
BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK If you’ve made it to far West Texas, Big Bend National Park is probably on your itinerary. The Terlingua and Study Butte area is a great starting point from which to base your national park adventure. Once inside the park, consider the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. This stunning loop on the western side of Big Bend passes many favorite trailheads and ends at the majestic Santa Elena Canyon. The improved dirt Maverick Road leads back to the park entrance at Maverick Junction. www.visitbigbend.com
BIG BEND RANCH STATE PARK The largest state park in Texas, with over 300,000 acres of Chihuahuan Desert wilderness, the park embraces some of the most remote and rugged terrain in the Southwest. Mountain bikers, hikers and equestrians enjoy miles of trails that traverse “the other side of nowhere.” www.tpwd.texas. gov/state-parks/big-bend-ranch
WALKING TOUR OF TERLINGUA GHOSTTOWN This self-guided tour starts at the flag pole in front of the Terlingua Trading Company. Go to the website for more details. terlinguatexas.com/moreexcursions
CAMINO DEL RIO — THE RIVER ROAD Highway 170 along the Rio Grande is a favorite among travelers. You’ll find several camping areas, river access points and trailheads along the way. At places, the road becomes narrow, winding and very steep, making it difficult for some RVs, buses and trailer rigs. Open grazing is also allowed along this stretch of road, so keep your eyes peeled for cows, horses, mules or burros.
RIDE THE RIO GRANDE The Terlingua and Study Butte area is the jumping off point for your river adventure. There are a number of experienced outfitters that will make your trip, fun and safe, whether it be by raft, canoe or kayak.
Outfitters and Activities BIG BEND RIVER TOURS 23331 FM 170 (800) 545-4240 bigbendrivertours.com The oldest full-service outfitter in the area, Big Bend River Tours offers guided rafting trips, canoe trips, guided hikes, backroad tours and combination trips.
DESERT SPORTS 22937 FM 170 (432) 371-2727 desertsportstx.com Looking to mountain bike or run in Big Bend National Park or Big Bend State Park? Desert Sports specializes in that, helping visitors explore the
Chihuahuan Desert. Guided tours, overnight river trips and boat and bike rentals are also available.
LAJITAS ZIP-LINE lajitasgolfresort.com, (432) 424-5000 A world-class zip-line tour of Quiet Canyon is a perfect way for adrenaline junkies to enjoy the breathtaking surroundings of the Big Bend area. Nine zip lines take riders from the upper canyon to the canyon floor. Three tour options available.
BLACK JACK’S CROSSING GOLF COURSE lajitasgolfresort; (432) 424-5080 This 18-hole championship golf course designed by Ryder Cup Captain Lanny Wadkins has been voted the top course you can play in Texas by the Dallas Morning News for multiple years. The course winds through the mountains, canyon and desert, capturing the beauty and drama of the Big Bend region while offering challenging golf for all skill levels.
FAR FLUNG OUTDOOR CENTER 23310 FM 170; (432) 371-2633 bigbendfarflung.com Far Flung Outdoor Center helps visitors experience the Big Bend area up close and personal with river trips, walks and hikes, and Jeep and ATV tours. They also offer courses in wilderness first aid and canoe rentals.
BIG BEND & LAJITAS STABLES (800) 887-4331, (432) 371-3064 www.lajitasstables.com/index.html firstname.lastname@example.org Offering guided horseback rides for almost 30 years! Riders can enjoy the frontier lands of the Chihuahuan Desert next to Big Bend National Park, along Scenic Rio Grande and atop the mesas of the Bofecillos Mountains in Big Bend Ranch State Park. Hourly, half- or all- day and multiple days available.
BIG BEND RESORT & ADVENTURES (432) 371-2218 , (877) 386-4383 bigbendresort.com/big-bend-overlandtours Big Bend Resort & Adventures offers experienced guides to take you to all areas of the Big Bend. The tours are conducted in a Ford Excursion 4-wheel drive vehicle with air conditioning for your comfort.
Events Due to COVID-19, events may have changed plans. Call or check websites to find out the current status.
VOICES FROM BOTH SIDES Every year in May, people from both sides of the border come together for a day of music and fun next to (and in) the Rio Grande. Musicians grab their BIGBENDTRAVELGUIDE.COM 57
instruments and set up on the bandstand at the edge of the river near the border community of Lajitas. They take turns playing songs with bands just across the border, on the Mexican side of the river, at Paso Lajitas, an even tinier village.
DAY OF THE DEAD/ DIA DE LOS MUERTOS It’s a Terlingua tradition to meet at sunset on Nov. 2 at the historic cemetery in the Terlingua Ghost Town to light candles and make offerings to loved ones long past, remember old friends and make new ones as everyone visits and honors those who’ve gone before them. www.visitbigbend.com
RIDE 4 TRAILS
TERLINGUA INTERNATIONAL CHILI CHAMPIONSHIP Chili Appreciation Society International’s annual event is held at Rancho CASI de los Chisos on the north side of Highway 170, 11 miles west of Study Butte. CASI hosts the annual championship on the first weekend of November. The festivities include BBQ, salsa, beans and wings contests. There is live music entertainment on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. www.casichili.net
BLACK-EYED PEA OFF Since 1990, Terlingua residents and visitors have celebrated the start of a new year with a black-eyed pea cooking competition. The annual Jan. 1 event occurs on the porch of the Terlingua Trading Company and has two rules: have fun and no beans! A first place trophy is awarded and proceeds benefit local causes.
BIG BEND ULTRA RUN This racing event takes place every January in Big Bend Ranch State Park. Participants can choose from a 50K, 30K, 20K and 10K trail run over desert terrain. The premium, ultra and 58 BIGBENDTRAVELGUIDE.COM
distance trail races in the Chihuahuan Desert of South Brewster County benefits Big Bend Ranch State Park and Friend of Big Bend Ranch State Park. www.bigbend50.com
VIVA BIG BEND The annual music festival, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2021, has expanded in recent years to include South Brewster County, and specifically Terlingua. The final weekend of July is the time to catch the music.
TERLINGUA CHIHUAHUA RACES The Chihuahua races take place each March and benefit the Family Crisis Center of the Big Bend. Enjoy the race, games, a dog costume contest and food and music.
Lodging For a complete listing of area lodging options, go to www.VisitBigBend.com.
EL DORADO HOTEL 100 Terlingua Ghost Town (432) 371-2111 eldoradohotelterlingua.com Located behind the High Sierra Bar & Grill, the El Dorado Hotel offers traditional single, double and king rooms, as well as a one-bedroom villa and a fully remodeled tour bus that sleeps four.
LA POSADA MILAGRO laposadamilagro.com Built atop ruins in the Terlingua Ghost Town, the pet-friendly La Posada Milagro provides rustic luxury accommodations. Each room is unique, and visitors can enjoy views of Big Bend National Park from sun decks and courtyards. Also featured is an on-site coffee shop and taqueria.
CHISOS MINING CO. MOTEL 23280 FM 170 (432) 371-2254 motelsbigbend.com For more than 40 years, this locally owned and operated motel just minutes from both Big Bend National Park and Big Bend State Park has served West Texas visitors.
BIG BEND RESORT & ADVENTURES Three miles from the western entrance to Big Bend National Park (432) 371-3382 bigbendresort.com Big Bend Resort & Adventures features lodging, gift shop, food, a convenience store and guided back country tours. A campground and RV park with full hookups is also onsite.
HOLIDAY HOTEL 100 Ivey Rd. (432) 201-1177 bigbendholidayhotel.com Located between Study Butte and Lajitas on Highway 170, in the heart of the Historic Terlingua Ghost Town,
Holiday Hotel offers sophisticated accommodations in a primitive setting. Guests can choose between the lovingly restored suites, casitas and family suites.
LAJITAS GOLF RESORT/ MAVERICK RANCH RV PARK On Hwy 170 (432) 424-5000, (877) LAJITAS lajitasgolfresort.com A full-service resort which is also home to a beautiful 18-hole golf course and an outfitter service. Maverick Ranch RV Park offers 101 sites, including 60 full-service pull-throughs and 18 primitive wilderness campsites for those interested in having a true, rustic tent camping experience.
BIG BEND CASITAS (432) 371-2633 bigbendfarflung.com/lodging
LONGHORN RANCH MOTEL 52370 TX-118, Terlingua (432) 371-2541
TERLINGUA RANCH LODGE 16000 Terlingua Ranch Rd., Terlingua (432) 371-3146
SHORT-TERM RENTALS airbnb.com, vrbo.com There are a wide variety of area lodging options through Airbnb and other short-term rental companies.
The annual Ride 4 Trails Motorcycle Rally is a fundraiser in mid-October that supports the trails program in Big Bend National Park. Bikers from all over the country converge on Big Bend Resorts & Adventures to participate in a weekend of live music, poker runs and great Texas barbecue — all to support the construction and maintenance of hiking and stock trails in the park. www.ride4trails.com
HORN VAN HORN IS THE CROSSROADS OF THE TEXAS MOUNTAIN TRAIL
established in 1881, when the Texas and Pacific Railway came through. Before that, it was a stopping point for travelers on the Old Spanish Trail and the San Antonio-El Paso Overland Mail route. Today, Van Horn is the county seat of Culberson County, sitting at the helm of the western portion of the region, almost exactly halfway between Fort Stockton and El Paso. Of the many area attractions, a large number GUADALUPE MTS. NP Odessa of visitors to Van Horn are those heading up H VAN HORN to Guadalupe Mountains National Park Alpine and on to Carlsbad Caverns just across the BIG BEND NP Texas/New Mexico border. Many choose to stay in the newly remodeled historic Hotel El Capitan, one of the Trost & Trost hotels that dot this part of the country. The El Capitan is a newly remodeled gem of historic architecture. AN HORN WAS
Attractions GUADALUPE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK Enjoy one of the most beautiful drives in Texas en route to the stunning and varied landscapes of the Guadalupe Mountains. Just one hour north of Van Horn, this national park is home to the highest peak in the state — Guadalupe Peak at 8,750 feet. Enjoy a variety of hiking trails accessible year-round, historic sites and interpretive displays. See page 19 for much more information on Guadalupe Mountains National Park. www.nps.gov/gumo
THE EL CAPITAN TO EL CAPITAN HERITAGE BIKE ROUTE A 55-mile ride along a scenic and historic route! Cyclists from all over are coming to ride Highway 54 between the Historic Hotel El Capitan and El Capitan Mountain in Guadalupe Mountains National Park. www.texasmountaintrail.com/bike.
CLARK HOTEL MUSEUM Anyone interested in the historical aspects of West Texas will want to stop at the Clark Hotel
Museum. Located in the historic hotel that once served railroad travelers, this museum features pioneer, Native American and railroad memorabilia. The museum contains a stunning collection of artifacts reflecting the history of Van Horn and the surrounding area. There are displays showing the history of mining, ranching, the railroad and other early activities, as well as personal items which belonged to members of early pioneer families who first settled here. It features an old western-style saloon with a mirrored back bar, which have been in the same room since the early 1900s. (432) 283-8028
Lodging HOTEL EL CAPITAN 100 East Broadway (877) 283-1220 thehotelelcapitan.com The Hotel El Capitan was built in 1930 based on designs by notable architect Henry Trost, of Trost & Trost of El Paso. After a $2.5 million renovation, the El Capitan is even more superb than in 1930. There are now 38 rooms and suites, a fine dining room and the Gopher Hole Bar.
EXPERIENCE THESE UNIQUE CITIES ON THE WAY TO A ND FROM THE TEX AS MOUNTAIN TRAIL
TOYAHVALE AND BALMORHEA
WHITEHEAD MEMORIAL MUSEUM Consisting of 19 buildings and 30 exhibits, the Whitehead Memorial Museum was the result of the 1962 donation of the old Perry Mercantile Building by the Whitehead Family to the City of Del Rio and Val Verde County. The museum preserves historical and tangible artifacts that reflect the early history, cultures and economies of Del Rio and Val Verde County.
KICKAPOO CAVERN STATE PARK Measuring at 1,400 feet long and the result of 4 million years of geologic change, the Kickapoo Cavern State Park is the home to thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats. The bats live in the cave from mid-March to the end of October and leave the cave each evening at dusk to hunt for their prey, giving visitors a unique visual experience. The park is home to over 240 migrant and resident bird species , a popular overnight stay site and miles of popular hike and bike trails.
LAUGHLIN HERITAGE FOUNDATION MUSEUM Laughlin Heritage Foundation Museum houses interesting information about Laughlin Air Force Base and the early years of aviation in Val Verde County. The museum has many artifacts related to the Cuban Missile Crisis and includes many items gifted by people who served at the base, especially the 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing.
JUDGE ROY BEAN VISITOR CENTER Judge Roy Bean established his Jersey Lilly saloon, helping to stir an already roiling pot of lawlessness, before capturing the position of justice of the peace. Today, the Jersey Lilly and the opera house Bean built combine to create the Judge Roy Bean Visitors Center.
COURTESY DEL RIO CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
DEL RIO IS HOME TO MAN Y HIDDEN TREASURES, INCLUDING THE AMISTAD NATIONAL RECREATION AREA, THE ANCIENT ROCK ART AND TOPOGRAPHICAL WONDERS OF SEMINOLE CAN YON, THE DELIGHTFUL VAL VERDE WINERY AND MUCH MORE
AKE AMISTAD, is the crown jewel of Del Rio. Fed by the Rio Grande, Pecos and Devils rivers, Lake Amistad serves as the host to year-round water sports activities. The unique rivers wind through over 100foot canyons and converge into an expanse of clear, freshwater that offers an engaging and serene experience to visitors. Known as the the oldest continuously operated winery in Texas, the Val Verde Winery is a must stop for visitors. Established in 1883, it produces an array of wines from white Viognier to the red Sangiovese.
While in Del Rio, take the short drive CIUDAD ACUÑA and explore the region’s history at the SemiCiudad Acuña is an epicenter for Mexico’s nole Canyon State Park and the Judge Roy most cherished traditions, where visitors, Bean Visitor Center in Langtry. Continfamilies and friends meet to rejoice ue the exploration at the Whitehead in good times. Cd. Acuña offers Memorial and the Laughlin HeriGUADALUPE MTS. NP excellent recreation, concerts, Odessa tage Museums. discotheques, hotels, novelties Lastly, discover annual Van Horn and festivals celebrating tradievents such as monthly Art tional Mexican holidays, like 16 Walks, the summer concert de Septiembre, Dia de Muertos, Alpine series Noches Musicales, the H Revolution Day and Cinco de DEL RIO Fiesta de Amistad celebrations BIG BEND Mayo. Cd. Acuña is also a hub for NP and a variety of many other offeraffordable, quality healthcare. ings. For a listing of all Del Rio has to offer, visit drchamber.com.
Attractions A FORT STOCKTON VISITOR CENTER Located in the renovated Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railroad Depot, the Visitor Center provides information on local and regional attractions. The surrounding grounds house interpretive displays on Comanche Springs, Buffalo Soldiers, early pioneers, vaqueros and Comanche Indians. Also located at the Center is the operational Pecos County/Fort Stockton Renewable Energy Park, featuring wind and solar power generation that supplies energy for operations at the Visitor Center. 1000 Railroad Avenue (432) 336-2264 www.historicfortstocktontx.com
B MESA VINEYARDS WINE TASTING ROOM AT THE HISTORIC GREY MULE SALOON The historic saloon offers a perfect setting to highlight the wines of Mesa Vineyards. The tasting room offers visitors a unique experience of enjoying an evening in an adobe structure where cowboys, pioneers and outlaws once drank and watched the construction of what is now Annie Riggs Memorial Museum. Open Wednesday through Sunday (2:30 p.m.–8 p.m.). (432) 336-WINE. Available for special events and group appointments.
The community was origiwas nally known as Saint Gall, but the established in March GUADALUPE MTS. NP Odessa locals changed the name to Fort 1859 as Camp Stockton in 1881. Stockton. The Van Horn H Fort Stockton was incorpoarmy withdrew FORT STOCKTON rated as a city in December of 1910 from Texas during the Civil War Alpine and elected its first mayor in 1911. and abandoned Fort Stockton in Fort Stockton is the county seat of 1861. Confederate troops briefly BIG BEND NP Pecos County, the second-largest occupied the site until they, too, county in the state. Covering nearly withdrew in 1862. In July 1867, Fort 5,000 square miles, Pecos County is one of Stockton was re-established by four comTexas’ largest energy producers combining renewpanies of the 9th U.S. Cavalry Regiment. The 9th was one of the new regiments or- able energy with fossil fuels. Tourism, agriculture, ganized after the Civil War staffed with African- retail sales and the service industry are also important contributors to the local economy. American enlisted men known as Buffalo Soldiers. ORT STOCKTON
Beginning at the Visitor Center, the self-guided driving tour of the Historic District features 17 locations with descriptive signage and period photographs. (432) 336-2264
C PAISANO PETE
Paisano Pete, located in the center of town on the corner of Main and Dickinson, is inarguably one of the most recognizable roadside attractions in the Southwest. Fort Stockton’s unofficial mascot was erected in 1980 and declared the largest roadrunner in the world, at 11 feet tall and 22 feet long. “Pete” was the idea of Mayor Gene Cummings and has been an enduring symbol of the community since his arrival. He is one of the most photographed ”birds” in the world.
COURTESY FORT STOCKTON CVB
HISTORIC FORT STOCKTON DRIVING TOUR
D OLD FORT CEMETERY
SUMMER OFF THE PATIO CONCERT SERIES
G DESERT PINES MUNICIPAL GOLF COURSE
In use from 1859 to 1912, grave markers are a testament to the hard and often violent life on the early frontier.
Sponsored by the Fort Stockton Historical Society, this free, six-session summer concert series is held at the Annie Riggs Memorial Museum, off of the back porch featuring historic period- and westernthemed music. The concerts are held on Thursdays during the summer. (432) 336-2167
This 18-hole course is home to Blaine McCallister, a leading PGA touring professional. Open Tuesday– Sunday. (432) 336-2050
E HISTORIC FORT STOCKTON
This important Indian Wars fort was active from 1867 to 1886. It was strategically placed at Comanche Springs to protect the San Antonio-to-El Paso mail, freight wagons, cattle drives and immigrants. Today Historic Fort Stockton consists of four of the original buildings and reconstructed barracks housing the museum and period displays. 301 East Third Street (432) 336-2400
H JAMES ROONEY MEMORIAL PARK Home to the historic Comanche Springs Pavilion and Swimming Pool built in 1938 over the Big Chief Spring, the pool is the site of Fort Stockton’s annual Water Carnival. 208 S. Hwy 285, Pool – 200 Spring Dr. (432) 336-2751
LIVE AT ZERO STONE CONCERT SERIES
Due to COVID-19, events may have changed plans. Call or check websites to find out the current status.
Sponsored by the Fort Stockton Chamber of Commerce, this free, six-session summer concert series is held at Zero Stone Park in downtown Fort Stockton. Many types of music are celebrated, including jazz, swing and hard rock. The concerts are held every other Friday. (432) 336-2264
BIG BEND OPEN ROAD RACE
F ANNIE RIGGS MEMORIAL MUSEUM Built in 1899, the museum is an excellent example of Territorial architecture. The Riggs family donated the building to the Fort Stockton Historical Society in 1956 for use as a museum of the town’s wild and colorful history with displays featuring area geology, archeology and pioneer life. 301 S. Main. (432) 336-2167
Held the first weekend of October, the Fall Festival is a weekend of fun-filled events including arts & crafts booths, food booths, kids activities, wine emporium, goat roping and team roping. (432) 336-2264
Fort Stockton is the starting point for this “most challenging open road race in the world” held the last Saturday in April along Highway 285 to Sanderson. This event draws hundreds to the area and offers excitement for all ages. Contact: (432) 336-2264 www.bborr.com
OLD FORT DAYS Held annually on the historic fort grounds the third weekend in October, Old Fort Days brings history to life with period re-enactors and demonstrations. Military units representing the periods of occupation of Fort Stockton are represented, as are the civilian population that lived near the historic fort. Demonstrations of skills needed to survive during the early settlement of the Southwest are presented, as well as military demonstrations of infantry, cavalry and artillery skills. (432) 336-2400
FORT STOCKTON WATER CARNIVAL The Fort Stockton Water Carnival tradition began back in 1936, when Comanche Springs flowed freely and Texas was celebrating its Centennial. The annual event occurs the third weekend in July and includes singing, dancing, water ballet performances and the 18 crowning of Ms. Fort Stockton. Held at Comanche Springs Pool and Pavilion, the three-day event continues to be run by local volunteers. (432) 336-2264 285
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Attractions SANDHILLS STATE PARK Five miles northeast of Monahans off I20. (432) 943-2092
WARD COUNTY MUSEUM AT THE MILLION BARREL Open Tuesday–Sunday, 10 am–6 pm (432) 943-8401 Located at the Million Barrel, this 14.5acre site is a historical potpourri. Built in 1928, the tank was designed to hold over a million barrels of crude oil and today provides a perfect performance venue for the 400-seat Meadows Amphitheater. Boasting a wide variety of historical artifacts, the Ward County Museum complex is a must-do for any history buff. Coca-Cola Museum: Commemorates the Coca-Cola bottling plant and the Big Burger Restaurant. It is a private collection donated to the museum by Dan and Elaine Wetzig and the Conrad Dunagan Family. The collection contains all kinds of Coca-Cola memorabilia and collectibles. Heritage Museum: Contains numerous antique collections of cameras, medical instruments, rifles and shotguns dated back to the early ’20s, surveying equipment, oilfield equipment and a pennyfarthing bicycle. Railroad Museum: See antiques from the Pyote Train Depot, the rail car and caboose, and the SWBT last “step” office in Texas. The Pyote Bomber Base Museum: This important collection is a wonderful venue for WWII enthusiasts. Come visit our newest exhibit and learn about the Pyote Odessa GUADALUPE Army Airfield, which trained B-17 and MTS. NP H B-29 crews. MONAHANS
M O N A HANS H
COME PLAY IN OUR SANDBOX AND EXPERIENCE SOME OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SUNRISES AND SUNSETS
Monahan is the name of the man who dug the well and for whom the community of Monahans is named. The discovery of water at the site of present-day Monahans was a breakthrough, according to the Encyclopedia of the New West, written in 1881, which notes, “The Texas and Pacific Railroad found here its first inexhaustible supply of pure water.” For the first time, it now became apparent that the “Monahans Well” may have had a very significant impact. Monahans Sandhills State Park is noted for the presence of sand dunes up to 70 feet high. Although desert-like, the Monahans Sandhills are not a desert; they are a part of a semi-arid ecosystem (average annual rainfall 12.3 inches) characterized by the presence of both groundwater and relatively nutrient-poor windblown sand. The Shinoak (Quercus havardii) is a local climax shrub, an unusual type of oak tree that, because of local conditions, often achieves full growth of only four feet in height. Most of a Shinoak’s biomass exists in the form of a lengthy root system reaching down to groundwater. If a Monahans sand dune has become stabilized and stopped blowing about in the wind, it is often because a
PHOTOS THIS PAGE COURTESY MONAHANS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
small grove of Shinoaks have stabilized the dune with their extensive root systems. Despite the sterility of the landscape, various rodents are Van Horn relatively common, and several packs of Sandhills Alpine coyotes feed upon them. BIG BEND Much of the MonaNP hans Sandhills are privately owned property. The state of Texas is operating a 99-year lease with the Sealy-Smith Foundation for the ranch on which most of the land of the state park is located; the park opened to the public in 1957, and the state park has leasehold rights to this parcel of the sand hills until 2056. The Monahans Sandhills are part of the Permian Basin of hydrocarbon formations, and some oil production continues in and around the state park. Visitors practice several local forms of recreation at the Monahans Sandhills, such as sandboarding, sand volleyball, sand surfing and sand tobogganing.
WARD COUNTY GOLF COURSE An 18-hole course that features 6,669 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 72. The course rating is 69.9 and has a slope rating of 115 on Bermuda grass. The golf course opened in 1934.
TOURIST INFORMATION CENTER EDRA-Escondido Draw Recreational Area EscondidoDraw.org
Open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m.–3 p.m. 24-hour restrooms. Find local and regional details as well as tourist information for a 300-mile radius of Ozona. Located at the intersection of I-10 and Hwy 163 South. Exit 365. www.ozona.com Facebook page: OzonaChamber
FORT LANCASTER HISTORIC SITE One of four posts established in 1855 to protect the military route between San Antonio and El Paso. Visitors may wander through the ruins of the fort still standing guard over the Pecos River Valley. Located 33 miles west of Ozona off U.S. 290, in Crockett County, travelers can also stop at an observation point for a spectacular view of a valley once roamed by pioneers. www.visitfortlancaster.com
CROCKETT COUNTY MUSEUM Three-story period museum featuring an award-winning Indian exhibit, general store, bank room, saddle room and many other exhibits. Experience a way of life lived by so many before us. www.ozonamuseum.com
CROCKETT COUNTY INTERPRETIVE TRAIL & RAINWATER HARVEST EXHIBIT
PHOTOS COURTESY OZONA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
Open to the public seven days a week and located just across the parking lot of the visitor center at the intersection of I-10 and Hwy 163 South. A great collection of native plants from within a 100-mile radius of Ozona, along with an exhibit on how to collect rain water. www.ozona.com
LOCATED IN THE TEXAS PECOS TRAIL, OZONA IS THE PERFECT I-10 STOP BETWEEN SAN ANTONIO AND EL PASO
the only town in over 2,800 square miles of Crockett County, was organized in 1891 and bears the name of Alamo hero David Crockett. Ozona is not only rich in history but offers an array of activities. Visit a three-story period museum or a nearby fort to understand life out west. From historical walking and nature tours to offOZONA,
roading and scenic drives, there truly is something for the whole family. Discover local and area attractions at www. ozona.com.
GUADALUPE MTS. NP
Alpine BIG BEND NP
HVALE TOYAand BALMORHEA
BALMORHEA STATE PARK In addition to the spring-fed pool, the State Park features the Cienega Wetlands Restoration, a refuge for indigenous aquatic and amphibian life. Visitors can stay in San Solomon Springs Courts or at the campground.
CALERA CHAPEL Mission Mary at Calera is located west of Toyahvale on Highway 290. The church, which served the area from around 1902 into the 1940s, was restored in 2002.
maintains a constant temperature of 72-76 degrees Fahrenheit, making it an ideal spot for swimming or scuba diving excursions year-round. Canals channel the water along Highway 17 into Balmorhea (pronounced BAL-moray), where a charming city park flanks the
T THE POOL
watercourse. Once a stagecoach stop between Fort Stockton and Fort GUADALUPE MTS. NP Davis, the Toyahvale Post OfOdessa fice was established in 1891. TOYAHVALE H The drive from Fort Davis Fort Davis on Highway 17 through the scenic Davis Mountains and Wild Rose Pass is one of the BIG BEND NP prettiest in the region.
TOYAHVALE DESERT OASIS The only outfitter by the park! Visit this fullservice dive shop for swim gear and to schedule scuba diving lessons in the crystal-clear waters of San Solomon Springs. Scuba and snorkeling gear rentals. Plus, all the supplies you’ll need to make your Balmorhea State Park visit fun, safe and memorable.
THUNDERING HOOVES MEMORIAL FENCE Just south of the pool, on Highway 17 to Fort Davis, is the memorial fence. The associated Thundering Hooves nonprofit seeks to bring attention to hardships faced by wild and domestic horses. www.thunderinghooves.com
PHOTOS BY NETA RHYNE
THE WATERS OF SAN SOLOMON SPRINGS SURFACE AT TOYAHVALE, WHERE THE 1.75-ACRE SPRING-FED SWIMMING POOL AT BALMORHEA STATE PARK PROVIDES VISITORS WITH A WELCOME OPPORTUNITY FOR REFRESHING RECREATION IN THE DESERT
DISCOVER THE ADVENTURE OF THE TRUE FRONTIER ... IT AWAITS YOU IN FAR WEST TEXAS H
MOUNTAIN TRAIL REGION
BREATHTAKING mountains and high-country hikes. Sheer river canyons and winding back roads. Exotic panoramas and starstudded nights. Adventure in the unspoiled West awaits you in the Texas Mountain Trail Region of far West Texas. See land as early man saw it, as the Apache and Comanche saw it, as ranching pioneers saw it. Visit Big Bend National Park, hike the spectacular South Rim Trail. Follow the Butterfield Overland Stagecoach route through Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Visit our charming mountain communities, where cowboys may still go to lunch in town on horseback. Catch a performance at El Paso’s 1930 Plaza Theatre, in the heart of the museum district. Visit adobe missions, still used as churches for local congregations. We invite you to plan your own adventure! Travel by car, horse, motorcycle, bicycle, RV or by foot — the scenery and the history is unparalleled. Let the Texas Mountain Trail be your guide to discovery and adventure. Follow
the historic 1960s driving route, the original “Texas Mountain Trail” to state and national parks, to the Big Bend of Texas, where the real West is still alive and ready for you to discover. Look no further than the rugged land of the Texas Mountain Trail Region, and you’ll see our history. Our state and national parks — “bucket list” destinations for most geologists — reveal a past of more than 600 million years of Paleozoic deep marine sediments, volcanic remnants and the bending, folding and uplifting of land. Dinosaurs roamed our land some 248 million years ago, and Big Bend National Park is one of the world’s paleontological jewels of the world. In our Chihuahuan Desert climate, where there is water, there is the history of man. The Rio Grande gradually carved a deep notch in the mountains, creating a natural river crossing the Spanish explorers named El Paso del Norte. The river also created glorious canyons in Big Bend National Park. Throughout the centuries, the climate grew hotter and the
land drier. To survive, wildlife and prehistoric hunter-gatherers adapted to desert conditions. Later, diverse groups — Native Americans and Spanish missionaries, soldiers and miners, ranchers and railroaders — passed this way in search of wealth, glory and new beginnings. The Texas Heritage Trails Program (THTP) is the Texas Historical Commission’s (THC) award-winning heritage tourism initiative. This economic development initiative encourages communities, heritage regions and the state to partner and promote Texas’ historic and cultural resources. These successful local preservation efforts, combined with statewide marketing of heritage regions as tourism destinations, increase visitation to cultural and historic sites and bring more dollars to Texas communities. This in turn supports the THC’s mission to protect and preserve the state’s historic and prehistoric resources for the use, education economic benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.
Y-6 RANCH Jeff Davis & Presidio Counties listed by King Land & Water
HOME , HOME (& HOTELS)
On the Range 74 BIGBENDTRAVELGUIDE.COM
FAR WEST TEXAS OFFERS TRAVELERS LODGING OPTIONS FOR THOSE JUST STAYING FOR A WEEKEND OR LOOKING TO MOVE TO THE AREA BIGBENDTRAVELGUIDE.COM 75
HOTEL PASO DEL NORTE El Paso
in far West Texas is slower than the booming metropolitan cities throughout the Southwest. With the exception of El Paso, the cities in the Texas Mountain Trail region are small (fewer than 7,000 people), with vast open space in between. Nevertheless, there isn’t a shortage of interesting places to stay. Let’s look at the homes and hotels of far West Texas.
T The Legacy of Trost & Trost
If you’ve ever been to far West Texas, you’ve likely seen — and probably been in — a building designed by Trost & Trost (Henry C. Trost and brother Gustavus Adolphus Trost). From the time Henry Trost settled in El Paso to his death in 1933, he was the chief designer responsible for creating many of the region’s most notable hotels and school buildings. While he drew inspiration from many architectural styles, his particular vision for buildings in the Southwest United States — an area he called “arid America” — often consisted of grand archways and covered patios and entranceways to provide some shade from the summer sun. Of particular note in the Texas Mountain Trail region are numerous hotels which are among the most popular to this day. El Paso’s Hotel Paso del Norte is one of Trost & Trost’s first hotels in the region — opening in late 1912 — and is situated only a quarter-mile from the Mexico border. The 351room hotel has a huge lobby featuring a stainedglass dome over 45 feet in diameter. In the last few years the hotel underwent a complete renovation and it reopened in 2020.
The Gage Hotel in Marathon was designed as both a hotel and ranch headquarters for Alfred Gage’s 500,000-acre ranch. Opened in 1927, the Gage’s design of the building shows the influence of Mission and Spanish-style design. Louis Sullivan’s influence is seen in Trost’s implementation of ornamentation on the exterior façade. Trost
employed cast-in-place concrete ornaments for many of his West Texas hotel designs, rather than Sullivan’s finely detailed work in terracotta. The Holland Hotel in Alpine was built in 1928. Charles Mallory, who purchased the hotel in 2012, says about the Trost-designed hotel, “The thing people notice first and foremost is the lobby. The Holland Hotel’s grand lobby showcases Trost’s Mediterranean-revival architectural features, including tile work, vaulted woodwork, and big spaces. For a small town, this was — and is — a grand hotel. It’s remarkable that Trost’s hotels in the region have all survived and thrived, and that speaks to him being a great architect. If they weren’t well-designed, they wouldn’t have succeeded for 100 years. There’s no one more prolific and no one who created such a variety of styles, and if he’d been from a major market, he would have been much more known.” The Hotel Paisano (Marfa) and the Hotel El Capitan (Van Horn) both opened in 1930. These hotels were two of the five “gateway hotels” from the hotel chain developed by Charles Bassett in an attempt to encourage tourism within 200 miles of El Paso. Trost took special care in detailing the interiors of his buildings. As
FROM TOP: COURTESY HISTORIC AMERICAN BUILDINGS SURVEY OF TEXAS; COURTESY TROST SOCIETY
THE POPULATION INCREASE
HOLLAND HOTEL Alpine
FROM TOP: J. GRIFFIS SMITH; COURTESY TROST SOCIETY
THE HOTEL PAISANO Marfa
can be seen in the Hotel Paisano and the Hotel El Capitan, there is extensive use of glazed tile, wrought iron, interior archways and exposed wooden beams. Among the finest features of many of Trost’s interior designs are the interlocking spaces of the lobby, lounge and dining areas, often in a series of multi-level spaces approached by short flights of stairs.
Off-the-grid living in South Brewster County
Imagine what it would be like to live without
the convenience of common utilities such as electricity, water and the internet. Many people in Texas found out the hard way what that’s like during the February 2021 snowpocalypse. There are ways to compensate for the lack of conveniences. It just requires some creativity. Off the grid often just means not being connected to the electrical grid. However, in far West Texas you’re often without any of the normal utilities. Buying raw land in the middle of nowhere (which encompasses much of far West Texas) can be daunting, but where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Generators are certainly an option, but another common method of obtaining electrical power is solar. Plentiful sunshine and solar panels can power a small home year-round. In May 2020, San Antonio resident Macaulay Hammond joined forces with friends to purchase five acres in Terlingua Ranch. He says, “I’ve been visiting the area for a number of years, and my partner and I wanted a place that we could go to in order to get away from the city life.” Since purchasing the land, the group has built an outdoor solar shower, compostable toilet
TERLINGUA RANCH CAMPSITE Terlingua
and installed four permanent yurt structures that provide the perfect escape from the warm afternoons and cool evenings. “There is something so still and peaceful about being out there, you almost feel like you’re on another planet,” Hammond explains. From that stillness arose the idea to host a small annual music festival, Lost in Sound, to celebrate the friend’s joint birthdays. The inaugural year kicked off with headliner Jackie Venson as a small group of close friends and family marveled at the sounds of the electric guitar seemingly disappearing into the desert distance.
The glamping movement
Liz Lambert’s El Cosmico in Marfa, a bohemian hotel and campground, was on the forefront of the glamping movement. With fewer amenities (or distractions) than a traditional hotel, it’s seen as a great way to connect with the outdoors. It’s a popular way to vacation throughout the state, but is particularly suitable for this region. Nature photographer and local tour guide Lee Hoy 78 BIGBENDTRAVELGUIDE.COM
FROM TOP: MACAULAY HAMMOND; TODD DWYER/FLICKR
Terlingua Ranch Terlingua
sults in higher appraised values and thus higher property taxes for the owners. It was this rising cost of living for some of Marfa’s lower-income families which was covered on Bourdain’s television show.
has created one of several glamping compounds in Brewster County. It was purchased in April 2020 and expanded the same year. According to Hoy it was seen as a way to provide more affordable lodging with a great night sky and remote experience for those desiring the road less traveled. It’s an off-the-grid experience with a current total of 23 teepees, canvas tents, domes and hard-sided trailers.
Second homes and the Airbnb phenomenon
about having a place to visit and renting it out when we can.”
Adobes — homes from the earth
There’s been a lot of press on some of the new homes built in Marfa, however when celebritychef-turned-international-TV-personality Anthony Bourdain visited during the final season of Parts Unknown on CNN, he made a point to incorporate the history and importance of adobe structures in this small town. Adobe bricks are made from earth, straw and water, hand-pressed and packed, and with the sun’s assistance, dried out. It’s an inexpensive, but also efficient and durable building option popular not only in far West Texas, but throughout the Southwest. In Marfa especially, the adobes command a high price when sold, which re-
If you’re really into social distancing, large tracts of land can be found at a relatively low cost in far West Texas. King Land & Water is focused on large unique ranch properties and higher-end residences. “The buyer trend for far West Texas, especially after COVID, is creating investment opportunities in owning wide-open spaces coming from the city to the country,” says James King, owner of King Land & Water. “Second home and ranch buyers dominate the market looking for clean air, recreation, elbow room and a quality of community life found nowhere else in Texas. Some even stay and call it home.” “Marfa, Alpine Fort Davis, Terlingua: they all have their own personalities. Artists, cowboys, nature lovers, retirees and adventurers all find our region the perfect place to visit, own and live,” King adds. Unique abodes are plentiful in the area. For those just passing through the Texas Mountain Trail region, or those who wish to establish roots, there are a wide array of short-term and long-term options — from the upscale and historic to the roughin’-it-in-nature experience.
Many of the homes being purchased in the region today are being utilized not as a full-time residence, but as a second home or as an Airbnb, or both. Depending on the city you live in, there can be rules and regulations for short-term rentals. At a minimum, owners are required to charge guests a hotel occupancy tax (paid to state and regional government entities), and the funds are used to promote tourism. Although this area has seen an increase in housing prices, just as the rest of Texas has, there are still reasonable options that can be found, especially relative to the larger metro areas of the state. Pam Power and Brad Hughes from Austin purchased a house during the pandemic on the western edge of Alpine to use as both a second home and an Airbnb. “We purchased a residence which needed to be completed, and invested money to finish it out. We’re excited
The Stars at Night
Some of the darkest skies in North America can be found in far West Texas. Now the McDonald Observatory and partners are working to establish the Greater Big Bend International Dark Sky Reserve. Once certified by the International Dark Sky Association (IDA), the reserve will cover almost 10 million acres of land in far West Texas and Mexico, and would be among the largest reserves of its kind in the world.