Header image: Michael Howard, featuring Railroad Blues
The Big Bend area is home to some of the state’s most breathtaking views, extraordinary culture and fascinating history. Over one million acres of public land, including Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park, make the area one of the best places in the country to hike, camp, river run, mountain bike and everything in between. Since most of the cities and communities located throughout can be explored in a day or so, we’re looking at a few of our favorites: Terlingua, Alpine and Marathon.
The ghost town of Terlingua, once a mining town around the turn of the century, has excellent views of Santa Fe de Los Pinos, Chisos Mountains and the Mule Ear Peaks. While microscopic in population, Terlingua is home to unique lodging, marvelous sightseeing and a world-famous chili cookoff. Alpine serves as the hub of Big Bend; while visiting, make a point of hiking through Davis Mountain State Park and up the Hancock Hill Trail to take a seat at the famous desk three local students carried up in 1981. Marathon has been blessed with the darkest skies in the lower 48 states, making it the best place in the country to stargaze. Visit the folks over at Marathon Motel for a star party, to wonder with awe at the magic in the night sky.
Spacious and bright with a touch of Mexico, La Posada Milagro has a little bit of everything. Guesthouses offer a rustic approach to luxury for those looking to stay a while, and Taqueria El Milagro (authentic Mexican fare, BYOB) and Espresso Y Poco Mas (varied beverages, along with breakfast and lunch options) are must-visits.
Offering a variety of luxury lodging options just minutes away from Big Bend National Park, Basecamp Terlingua stretches across FM 170. Guests can choose between smaller options such as the lotus tents, campsites and retro trailers, or for larger parties, the famous bubbles or a casita would do.
This unique attraction offers an open style of horseback riding in the Davis Mountains of West Texas with custom rides designed for the whole family to enjoy. Responsive Quarter Horses take riders safely to the pinnacle of ultimate views.
West Texas is no stranger to the arts, and these two galleries feature the best of Big Bend photography from James H. Evans and E. Dan Klepper. The former’s featured work mostly consists of the area’s landscape and inhabitants, while the latter showcases both the landscape and vibrant culture of the region.
Located inside the historic Holland Hotel, the Century boasts contemporary, upscale cuisine steeped in history, to be enjoyed in the Rio Grande Room, at the Chef’s Table, which features a view of the open kitchen, or outside in the courtyard.
The pinnacle of a live, funky music experience. Established in 1983, the stage has seen many a music legend and its amiable mood personifies Alpine’s friendly spirit.
One of the few remaining Texas Centennial Museums still operating as a museum, it truly acts as one of the best introductions to the area. Browse through its exhibitions to learn more about Big Bend’s tri-county story.
At the Gage, you’ll find laid-back luxury, gracious hospitality and superior dining: award-winning food at the 12-Gage Restaurant, one of Texas Monthly’s “Top Hotel Bars” at the White Buffalo Bar and a perfect showing of Texas barbeque at Brick Vault Brewery & BBQ.
Other Big Bend gems to check out:
Big Bend Holiday Hotel (Terlingua), Starlight Theatre Restaurant & Saloon (Terlingua), Texas Horseback Adventures (Alpine), Cedar Coffee Supply (Alpine), French Co. Grocer (Marathon) and Big Bend Pizza (Marathon)