Marfa, Big Bend, What to do?

Discovering West Texas... or trying to (it's huge).

As a native South Texan, I had never made to the west of my home state. Let's just say I was blown away. I don't know if it was the wide open spaces or the versatile landscape that made my travel to West Texas so epic and liberating. 

As I prepared for this trip I researched travel blogs and trusted travel sites, and was quickly overwhelmed with the amount of to-do lists.  I quickly found that for being in the middle of nowhere, West Texas offers a contradicting mix of tranquility and non-stop activities. 

Where to?

A long, and at times boring, 7 hour drive west of Austin, Texas lies Marfa. That was our first destination. Our trip consisted of 4 days. We decided to split them between Marfa and Big Bend National Park. 

Marfa, you've got to see it. All the rumors are true. It is a hip, trendy and fashionable town in the middle of the wild, wild west. The outside of buildings are rugged and western  the insides look like the art galleries of metropolitan cities.

I recommend:

  • Marfa Burritos, favorite breakfast
  • Hotel St.George, favorite drinks
  • Planet Marfa, favorite bar
  • Lost Horse, best for dancing
  • El Cosmico, for sleeping. 

Day Trips: 

  • The Chihuahuan Desert, where you will fall in love with Cacti
  • Fort. Davis, where the stars shine brightest.  

My favorite activity was going to the Star Party at The McDonald Observatory, near Fort Davis. Talk about feeling in awe of the universe and so so so tiny at the same time. The location of The McDonald Observatory offers some of the darkest night skies in the continental United States. I had never seen stars like I saw in West Texas y'all. 

The McDonald observatory offers some of the most powerful telescopes in the world, I saw Saturn and it's rings! I highly recommend this to anyone who makes it out to Marfa.

Do you have Wi-Fi?

Ummm no. Well yes, at your hotel/camping ground or restaurants, but let's face it you don't want to be there too long, adventure awaits. Truth is even getting phone signal is unreliable. Which was amazing. Whether we want to or not we are all constantly connected to our phones and if we are not, sooner or later the notifications will make a tantrum for you attention. 

The ability to unplug from technology that West Texas offers was one of the highlights of our trip. It allows you to be fully present to the landscapes, wildlife, and yourself. 

Careful, bears!

Big Bend National Park is a magical place, it was our second stop after Marfa and we were only there for 2 days. It was definitely not enough. You can easily spend weeks in Big Bend and not see it all. We did a lot of driving around the park and stopped for specifically 2 hikes: St.Elena Canyon & Window Trail. During our Window Trail Hike, we saw bears. 

The hike is under 4 miles and it took us about 3 hours to finish it all. The terrain changes from dessert, to lush flora to rocky creeks. At the end of the trail two mountains close in together,  giving the  impression you are looking out a window.  

It was a beautiful, fairly easy hike. And on our way back we saw bears! I had been worrying about bears the whole trail and the moment I was not worrying about them, the bears appeared. Luckily, there was a couple from Houston in front of us who was prepared and guided us out of the situation safely. 

Life lesson: When problems come, we can always find a solution... or at least we can find someone who knows the solution and is better prepared. 

More Glamping

As far as accommodation in Big Bend, we opted to stay about a 30 minute drive from the park. I know it seems like a long distance but in 'West Texas distance', it's just a quick drive down the road. 

So we stayed in the middle of nowhere in a glamping site called, Big Bend Glamping. We stayed in a tiny truck, it had nothing but a bed and we had a backyard where we could sit and ponder on how remote and again, how tiny we were. 

The town of Terlingua, was about 20 minutes away and I wish we could have explored it a bit more, they have a ghost town! I did explore their Starlight Theater though, if you need a margarita and some live music while out in the desert... this is the place!

Did I already mention I am tiny?

All said and done, West Texas and the adventures it brought gave me the gift of perspective and liberation from technology. I had not been so unplugged in a long time and being able to forget about work, social media and WhatsApp groups put me in a state of presence I had been craving. It allowed me to be present enough to remember how tiny I am. With the vast lands all around, you feel how tiny you are and that state of awe is what makes West Texas, the best Texas. 

I returned from our trip relaxed, refreshed, amazed and blessed. What else do you want from a trip?

By: Silvia Cristina Higareda

SUAVS Shoes, Blog Contributor


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