El Cosmico in Marfa, Texas (Courtesy Photo)
After long hours heading west on Interstate 10 from San Antonio to Fort Stockton, small mountains begin to line the southbound Highway 67 toward Alpine, an easy-paced town of friendly folks. Home of Sul Ross State University, Alpine is located in the foothills of the Davis Mountains and is just a hop, skip and a jump away from stargazing mecca the McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis. For a good cup of coffee and pastry, check out Judy's Bread and Breakfast (113 W Holland, Alpine, TX, (432) 837-9424), and browse old music at Ringtail Records (203 East Holland, Alpine, TX, (432) 837-1055). Alpine also boasts the famous Reata steakhouse, sister restaurant to the location in downtown Fort Worth.
Just a short 45-minute drive from Alpine, Marfa has blossomed into an artistic, hipster-esque spot set against the quiet West Texas desert, attracting visitors from all over. From the Marfa Lights to Pizza Foundation to Padre’s bar to the Chinati Foundation and hot springs, a day or two in Marfa on your way to Big Bend National Park is worth it. El Cosmico, owned by hotel queen Liz Lambert and the brains behind San Antonio’s Hotel Havana and Ocho, offers a variety of accommodation choices, including trailers and camping teepees.
The River Road drive from Marfa to Terlingua is hands down one of the most beautiful scenic drives this state has to offer. Take your time to snake along the Rio Grande FM 170, and stop to take photos at Big Bend State Park. Then, you’ll pass through the tiny golf resort town of Lajitas before arriving in Terlingua, an old ghost town once home to a thriving silver mine back in the day. Meet scrappy, friendly locals living off the grid and enjoy a mid-day beer on the porch of The Starlight Theatre Restaurant and Saloon, the town watering hole and tourist destination just up the road from La Kiva bar and restaurant. La Posada Milagro is a quaint bed and breakfast with the most rad views of the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park.