West Texas Here I Come


Who do you know that travels on vacation to Texas?

I’m getting lots of befuddled looks when I tell people where I’m going. If I said New Mexico people would say..cool. But with Texas they just shake their head.

But I’m not going just anywhere in Texas – I’m heading to one of the most remote National Parks in the lower 48 – Big Bend National Park – famous for its 8000 foot peaks, hot springs, amazing desert hiking, incredible bird watching and history.

Here’s my west Texas itinerary.

Day 1: Fly to El Paso, Texas via Denver – and yes I know it’s right across Juarez, Mexico – one of the most crime ridden areas in that country. I don’t let things like that deter me. Once we get to El Paso we’ll hop in a rental car and drive 309 kilometers to Marfa. We’ll overnight at the Thunderbird Hotel. We’ll have some time at the end of the trip to check out world class art at any number of galleries now that Donald Judd, a New York sculpture artist

"The Marfa area"

The Marfa area

Day 2: Drive 116 kilometers to the ghost town of Terlingua. It’s a cool old mercury mining town with ruins, rustic accommodations, a few restaurants and outfitters for rafting the Rio Grande, and it’s just outside of Big Bend National Park. Stay at the Chisos Mining Company Motel. I think we’ll try a half day of rafting on the Rio Grande and we’ll pick a short hike in nearby Big Bend Ranch State Park.

"Santa Elena Canyon on the Rio Grande"

Santa Elena Canyon on the Rio Grande

"Rio Grande rafting"

Day 3: We’ll head into Big Bend National Park - where we can take advantage of free admission for the week!! Our whole day will be spent hiking the South Rim Trail – about a 12 mile hike – and as one of my readers calls it – one of the best hikes in America. I can hardly wait.

"View from the edge of the South Rim"

"South Rim views"

South Rim views

Day 4: I like to climb peaks so I have Emory Peak in my sights for another full day of hiking. The description at the top goes like this: Sheer, vertigo-inducing cliffs drop of from the summit on several sides. We may explore other options since this hike is in the same vicinity as yesterdays. After hiking, drive to Marathon, about 75 miles outside of the park, and stay at the very nice looking Gage Hotel.

Day 5: Head back into the park for two short hikes – the Lost Mine Hike and the Windows Hike. The 2.4 mile one way hike to the Lost Mine is one of the busiest in the park – but since the park isn’t very busy I think that will be alright. The Windows hike offers good wildlife viewing possibilities and scarlet sunsets are supposed to be spectacular.

"Lost Mine trail"

Lost Mine trail

Day 5: I’ve left this day free. I figure we can hike again, or explore Marathon and its art galleries, or just enjoy some R&R by the pool. We’ll eventually get around to driving back to Marfa – but we’ll try a different hotel – The Hotel Paisano - a National Historic Landmark. If we had more time we’d check out Guadalupe Mountains National Park – known for its colourful big tooth maples in the fall and Carlsbad Caverns, only 50 miles further away.

"Texas sunrise in Marathon"

Texas sunrise in Marathon

Day 6: Enjoy a leisurely morning and then drive back to El Paso and our flights home.

Other blogs related to this Texas trip:

  1. Presidio to Lajitas: One of the Most Scenic Drives in America
  2. Travel Photo Thursday: Texas Sunsets
  3. One of the Lower 48’s Top One Day Hikes
  4. Texas Treats: Big Bend National Park

Leigh McAdam


Photo credits: Marfa, Rio Grande, Rafting, South Rim view, South Rim views, Lost Mine trail, Marathon

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