5 fun things to do in tiny Marathon, Texas

Stroll through a gar­den, visit gal­leries, run a marathon or cel­e­brate with the lo­cals.

Austin American-Statesman Sunday - - TRAVEL - By Pam LeBlanc

You can walk from one end of Marathon to the other in 5 min­utes if you want, but what’s the point?

The quiet cross­roads, which serves as an overnight stop for vis­i­tors head­ing to Big Bend Na­tional Park, begs for a lit­tle ex­plo­ration.

But first, some his­tory. A for­mer sea cap­tain named Al­bion Shep­ard founded Marathon in 1882, declar­ing that the land­scape re­minded him of the plains he’d seen dur­ing trav­els around Marathon, Greece. To­day, about 430 peo­ple live there, and it’s a tight-knit group that in­cludes a healthy num­ber of artists, pho­tog­ra­phers and crafts­peo­ple.

What to do while you’re there?

First, swing by the French Com­pany Gro­cer + Deli for sand­wiches, salad, cook­ies and drinks. It’s like a lit­tle Whole Foods in the desert, with a se­lec­tion of nat­u­ral and or­ganic food, plus sup­plies for bike re­pair, camp­ing and more.

Se­cond, take your grub over to the Gage Gar­dens, lo­cated on the south side of the High­way 90 near the in­ter­sec­tion of South­east First Street and Av­enue F. The 27-acre oa­sis of na­tive land­scap­ing in­cludes ponds, a small fruit or­chard and fire pit, and it’s a nice spot for a pic­nic. Walk the quar­ter­mile trail through the land­scaped gar­den or go for a quick run on the 1-mile ex­er­cise loop.

Third, wipe your hands clean, then hit the shops and gal­leries along Main Street.

At the top of the list? Evans Gallery Fine Art Pho­tog­ra­phy, 102 East High­way 90, head­quar­ters of long­time res­i­dent James Evans, who has been pho­tograph­ing the area since 1988. You’ve prob­a­bly seen his two bril­liant photo col­lec­tions “Big Bend” and “Crazy From the Heat.”

Around the cor­ner, you’ll find Klep­per Gallery, 105 North Av­enue D, where writer, artist and pho­tog­ra­pher E. Dan Klep­per, whose “Why the Raven Calls the Canyon” cap­tures the des­o­late beauty of Texas, sells his stuff.

Other gal­leries of note in­clude Wes Spears’ Son­works Gallery for wood­work, at 900 East U.S. High­way 90; Carol Townsend Pho­tog­ra­phy in­side the Cac­tus Flower gift shop on Main Street; and Maisie Lee Hand-Carved Wooden Doors, whose work is on dis­play at Eve’s Gar­den B&B, 200 NW Third Street.

Fourth, keep in mind that Marathon hosts events year­round, in­clud­ing a Fourth of July Dance and Bar­be­cue that has taken place an­nu­ally for more than a cen­tury. The event al­ways takes place the Satur­day clos­est to Fourth of July, and it co­in­cides with the an­nual chili cookoff at Post Park. (For more in­for­ma­tion email co­gon­zal@ marathon­isd.net.)

The lineup for this year’s Viva Big Bend Mu­sic Fes­ti­val, sched­uled for July 26-29, will be un­veiled in May, but ex­pect a cou­ple of lo­cal venues — the Gage Ho­tel and Eve’s Gar­den — to par­tic­i­pate in the event, which in­cludes more than 50 mu­si­cians per­form­ing in Marathon, Alpine and Fort Davis. For in­for­ma­tion, go to viv­abig­bend.com.

The Marathon Arts, Crafts and Quilt Show is set for Sept. 8 at the Marathon Com­mu­nity Cen­ter, and it’s free for view­ers.

The West Fest Cabrito CookOff and Dance takes place in mid- to late Septem­ber at Post Park, and cooks com­pete for ac­co­lades for best cabrito, brisket, salsa, dessert, bloody mary and mar­garita.

And last of all, grab your run­ning shoes for the Marathon 2 Marathon, sched­uled this year for Oct. 27. Nearly 500 run­ners par­tic­i­pate in this USA Track & Field-cer­ti­fied, Bos­ton Marathon qual­i­fy­ing race. The good news? It’s usu­ally dry and cool, and the course is a grad­ual down­hill with very lit­tle traf­fic. Learn more at marathon2­marathon.net.


The Gage Ho­tel in Marathon is a pop­u­lar place to stay.

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