Big Bend Scenic Drive

Get­ting to visit Big Bend Na­tional Park and experience the end­less vis­tas straight out of an old West­ern are rea­son enough to make this trip. But you’ll also get to have plenty of fun along the way, ex­plor­ing the quirky small towns that are prime road-tri

Lonely Planet Magazine (US) - - Explore -

FRI­DAY

1 El Paso

El Paso,

Start your trip in a bor­der city that’s wedged tightly into a re­mote cor­ner of West Texas. Take ad­van­tage of the great Mex­i­can food you can find all over town and take time to visit some of El Paso’s free mu­se­ums, in­clud­ing the El Paso Mu­seum of Art ( epma.art) and the El Paso Holo­caust Mu­seum (el­pa­so­holo­caust­mu­seum.org).

Stay at El Paso’s Ho­tel In­digo (from $88; ihg.com), a bou­tique ho­tel in the down­town area that fea­tures mod­ern de­sign.

SATUR­DAY

2 Valen­tine

You’re driv­ing along U.S. Route

90, about 1½ miles north­west of Valen­tine, when sud­denly a small build­ing ap­pears in the dis­tance, like a mi­rage. You glance over and see … a Prada store? Known as the Prada Marfa, this art in­stal­la­tion set against the back­drop of dusty West Texas is a tongue-in-cheek com­men­tary on con­sumerism. Feel free to win­dow shop or snap a photo.

3 Marfa

Don­ald Judd sin­gle-hand­edly put Marfa on the art-world map in the 1980s when he used a bunch of aban­doned mil­i­tary build­ings to cre­ate one of the world’s largest per­ma­nent in­stal­la­tions of min­i­mal­ist art. It’s at the Chi­nati Foun­da­tion ( chi­nati.org). You’ll find a va­ri­ety of art galleries sprin­kled around town. Ball­room Marfa ( ball­room­marfa

.org) is a great one to catch the vibe.

4 Alpine

The big­gest lit­tle town in the area, Alpine is the best place to stock up on what­ever you need be­fore you head into the Chi­huahuan Desert. Stop by the Mu­seum of the Big Bend( mu­se­umo he big bend

.com) to brush up on the re­gion’s his­tory. Don’t miss the 40-foot-long replica of the wing of the “Texas pterosaur,” aka

Quet­zal­coatlus northropi – the largest fly­ing crea­ture in his­tory – which was found in Big Bend.

5 Ter­lin­gua

Quirky Ter­lin­gua is both a ghost town and a so­cial hub. Lo­cals gather here for two daily rit­u­als: in the late aŸer­noon, ev­ery­one drinks beer on the porch of Ter­lin­gua Trading Com­pany

( ter­lin­gua­trad­ingco.home­stead.com), and at night the party moves next door to Starlight The­ater( the star light the­atre

.com) for live mu­sic. Stay at La Posada Milagro (from $185;

la­posadami­la­gro.net), an inn that in­cor­po­rates adobe ru­ins into its architectu­re.

SUN­DAY

6 Big Bend Na­tional Park, Chisos Basin Vis­i­tor Cen­ter

This 1,252-square-mile na­tional park has more than 200 miles of trails to ex­plore, with many of the best hikes leav­ing from the Chisos Basin, the heart of the park. Two hik­ing op­tions: take the short, paved Win­dow View Trail at sun­set, then hike the 4.4-mile Win­dow Trail the next morn­ing.

Stay at Chisos Moun­tains Lodge (from $123; chisos

moun­tainslodge.com), which of­fers de­cent ac­com­mo­da­tions and din­ing in­side the park.

Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend Na­tional Park; Prada Marfa (bot­tom); Op­po­site: co ee shop Espresso...Y Poco Mas in Ter­lin­gua

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