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
1 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.
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.
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.
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.
Quirky Terlingua is both a ghost town and a social hub. Locals gather here for two daily rituals: in the late aernoon, 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.
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