Sometimes the most beautiful scenery is right in your backyard. For me, that backyard is Texas. Having grown up in Austin, I’ve seen quite a bit of my expansive state, but there was one region I had yet to explore. It’s an area I’ve wanted to travel to for quite some time so when the opportunity knocked, I answered.
West Texas is the kind of landscape you’d picture in an old Western film. Barren desert, mountains, cactus, etc. It’s literally in the middle of nowhere with miles and miles of absolutely nothing but large ranches. Expansive plains with little vegetation and blue sky as far as the eye can see. You may remember the movies “No Country for Old Men” and “There Will Be Blood”. Just imagine that scenery – that’s West Texas (where these movies were filmed). We drove eight hours from Austin to get to our destination, which was directly North of Big Bend National Park in an area called Ruidosa, Texas. It’s right on the border from Mexico, as we could see the Rio Grande River basin from our house.
The drive out was nothing short of stunning. It started with green, hill country pastures with rolling hills to flat plains with striking rock formations and mountain plateaus. Each mile was like something out of a movie. The most well-known towns in West Texas are Marfa, Marathon, Alpine and Terlingua. The largest town is Alpine with a population of 5,700, so you can imagine how quaint the other towns are. Marfa has actually become somewhat of a “trendy” destination in the past few years with bohemian hotels like El Cosmico and a growing art scene. There are a few festivals, like Trans-Pecos and Marfa Film Festival that continue to gain popularity and draw a crowd.
We stayed in a beautiful property about two hours West of Marfa. We barely saw another soul on our drive there, so we knew this was pretty remote. Luckily, we were extremely prepared with plenty of food and beverages for the next several days. The house was gorgeous, situated on the top of a plateau with 360-degree views of the surrounding landscape. It was some of the most peaceful and magical land I’ve ever seen, completely untouched and wild. There was even a giant Buddha sculpture on the property – talk about spiritual! Days were spent exploring the property by truck, as there is so much land to cover. We heard that there are also thousand- year old cave paintings on the property, but they are quite treacherous to get to so we didn’t get to see them this time. The Chinati Hot Springs are also close, but unfortunately were closed for a private event so we weren’t able to see those – next time! Big Bend National Park is about an hour away and is a great day trip, or can even spend an evening there. Evenings were spent grilling out and watching our resident Javelina hogs as they would come up to the house and eat the corn we had left for them. They got pretty comfortable being around us towards the end of our trip! At night, the sky was blanketed with some of the most brilliant stars I’ve ever seen. So incredibly bright and clear, it was like a dome of sparkles over our head. You could see the starts behind the stars – it was wild.
Being here gave me such an appreciation for this beautiful state that I call home, and it just goes to show that you don’t need to travel all that far to experience something special and truly magical.