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Ride Reviews

Touring Marfa in West Texas

Ricardo Perez

Presidio County Seat - Marfa Texas
Marfa, like Alpine, Fort Davis, and Marathon is part of those few West Texas towns north of Big Bend National Park. Each has its own character and charm. Marfa is about 26 miles Southwest of Alpine so it makes it one of the more out-of-the-way towns in this out-of-the-way region. Marfa was really put on the map during the filming of the movie Giant with Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, and James Dean back in 1956. The crew camped out at the famous Paisano Hotel which is still there and probably just as it was back in the 50s.
In more recent years Marfa's back on the map as artists from New York City and places elsewhere and those that follow art have ended up in Marfa.  A New York artist, Donald Judd started buying buildings in Marfa for his bigger art works. Marfa has also been home for some popular movies such as "There Will Be Blood" and "No Country For Old Men". So compared to the surrounding cities, Marfa is a regular Hollywood and New York City combined. It's worth the time to spend a half day there checking out the art community and some of the historical sites like the Paisano Hotel and the Presidio County Seat Courthouse. Visitors are free to climb the courthouse's steps all the way to the dome which offers a panoramic view of this west Texas area. The view gives you an understanding of the emptiness that fills West Texas.
Of course, Marfa is also famous for the Marfa Lights. A few miles out of town sits the Marfa Lights center which is open to visitors. I've been to this area lots of times, but have never had the urge to check out the Marfa lights so I can't tell you if it's worth a sidebar trip.
Old Courthouse Seating Still in Vogue
The Prada storefront display is also a few miles out of town, but opposite the Marfa Lights side. Of course, the Prada display is kind of world famous and it's a hoot to see it out in the middle of nowhere. Not exactly like Venice, Paris or Rome.
While we were there we stopped at the covered area by the railroad tracks which hosts their weekend farmer's market, but on this day its sole vendor was the lunch RV called The Shark. They were running off three or four generators and pumping out fancy sandwiches and flavored ice tea. Not exactly what you'd expect in West Texas, but the crowd sure fit the food except for my brother and me. Anyhow, the food was good, but there's a nice simple Mexican food restaurant just a few blocks away that's more 'local' and reasonable on prices.
The Food Shark

If you have the time my suggestion would be to stay at the Gage Hotel in Marathon then the Holland Hotel in Alpine then El Paisano Hotel in Marfa and end the Big Bend Hotel tour at Hotel Limpia in Fort Davis. You could cap it off with stays at the Indian Lodge at the Davis Mountains State Park outside of Fort Davis and end up at the best site of all, a campsite at the Chisos Basin at Big Bend National Park!
Inside Courthouse Dome

El Paisano Hotel Courtyard