A road trip to the Big Bend Region of Texas is a big adventure. Wide-open spaces, endless beautiful skies, countless wildlife and plant life and, when you hit Marfa, an arts scene that’s bigger than the city itself. There are plenty of great stops and attractions along the way, so load up your vehicle and head west!
When you start out from Central Texas and the tall buildings fade from your rearview mirror, you’re treated to one of the most scenic regions of Texas — the Texas Hill Country. The meandering highways and roads will leave you in awe, but the real fun of this trip begins in and around the town of Fredericksburg.
Texas wine is one of the state’s best-kept secrets, and the center of the Hill Country wine region is the 290 Wine Trail. Here, you can stop and sample some of the best wineries in Texas, including Becker Vineyards and Hilmy Cellars, among many others.
In the heart of Fredericksburg, you’ll find two special museums that are both worthy of a stop. The National Museum of the Pacific War is dedicated to those who served in the Pacific Theater of World War II, and the Pioneer Museum honors the lives of the early German immigrants who settled in this region.
Just a few miles southeast, hidden among the rolling hills and oak trees, sits Luckenbach, TX. There may not be much around, but a dance hall, bar and a stage are more than enough for country music fans who still regularly flock to the site made famous by musicians like Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson.
Once you’ve had your fill of quaint shopping, wine tasting, country music or all of the above, you’ll hit the road again. If you’re looking for a relaxing kayaking spot, pull over in Junction, TX, about halfway on your way to Sonora. The slow-moving Llano river is perfect for some time out of the car.
Sonora, TX, which is another hour west of Junction, offers one of the most beautiful and unique experiences in — and under — Texas. The Caverns of Sonora are a National Natural Landmark that is made up of still-growing helictite formations. Guided tours of the cave leave regularly from the gift shop.
The longest stretch of this road trip takes just under three hours from Sonora to Marathon, TX. The historic Gage Hotel is the perfect stop to relax for a bite and a drink or to stay the night before heading on your way. The hotel was built in 1927, yet offers the height of luxury in the Big Bend Region.
Before you arrive in Marfa, stop in the town of Alpine. It’s at the crossroads between some amazing West Texas destinations — Terlingua and Big Bend National Park to the south and Fort Davis National Historic Site and the McDonald Observatory to the north. But before you continue west to Marfa, hike up Hancock Hill where you can take in some magnificent views of Alpine from The Desk — a Sul Ross State University desk placed there by students in 1981. Be sure to sign the notebook there as well.
Finally, conclude your trip in Marfa, just a half-hour west of Alpine. Marfa’s reputation as an artistic and cultural hub certainly precedes itself. It is known internationally for its contemporary art, with destinations like The Chinati Foundation engaging patrons by connecting art and the desert landscape. You can also explore numerous modern art galleries and museums as you stroll through town. As the sun sets, the mysterious Marfa lights begin to dance in the night, and you can settle into an array of unique lodging options. From boutique hotels and stylish tepees and yurts to RV parks and campgrounds, Marfa has the perfect place to stay for anyone.
To come this far is an experience in and of itself. The West Texas desert mountains make for an incredible road trip. But should you find yourself with more time to spend in the incredible Big Bend Region of the state, you might kick yourself for not extending your trip and visiting one of the nation’s — and Texas’ — best treasures: Big Bend National Park. Either way, amazing views and exciting adventures await on your trip from Austin to Marfa. So hit the road, and remember to drive friendly, the Texas way.