Terlingua | The Magical Texas Desert
Terlingua, Texas is a magical town set in the Chihuahuan Desert and the Chisos Mountains, just outside Big Bend National Park. This West Texas town is a legit ghost town with a population of 58 that was once inhabited by mining companies.
Willow House is an incredible and unique place to stay for those looking for a desert escape, but make it fancy. Each casita has expansive windows that make waking up to a sunrise over the Chisos Mountains a pretty magical experience. At Willow House, there is a community fire pit, a common area with a kitchen for cooking, and plenty of places to lounge and soak in the vast desert. I cannot recommend this place enough.
EAT + DRINK
Set in the town's center, this place has amazing breakfast options with coffee and fresh-squeezed orange juice. Literally trying to figure out how to get their burritos sent to me.
The most "popular" place for dinner which opens at 5:00 p.m. People start lining up early so grab a drink from the little shop next door while you're waiting.
About 20 minutes from Terlingua, you'll find Candelilla Cafe and The Thirsty Goat Saloon for a bit of a nicer dining experience in the area.
There are few places in Terlingua, so you will most likely find yourself cooking a few meals during your stay. Cottonwood General Store is the only grocery store in town with a pretty good selection. Stocking up on food, favorite beverages, and water, before arriving in Terlingua, is your best bet!
The main attraction and why most people find themselves in Terlingua. We are not hikers, despite our best attempts, but there is still plenty to do and see. There is a giant, scenic loop that will take you around the entire national park with many stops along the way. Santa Elena Canyon is the highlight of the loop. If you have a 4X4 vehicle and ok with bouncing around on a gravel road for about 45 minutes, take Old Maverick Road for an adventurous connecting side road on the loop.
Big Bend National Park gets a lot of love, but Big Bend Ranch State Park is just as spectacular! Don't miss it if you have time to take in both parks.
This jaw dropping drive takes you from Terlingua to the tiny town of Presidio. Highway 170 is the way to go if you are headed to Marfa as the next destination on your trip! (Navigators will not suggest this route so be sure to remember!)
No really, just sit and be in awe of the desert silence. Bring a book, do yoga, and simply relax.
- Getting to Terlingua is a part of the adventure. No matter what the starting location will be, you will be driving in a remote area.
- Pack your car with a lot of snacks, cases of water, and get your podcasts ready to go!
- Fill up your gas tank early and often, we filled up almost every time we passed a gas station.
- Remember, this is a desert climate with hot, dry days and cool to cold nights.
- Pack sunscreen, a hat, lotion, bug spray, and PLENTY of water.
Day 1: Depart Houston to Fredericksburg (4 hours)
Day 2: Depart Fredericksburg to Terlingua (6.5 hours)
- Dinner at Starlight Theater
- Stargaze with a bottle of champagne or Orwin Swift's 8 Years in the Desert
(Can someone say boujie desert queen!?)
Day 3: Explore Big Bend
- Breakfast at Espresso y Poco Mas
- Big Bend National Park Scenic Loop and picnic in the park
- Cook dinner and you'll be ready for bed!
Day 4: Eat, Drink, and Do Nothing
- Breakfast at Espresso y Poco Mas (because you have to eat here as many times as you can!)
- Yoga, reading, and relaxing
- Dinner at Lajitas Golf Resort with a stop at the Lajitas General Store on the way to see the goat that is the town mayor. Yes, you heard me an actual goat.
Day 5: Highway 170 Scenic Drive
- Breakfast at Espresso y Poco Mas
- Big Bend Ranch State Park
- Continue your drive to Marfa
Have you visited Terlingua? Share your tips with the #30ishcommunity by leaving a comment below.