I was never surprised when, after telling someone about visiting Marfa TX, their very first question was: “Did you see the lights?“. I’d usually reply with something like, “I saw some lights. You can interpret them for yourself, though. Some people see mystery lights, some people see the headlights of night time travelers on FM-17. I see both”…and that’s exactly how I see Marfa, TX. It’s both something familiar and mysterious: a healthy mix of honest and genuine locals and vagabonding artists searching for and finding inspiration.
Blink, and you could miss it. Located in the high desert between Fort Davis and Big Bend National park, this quiet town is rich with both National and Entertainment history. For example, Marfa Army Airfield served as a training facility for several thousand pilots during World War II, including the American actor Robert Sterling, before closing in 1945. Originally a railroad stop in 1880, Marfa has evolved into a destination for people of all walks of life and has become a center for Minimalist Artists and Film makers.
In fact, Several films also used locations in and around the town, one of the first being “Giant” starring Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean. Other modern films such as , “No Country for Old Men” and “There Will Be Blood” starring Oscar Winner, Daniel Day-Lewis, used the surrounding landscape as backdrops for their films as well. At once both beautiful and dangerous, it’s easy to understand why when you are out there. I say that it’s as close to “God’s Country” as you can get in Texas. Take a drive down FM-170 and there is no doubt that you will quickly agree.
The Rest Of West Texas
Now, when you’re out there, there will be a bit of driving to get around to outlying towns and activities. I highly recommend that you take advantage to experience as much of West Texas as possible. That could mean going South to Study Butte, TX for a little horseback riding. While you’re down there you can take the aforementioned FM-170 over to Presidio and back up to Marfa for scenic views of mountains and the Rio Grande that are hard to rival.
Head up North 20 min to the McDonald Observatory in historical Fort Davis and see one of the darkest skies in the United States. You haven’t seen the heavens until you’ve been to one of their “Star Parties”. I guarantee that you’ve never seen a night sky like the one in Fort Davis.
There are natural springs, there’s river tours, there’s hunting, there’s fishing, there’s Arts and Entertainment, there’s amazing food and friendly Texans…and there’s those darn Marfa Lights. Maybe there is something a little magical, a little “other worldly” about them. Kinda like Marfa, Texas. I can see why being so far away from everyone can bring you much closer to yourself.
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