What does West Texas entail? Above all, an aura of all that is undiscovered added to the tumbleweeds, blue skies, surreal landscapes, endless roads plus a wealth of attractions most people miss on the way to something “bigger”. Texas is best seen with the car windows rolled down and a killer playlist blasting out the back of the car with the camera ready for all the roadside photo opportunities.[caption id="attachment_42149" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Slink out of San Antonio onto the open West Texas roads. Photo by Charles Henry CC BY[/caption]
Marfa has been hogging all the attention in West Texas but the real opportunity lays in its ghost towns, the charming locals and the roadside BBQ joints that will see you licking each and every individual finger. Take your time getting through our Wild West Texas roadtrip: drive slow, take a good look around and sleep at some of the finest destination hotels this state offers.
Ready to spread out the map and plot your West Texas escape? See where our Wild West Texas Roadtrip stops are located here.
Looking for more of a weekend roadtrip within the Texas Triangle? Take a spin through our Lone Star Weekend: Texas Road Trips!
San Antonio — 50min
Switch on your favorite Spotify playlist, pack your Dr. Pepper, water, some Buc-ee’s Beaver Nuggets and hit the open road. Whether you’ve packed in the whole family, your best friend, or just you and your dog, you’re on your way to a Wild(ish) West Texas adventure.
trivago hotel pick | Camp Comfort
First stop on the road is Comfort, Texas and its cheerful Camp Comfort, your home for the night. While it may seem early to be tucking in as Texans are used to the unbelievably long cross-state drives, Camp Comfort beckons to a bygone era of a night of campfires and s’more kits to purchase with proceeds going to the local library. Park out front next to the vintage yellow Ford truck and head inside to get your room key.
This former bowling alley cum B&B boasts wide porches just asking for a big glass of lemonade and a board game in the shade. A communal hall opens up for a breakfast of muffins and jam every morning where you can meet fellow campers. The rooms are quaint with a punchy color palette. Modern retro fixings and covetable Pendleton blankets are found in both the main quarters of Camp Comfort or within two private cabins. If you get lucky with some rain, prepare to be lulled to sleep with the sound of water drops hitting the rustic tin roof.
Camp Comfort sets you up with a good night sleep and a charming wave goodbye as you make your way towards your next stop: the Caves of Sonora.
From Comfort — 3h50min
Stop: Caves of Sonora
The Caverns of Sonora are a National Natural Landmark and a true Texan treasure. Get a tour through the two walkable miles of the cave system which is located 155 feet underground. The caves feature some of the most pristine and densely packed calcite crystal formations in the USA. Because the Caverns are slightly off the beaten path, there’s a good chance your visit will allow you some alone time with these crystal caverns and it’s definitely worth the detour on your way to Big Spring. Prepare for some tight squeezes through several of the passages!
Eats: Stop for lunch in the town of Sonora on your way out at Gigis on Main Street, open from 11:00 a.m. till 2:00 p.m. weekdays. Have the Babushka BLT and a slice of their homemade buttermilk pie for dessert.
trivago hotel pick | Hotel Settles, Big Spring
Big Spring’s historic 15-story Hotel Settles originally opened in 1930 and was reopened by a local resident after an extensive and loving restoration in late 2012. The hotel, which had fallen into near ruin, was revitalized back to its luxury roots, keeping much of the unique historic detailing. Once the tallest building between El Paso and Ft. Worth, the hotel is still a distinct element of the West Texas skyline.
[caption id="attachment_42200" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Photos from trivago[/caption]
Take a spin in the Grand Ballroom, or at least snap a selfie or hop into the pool to cool down on a hot Texas night. Elegant and plush rooms welcome cave wandering weary guests. As a note of beware: the hotel is reputably haunted— think flickering lights, exploding glasses and the like. You can grab a ghost story or two from staff if you feel like getting a bit freaky– or spend your night sweetly surrendering to a good night of sleep before venturing onto Van Horn.
From Big Spring — 3h15min
Stop: Monahans Sandhills State Park
On your way towards Van Horn, be sure to pull over at Monahans Sandhills State Park for a slightly surreal afternoon and some fantastic photo ops. The desert-like area covers 3,840-acres with sand dunes peaking around 70 feet high. Bring your surfboard or toboggan and practice carving out some sand waves.
Eats: Stop in Pody’s BBQ in Pecos for lunch at one of the best BBQ joints in Texas, according to Texas Monthly. Try to get there as close to open time (10:00 a.m.) as possible since they close up once they’ve sold out of their fine down-home style brisket. Get it with a butter- and sour cream-oozing baked potato and a side of Hominy salad.
trivago hotel pick | El Capitan Hotel
El Capitan Hotel has been bringing grace and charm to Van Horn since it was built during the 1930s. Recently, the hotel underwent a rejuvenation; today it’s a West Texas destination, bearing the same beautiful European tile lobby floor, elegant wrought iron banisters and airy 14-foot ceilings. Its 36 rooms are divided between the smaller historic rooms with bathrooms rebuilt to mimic the original black and white hexagon tiles of the hotel’s original incarnation and the larger Courtyard rooms.
[caption id="attachment_42204" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Photos from the El Capitan Facebook page. [/caption]
A delicious continental breakfast is included to power you through the next portion of your West Texas Roadtrip and free WiFi presents a chance to download a new podcast or playlist. The hotel is also dog friendly and has an ADA compliant Handicapped Accessible room for guests rolling in on their chairs.
From Van Horn — 3h15min
Stop: Fort Davis
[caption id="attachment_42209" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Photos by Patrick Denker CC BY [/caption]
Before making your way to Lajitas, stop for the afternoon in Fort Davis. This tiny historic town is full of quaint shops run by dedicated craftsmen, including one specializing in handmade brooms straight out of a Harry Potter movie. The surrounding landscape plays home to groups of pronghorn antelopes, abandoned abodes and open plains of beautiful blonde grass.[caption id="attachment_42321" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Dance with the stars! Photo by Patrick Denker CCBY[/caption]
The town is also home to the McDonald Observatory and some of the darkest skies in the USA, perfect for an evening of star gazing. They hold thrice-weekly viewing parties (reserve in advance online) where you can take in the milky skies from one of the largest telescopes in the world.
If you’re only visiting during the day, take a break at Rattlers and Reptiles, housing 19 of the 31 known species of rattlers- not for the faint of heart! This slightly creepy venue is run by a knowledgeable fellow enthusiastic to share his knowledge of the slithery reptiles with those interested.
Eats: For a sweet little pick-me-up in an equally adorable setting, Herbert’s Caboose is a must for anyone with a sweet tooth. Sit on the outdoor patio of the authentic rail caboose and enjoy a scoop or three of a vast variety of flavors including locally-loved Blue Bell.
trivago hotel pick | Lajitas Golf Resort & Spa
[caption id="attachment_42219" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Photos from trivago [/caption]
Surrounded by the craggy Chisos desert mountains of Bed Bend National Park and engulfed in the legends of Comanche Indians and smelling of smoke from open cowboy campfires, the Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa is worthy of a few nights stay in Lajitas. Bring your clubs and indulge in a few rounds of golf in the uniquely Texan course with views of the Rio Grande. A bevy of other activities including hiking the Big Bend National park and playing cowboy atop a horse await those searching for tranquility in West Texas.[caption id="attachment_42220" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] Cool off at this quiet oasis in Lajitas. Photo taken from the Lajitas Resort Facebook page[/caption]
Rooms at the resort vary from Wild West Bordello stylings at the Badlands Hotel building, complete with iron bed frames and red sheets, to the remarkably elegant Boardwalk Suites. A pool seduces heat-weary travelers and whether you spent one night or several, we’re sure you’ll be enchanted by the distinct aesthetic and comforts of the Lajitas Resort.
From Lajitas — 15min
Photos by Pierluigi Miraglia and The Travelista CCBY
Terlingua is called “home” by less than 60 permanent residents, many of them artists and former hippies. Due to its proximity to the beautiful Big Bend National Park, visitors flock here to enjoy its dark skies and dramatic landscapes. Another draw comes with its annual chili cook off competition, crowning Texas’ reigning King or Queen of Chili. While it’s only a short drive from Lajitas, we believe it’s worthy of a couple nights to explore the desert, as well as Big Bend National Park.
Big Bend National Park
The rugged and awe-inspiring beauty of Big Bend National Park makes it easy for visitors to slip past the hands of time wandering among its geological formations and scaling its craggy mountain tops. Larger than Rhode Island, the park has many hiking options for visitors coming for a few hours (go for the Lost Mine Trail half-day hike) or those wanting to catch the greatest sunsets (the Santa Elena Canyon on the Rio Grande sees you are satisfied).
trivago hotel pick | La Posada Milagro
Built on the ruins of the ghost town, La Posada Milagro is a small guest house offering up incredible views of the Chisos Mountains with maximum wild West Texas hideout appeal. The property’s four rooms are rustic yet luxurious with plenty of stucco and stone finishes, fluffy towels and free WiFi across the property. An onsite cafe serves up a healthy breakfast.
Eats: You’d be well advised to make sure your visit to Terlingua falls between Thursday to Saturday. Nondescriptly parked on the side of the highway beside Chisos Mining Co. Motel is a chuck wagon selling some damn fine Texas BBQ. Melt away brisket, ribs, sausage, turkeys and chickens can all be sampled at DB’s Rustic Iron BBQ- truly, as owner Don legendarily hands out generous samples.
From Terlingua — 1h30min
Alpine is a small town where everyone from the academics teaching at Sul Ross State University to the cowboys roaming the stirring surrounding landscape outside the town on horseback know each other’s first name. While Marfa has taken much of the West Texas artsy glory, Alpine deserves its own recognition. Similarly, food trucks and splashy murals dot the town’s streets, but with a bigger dollop of old fashioned western romance.
Waste an afternoon wisely at sampling the wares of Big Bend Brewing Co., crowned the most remote brewery in the USA. Snag an hour-long tour which will see you off with many generous sips of Frontera IPA or Big Bend Hefeweizen plus you’ll saunter off with a bumper sticker to adorn your car and a souvenir pint glass.
Hike up Hancock Hill till you find “the Desk”, a landmark of the local college since 1981, hauled up to the top by students looking for a quiet place to study. Not only will you enjoy sweeping views, but you can make your mark on the town by jotting down a message in one of the notebook’s floating around the desk’s drawers.
trivago hotel pick | The Holland Hotel
For a historic slice of down-home West Texas welcomes and a place to rest your head for the night, the Holland Hotel successfully meets both demands. Opened since 1928, the hotel is also the heart of the small community of Alpine. A touch of nostalgic Wild West romance lingers here and rooms are decorated in a palette echoing the hotel’s surroundings including local artifacts and Mexican art. The hotel is pet-friendly, has free WiFi and even offers guests the chance to cool off at the pool attached to their sister property, the Maverick Inn.
Eats: Grab some humble homemade Mexican food at Alicia’s Mexican Restaurant. The offerings here include plenty of vegetarian options although locals swear her burgers are some of the best in the world. We would opt for making the dreamy breakfast burrito your last meal on your way out of Alpine.
Back Home: San Antonio
From Alpine — 5h30min
That’s it, folks! We hope you’ll find your corner of Undiscovered West Texas and make plenty of memories. Looking for some shorter weekend trips? See our guide to Lone Star Weekends within the Texas Triangle — or how about a staycation on the Riverwalk?
Tip: If you’d like to keep our Texas Road Trips recommendations handy on your drive, click the ⭐ icon next to the Maps title to save it to your own Google Maps!