Trip Report | West Texas Road Trip

It’s hard to believe Spring Break of 2018 has already come and gone…this school year is just flying by! We’re already at the 8-week mark until Summer Break, can you even believe it?

Last month we set out on another Griswold-style family vacation in our own backyard. Well, technically it was since we didn’t leave the state of Texas, but given the vastness of our state, and the unique terrain, we might as well have gone to Mars! And it was absolute perfection! We hiked, we laughed, we ate, we talked…we reconnected in a way that’s difficult to do at home, surrounded by life’s demands.

The trip was equal parts relaxing and adventure, and from the social media response I had during our travels, there’s a hefty number of you anxious to take a similar trip with your own families!

There is too much info to include everything in a single post, so I’ll break it into two parts, and then follow-up with a packing post (y’all seemed to like the packing part when I did that for Mexico!). This post will include the towns of Marathon, Alpine, Marfa and Fort Davis, and the second will include all things Big Bend National Park. We did a ton of research for our trip, and I’m happy to pass it along to you, in hopes that it’s helpful when planning your own family adventure!

So let’s get started, but I’m warning you, as with all posts that include my family, it’s photo overload!

west texas itinerary marathon

west texas itinerary gage hotel
Salut! t-shirt | White Jeans | Leopard Sweatshirt | Boots | Hat | Sunglasses | Earrings | Lipstick

west texas itinerary
His Sweatshirt | Her Hoodie | White Jeans | High-Tops

west texas itinerary

When it comes to the ultimate road trip, there’s no better terrain to explore than West Texas…with its wide-open roads, star-soaked skies, glowing mountain peaks, and rugged stretches of lonely desert. You could easily go hours without seeing another car, and certainly 90 miles between gas stations…which we learned the hard way! #oops

Turns out, that was just part of the adventure, and the kindness of Texas strangers had us back on our way in no time. The beauty of this region is best discovered by tossing out your agenda, and downloading an amazing playlist.

west texas itinerary

west texas itinerary gage hotel

west texas itinerary gage hotel

west texas itinerary gage hotel
Salut! t-shirt | White Jeans | Leopard Sweatshirt | Boots | Hat | Sunglasses | Earrings | Lipstick

west texas itinerary

west texas itinerary
Tee | Embroidered Top | White Jeans | Sandals | Hoodie | Jogger Pants

west texas itinerary marathon

west texas itinerary marathon

west texas itinerary
Her Pullover (25% off) | His Pullover

west texas itinerary
Friday” t-shirt | Field Jacket | Shorts | Sneakers | Hat | Bandana | Earrings

west texas itinerary

west texas itinerary

west texas itinerary
His Sweatshirt | Her Hoodie | White Jeans | High-Tops

west texas itinerary

west texas itinerary

Shirt | Jeans | Boots | Hat | Bandana | Watch | Earrings

west texas itinerary

west texas itinerary

west texas itinerary

west texas itinerary gage hotel

west texas itinerary
Stripe Top | Jeans | Sneakers | Earrings | Watch | Sunglasses

 

{Where We Stayed}

Gage Hotel ~ Marathon
I catered our entire itinerary around this hotel’s availability, which unfortunately was only the first night of our week-long trip. It’s a world-famous mission-style hotel that’s equal parts rustic and elegant. Which is even cooler considering the town of Marathon has a population of 400 & you can walk the distance between city limit signs in 5 minutes. They have an on-site bar and restaurant, and a coffee-house & cafe next door. There’s full-size sand volleyball court & life-size checkers board the kids loved!

The rooms in the original, historic building are smaller (but very well-appointed & comfortable), while rooms in the Las Portales are larger with fireplaces & overlook courtyards.

Hotel Saint George ~ Marfa
Located in ‘downtown’ Marfa, this hotel is a great spot for exploring the tiny town on foot. It’s decked-out in hipster contemporary (my description, not theirs…but you know what I mean!), with large rooms, and excellent on-site bar and restaurant. And considering every restaurant in town seems to be closed 4 out of 7 days, that’s a huge bonus!

 

Sugarplum Travel Tip: This area may be remote and under-populated, but it’s a hot-spot! The Instagram-worthy hotels book a year in advance, especially during high seasons like Spring Break and early Summer. We loved both hotels, but if given the availability, I’d make Gage Hotel my home-base for the first half of the trip, and just day trip to the nearby towns.

west texas itinerary gage hotel

west texas itinerary gage hotel

west texas itinerary st george hotel

{Where We Ate}

12 Gage // Marathon ~ The popular restaurant of The Gage Hotel, it’s rustic and cozy with fireplaces and friendly service. The menu changes seasonally and features lots of locally-grown foods and game. It’s on the pricey side, but anything goes with the dress code.

V6 Coffee Bar // Marathon ~ Features locally-grown coffee, fresh pastries and made-to-order sandwiches. The smoothies are especially good! Browse the darling shop next-door while you wait for your morning cappuccino!

Alicia’s Burrito Place // Alpine ~ Remarkably good considering the facade…and prices! There will likely be a wait at this tiny spot, regardless of the time of day, but it’s worth it! The homemade salsa is from my dreams, and the burritos bigger than your face. The hamburgers are delicious, as well. But bring cash, because they don’t accept credit cards.

La Venture // Marfa ~ Located inside the Hotel St. George, this swanky spot serves breakfast, lunch & dinner 7 days a week. Which in Marfa, is a God-send! We wanted to eat at Pizza Foundation, Food Shark, and Planet Marfa, but all were closed the 3 days we were here.

Bar St. George // Marfa ~ Located inside the Hotel St. George, it’s a lively, casual spot for quick bar food & amazing cocktails. You’ll see everyone from ranchers to hipsters to families!

Fort Davis Drugstore & Hotel // Fort Davis ~ This old-fashioned drugstore is a great stop in Ft. Davis. Sit at the counter and share a Blue Bell ice-cream sundae! #texastradition

west texas itinerary

{What We Did}

DAY 1: 
*Monahans Sandhills State Park // Rent a sand toboggan or disk and go “surfing”on the soaring sand dunes—some of them as high as 70 feet.
*Explore Gage Hotel & Marathon

STAY: Gage Hotel // Marathon

DAY 2:
Marathon to Alpine to Marfa ~ The beauty of these little towns, is each is only about 30-minutes by car, but plan on stopping several times along the way to gawk.

*Big Bend Saddlery // Alpine ~ Making world-class saddles, cowboy hats & accessories since 1905. Check out the Taxidermy shop next door for a trippy field trip!
*Prada Marfa Art Exhibit // Valentine ~ Made famous by Gray Malin’s print, this tiny installation is literally in the middle of nowhere. But oddly enough, not actually in Marfa, but 45-minutes away in Valentine. The surrounding desert & sunsets make it worth the drive for the obligatory Instagram shot.

STAY: Hotel Saint George // Marfa

DAY 3:
*Explore Marfa’s downtown & square
*El Cosmico // A cluster of yurts, tents & airstream trailers converted into a commune-style hotel
*Skyline Drive // Fort Davis ~ Windy drive to the highest peak of Fort Davis National Park, with sweeping 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains
*McDonald Observatory // Fort Davis ~ Reserve a spot at the evening Star Party for views of stars like you’ve never seen. Bring blankets and lay in the grass while they point out all the constellations (with crazy lasers!), then see it all close-up through telescopes the size of passenger vans. It’s outside, so plan accordingly for the weather, and the viewing point is at 6700-feet elevation.

STAY: Hotel Saint George // Marfa

Sugarplum Travel Tip: The closest major airports are in Midland and El Paso. We flew into Midland, rented a car, and then started our road-trip journey. The entire loop from Midland to West Texas to Big Bend and back to Midland was about 10 hours.

west texas itinerary
Jean Jacket | Camo Cargo Pants | Sneakers | Hat | Earrings

west texas itinerary

west texas itinerary

road trip through west texas

On Day 4, we headed south along one of the most stunning drives in North America (so says National Geographic, not just me!), to Big Bend. But that’s another post for another day!

Have you explored West Texas? The peace, quiet and remote ruggedness is unlike any place I’ve ever experienced, and I’m so grateful we made the trip. Even if I was really happy to be back home in the suburbs! 😉

See more of our travels here, and last year’s Spring Break trip through Zion, Bryce Canyon and the Grand Canyon here.

*All photos taken with my iPhone 7 & edited on the ColorStory app.

[More National Parks Posts]

National Parks Road Trip | The Itinerary
Trip Report | The Grand Canyon
Trip Report | Bryce Canyon
Trip Report | Zion National Park
Trip Report | Antelope Canyon + Horseshoe Bend
Trip Report | Big Bend National Park
Trip Report | West Texas Road Trip
Our Favorite Hiking Spots in the United States
Road Trip Essentials

 

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