For Texans not from the far west part of the state, the drive to Marfa can look a bit like a movie. The Texas high desert, still and flat, waits quietly for your arrival. The Trans-Pecos mountains guide you through until you turn off I-10 to Route 90, where the sheer vastness of the landscape is breathtaking. Conspicuous gates rise up against the flat terrain marking entrances to ranches. Finally, a small sign signals your arrival to Marfa, a town of just more than 2,000.
Marfa is a stark contrast to the miles of desert surrounding it. Cool white buildings with blue tile, amber grasses and clean typography are mainstays of this sleepy town. It’s a place that’s unique and impossible to ignore – which is what Chevrolet was going for when one of its designers announced she drew inspiration from the town for the company’s new Equinox SUV.
So what is there to do around Marfa? There are landscapes and art pieces everywhere just begging for a photo op, including the famous Prada Marfa, 30 miles or so northwest of the city.
You should also try to catch a glimpse of the elusive Marfa Lights. The Mystery Lights viewing center is right off Route 90 and, in the pitch black, it’s easy to miss. Step out to the platform and watch these creepy orbs dance around the night sky. They’re unexplainable. Many a scientist has tried to solve the mystery of the Marfa Lights but to no avail.
Marfa has regulations that ensure the night sky will not be polluted by things like street lights, backyard lights and projector lights. Not only do these regulations give you a better shot at seeing the Mystery Lights, they also allow for a magnificent stargazing experience.
While in Marfa, also be sure to go to the Chinati Foundation for a firsthand look at artist Donald Judd’s incredible “15 untitled works in concrete.” Judd created and assembled the installations between 1980 and 1984 and they remain an important part of Marfa’s story. There’s something truly enchanting about these pieces. Judd’s work encourages visitors to reflect on the interaction of an object and the environment. The artwork is transformed as the daylight shifts and the seasons changes.
Marfa is a place to be inspired, to unplug, to be quiet, and to accept it’s offering. Each visitor’s experience is completely different. It’s just another of the special, unexplainable mysteries of the tiny desert town.
You can learn more about these and other Texas destinations in the travel issue of Texas Lifestyle magazine.