There’s something special about a West Texas road trip. No matter your interests—history, culture, the great outdoors, the art scene, or food—you can be sure that a West Texas road trip has something for everyone.
The wide-open spaces of West Texas are absolutely beautiful. There are so many things to see and do, you could plan to explore the area for weeks and still not cover it all. But there are some must-see locations and fun stops that you don’t want to miss. Sometimes, you might feel like you are in the middle of nowhere. But then suddenly, you’ll stumble upon a hidden gem.
When you are on a West Texas road trip, we recommend always taking the long way so you have the chance to see both popular and “unusual” spots. If you ignore taking the shortest route and add a few more hours to your drive, you will see amazing landscapes, drive alongside the Rio Grande, and experience world-class art.
Here’s what we think is the ideal itinerary for a West Texas road trip. As an added bonus, there’s no need to find a hotel or a campsite because Airbnb has you covered every step of the way.
Starting Point: El Paso
At the very western tip of Texas–in the middle of the Chihuahuan Desert, one of the largest deserts in North America–is the city of El Paso. It sits on the Texas border next to its Mexican neighbor, the city of Juarez. El Paso is the perfect city to start your West Texas road trip when you are heading east.
Known as Sun City, El Paso has approximately 300 sunny days a year. And, there are plenty of things to do, see, and eat. The city features Franklin Mountains State Park, Hueco Tanks State Park, and the El Paso Museum of Art. Foodies will love the Tex-Mex fare at local landmark L&J Cafe or the Salt + Honey everything at the Salt + Honey Bakery & Cafe.
From El Paso, you’ll take Interstate 10 to start the road trip. Then from I-10 at Fort Stockton, you’ll head south on US 67/US 90 for a stop at Alpine. This small college town has beautiful scenery and friendly folks. This town is known as the gateway to the Big Bend because when you leave Alpine there are a few different ways to reach that destination.
While in Alpine you can tour the Big Bend Brewing Company and enjoy some drinks at The Ritchey Wine Saloon and Beer Garden. On a walking tour of Alpine, you’ll come across the city’s colorful murals that depict the area’s history and culture.
Marfa and Fort Davis
From Alpine, you will head west on US 67/US 90 to visit the tiny, one-stoplight town of Marfa. This quirky location is the most famous town in far West Texas. This international art mecca features a Prada art installation (which is technically located between Marfa and Fort Davis) where you can hang out in front of a Prada store. And there’s also a tiny Target just past Alpine when you are heading toward Marfa.
Not many people know about Building 98, the former officers’ club for Fort D.A. Russell. Inside there are murals of southwestern culture and painted landscapes from WWII German POWs.
To get to Fort Davis from Marfa, take US 90 toward Valentine. Then you’ll pick up on Ranch to Market Road 505 that goes toward Fort Davis. This will be the perfect opportunity to take a “road goes on forever” pic for your Instagram.
Where to stay: The Airbnb superhosts in Marfa, Texas include the pretty in pink Mary Todd House, Art-Filled Marfa Adobe, and The Juniper Moon House. But if you really want to stay in style, plan ahead to stay in a yurt, colorful vintage trailer, or teepee at El Cosmico.
The River Road to Terlingua
When it’s time to leave the Marfa/Fort Davis area, the next part of the itinerary should be the River Road to Terlingua. This will seem like a detour, and it is. Avoid the US90/SH-118 and instead, enjoy the Texas River Road FM-170. Trust us. It’s worth it.
When you leave Marfa you will drive through a bunch of tiny towns. Many are now-deserted mining settlements. The River Road will begin after you reach the border town of Presidio. The 120-mile scenic route ends in Study Butte.
This road runs along the Rio Grande and has several viewpoints for you to take in the stunning scenery. It also has the Closed Canyon Trail at the edge of Big Bend Ranch State Park. The Texas River Road is the most scenic drive in Texas, and you want to miss it.
Final Destination: Big Bend
Technically, Big Bend is made up of small communities, including Terlingua Ghost Town, Study Butte, and Lajitas. It is known for Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park, and it sits on the southern border of Texas.
This is your West Texas road trip grand finale. And it features three amazing landscapes: mountains, desert, and river. Just be aware that Big Bend spreads across 801,000 acres, so you won’t be able to explore everything in just a couple of days.
West Texas Road Trip Tips
A West Texas road trip is the perfect spring break vacation. The weather is beautiful, the views are amazing, and the experiences are unforgettable. Just remember, Wifi is spotty. So be sure to download maps before you head out. Or, grab an old-school Texas road map.
Another West Texas travel tip is to fill your gas tank whenever you have the chance. And, be sure to pack plenty of food and water. There are long stretches of road without any place to fill up or eat. There’s also no local radio, so have some good playlists and podcasts ready.