Day 3: Alpine, Marfa, and Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Day three started out with me taking advantage of the incredible views from the hotel again and watching the sunrise from outside my room. I packed up everything and headed down for breakfast for another burrito and coffee.

The drive to Guadalupe Mountains National Park from Terlingua is about a 4 hour drive. There’s a few small towns along the way, so I planned to stop in Alpine first followed by Marfa.

Alpine is bigger than Terlingua. I stopped into a bookstore there and picked up a book about the Commanche Indians as well as one about ranching in Texas. I also popped into what I thought was the coffee shop I was looking for and realized the one I wanted had been attached to the bookstore. So back I went. I ordered a latte for the road and then headed toward Marfa.

Marfa is like the Sedona, Arizona of Texas. It has a population of about 1800 people and attracts people like Martha Stewart, Beyonce, Matthew McConaughey. It’s known for it’s music, open skies, mysterious lights, and art. It has a handful of great restaurants, hotels, and shops. You can spend an hour here, or days in the area. I stopped in a few shops, talked to the owners, and got the recommendation to go to Do Your Thing Coffee where apparently all the famous people visit. After checking their Instagram, I realized that was accurate. Hello Martha Stewart.

From Marfa, I headed north toward Fort Davis, and then on a secondary road through the mountains. The roads were winding, but there was nobody for miles, so there were a few observatories out along the road where you can see lights like no other.

As I was driving on route 54, there was about an hour or so where I could see a mountain in the distance. I was driving 75 mph as per the speed limit, so I figured I’d be at the mountain in no time. It took an entire hour to cross the valley between the mountains. I realized upon getting closer that that mountain was the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Check out the mountain below.

While Big Bend is quite a large national park with roads in it to explore, Guadalupe National Park is mostly explored on foot. There’s really not any roads into it or scenic drives. The highway goes through parts of the park and then there are a few trails you can drive out to and hike. I hiked a smaller trail closer to the visitors center. They warn against rattle snakes and I am quite sure they were right off the path I was walking but thankfully didn’t encounter any.

I used my annual park pass again to not have to pay while hiking at the visitor center. From the park, I drive north toward Carlsbad, New Mexico. I had left the central time zone and now entered the mountain time zone which I was surprised by. Western Texas as well as New Mexico are on Mountain Time. While I may have made it to Carlsbad Caverns in time before the last ticket was sold, I didn’t want to be rushed so planned to go there the following day before my flight.

I drove to an overlook in Carlsbad and planned out what I wanted to do that evening. I found a place for dinner and also booked my hotel for the night on the Hotel Tonight app. The app is so convenient. I’ve used it to book hotels about 5 times now, and I do it about 30 minutes prior to checking in. I just let it find out where I’m at, show me the deals, pay with Apple Pay and boom, booked.

I had dinner at the Red Chimney Bar-B-Cue. This was one of the first times I had service throughout the day, so while I was uploading photos, I didn’t realize they delivered my food to another table. I wasn’t in a rush, and didn’t even realize until the waitress came over to check on me and didn’t realize I didn’t have any food. I told her it was no problem, and she brought out my meal. It was delicious and she told me it was free because of the issue. Since I didn’t have a check, and she was so kind, I tipped her in an amount that matched her kindness and generosity and left to check into the La Quinta Hotel in Carlsbad for the evening.