Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Road To Terlingua

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The road to Terlingua is long, no matter where you're coming from. Even from the nearest city, Alpine TX, it is eighty miles. From my house it's just under six hundred miles. That's a day's (or night's) work.

After working all night, I got off work Wednesday, November 4 at 11:00 in the morning. I came home, showered, and went to bed for some much needed sleep. I got up at 7:00 PM and we set about loading up the Bronco and the trailer. I wanted to take the little bike, the Yamaha TW 200, so it went on the trailer first. Then we loaded all our camping gear around it, and the rest we crammed into the back of the Bronco.
We finally pulled out at 11:30 PM. It's freeway for the first four hundred miles or so. We take I-30 west through downtown Dallas, and just west of Fort Worth we get on I-20 for the long ride out to Monahans. There we turn off of the freeway onto Texas state route 18. About seven miles south of town we take the "Coyanosa Cut-Off" as we call it, Farm Road 1776. This shoots straight south, bypassing Fort Stockton, all the way down to US 90, a distance of about one hundred miles. At I-10 this road turns into US 67, but there are no turns. The sun came up on us along this stretch, dawn breaking on Thursday, November 5. From the US 90 junction it's about five miles west into the town of Alpine, Texas.

At Alpine we stopped for a much needed break, and to do some shopping. Porter's Thriftway is the grocery store in Alpine where we stock up on food and beverages for the week. After that we had a thirty minute wait at Twin Peaks Liquors "Best Price And Selection West Of The Pecos". It was 9:30, and they didn't open up 'til 10:00.

Grocery and liquored up, we hopped back in the Bronco for the final eighty miles south to Terlingua. The first twenty miles south of Alpine, along Texas state route 118, is some of the prettiest country anywhere. The rolling hills and mountains there are just perfect. There are a number of ranches and small homesteads along through there, but not much to spoil the scenery. After this section the road droops down, levels out and shoots across the flat desert another fifty miles or so, 'til it comes to the mountains, and the steep mountain pass leading down into Study Butte. There is a "T" intersection there, the junction of Texas state highways 118 and 170. 118 continues on south another five miles or so, to Big Bend National Park. 170 cuts off to the west, and it's only four miles over to Terlingua, seventeen miles from there over to Lajitas, and fifty miles from there along the "River Road" to Presidio, Texas. This stretch of highway, from Lajitas to Presidio, Texas is one of the most spectacularly beautiful highways anywhere. Steep hills, sharp curves, desert, mountains, canyons, the Rio Grande River with Mexico on the far shore, all add up to make this an amazing ride.

Our destination was Terlingua, though, so we didn't travel the River Road over to Presidio. The grounds of the Terlingua Chili Cook-Off are about half way between Study Butte and Terlingua, just off the road behind the Terlingua Store. We pulled in, paid our admission and began setting up camp. This would be home for the next eight days.

The Official Website of the Terlingua Chili Cook-Off:

The Official Website of Terlingua Ghost Town:

The Official Website of Big Bend National Park:


  1. You are so right...the road to Terlingua is a long ways no matter where you are coming from.

    For me it is usually from Houston but I was lucky this year that it was only from Del Rio.

  2. Thanks! One of our favorite trips. We just about always do the night drive out to the Big Bend, only we typically stop in Balmorhea for a good nap and swim (if it's warm enough) at San Solomon Springs pool a little after daybreak. From there it's 3 hours to Chinati Hot Springs via Ft Davis and Marfa or BBNP via Ft Davis and Alpine, both of which are beautiful drives.