No matter if you’re a national parks fan or a ghost fan, this town in Texas is worth thre drive. It’s extra cool when you can eat Thanksgiving dinner in a ghost town. Here’s what we learned during our time in the little ghost town of Terlingua near the border.
Initial Arrival in Terlingua
We arrived in Terlingua late at night. From Dallas-Fort Worth, you are looking at an eight-hour drive. Walking through the Terlingua Trading Post, you can feel your stress melt. There is no McDonald’s, Starbucks, or Walmart nearby. Instead, the town of one hundred and ten people make you feel right at home.
According to their website, you can buy items inside the trading company (and indeed, they have shirts, patches, and many other items) but what is more important is the seating area outside of their business. We began to understand that, as people were hanging out in the seating area, just enjoying the night.
There is a diner next to the Trading Company, called the Starlight Theatre Restaurant. They have traditional fare, including burgers and Tex-Mex, but they also have more adventerous foods such as Tequila Marinated Texas Quail with a Blueberry Balsamic Reduction.
They did have Thanksgiving dinner the night we went and we considered eat there but opted for Daddy-O’s dinner. On this trip, I didn’t do any of the preparation since the girls and I were in Tennessee from the beginning of break until the night before we left. This meant Daddy-O was fully in charge.
He came up with this really cool dinner- sandwiches. Not just any sandwich though, Thanksgiving sandwich. It had cranberry sauce, turkey lunch meat, stuffing, regular toppings, and potato bread. I love his creativity!
Checking It Out in the Dark
If you are going to Terlingua at night, spend some time in the cemetery. After our trip to Joshua Tree, Daddy-O and I are learning about astrophotography. This was the perfect time to try out his skills. While Terlingua itself is not a dark sky area, it is only twelve minutes from Big Bend which is a Dark Sky Park AND is one of the darkest spots on a dark sky map.
I was very frustrated this trip because there was a full moon during Thanksgiving this year so we could not get as good of photos/ views as I would have liked. While I have no doubt the area is hot during the summer, I imagine the views of the night sky (especially moonless nights) make it worth a visit. And then staying in an air-conditioned hotel!
Morning in Terlingua
We slept in our van that night- in the motel parking lot. I felt safe knowing we were nearby a community of other people. The next morning we got up and made breakfast at a nearby gas station.
We did go into the gas station. There is a possibility you will find yourself waiting in line, depending on how their COVID restrictions are. I did notice the gas station had a restaurant attached but don’t know much about it.
My family and I love breakfast and we enjoyed hashbrowns, an over-medium egg (for me and Veah, scrambled for the other two), a pork chop, and coffee. As always, the view made it that much better.
Espresso Y Mas
From there, we went to explore the town a bit more. My first stop was Espresso y Poco Mas. The restaurant is cute and the food looks delicious; however, do not go for an espresso beverage. Mind you, I am a huge coffee fanatic and love trying every shop I can…This is one of the worst experiences I’ve had.
On the positive side, they do have different milk alternatives, though they lack in flavorings. I opted for a mocha. The lady at the counter put me in mind of a hippie, which initially made me happy. Once I tried to strike up a conversation I quickly found out she was not very talkative- to the point of almost being rude.
Then when the espresso machine started screaming as she steamed my milk, I knew I was screwed. What I got was a large, overly hot, burnt tasting espresso that I had to sip slowly. And at $7 for my drink, I dare say I was angry at the time. Part of what you pay for when going to a coffee shop is the feeling that you get. This was a $1 cup, hands down.
The lady making the food looked nice and the decor of the place looks funky, which is right up my alley. Added bonus? There is internet at the restaurant. I will probably go back one more time; after all, it’s possible this barista was just having a bad day.
We went just past the cemetery this go round and decided to do some hiking, checking out some abandoned buildings along the way. Daddy-O and Veah went further down than Bre and I. A big reason for this was my fear of heights, though after writing this, I’m going to have to figure a way to get over this fear… I have now missed out on this part of the adventure and I missed out on the cave at Two Guns. Ugh!
On your way out, you should check out the abandoned Contrabando Movie set. The set has been used for several movies- the one I know is the “My Maria” music video by Brooks and Dunn. It’s right on the water and is another pretty great place to walk around and check out.
There is a small town nearby named Lajitas that if you are wanted to stay somewhere on the higher end scale has a four star golf resort. If you’re looking to do some kayaking or other water sports (SUP, anyone?), there are several places nearby here as well.
The gas station also has some delicious Mexican popscicles.
Wrapping It Up
If you’re going to be in Big Bend and are looking for something to do near the park, this once thriving mining community is a place worth spending some time in. The history, like the people, are so unique and you’ll leave feeling rejuvinated after not being in the hustle and bustle of America.