Southwest Adventures: Marfa, Texas

EC trailer     Photo: courtesy of Allison V. Smith/El Cosmico

BEST: NOW: AVERAGE OCTOBER HIGHS ARE 77 DEGREES

If you've heard of Marfa, then you may know about the tiny town's art scene, its post-millennial real-estate boom, and perhaps even the eerie lights that glow off Highway 90. These are all reasons for buzz, of course, but the town's most overlooked draw is the surrounding blacktop: hundreds of miles of highways that carve through the Davis and Chisos mountains. For a town of 2,000, Marfa has an embarrassment of great lodging—the historic Hotel Paisano (doubles, $99; hotelpaisano.com), the midcentury-modern Thun­der­bird Hotel (doubles, $130; thunderbirdmarfa.com), and now El Cosmico, a collection of gussied-up vintage trailers opening this month (doubles, $75; elcosmico.com). Cyclists can head north from town toward Fort Davis, where a left turn onto Highway 118 takes you climbing to the giant telescopes of the world-renowned McDonald Observatory—an 80-mile round-trip. Road-trippers should drive in the other direction, down to the border crossing in Presidio, and then along the Rio Grande via Ranch Road 170, where trailheads for Rancherias and Closed canyons await and Mexico is never more than a short swim away.

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