Terlingua City Guide
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Terlingua, Texas: Why You Should Visit This Lone Star State Ghost Town

Terlingua Texas Where To Stay Blog

What if I told you to hop in your car and drive almost 9 hours from Dallas to end up in a tiny town with little cell service, no luxury hotels, a couple of dive bars, and a total population of 58 locals? Your first thought is probably WHY, but trust me, Terlingua is worth the journey.

When I first moved to Dallas for college, the hardest part about the move was living in a city where there were no beaches, mountains, or general nature nearby. There’s nothing quite like the bustling city packed with events, restaurant openings, and an overall glam lifestyle – BUT every so often, it’s so refreshing to step away from the hustle and bustle and enjoy the outdoors. When I heard my friends saying they were heading out of town for the weekend, the most popular spots were Austin, Houston, or San Antonio – but going from city to city never really felt like a vacation, as much fun as each spot may be! Because of this, I’ve made it my goal (with my sisters) to explore as much of the Lone Star state as possible to find those outdoor getaways perfect for a weekend of R&R!

A week ago, my friend Sarah and I embarked on a road trip for an adventurous girls getaway! Our initial plan was to visit Marfa, but after mapping out the trip, we decided to add in a lot of new places along the way. One of our favorite stops: Terlingua, TX.

West Texas Road Trip Terlingua Big Bend


If you’ve never heard of Terlingua, it’s an abandoned ghost town in far west Texas bordering Big Bend National Park. Terlingua was born at the end of the 19th century when mercury was discovered here and used during WWI. The town held a population of around 2,000 people at the time thanks to the Chisos Mining Company. However once the Great Depression hit following the war, the need for mercury drastically declined, causing the Chisos Mining Company to declare for bankruptcy and forced the miners out of the city. Eventually the town was abandoned, leading to today’s ghost town population of 58.

Though the town is technically a ghost town, you can find a couple lively restaurants and shops mixed in with the empty buildings and abandoned cars.

Terlingua City Guide


Getting to Terlingua is a bit of a journey, so if you don’t like road trips, I don’t recommend adding Terlingua to your bucket list!  Terlingua is about a 9 hour drive from Dallas, and a 7.5 hour drive from Austin. The closest town from Terlingua is Presidio (population ~4,000) and is still about an hour and a half away. The gas stations on the way to Terlingua are few and far between, so make sure you fill up any chance you can – especially since you can hit long periods of time with zero cell service!

We planned a day trip from Marfa (2 hour drive) to hike Big Bend and explore Terlingua. Once we got to Terlingua, we fell in love with the town and wished we had planned an overnight trip! Next time.


Big Bend Terlingua Texas


Ok the part you’re probably still wondering, is WHY you should visit Terlingua. From the vibe to the history and the beauty of the area, keep reading to learn why we loved this spot.

Hike Big Bend

There’s truly nothing more beautiful in Texas than Big Bend. It’s crazy to believe a National Park as beautiful as this is in the United States, much less our Lone Star state! The entire Chisos Mountains are located within Big Bend, as well as a large portion of the Chihuahuan Desert. Once you drive into the park, stop by the park offices to map out your route and prepare for a day of hiking! There are plenty of routes for all levels, plus you can explore beautiful routes by the river – and even cross over the border to explore Boquillas, Mexico! (Highly recommend it – just bring your passport!)

How To Hike Big Bend


Explore The Ghost Town 

Park your car and explore the ghost town. You’ll find plenty of abandoned cars throughout the town, a historic church, a beautiful cemetery, and plenty of other local artifacts to take a step back in time!

Visit During The Chili Cook Off

Terlingua is known for their chili – in fact they claim to be the birthplace of chili cook offs! This year marks the 51st Terlingua Chili Cook Off. Don’t let the isolated destination fool you, this is one of the most exclusive cook offs around and you must pre-qualify to enter. Thousands of people visit each year to participate, so be on the lookout for this year’s event taking place on the first Saturday in November.

Starlight Theatre Terlingua Where To eat

Unwind At The Starlight Theatre

After a day of hiking, stop by The Starlight Theatre for a bite to eat and cold beer. It’s the liveliest restaurant in town, so you’re likely to catch live music and an evening of dancing. The Starlight Theatre is known for their award-winning chili, so be sure to try it while you’re there!

Hike the Indian Head Trail 

Before we hiked the trails in Big Bend National Park, my friend Sarah and I started our morning at the Indian Head Trail. It’s a beautiful hike in Terlingua where you can find Indian petroglyphs.  While it was beautiful, peaceful, and absolutely gorgeous, it was very isolated – especially for two girls hiking solo. It was worth the journey, but we preferred the other trails!

Terlingua Travel Guide The Porch

Jam With The Locals On The Porch 

Bring some beer (perhaps a guitar too), sing along, and hang with the locals. The Porch is actually connected to The Starlight Theatre, but it’s one of those places where no one is in a hurry and you can really sit back and relax. We had so much fun meeting everyone and trading stories while we waited for the sunset. Though it’s a tiny town, it’s filled with some of the friendliest people around!

Catch The Sunset

Experiencing a West Texas sunset is a bucket list item in itself. Watching the warm colors fade over the Chisos Mountains is one of the most surreal experiences, and you HAVE to add it to your list. We caught the first part of the sunset at the cemetery and the second part at our new friend’s mud hut in the desert. Hands down the best sunset you’ll find in Texas!


Terlingua Cemetary


If you’re looking to stay in Terlingua, AirBNB is your best bet. Unlike other places, most of the options you’ll find are teepees, mud huts, airstreams, even graffiti-covered vehicle-turned-homes. Our friend stayed in this mud hut, and while it was a bit TOO off the grid for us, it was really cool to tour and enjoy the sunset! If you travel to Terlingua, embrace it. Spend a night in a teepee and wake up to the sounds of nature. It’s rare to find a place quite like this!

If the whole camping thing isn’t your cup of tea, we passed a lot of great AirBNB homes we would definitely recommend! You really can’t go wrong with any properties from this host.

Note: Be on the lookout for The Willow House opening soon!

where to stay terlingua teepee


Since Terlingua is so close to Mexico, you’re guaranteed to find delicious Mexican food at most restaurants! Wherever you eat, make sure you don’t leave Terlingua without a cup of chili!

Terlingua Texas Travel Guide

So next time you’re looking for a long weekend getaway, hop in the car and head west. Terlingua was a one-of-a-kind experience, and we loved every bit of it. In fact, I’m already planning my next trip back! Have you been to Terlingua? Let us know how you loved it below!

For more Texas getaways, check out out the links below:

Fredericksburg, TX City Guide | West Texas Road Trip Itinerary | Gruene, TX City Guide

Ready to plan a trip? Pin the posts below to save it for later! 
Terlingua Texas Travel Guide
terlingua texas guide
Comments (7)
  1. Garry says:

    The Indian Head Trail is in Big Bend National Park. You pass through an opening in the park boundary fence to access.

  2. Kat says:

    Chile Pepper is great, but Rio Bravo is the place my family has stopped for years. There’s also a couple great tent camping places like Rancho Topanga with full bathhouses. It’s great to have a nice hot shower for free after a day of exploring.

    1. The Perennial Style says:

      Thanks for the suggestion!! We’ll be sure to check it out next time we visit!! Terlingua is beautiful, and we can’t wait to go back! Hope you have a great day, and thanks so much for reading!

  3. Bruce Brandel says:

    The chili cook-off’s are held the first Saturday in November not the first Sunday as written in the story.

    1. The Perennial Style says:

      Hey Bruce! Thanks so much for letting me know! I updated the post from Sunday to Saturday. Hopefully we can visit later this year to experience the chili cook-off! Have a great day and thanks for reading! xo

  4. Alpine is actually the closest town. 80 miles north on Hwy 118.

  5. Carmen says:

    I lived in the Terlingua area from 2010-2016. There’s far more than 58 residents. Cute article. Watch out for the vortex!