Terlingua, Texas

Photo: Willow House Terlingua

Inspiration is fleeting these days. It’s difficult to be creative when you’ve been cut off from the rest of the world. It’s hard to feel stimulated when you’re staring at the same four walls day after day and month after month. It’s virtually impossible to stay motivated. You desperately need a change of pace.

There’s a ton of wide-open space in Far West Texas. This is the area along the Rio Grande and the Mexican border. The Chihuahuan Desert, the largest desert in North America, covers much of the arid land. Big Bend National Park, Big Bend Ranch State Park, and Guadalupe Mountains National Park do, too. El Paso is in the far western corner. But the vast majority of this part of the Lone Star State is very sparsley populated. You could probably go days without seeing another human being.

That’s pretty much your plan. First, you leave El Paso behind. Then you drive straight through Marfa, the tiny town that’s become a surprising art mecca. You’re heading to Brewster County. Texas’ largest county is three times the size of Delaware. Terlingua is your destination. It’s a mining town (cinnabar, red ore of mercury) that became a ghost town when the money stopped flowing.

Due to its promixity to the activities in Big Bend National Park, the small town (population just over 100 people) is starting to see a resurregence. The Starlight Theatre, a former cinema, is now a restaurant and saloon. The Chisos Mining Company’s trading post has been revived into the Terlingua Trading Company. Even a few art galleries and motels are starting to pop up. They’re all surrounded by the seemingly endless desert.

Photo: Willow House Terlingua

Willow House lies on the outskirts of town. Yes, that means the middle of nowhere. The old ranch sits on nearly 300 rugged acres. Big boulders and ocotillos (semi-succulent plants) fill your immediate view. The Chisos Mountains and Santa Elena Canyon are in the distance. Big Bend National Park is only six miles away. You’re more focused on the gorgeous design of this hotel right now, though.

The boutique hotel is modern, sleek, and eco-friendly. Its buildings are minimalist concrete cubes with slits in the walls to help the air flow (it gets hot here). The largest, the Main House, is a communal spot with a sunken lounge and a gourmet kitchen. Its living space extends outside to covered patios, hidden showers, ready-to-use grills, and a fire pit. This is far from roughing it.

The 12 casitas are even cozier. Each one is unique, though built-in bookshelves, curated art, and rain showers are standard. An alpaca throw blanket is at the end of the king bed. You love the view from the daybed on the large covered patio attached to your casita. You could spend hours out there with a book, a notebook, and a pen. Your creative juices seem to be flowing already. This could be a very productive trip.


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