If you head west and keep going, you’ll end up in one of the roughest parts of Texas. But Lajitas, at the far-out reaches of the Big Bend region, offers amenities for a cozy day trip. This small outpost of rocks and dust is an oasis in the Chihuahuan Desert.
Mayor Clay Henry
All travelers to this destination should stop and pay homage to Clay Henry, the city’s mayor—who also happens to be a goat. He’s the fourth “Clay Henry” to hold the seat; a descendant of the first—now taxidermied—sits inside Terlingua’s Starlight Theatre. Henry’s “office” is located next to the Lajitas General Store, the only gas station and convenience store in town, where travelers can cast a vote to continue his term.
Lajitas Golf Resort
The resort occupies an old trading post with lots of modern amenities, including well-appointed rooms and outdoor spaces to enjoy the big skies. Some of the amenities are open to non-guests as well. Start the day with fresh cinnamon rolls from Boardwalk Bakery and Pizzeria; get an adrenaline rush on a zip line tour; and play a round on the Black Jack’s Crossing golf course that hugs the Rio Grande and is consistently ranked one of the best courses in the country. Watch your slice, or else you’ll land a ball in Mexico.
Big Bend Ranch State Park
The little brother of Big Bend National Park boasts over 300,000 acres of desert landscape and river corridor. Plan your route at the Barton Warnock Visitor Center and learn about the animals and plants of this wild area. If you have limited time, don’t miss the sights along Farm-to-Market Road 170, aka River Road. Hikers can explore the area between the towering walls of Closed Canyon and beside the windswept rock formations of the Hoodoos Trail. Catch incredible views from the Big Hill, which contains the “DOM” rock made famous by the 1985 film Fandango starring Kevin Costner.
If hiking on foot isn’t your thing, let a trusty steed do all the work. This stable hosts picturesque horseback riding trips through the desert and into Big Bend Ranch State Park. A three-hour ride can take you to the top of Contrabando Mesa with breathtaking views of Mexico. But if you’ve got time for more than a day trip, hop on a multiday journey complete with camping gear and campfire cooking.
Finish off the day on this café’s patio with a cold margarita as the stars begin to shine overhead. This restaurant is part of the golf resort and brings the same class to its menu, mixed with a heaping portion of country cooking. The massive steaks are excellent, but I recommend the Tex-Mex plates such as the fajitas and queso blanco.
So whether you follow my footsteps or forge your own path, I hope to see you on the road.
Chet Garner is the host of The Daytripper® travel show on PBS.
To view the Lajitas episode visit thedaytripper.com.
Follow along on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @chettripper.
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