Or maybe this should be called “Instagram Ruined Marfa”.
Hold on, before everyone FREAKS OUT, I know I’m probably going to get some hate for this one but 🤷♂️, I’m half being jokingly cynical and purposely cheeky in this. Read to the wrap-up. I hope you can find humor rather than telling me things I don’t want to know about my mom.
I love the whole Big Bend region, there is so much to do and see. With that, I just have to say when prioritizing what to do that Marfa is just OK. I like Marfa, it has some cool features but it would probably be put way down on my list of things to do. And I certainly wouldn’t spend days here, more like hours.
Growing up, I’ve always heard about Marfa because of the mysterious Marfa lights. My mom always told me those Marfa lights are real. That palpable mystique always romanticized Marfa in my mind. Now when people refer to Marfa, the lights seem to be all but forgotten. Nobody talks about that part anymore.
Somewhere since my youth, Marfa became a sought-after sensationalist destination for its art presence in the middle deep west Texas. Sounds quaint and charming enough, but I don’t get it. It has some restaurant gems like almost all small Texas towns. You can breeze through the art installments. So why the trendy draw?
Marfa Pros: (these are all subjective pending whom you ask)
-Prada Marfa, everyone has to get the obligatory Prada Marfa pic
-The Chinati Foundation, touring the concrete structures is kind of surreal
-Marfa Lights viewing area
-Geographically, it’s not pretty
-It’s an over 2-hour drive to the Big Bend National Park visitor center
-Prada Marfa is often vandalized and is still over a half-hour away and you usually have to fight people for your own photo op
So what if Giant was filmed there 65 years ago? Big deal. Has anyone watched Giant recently? I have. James Dean is cool and all but the movie felt long and never had a point. And Prada Marfa? It should be Prada Valentine anyway… If you want to get Instagram pics in front of a vintage roadside motel, you can pretty much do that anywhere.
The sensationalistic draw is a romanticized impression made by hipsters and VSCO girls. …and I guess that’s the same romanticizing I did with Marfa as a young lad, just in a different way. Times have just changed and that should be ok.
Ok, ok. Why am I acting so uncharacteristically cynical? Because I LOVE Big Bend. I want to share in everyone’s excitement, see what you do, what adventures you have! When people say they are going to Big Bend, I get excited. But then far too often rip that excitement bandaid off when they mention they’re going (or gone) to Marfa and nothing else. I deflate like a beach ball hit with this thing:
Look, for real, Marfa actually is kind of cool. Robert Earl Keen plays at the Marfa Ballroom. I love that Marfa Public Radio is keeping the radio tradition alive and keeping it real. The art is…ok. Marfa is cool, but so are Fort Davis, Alpine, and Marathon. To me, it’s the parks that are the real treasure of the whole Big Bend region. There are folks that would rather stay at an AirBNB in Marfa for 3 days than subject themselves to the dirty bug-infested wilderness. Trust me, there are. Those are the spikey stick folks that made me sad. All I want to do is let you know if you are planning a 3 day trip to Marfa, make sure you explore ALL options in the area. And I can help with that.
Want a perfect day in Big Bend? Check out these posts:
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Here are a couple of videos I made…