Terlingua Ghost Town / Study Butte, Texas

Terlingua is often referred to as the Terlingua Ghost Town.  But there is more life in this small district of Study Butte than in most towns. It is most certainly the star of the show for small towns in the area. It’s a magical community and most folks here are very kind. They may not always fit within your expectations of “normal”, but don’t be quick to judge. Just chill, make friends and let them teach you a few things about the area. With that said, Terlingua is getting a bit too popular for its own good. It’s a delicate community with their own ways and limited resources. Don’t be a disrespectful tourist, please review the A Note About Respect section.


Terlingua has done a fantastic job of conserving the town and not opening up to ambitious money grabs. Try to buy property and open a Wal-Mart, you may see West Texas Law still rule here. There’s a story that someone set up a sign coming down 118 from Bee Mountain that said, “Coming Soon: Wal-Mart”. Half the town laughed hysterically, and the other half went and grabbed their guns.


The Terlingua Ghost Town

The Starlight Theatre is an early 1900’s theater built when Terlingua was mining town but now is the host of a fun, eclectic, and very good, restaurant. It shares the famous porch with the Terlingua Trading Company and is where many of the locals like to hang out and have a beer. At the Terlingua Trading Company, you can shop for gifts, books (pick up the entertaining “Tales from the Front Porch”), pick up beer for the porch, and even lodge.

ProTip: Starlight does not take reservations. During busy times, the wait can be 2 hours. This is not a bad wait because you get to hang on the porch! But if you don’t want to wait, get their early before they open.

The historic and photogenic Terlingua cemetery is also worth the visit. This modest cemetery gravesites are mostly humble and styled with Mexican influence. There are graves dating back to 1903 and serves as a final resting place for, probably too many, miners that were victim to fatal accidents or succumbed to the deadly metal being mined, mercury.

Ten Bits Ranch, a couple of the pics below, is just outside of Study Butte and is my favorite place to stay… probably in the world.

Since 2009 it’s been a tradition of mine to escape the anxiety of Thanksgiving and the gluttony of Black Friday and head out to the desert. Starlight has been a staple of that tradition every year as they serve their traditional Thanksgiving plate. Every year it gets busier and busier. If you get their too late, they’ll be out of their Thanksgiving meal. It’s best to get there an hour before opening. There are no reservations. You get in line and when they open they start letting people in or putting you on the waiting list. A two-hour wait is now common. But guess what? You’re on The Porch! So just grab a beer and enjoy. There is a gift shop next door. You can purchase a 6-pack from them, sit on the porch and enjoy the evening. Enjoy the community. And as always, please be respectful to the locals. You are their guest.