Sunday, October 21, 2012

Marfa, Texas



It was a long drive for us yesterday, over 250 miles to Marfa, but we are now in Texas. It was the first time we’ve driven through El Paso on I-10, and hopefully the last. Even on a Saturday the traffic was heavy and went on forever.

We spent the night at the Marfa Lights Viewing Center, basically just a rest area with bathrooms (composting toilets, no less) right on Hwy 67. Not a bad place to stay as traffic is very light on 67, but there is a surprisingly busy train track just on the other side of the road, so beware. Since it’s free I guess we shouldn’t complain.

The Marfa Mystery Lights were first reported in 1883 by a cowboy who thought they might be Apache Indian fires. To this day there is no explanation for them, although they may just be car headlights. Just as it was getting dark we walked over to the viewing area, where a small group of people from the Laredo Paranormal Society were setting up their infrared cameras and other equipment.

Restrooms and viewing area.


The group has been studying the lights, and said this was the third night in a row they had been out there. Great fun for us, since we got to look through their $9500 night vision monocular, glasses, and infrared camera. It is amazing what you can see in the dark with those! They also had a laser which shot different colored beams up to 90 miles away. They would aim it at the lights and make them go out. Of course the lights were coming off and on anyway, so we weren’t that impressed. But they did have some cool and expensive equipment.

I managed to capture a photo of one of the lights we saw, and there were many. They varied in size and brightness and would stay on for different lengths of time. Not too impressive, I know.


But it was an unusual way to spend the evening. Today we are heading for Big Bend National Park, where there should be no train or traffic noise.


  1. So funny, when I first read the title I thought it said Mafia Texas. :-) I've never thought of the Mafia in Texas. But it turned out to be about something equally unusual. An intesting stop for sure.

  2. We drove through Marfa in early April, but didn't go look for the lights, although we had heard of them. The most interesting thing we saw in Marfa was a, for lack of a better description, hearse-looking car painted tan. It had longhorn horns as a hood ornament and was painted with all kinds of art. My one regret is Marfa is that I did not get a photo of that car.

    We LOVED Big Bend. At one of the Visitor Centers we asked a ranger if there were any waterfall hikes. (Yeah, right, waterfall hikes in the desert!) Darned if he didn't get real quiet and say, "This trail is a secret. We don't tell many people about it because years ago some people tried to spray weed killer on poison oak and pretty near destroyed the fragile ecosystem." He then proceeded to look us over and decided we were okay. He gave us directions to the waterfall. We had a lovely hike and saw only one other couple.


  3. Now that sure was an unusual way to spend the evening!

  4. Glad you survived that long trip and glad you are now in Texas. See you soon.

  5. We have never made it to Marfa but have all intentions to get there and see those lights. Glad they didn't let you down.

  6. El Paso and large RV's do not mix. I remember pulling our Fiver on the interstate through town and getting sandwiched between two semis on a curve. It left me White knuckled and a little wet in the pants. :)) Couldn't pay me to live there.
    Box Canyon Mark

  7. El Paso is on our black list. From now on we will avoid it if at all possible or travel in the middle of the night. I drove through in my Escape. Bob drove the 5th wheel through.

    Traffic was the worst of anywhere we've ever been and it just went on and on. Bob almost got in a wreck. A semi slammed on its brakes ahead of him and he hit the brakes, missed the semi by inches. There was nowhere to go in any other lane, either. Nasty place to drive.