Top 12 Things To Do In Terlingua Texas Ghost Town 

Planning a trip to West Texas and Big Bend area? Then make sure to include the tiny town of Terlingua Texas in your travels. This single lane dirt road town is one of the best places to visit in West Texas. From the beautiful views of nearby mountain ranges, amazing dark sky nights and historic sites, Terlingua might surprise you. So if you’re curious to learn more this small town, keep reading to discover the top 12 things to do in Terlingua Texas.

Welcome sign to Terlingua Texas Ghost Town

Where is Terlingua Texas Ghost Town?

Hidden between the villages of Lajitas and Study Butte, just 12 miles from the Mexico border. Terlingua is located in the far West Texas desert.

It was once a real quicksilver mining town, even though it looks like an old western movie set.

When mining for mercury crashed in the early 1900s, the city was abandoned during that time and left behind much of what we see today. 

The population started to rebound around 1960. However its history, allure and quirkiness, is what makes Terlingua Ghost Town one of the most interesting places to visit in all of Texas.  

So if you are traveling to Big Bend National Park it is definitely worth the detour to discover all the unique things to do in Terlingua Texas Ghost Town!

When is the best time to visit Terlingua Texas?

Fall and spring are the best times to visit Terlinqua. I know summers are a popular time to travel, however the summer would be really hot and honestly unpleasant to visit.

Both spring and fall have comfortable temperatures. However, to avoid the crowds, skip spring break and 3 day weekend holidays.

We visited in both October and March and in my opinion, I prefer fall to spring, as the landscape was prettier with more water flowing in the river. Both times were enjoyable temperatures, so either season would be a good choice.

Top things to do in Terlingua Texas 

While there are things to do in Terlingua, it really isn’t about the activities, it’s about the vibe and energy of the once abandoned town. So don’t expect to be wowed with things to do, its more about the experience!

1. Visit the Terlingua Trading Company

The Telingua Trading Company General Store

The Terlingua Trading Company is the “downtown” of Terlingua, Texas. So, it’s a must stop during your visit. The building is tucked back from the main road, so you’ll need to be on the look out for the Terlingua sign and small dirt road that will take you to the parking lot.

When you arrive, park wherever you find a spot and just take a look around. The trading company building is more than just a building, it is the descendant of the original general store of the Chisos Mining Company. 

So, after you admire the building, head inside to get a cold beverage.  But first, walk around the store. It has all kinds of interesting items and souvenirs. We always find a few unique things to take home.  After you shop, go grab a cold beer and head out to the front porch.

2. Enjoy a cold beer on the porch

Yes, that is correct. Get a beer and just go sit on the porch. Trust me, it is what we all do. And you will too.

The tradition is to sit, sip and take it all in. This has been adopted by both locals and tourists, taking place at all times of the day. And usually because it’s so hot.

However, this simple act, is one of the reasons we all grow to love Terlingua. You meet people on the porch, see cats on the porch and watch people drive up in curiosity. And lastly have a great view of the mountains on the porch.

This spot is a busy part of town and located next to Starlight Theatre.

3. Take a self guided walking tour

Random art and things you see in Terlingua

After your beer, explore around by foot. Enjoy a walk around the dry desert land, explore the old abandoned buildings and get a feel for the town and the history. You can pick up a map for the self guided tour at the Terlingua Trading Company. 

4. Visit the Historic Cemetery of Terlingua

Terlingua Ghost Town historic cemetery

As you walk around, certainly stop by the Terlingua cemetery.  Established in 1902, it is one of the quirkiest cemeteries in the United States and is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was the final resting place for miners and people of the town. And is also one of the most photographed cemeteries in Texas.

5. Say a prayer at the old church

Established around 1914, the St Agnes Church was once the focal point for the mining town. It was the gathering place for monthly church services, weddings and funerals for the people of Terlingua. 

6. Enjoy Great Food And Music At The Starlight Theatre

Without a doubt, no stop in Terlingua would be complete without a visit to the Starlight Theater.  This old theatre converted into a restaurant/bar with funky decor is a great place for dinner. They have really good food and afterwards you can enjoy live music. So check the website for updates on times and see who is playing.  

7. Visit the local jail

Terlingua Jail House

Eventually we all have to go to jail, and that is because the restrooms are located in the jail building. It’s just another funky thing about this town. 

8. Enjoy a sunset on the rooftop of Sierra

Sunset from the rooftop of High Sierra Bar & Grill in Terlingua Ghost Town

If you have a few nights in this west Texas town, I recommend the rooftop of the High Sierra Bar & Grill. It is a great place to see the sunset and desert mountains. It does get cool in the desert at night, so bring an addition layer if you plan to sit outside.  

9. Taste Terlingua Texas World Famous Texas Chili

If you plan a visit in November, try to plan around the annual Chili Cookoff. The first famous championship chili cook off started in 1967 and continues to this day.

On the first weekend of November, Terlingua throws the biggest party of the year and serves some of the worlds best chili. This event draws over 10,000 “chili heads” from all over the world.  So mark your calendars for this delicious and festive event.

10. Enjoy the night sky

If you like to star gaze, then this is the perfect place for you. The nearby towns of Terlingua have minimal light pollution therefore allowing you to see an amazing night sky.

We always stay at Maverick Ranch RV Park at Lajitas Resort and they have a lights out policy after dark. So you can see so many stars and even the milky way on clear nights. It was the most amazing display of stars I have ever seen. 

11. Explore Big Bend National Park

Santa Elena Canyon hike in Big Bend National Park and sign for Hot Springs trail

The Big Bend National Park entrance is located about 30 minutes from Terlingua. It is great base location if you want to explore the park without staying in it. 

In my opinion, you need at least 2 days to visit the park, but a few more would be better!  That way you can see the best places of the park without being rushed. 

Big Bend has a variety of activities for all levels including easy trail heads for bird watching or the Ross Maxwell scenic drive. You can also explore moderate hiking trails such as Santa Elena Canyon Trail, Window Trail or Boquillas Canyon. And afterwards soak in the historic hot springs or even cross the Mexican Border via the Rio Grande River.  

Big Bend offers a diverse variety of activities from river and water to desert and mountains. So go explore and have fun!

Best Time To Visit Big Bend National Park Texas

12. Discover outdoor activities of the desert

Exploring Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park are a great way to get out in nature.

Yet, if you want to enjoy the great outdoors without hours of driving or research and planning, consider one of these local outfitters for outdoor activities, rentals and tours. Activities available include hiking, biking, horseback riding, jeep and atv tours, river kayaking and more!

Tips for first time visitors

Terlingua is located in the Chihuahuan Desert, which is a remote location. Therefore it has limited supplies and service. Here is short list of things to keep in mind for a safe and successful trip.

  • Cell service depending on your provider could be spotty 
  • Bring your supplies as there are not any large grocery stores nearby
  • The desert sun is hot, make sure you have plenty of water at all times 
  • Pack your passport if you want to cross into Mexico
  • Desert animals live there such as javelinas, beers and venomous snakes

Places to Eat in Terlingua Ghost Town (best rated)

  1. Starlight Theatre Restaurant
  2. Taqueria el Milagro
  3. Little Dipper Food Truck
  4. DB’s Rustic Iron BBQ
  5. Long Draw Pizza
  6. Espresso y Poco Mas 
  7. Thirsty Goat Saloon in Lajitas

Places to Stay In or Near Terlingua Ghost Town

Maverick Ranch RV Park at Lajitas Resort

Campgrounds

We always stay at Maverick Ranch RV Park. It is one of our favorite places to stay with resort amenities, beautiful night sky and great location for visiting Terlingua and Big Bend National Park. Here are all the reasons why you should visit: Top 10 Reasons to Visit Maverick Ranch RV Park

Surprisingly there are also many campgrounds located in the Big Bend and Terlingua area. Here is list of the closest RV Parks to Terlingua Texas.

10 RV Parks Near Terlingua TX For A Great Stay

Hotels

  1. The Willow House https://www.willowhouse.co/
  2. La Posada Milagro Guesthouse https://laposadamilagro.com/
  3. Basecamp Terlingua https://basecampterlingua.com/
  4. Lajitas Golf Resort https://www.lajitasgolfresort.com/
  5. Camp Elena

Are You Ready To Visit Terlingua Texas Ghost Town?

Overall, I think Terlingua is a great add to your West Texas road trip whether you are visiting Big Bend National Park, Marfa or Alpine. With all its history, culture and quirkiness, Terlingua is worthy of a detour to explore all the great things to do in Terlingua Texas Ghost Town!  

I hope you enjoy this quirky town as much as we did! Viva Terlingua! 

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