Fun Things to Do in West Texas

West Texas is primarily known for its vast, remote, rugged landscape. El Paso is far and away the region's biggest city. However, this area, which is also known as the Big Bend Region of Texas, is dotted with a number of small, unique, charming (and sometimes quirky) towns. These cities and towns, together with the natural beauty of the Rio Grande River and Franklin and Davis Mountains, offer West Texas visitors a surprising array of things to see and do. Some of Texas' most historic and unique hotels are found in West Texas, as are some of the state's most awe-inspiring natural attractions and some of its most unique things to see.

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    Rio Grande River Inside Big Bend National Park
    ••• Big Bend National Park

    Big Bend National Park is the biggest and best-known attraction in West Texas. Designated as an International Biosphere Reserve, Big Bend offers a variety of outdoor recreational activities in a primitive setting. Most popular among these is hiking. And, since Big Bend National Park encompasses 801,000 acres, including 118 miles of the Rio Grande River, there is no shortage of area for hikers to explore. Relatively light traffic is one of the big draws for those who do visit. Additionally, hikers in Big Bend are treated to an amazing array of flora and fauna, with more than 450 bird species, 75 mammal species, and 67 amphibian and reptile species known to inhabit the park

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    Visitor climbs metate rocks in Hueco Tanks State Park Texas
    ••• milehightraveler / Getty Images

    Hueco Tanks State Park is located just a short drive outside El Paso. This 900-acre ​Texas State Park is the site of the last Indian battle in El Paso County. Numerous cave paintings are found throughout the park. And, even though the park offers a wide variety of activities, including hiking, birding and pictograph tours, without a doubt Hueco Tanks is best known for its rock climbing opportunities, which are among the best in the nation.​

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    Hispanic golfer holding golf club on shoulders
    ••• Kolostock / Getty Images

    Believe it or not, West Texas is home to some of the best golf courses in the state. In fact, El Paso's Painted Dunes Desert Golf Course offers 27 of the most scenic holes in the American Southwest and has been consistently named as one of the top courses in Texas and the Southwest by Golf Digest. A number of other courses, Lajitas and Nueva Vista dot the West Texas landscape from Midland to Odessa.

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    Holland Gage Fire at the Marfa Observatory
    ••• Marfa Mystery Lights Viewing Center / Getty Images

    Marfa is one of the most unique small towns in Texas (or anywhere else for that matter). Actually, on the surface, Marfa is like a lot of Texas' older towns. It dates back to the mid-1800s, so it is home to a number of historic attractions and was the site of numerous events and happenings through the years. But, without a doubt, Marfa is best known for and defined by the appearance of mysterious lights on the horizon. These lights, which have come to be known as the "Marfa Lights," have been seen almost nightly since they were first spotted in 1883. However, even now, nearly 150 years later, no one is able to explain this phenomenon. Each year, thousands of visitors flock to the "Marfa Lights Viewing Area" outside of Marfa to get a glimpse of the lights. And, there is also the annual Marfa Lights Festival, which brings hordes of fans of the Marfa mystery lights to town each year.

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    Tour the Small Towns of West Texas

    Scenic Mountain Road in Texas near Big Bend National Park
    ••• DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

    Much of West Texas' character and charm comes from the small towns sprinkled across the region. Likely due to the great distances between towns, each of these communities has developed its own unique personality. Places such as Fort Stockton, Alpine, Marathon, Presidio, Del Rio, and others are all well worth a visit.