Best Things to Do in Terlingua

Have you ever left a little piece of your heart in a place you’ve just visited? That’s what happened to me when I explored the rugged and unspoiled land that is Terlingua, Texas. This off-the-beaten-path destination, now a renowned tourist attraction, offers endless activities for adventurous travelers.

Wondering what to do in a small Texas town like Terlingua? From scenic drives to off-road adventures, from epic stargazing to discovering hidden trails, Terlingua has it all.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the area’s historic sites and find the best things to do and the best places to visit in Terlingua, Texas.

Terlingua: A Town With a Past

If you are visiting Big Bend National Park or Big Bend Ranch State Park, it is likely that you are lodging in Terlingua Ghost Town.

Terlingua used to be a major mining town until it was no longer profitable, and everyone fled, leaving abandoned buildings. Ghost Town might be a slightly outdated term, as it has grown quite a bit, although not big enough to be fully recognized.

Many people come to Terlingua, Texas, to be off-grid while still living in a city in a relatively nearby area. Of all the cities I have been to in Texas, I have to say Terlingua, with its ironic sense of being both dead and alive, is one of the strangest places, with abandoned buildings everywhere, a pirate ship in the desert that used to be the ultimate party spot, and the most unique places to stay.

A visit to the Terlingua Cemetery is a must for those wanting to delve deeper into the town’s past and pay respects to its former inhabitants. This quiet space serves as a final resting place for the pioneers, miners, and residents who once called Terlingua home.

Essential Tips for First Time Visitors to Terlingua

Here are some of the things to do if your family is planning to go on a trip to the tiny town of Terlingua.

  1. Pack for All Seasons: Terlingua’s weather can be unpredictable, so be prepared for anything. Bring light and breathable clothing for the hot days, but don’t forget to pack layers and a jacket for the cool evenings, especially during the winter months.
  2. Stay Hydrated: With the desert climate, staying hydrated is crucial. Carry a refillable water bottle with you at all times. Take sips regularly to keep yourself energized and healthy, especially if you’re out exploring the sights.
  3. Respect the Environment: As you explore this great place, remember to be respectful of nature and wildlife. Follow the principles of Leave No Trace and ensure you don’t disturb the delicate ecosystem.
  4. Plan Your Big Bend Adventure: Don’t miss the chance to visit Big Bend National Park nearby. Plan your visit in advance, and consider taking a guided tour or hike to make the most of this incredible natural wonder.

Weird Things in Terlingua

So, what are the weird things to do in Terlingua? It doesn’t get much stranger than a ship in the desert called Passing Wind.

I have so many questions, the first being, How?” and Why?

Apparently the owner used to throw parties on this boat, and I wish I could have been around for that! Clearly, the residents know how to have a great time!

Things to do in Terlingua

You really don’t have to go far to see weird things in Terlingua. It’s a small town, and there are random pieces of art all around!

a sculpture in the desert

Terlingua is covered in abandoned buildings and small houses. It’s fun to walk through them, imagine someone once lived here, and see what time has done to these buildings.

a doorway in a ruined building

Where to Eat in Terlingua

Terlingua, a small ghost town in Texas, may not be the first place you think of when it comes to culinary delights. But with its unique blend of regional flavors and hearty comfort food, this desert outpost offers a surprisingly rich dining scene.

In fact, the local restaurants here are a treasure trove of delicious surprises, serving up some of the good food you’ll find anywhere in Texas.

Starlight Theatre

At first, I was unsure about the hype of Starlight Theater, but after seeing the menu, I see why! Starlight boasts some truly phenomenal and unique food! Chief and I feasted on a mixed platter of wild boar, tequila quail, and a decent-sized ribeye for an incredible price.

Starlight Theatre in Terlingua Texas

Starlight is also the chili cookoff champ and has an antelope burger that I wish we got to try!

a plate of food with knife and fork

Right next to Starlight Theatre is Terlingua Trading Co., which is worth all of the fun items you can find. I loved the artwork and cooking items and was tempted to bring back some prickly pear cocktail syrup.

a store with items on display

Afterwards, throw your loved ones in the Terlingua Jail! This is right next to Starlight Theatre, so it makes for fun pictures and a quick trip.

Terlingua Jail

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Grab Breakfast at La Posada Milagro

La Posada Milagro is going to be your friend for a couple of reasons. The first and most important is Wi-Fi!

Big Bend is not signal-friendly, and we were most often struggling to find  a signal. However, La Posada Milagro boasts Wi-Fi and is a place to catch up on email while sipping on a fresh cup of coffee.

You can see them cooking all of the great food, so it’s clearly fresh to order, and they have some great tacos.

la posada milagro menu
a patio with tables and chairs

DB’s Rustic Iron BBQ

Why is it always the small spots that make the BBQ seriously good? Either way, I am not complaining because DB’s Rustic Iron BBQ is some of the best, and I do not take barbecue lightly. As soon as you pull in, you can already smell that they are not messing around. I ordered a moist brisket sandwich and did not even need barbecue sauce!

db rustic iron bbq food truck

La Kiva Restaurant & Bar

Pizza and steaks in a cave? Strange. Yes. Good? Also yes.

At La Kiva Restaurant and Bar, you descend into a cave-like atmosphere where you can order some incredible steak, pizza, and deliciously cheap margaritas! They also have live music on the weekends!

la kiva restaurant & bar

Chili Pepper Café

Being this close to the border, you don’t want to miss out on Mexican food in the area, and Chili Pepper Cafe hits just the spot!

Tucked away in the heart of Terlingua, this unassuming eatery is a mecca for those seeking authentic Tex-Mex delights. For the adventurous foodies, their homemade chili concoctions offer a fiery kick that’ll make you crave more.

a plate of food on a table

Things to Do in Terlingua: Explore the Art

One of my favorite things to do in Terlingua is to explore the art scene.

From art galleries to random road sculptures, the art scene in Terlingua is worth a visit. Earth & Fire Art Gallery, next to La Posada Milagro and Starlight Theatre, contains artwork from local artists.

a building with a sign on the front

Another art gallery worth visiting is Terlingua Gallery.

terlingua art gallery

Things to Do in Terlingua: Outdoor Adventures

If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure in Terlingua, there are plenty of options to choose from. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a first-time visitor, be sure to talk to some park rangers before you head out on your adventure. They can help you choose the right trail for your experience level and give you important safety tips.

The area is home to stunning scenery, from the rugged Terlingua Badlands to the colorful mountains of Big Bend National Park. There are also plenty of opportunities to explore in the area, like its rich history, abandoned mines, ghost town, and more.

Horseback Riding in Terlingua

One of the fun ways to experience Terlingua while in the area is horseback riding. There are several horseback riding companies in the area that offer tours of the badlands, the national park, and more. You can even go on a guided ghost town tour.

This horseback ride isn’t just an adventure for fun; it’s a journey back in time. As you traverse the trails once used by miners and early settlers, you can almost feel the echoes of Terlingua’s vibrant past. 

So saddle up and get ready for an unforgettable experience. In Terlingua, Texas, every outdoor adventure is a story waiting to be told.

ATV Adventure in the Terlingua Badlands

There’s so much beautiful nature to explore in the Big Bend area of Terlingua. From colorful mountains to structures that look like the moon (and where NASA would train astronauts), a place like this can only be accessed by off-trail vehicles.

For ATV tours, go on a fun ride with Far Flung Outdoor Center for over 40 miles of beautiful views! This is something you do not want to miss out on when visiting Terlingua!

a desert landscape with a mountain and blue sky

Explore Terlingua on Foot & Hit the Trail

Since Terlingua is so close to Big Bend, all you have to do is walk around the place to take in the incredible scenery. Plus, the more you explore the area, the more exciting things you might find (maybe even a secret cave!).

big bend scenery

Start at Starlight Theatre and walk up to visit St. Agnes Church before heading back down to the canyon and making your way through the area.

There are a lot of fun things to do and attractions, including abandoned buildings, nature, and more! There are historical markers throughout the town that tell you the history, and you can even enjoy the view where miners would be lifted down into the mines. Let me tell you, it did not look comfortable.

a person standing in a church

Things to Do in Terlingua: Go Glamping

For a relaxing evening, consider staying in a tipi with Basecamp Terlingua or in a retro airstream with Terlingua rentals

basecamp terlingua trailer

The lodging options in Terlingua are as unique as the town itself. Staying in a tipi was such a unique experience that it was worth visiting just for this.

a tipi in the desert

During our stay there, we savored every moment, from watching the stars that seemed to be just within our reach to grilling homemade meals that tasted all the better in the crisp desert air to simply basking in the tranquil atmosphere that Basecamp Terlingua so effortlessly provides.

a room with a bed and a rug

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The Rio Grande River in Terlingua is truly a sight to behold. As you stand on its banks, you can’t help but be awed by the breathtaking views. It’s a place for quiet reflection, thrilling white-water rafting adventures, lazy afternoon fishing trips, and scenic hiking.

As it quietly flows between the United States and Mexico, the Rio Grande in Terlingua serves as a unique and beautiful reminder of nature’s enduring presence and the simple tranquility that can be found in the great outdoors.

A popular way to experience the Rio Grande in Terlingua is to take a rafting trip with Big Bend River Tours. They offer a variety of trips to suit all experience levels, from family-friendly floats to adrenaline-pumping rapids. 

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Things to Do in Terlingua: Final Thoughts

While visiting Big Bend National Park in far west Texas, I am glad I got to stay in the small town of Terlingua. It is one of those hidden gems that is worth visiting. The best time to visit Terlingua is during the spring break or fall, when the weather is mild. 

There are quite a few fun things to do and attractions to see in Terlingua, Texas, despite its size. Between hiking in Big Bend and spending time here, you could easily stay for a weekend or a week.

things to do in terlingua
things to do in terlingua
things to do in terlingua

Last Updated 1 month ago by Jessica Serna | Published: July 14, 2018