January 30, 2015
As you may have heard, Ballroom Marfa and Mexican Summer are presenting Marfa Myths over March 13-15. If you’re coming out, you may need some help navigating your journey to Marfa. Enter our visitor guide (in five parts).
FIRST, A WORD ABOUT MARFA
Marfa is a town of about 1900 people, and we are bringing in a slew of visitors for the festival (not to mention it’s Spring Break). The impact of our presence will be huge. Please remember to be respectful of the community — be kind to strangers, pick up after yourself, be patient, and understand that we are a community of hard-working people in a very small town. Adjust your expectations (we have no drugstore; shops and restaurants have funny hours), and see these quirks as part of the adventure.
MAKING THE VOYAGE
You can get to Marfa via car; plane; and kind of by train (the train will take you to Alpine, which is 25 miles away).
• If you’re coming from Austin, the drive is seven hours; from San Antonio, six hours. (Flying from either of these places doesn’t really make sense.) Houston is about 9-10 hours away — flying cuts down on that journey, but doesn’t give you quite the flexibility.
• The closest airports are El Paso and Midland, both about three hours away (directions from each here). If you fly into El Paso, rent a car, pick up a snack at Taco Cabana or Pho Tre Bien, and blast the radio (El Paso’s Fox Jukebox [Sundays, 12-8pm] is awesome; as you get closer to Marfa, tune in to Marfa Public Radio/KRTS 93.5). Driving after dark can be a bit grueling: if you can schedule it, roll into Marfa around sunset.
• There is a municipal airport in Marfa (three miles from Marfa) and one in Alpine (26 miles from Marfa), which can service most private jets. We think there’s a shuttle from the Marfa airport, but call to confirm.
Marfa Municipal Airport: (432) 729-4452
Alpine-Casparis Municipal Airport: (432) 837-5929
• If you are traveling to Marfa from El Paso, the time zone changes from Mountain Time Zone to Central Standard Time, and you lose one hour.
• If you are traveling to Marfa from El Paso, you’ll pass Prada Marfa on Highway 90, about 35 miles from Marfa. It will be on your right, just before you enter the town of Valentine, Texas.
Map of Prada Marfa by Paul Fucik.
• Most Marfa galleries, shops, and restaurants are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Plan out-of-town excursions or loafing around on these days.
• Consider stocking up on snacks and water prior to arrival: there are only two groceries in town, plus a Dollar General. (You might also get cash, too — there are only two ATMs in town, and neither are chain banks.)
• We recommend booking your lodging prior to traveling. Hotels in Marfa will most likely be sold-out that weekend.
• If you are flying into El Paso, or driving from the West, you will pass through a Border Patrol Checkpoint on your way to Marfa. Be forewarned.
• We’re in the high desert, about a mile above sea level, and the altitude and dryness can be rough on newcomers. Stay hydrated.
• Cell phone reception can be spotty out here. Embrace it.
Sunset on the drive into Marfa
Check back next week for our next installment, where we discuss where to stay and if a safari tent at El Cosmico is all that (it IS, though possibly chilly in March).
Special thanks to Railroad Revival’s 2011 visitor guide for some of these suggestions.