5 Best Places to Stay near Big Bend National Park
Big Bend is a large park, and getting around takes considerable time. Options for accommodation in the park are limited to three main campgrounds, backcountry camping, or the motel-style Chisos Mountain Lodge. Most visitors set up base in one of the nearby towns, although choices outside the park are still very limited, particularly when it comes to quality accommodation. The best options are found in the quaint little town of Marathon or the resort town of Lajitas. Both of these places offer beautiful accommodations that can truly make your vacation a memorable trip. Marathon lies about 40 miles north of the park on the east side. Lajitas is about 20 miles from the west entrance of the park. While this might seem like quite a distance to day trip into the park, the drive is easy and it's well worth the trip to stay at some of the beautiful lodgings in these towns.
Other towns in the area include the two side-by-side communities of Study Butte and Terlingua, including the nearby Terlingua Ghost Town, about three to 10 miles from the park on the west side. These towns combined have a population of just over 300 people, and quality lodging choices here are limited.
Where you stay may simply depend on which direction you are arriving from. Marathon is the main gateway for visitors coming from the east and north, including Houston, Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio. Lajitas and Terlingua are the main choices for visitors arriving from the west. Below are our top picks for the best hotels and resorts in the Big Bend National Park area:
1 The Gage Hotel, Marathon
Marathon is by far the most charming town near the park, and one of the main reasons to visit Marathon is for a stay at the historic Gage Hotel. This luxury property, with a beautiful pool and quaint rooms, does not have TVs in the suites. Instead, they offer enticing common areas for socializing, from the main lobby area with a huge fireplace, to a TV room for those who simply can't miss an important game, and a huge fire ring in the courtyard, where guests are invited to gather fireside each night. This is a wonderful place to meet people and enjoy inspired conversation. The Gage Hotel is also known for its fabulous dining at the 12 Gage Restaurant, where you'll find some of the best food in the entire region.
The property consists of the main building, with beautiful hotel rooms featuring wooden ceilings and open beams, and bungalow-style suites surrounding a quiet courtyard. The Gage Spa is located in a separate building and offers a full range of treatments, from massage therapy to facials. The hotel also has a fun itinerary for up to 14 days to help guests plan their time in and around the park. If you can't get in at the Gage Hotel, ask about the Captain Albion E Shepard House, which is also operated through the Gage. This is a small but grand looking white, two-story building with balconies, on a street behind the Gage Hotel.
Accommodation: Gage Hotel
2 Lajitas Golf Resort, Lajitas
On the west side of Big Bend National Park, about 20 miles from the park gate, is the Lajitas Golf Resort. Like a true oasis in the desert, you can see the green trees and grass of the golf course at the base of the mountains as you approach. This large complex is the place to come to relax and pamper yourself. It features an 18-hole golf course designed by Lanny Wadkins, a lovely pool, a glass-walled restaurant looking out to the scenic hills, and all kinds of recreational opportunities.
The main lobby and connecting buildings, which include the outfitters, fitness center, and activities center, are designed in an old Western style, with covered wooden walkways and wagon-wheel-inspired furniture. The resort has several buildings with guest rooms, each of which is unique. Some are near the pool, others look out onto the golf course, but each offers large suites and elegant furnishings.
If you want to spend a few days here, you'll have no trouble keeping busy. You can go ziplining, arrange a one-way canoe trip down the nearby Rio Grande River with a shuttle back to the resort, or go horseback riding. An activities coordinator is happy to help you set everything up.
Accommodation: Lajitas Golf Resort
3 Eve's Garden Bed and Breakfast, Marathon
For the eco-minded and nature-loving sorts who still want a high degree of comfort and ambience, Eve's Garden B&B is the place to stay. They tout themselves as an "Organic Bed & Breakfast and Ecology Resource Center" in the town of Marathon, and offer a unique concept when it comes to lodging. This colorful inn, with romantic archways and sprawling adobe-style architecture, is a peaceful retreat on a quiet street. The indoor organic gardens provide year-round blossoms, and the central courtyard, complete with a pond and tea room are beautiful spaces to relax and meet other guests. Guest rooms are all individually decorated in a variety of colors and adorned with interesting and elegant decor. Much like the Gage Hotel, guests here can break free from the television and cozy up with a book on a reading chair. This place is a true gem in the high desert.
Accommodation: Eve's Garden Bed & Breakfast
4 Terlingua Ranch Lodge
If you really want to get away from it all and park yourself at a cabin in the mountains, the Terlingua Ranch Lodge is perfect. Set off on its own, 16 miles from the main road and about 45 minutes from Big Bend National Park, this is a wonderful place to see the night sky and enjoy peace and quiet in the desert. Rooms are very basic, with no TVs or phones. Wireless internet is available, but there is no cell coverage. However, you can count on a spotlessly clean room, comfortable bed, and an outdoor patio to sit out on and watch the stars. The lodge has a pool; a small airstrip; and the Bad Rabbit Cafe, a restaurant serving homemade meals in a stone and masonry building, known as the Whitehouse. On weekends and sometimes on weekdays during the high season, the cafe offers live entertainment featuring local musicians.
Accommodation: Terlingua Ranch Lodge
5 Posada Milagro
Located in the Terlingua Ghost Town, Posada Milagro offers a small number of rooms, set up behind the Posada Milagro Restaurant. Options here range from multi-bed rooms with shared bathroom and shower to rooms with private baths. This can be a good option for small groups looking to save money on accommodation. Rooms are rustic-style but tastefully decorated. The restaurant out front serves a tasty breakfast and lunch until 2pm, with an order-at-the-window approach, and a very pleasant covered outdoor seating area with a central fountain and wood stove. It makes a wonderful stop for lunch.