Terlingua, TX to El Paso, TX (June 30, 2015)

This travelogue installment covers my journey from Terlingua via Fort Davis to El Paso, Texas on Tuesday, June 30th, with a brief stop at the McDonald Observatory located just west of Fort Davis. My destination for this day’s journey was the Ramada Inn in El Paso, which is around the corner from the BMW motorcycle dealership, where I had an appointment for routine 12,000 mile service. Due to the time such service can often take, I reserved a room for two nights.

The following map shows my route for this day’s trip.

My route from Terlingua, TX to El Paso, TX

My route from Terlingua, TX to El Paso, TX

Shortly after 9 AM CDT, I departed from the motel in Terlingua and headed westward on FM-170 alongside the Rio Grande River towards Presidio, TX. Just after leaving Terlingua behind, I took these first two photos of the view ahead.


A few miles further I came across the entrance to the Lajitas International Airport, located in probably the least likely location for an international airport. It’s a private airport that serves the Lajitas Golf Resort a few miles further west.


As I approached the community of Lajitas, I took these next three photos.

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After cresting the next hill ahead in that last photo, I took this next photo of the butte ahead.


After rounding the next curve, I took this next photo of the very shallow Rio Grande River. Starting near this location, the area on the north side of the highway is designated as the Big Bend Ranch State Park, extending nearly to Presidio, forming the largest state park in Texas.


A short distance further along, as I came over a rise, the view ahead opened up as shown in this next photo.


Only six miles later, I took this next photo as the highway followed the river.


The white rock face in the middle of that photo became more interesting as I came nearer to it.


Around the next bend, another vista opened up as the road crossed the Madera Creek bridge, marked by the green sign in this next photo. The creek was totally dry.


In the distance in that photo, there is a rest area with three picnic tables under separate tipis (teepees), as shown in this next photo taken as I passed by the rest area.


A short distance beyond that rest area, the road rises as it enters a canyon. Partway up the rise, I pulled off at an overlook and took these next two photos.

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After reaching the top of the rise, the road descends into another large valley along the Rio Grande River. I took this next photo while passing near an overlook.


About 10 miles further along, I came to an overlook and decided to stop there for a break and to photograph the scenery.


The trailhead sign provides information about the state park and guidance for staying safe in this area.


Since the view in all directions seemed quite scenic, I took several photos to create these three panoramic views, towards the SE, SW and NW, respectively.


After leaving that overlook, I continued the remaining 25 miles to Presidio. Since it was still only 10:30 AM CDT, I did not see a reason stop there and thus continued north along US-67 to Marfa followed by SH-17 to Fort Davis, for another 80 miles in all.

About four miles before reaching Fort Davis, I rode by Village Farms‘ very large agricultural greenhouse (~58 acres / ~23.5 hectares) and took this photo of its entrance.


After passing through the small town of Fort Davis, I turned west onto TX-118, passing through Davis Mountains State Park to continue towards the McDonald Observatory. A short distance past the Park, I passed the entrance to a “dude ranch,” called the Historic Prude Ranch.


Shortly afterwards, I took a couple photos of the view ahead to create this panoramic photo.


While passing a small home with several horses visible, I took this next photo. Later I counted at least eight horses visible in the paddock around the house. I can imagine that the smell there must be daunting.


Just past that house, I spotted another more upscale home on the hillside built in the adobe style.


A minute later I caught my first glimpse of the telescope domes on a hilltop at the McDonald Observatory.


As the road’s elevation increased heading up to the observatory, I stopped at an overlook to take photos to create this next panoramic view of the valley towards the south of the highway. In the right half of the photo is a tall plant with large yellow flowers. Although I can’t identify it, I did take a telescopic closeup photo of it also. Perhaps someone can identify it for me.

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Just after 12:15 PM CDT, I arrived at the McDonald Observatory and took these two outside photos before entering the visitors center.

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In the adjacent patio, there is a large stone sundial marking the time during the day.


Due to my need to reach El Paso before the BMW dealership closed for the day, I unfortunately did not have enough time to enjoy the 2 hour 30 minute tour of the observatory. However, I did have time to check out the exhibits in the visitors center and to have a quick lunch in the cafeteria before leaving. Many of the exhibits were just posters in both English and Spanish, similar to the one in this photo.


There is also a quite large, heavy, and rare iron meteorite on display along with an information panel about it.

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There is also an elaborate scale model of a real observatory on this mountain.

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Also on display are some historical documents and artifacts from early astronomers, such as Tycho Brahe from the 16th century.


These next two photos show a views along TX-118 after leaving the McDonald Observatory and before it reaches I-10 just west of the junction of I-10 with I-20.


Other than the service road adjacent to I-10, there are no other paved roads to El Paso. Although there are various unpaved roads in the area, they appear to meander around. Thus I had no choice but to ride the rest of the way to El Paso along I-10. At nearly 90 miles from my destination, I took this final photo of the view ahead along I-10. My main reason for avoiding Interstate highways is the number large trucks. Thankfully the traffic was quite light along this stretch, but did gradually get heavier and even congested as I neared El Paso.


At 3 PM MDT, I arrived and checked in at the Ramada Inn in El Paso before taking my motorcycle to the nearby BMW dealership to be serviced the next day. Following the suggestion by the German service manager, I had a reasonably good dinner at Hiney’s Sports Restaurant next door to the Ramada Inn.

That concludes this travelogue installment for Tuesday, June 30th. Since the service on my motorcycle would take nearly the entire day, July 1st became a rest day spent mostly at the motel and the dealership. On Thursday, July 2nd, I was finally able to depart El Paso and head north into New Mexico. More about that day’s journey in my next report.


About Don

I'm a retired computer programmer who enjoys touring the country by motorcycle.
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