This fun and interesting road trip, from the cultural buzz of Austin to the unusual lights of Marfa, is teeming with plenty of historical places to enjoy en route, along with national parks and monuments to explore.
The 480-mile road trip from Austin to Marfa, Texas, takes 7 hours 35 minutes to drive. On the way, you'll pass Dripping Springs, Fredericksburg, Roosevelt, Sonora, Fort Stockton, Ozona, Alpine, and either Davis Mountains State Park or Big Bend National Park.
Both routes offer plenty of attractions - plus some beautiful places you can hike and explore - before you reach your truly unique destination of Marfa. Keep reading to get the details of our favorite routes, the best places to stay, our top picks for things to see, plus our the optimal time of year to make this fascinating journey.
How far is Marfa from Austin, and how long will the road trip take?
|The Historic Route||480 miles||7 hours and 35 minutes|
|The Big Bend Detour||554 miles||8 hours and 35 minutes|
The short road trip from Austin to Marfa, Texas, along the Historic Route takes around 7 hours 35 minutes as you cross 480 miles without a detour.
If you decide to take the Big Bend Detour option, then this takes around an hour longer and covers 554 miles to be able to experience the amazing Big Bend National Park.
Both routes are fairly short, even with a detour, however we still recommend spending 2-3 days to take in all the wonderful sights along the way. Please keep reading to see our recommendations of where to stop and explore during this beautiful and interesting journey.
Best road trip route from Austin to Marfa, Texas
Take the journey from Austin to Marfa, Texas, and you are sure to experience a charming and intriguing trip, which has historical and scenic highlights.
If you follow the Historic Route then you will encounter a beautiful scenic drive, brimming with historical sites, landmarks and museums, skyline drives, swimming pool dives, and underground caverns to explore.
If you take the slightly longer Big Bend Detour then you will get a chance to see all the Historic Route delights, along with an epic stop off at the beautiful Big Bend National Park, a memorable trip to this less explored landscape.
How to drive from Austin to Marfa, Texas
The map above shows our suggestions for the best road trip routes between Austin to Marfa, Texas. Keep reading for detailed descriptions of both routes, where to stay on either, and the best things to do on the way.
The Historic Route
After leaving Austin head past Dripping Springs picking up the US-290 from TX-1 Loop South before stopping at Fredericksburg, where you can enjoy plenty of interest stops such as National Museum of the Pacific War and Pioneer Museum.
From here pick up Interstate-10 (I-10) West, where you pass South Llano River State Park, Fort McKavett State Historic Site and Eaton Hill Nature Center and Reserve before arriving for a night or two in Ozona.
Ozona is dotted with impressive sights including Crockett County Courthouse and Historic Town Square, so while away a day or two enjoying these before jumping back onto the 1-10 towards Fort Stockton then Balmorhea.
From here take the TX-17 to Davis Mountains State Park Headquarters, and follow the Scenic Skyline Drive. The TX-118 South and final stretch on US-90 leads you to your final stop at Marfa, Texas.
The Big Bend Detour
From Austin make the same start to the journey as you would for the Historic Route, passing all the wonderful interesting and scenic sights. However, once you reach Fort Stockton head along the US-385 South.
Arriving at Marathon head further to reach Big Bend National Park. This lesser visited national parks has amazing landscapes and canyons to explore.
Afterwards head back to Marathon where the US-90 and then TX-118 North reaches Fort Davis, where you can enjoy a visit to over 100 ruins, restored buildings and museums showcasing military history. The TX-17 South then takes you to Marfa shortly after.
Best places to stop between Austin and Marfa, Texas
The road trip from Austin to Marfa, Texas, is brimming with interesting stops and scenic spots to enjoy as you head along this journey.
Although this is a short trip we suggest stopping over along the way, so that you can really take in the wonderful sights. Keep reading to see some of the best places to spend a night or two en route.
Enjoy the history and culture in Ozona
Head along the Historic Route and around halfway you will reach the pretty and interesting town of Ozona. Also known as "The Biggest Little Town in the World", it has historical and cultural significance across Western Texas.
Ozona's Historic Town Square is a great place to start off exploring. This pretty square is dotted with impressive historical sites including Crockett County Courthouse, which was founded in 1902 and still used today.
Afterwards dart across to Crockett County Museum, a great stop off to learn more about the history of the area, with interesting exhibits and impressive grounds.
For a great overnight stay then head to Hampton Inn Ozona, set in a top location, just a short walk from many great attractions including Crockett County Park, Ozona Town Square and Crockett County Fair Park.
At this beautiful, modern hotel you can enjoy a dip in the gorgeous seasonal outdoor swimming pool after a busy day exploring or unwind on the lovely sun terrace to catch some last summer rays.
Get a good start to the morning with a delicious American buffet breakfast, and once you are ready to get back on the road this hotel is located right by the I-10, so super easy to jump back into this interesting journey.
Step back in time with a visit to Fort Stockton
Before you reach the very scenic Big Bend National Park, spend a night or two exploring the interesting historical sites of Fort Stockton, around halfway along this route.
There is so much to see here, so firstly head to the Fort Stockton Visitor Center. With interesting landscapes depicting different settlers in the area, this visitor center is a great stop to plan your trip and hear more about the area.
Wander the historic sights of Fort Stockton, where only four of the original buildings remain now including the Guard House. You'll feel like you are traveling back in time to the Wild West with a visit here!
Also drop into the Annie Riggs Memorial Museum. Named after a widowed wife, this is a treasure trove of different, infamous town trinkets. An interesting past to learn more about.
We then recommend heading to the Best Western Plus Fort Stockton Hotel, where you are close to many top attractions, and can enjoy a great many perks at the hotel including beautiful saltwater swimming pool, wellness center, and tasty English breakfast before heading back onto the road.
Where to stay when you reach Marfa, Texas
Marfa is a small town packed with interesting sights, art lover's delights, and the infamous Marfa Lights seen over the town, so whatever route you choose you can expect an amazing visit to Marfa once you arrive.
To make the most of the sights, we recommend staying at the Cibolo Creek Ranch & Resort. Around a 40-minute drive from the center of Marfa, this beautiful, traditional resort has plenty going on as well as a great place to unwind.
If you plan to keep on the move, then make the most of the state-of-art fitness center or hike the local trails. Alternatively relax with a spot of local fishing or a dip in the stunning outdoor swimming pool. This is a great place to wind down, enjoy the desert landscape and get away from it all.
Things to see on a road trip from Austin to Marfa, Texas
The journey from Austin to Marfa, Texas, is short but very sweet, packed with many interesting historical sites, landmarks and museums, alongside beautiful national parks.
Make sure to keep reading to look through all the places we recommend stopping at en route as you travel to the exciting city of Marfa.
On The Historic Route
- Davis Mountains State Park Headquarters - Set over more than 2,700 acres, there is so much to do here. The Scenic Skyline Drive covers a very beautiful ride, before heading along the Old CCC Trail at the end of the drive. Head for lunch at Black Bear Restaurant after.
On The Big Bend Detour
- Gage Gardens - Stop off in Marathon for a visit these pretty gardens. A great place to wildlife spot as you stroll through the lush landscapes.
- Big Bend National Park - A huge park, covering over 800,000 acres, it is less popular than some of the other National Parks as it is remote, but so worth the journey. There are incredible hikes to enjoy, with Santa Elena Canyon one of the most popular with great views of Rio Grande.
- Fort Davis National Historic Site – This historic site ticks plenty of boxes, with beautiful landscapes brimming with history. There are over 100 ruins, restored buildings and museums to explore military history.
On Both Routes
- Hamilton Pool Preserve - Found in Dripping Springs, this pretty area is great for an afternoon walk and a dip in the afternoon sunshine.
- Lyndon B. Johnson State Parks Historical Site - Take a step back in time at this state park where you can learn more about the 36th president. You can see the rangers working on the land, take the nature trails or take in a show at the amphitheater.
- National Museum of the Pacific War - Immerse yourself at this interactive museum, where you can learn more about the people affected by the Pacific War, wander the galleries and grounds.
- Pioneer Museum - Tour the grounds of the historic German pioneers, where you can explore the outbuildings and grounds that depict how this group once lived.
- South Llano River State Park - Packed full of parkland, wildlife and outdoor recreation. As an International Dark Sky Park make sure to also head here at night for some impressive stargazing.
- Fort McKavett State Historic Site - These Indian Wars posts are some of the best illustrations surviving, and you can enjoy an informative tour around these impressive structures.
- Eaton Hill Nature Center and Reserve - Set over 37 acres, take to one of the several rocky trails here where you can wildlife spot as you hike. For bird watchers the impressive black-capped Vireo can also be spotted.
- Ozona - Wander Ozona's Historic Town Square, dotted with impressive sights including Crockett County Courthouse which is still in use today.
- Caverns of Sonora - This National Natural Landmark is a must-see, where you can wander through the underground tunnels and marvel at the rock formations. Some of the best caves of their kind.
- Annie Riggs Memorial Museum - A visit here once you reach Fort Stockton is a must. Named after a local widow, this is a treasure trove of different, infamous town trinkets. An interesting alternative past to learn more about.
Best time to go on a road trip from Austin to Marfa, Texas
Marfa is an all-year-round destination, packed with interesting sights, unusual art installations, and the renowned Marfa Lights to be enjoyed all year round.
Marfa can get pretty hot during the summer, with temperatures hitting around 90 degrees Fahrenheit. It can make for a hot and dry visit, when there are also a lot of tourists visiting, so consider shoulder months around peak summer, when temperatures and visitor numbers are lower.
A great time to visit Marfa is during the spring or fall. The weather can hit around 70 degrees Fahrenheit onwards from March, so lovely and mild for exploring Marfa.
Winter can be an excellent time to visit, as even January temperatures hit 60 degrees Fahrenheit. But days are shorter, and it can be chilly in the evening plus some tours and hikes may not be as accessible due to bad weather.
There are lots of great reasons to visit Marfa, and with a packed calendar of events happening throughout the year make sure to catch some of these too.
In May the Marfa Invitational displays some of the best art in the area, followed by Agave Festival Marfa in June, celebrating local culture, food and drink. Both give a great experience of the areas culinary and artistic flair.
In August head to the Marfa Lights Festival, recognising the areas renowned light phenomenon. Live music and parades celebrate these beautiful sights.
In fall head to watch, or take part in if you are lucky enough, the Marfa 100, a 100-kilometer bike race held along in Marfa alongside views of Chianti Mountains.