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Terlingua Texas – A Strange Ghost Town on the Border of Mexico

Terlingua is a remnant of life; a graveyard of abandoned homes and mines which once buzzed with life. Situated in the far west side of Texas, close to the border of Mexico, the town can be accessed through highway 118.

Terlingua Texas is the true picture of ‘stopped time’. 

Not only is the ghost town a peaceful getaway for those looking for an escape from the fast track life; its the gateway to Big Bend National Park, home of beautiful sunsets and starry night skies.

Texas Ghost Town
Texas Ghost Town

The decaying town has become home to tourists and adventure seekers for camping and various outdoor activities. Some of the old buildings have been reestablished to welcome visitors.

Camping in Terlingua

Terlingua and the areas around it are everything you would want in a perfect camping site. Although located in the Texas desert, Terlingua still has a bearable climate, the best time to go for camping is fall or the start of spring.

There are lots of camping styles available: tenting, glamping, cabin camping and RV camping. Here are our favorite Terlingua campgrounds:

Retro Rents

Location: 999 Terlingua Ghost Town, Terlingua, TX 79852

Why We Love It: You can rent vintage trailers at Retro Rents! If you have an RV, they have hookup sites available.

What’s the word: Gasgirl on Campendium says, “Great location in the heart of Terlingua Ghost Town. You can walk to everything. There are only 2 RV spots and they come with full hookups. The owners are very nice. They prefer communicating by phone.”

BJ’s RV Park

Location: Hwy. 170, Terlingua, TX 79852

Why We Love It: Classic RV Park vibes with 20 sites, most with full hookups.

What’s The Word: Moose & Trixie on Campendium says, “The bathrooms/showers are clean, we did not use the showers. The laundry area is handy. I did use the washers and dryers. There are 2 of each. It was $2.50 per load, you do not load the change in the machines, there is a basket on the table where you put the money. So it really is an honor system.”

If you’re interested in the best free camping in all of Texas, take a look at this list of  7 Awesome Free Camping sites in Texas

Outdoor Activities in Terlingua

The area has a rather unique topography which gives campers a multitude of options for outdoor activities.

There’s something to do for everyone including hiking, climbing, swimming and biking. Take a motorcycle ride along the riverbed to have a truly inspired experience. 

If you’re not a fan of physical activities there’s still so much you can do, sit under the bare sky and watch starts. The night skies in Terlingua are beautiful away from pollution and full of stars.

Terlingua Texas Ghost Town
Terlingua Texas Ghost Town

Chasing sunsets and sunrises is another thing you can do and you are bound to be mesmerized by the peace and beauty. If you are in for some wildlife action, bird watching is another local favorite.

Although the architecture is nothing out of the ordinary and may even loom bleak to some; it still has a mysterious charm. If you are looking for quality entertainment, the Starlight Theatre is the place to be, the theatre gives life to the town.

Shopping and Eating in Terlingua

One might think there isn’t much to do in a ghost town in a desert but Terlingua with its population of about 58 people (on busy days) has managed to stay on the radar.

The spot was repopulated by artists looking to escape from the busy city life, the influx of tourists have helped keep the ghost town alive.

The Terlingua Trading company is a local stored which took over the Chisos Mining company’s deserted company store. If you are looking to buy interesting souvenirs it is just the place to visit. It also provides a surprisingly beautiful view if you just sit on the porch.

Terlingua hosts an annual Chilli Cook-off which has transitioned from a cook-off to a full-blown festival over the years where one can shop, eat and enjoy. There are often food trucks and artist booths in the festival for those looking to shop.

There are a few cafes and restaurants that offer delicious food, the owners are local and extremely hospitable. A famous hotspot is the Starlight theatre mentioned above also, along with entertainment they also provide delicious food. The Chilli Pepper Café is also a great spot for grabbing quick meals.

Ghost Town Story

Terlingua, Texas is a ghost town dating back to the 18th century. The town was once one of the largest producers of mercury. After discovering the town became a mining hub which led to its development and most of it was under the control of Chisos Mining Company.

According to some sources Terlingua produced and supplied am approximate of 40% of the total mercury used in the first World War, when it was at its peak. As time the demand for mercury greatly reduced and soon the Chisos Mining Company had to file for bankruptcy.

With the closure of the mines, everyone who moved into the town for employment moved away and that’s how Terliqua transitioned into a ghost town. 

The Best Free Camping in the Entire USA

We love camping across this amazing country. And, we really love it when its free. Here’s our list of the 20 Best Free Campsites in the USA.

If you haven’t tried free camping before, also known as boondocking, take a look at our beginners guide to boondocking filled with everything you need to know to get started.

Become a FREE CAMPING INSIDER and join the 100,000 campers that love to score the best site! Simply enter your email below.

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