Powerful telescopes let you look throughout the Milky Way and beyond.Located atop the Davis Mountains, the McDonald Observatory is the site for cutting edge cosmology using some of the latest in telescopic media technologies. Members will tour the observatory, enjoy a star party, and (depending on the schedules) perhaps even have dinner with astronomers on a "special viewing night." Imagine gazing through telescopes to see nebulae, binary stars, and entire galaxies outside the Milky Way!

Operated by the University of Texas at Austin, the McDonald Obervatory is also home to the popular StarDate radio programs. 


Some of Donald Judd's famed concrete cubes, silently standing in the desert.In addition to the science of the Observatory, members will also experience the internationally famous art of Donald Judd and the Chinati Foundation. We will tour the various art installations, which are located in galleries and desert landscapes in and around Marfa. As with the star party, the art tours will provide a unique, one-of-a-kind aesthetic experience. 

Stay in yurts or teepees at the El Cosmico.Members can stay in the hip modernism of the Thunderbird Hotel or in the airsteam trailers, yerts, and teepees of El Cosmico. The Thunderbird has a fabulous pool for cooling off and chilling out with other visitors. During Barry's stays at the Thunderbird, he has met and/or seen writers, artists, profs, publishers, and musicians from around the world at the pool; during one visit, David Byrne and Joe Ely were relaxing by the pool. El Cosmico offers a more eclectic experience, with its village-like setting on the desert land and indoor and outdoor showers. And both places have great coffee in the mornings! 

Marfa is also known for:

• Some of the locations and landscapes for two recent award-winning films: No Country for Old Men (2007) and There Will be Blood (2007). We are fairly certain you will not be stalked by a psycho killer or strike it rich with an oil well, though you will love the atmosphere and landscapes. 

• The location for filming the classic movie, Giant (1956), which was James Dean's last film before his death in an auto accident. During the visit to Marfa, members can visit and dine at Hotel Paisano, where Dean, Rock Hudson, and Elizabeth Taylor stayed while filming the movie. The hotel also has a room/shrine dedicated to James Dean. 

• Prada, Marfa, the world famous art/simulacrum located next to a desert highway about 35 miles from Marfa. Yes, it is just sitting next to the highway, alone with the sun in the day and glowing beneath the Milky Way at night, all the time facing the vast emptiness in "the desert of the real." What would Jean-Paul Sartre or Jean Baudrillard have said about this art and site?

The Marfa Mystery Lights, the nocturnal attractions which may (or may not) be seen at the viewing site about 10 miles out of town. Though the lights are surely not UFOs or alien astronauts, the site and new viewing area are a great place to stimulate those magical late night conversations beneath the stars. You know those conversations: what am I doing with my life, where is humanity going, and what does it all mean in the vast universe?

• The world famous Food Shark lunch truck, located across the street from the Judd Foundation and the Marfa Book Store and right next to the coast-to-coast train tracks cutting through Marfa. Munch on some great Mediterranean food while gazing at the logos of globalization on the shipping containers on the trains. The long, spacious outdoor tables were designed by Donald Judd. Plus, the Food Shark is perhaps the best place to meet people from all over the world in Marfa. Click here and here to view their crazy video commercials in YouTube.

Other notable dining options include:

Maiya's: Great drinks and food, with sidewalk tables beneath the sky and next to the Judd Foundation and other art galleries.

Cochineal: For those who want their Big Skies served with fine wine and cuisine from the Big Apple.

Padre's: For those who want a spacious Texas juke joint with solid bar food, good margaritas, pool and pinball, and relaxed outdoor seating. Oh, and there might be a good band playing, too.

Squeeze Marfa: A Swiss cafe in the heart of the Texas desert; a breakfast with smooth coffee, fresh juices, and tasty chocolates. 

Pizza Foundation: Need a pizza fix on your journey west? This place has good pizza; try it with their famous frozen limeade.


One of the great national parks in America, the Big Bend features numerous hiking opportunities across vast desert landscapes and along spectacular mountain vistas. One can also view petroglyphs, visit old ruins, see dinosaur fossils, soak in hot springs, and raft down canyons of the winding Rio Grande River that separates Texas and Mexico.


The Clock of the Long Now

• With the site under construction, the first full-scale Clock of the Long Now will be located in the desert mountains north of Van Horn, Texas, about 100 miles from Marfa. The Clock of the Long Now is designed to tick once a year for 10,000 years, with the goal of decelerating society's shrinking attention spans in order to foster long-term thinking about our effect and place on the planet and in the universe. The initial Long Now prototype first ticked at midnight on December 31, 1999, to welcome the end of the second millennium and entry of the second millennium. The prototype is now located in the London Science Museum. Though the Texas site and towering clock are far from complete, this could be a super-adventurous hike for those cosmic thinkers who want to see where a giant clock that ticks once per year will be placed in a desert mountain. Below is the face of the clock and how to read it. 

Blue Origin Space Launch Site

• Also under construction near Van Horn, this is the remote site for the Blue Origin space tourism company created by Jeff Bezos, founder of So far, space tourism is in its embryonic stage, but tourism sure seems a better reason for exploring space or visiting the moon than militarization or the exploitation of natural resources on the moon. A big question: what would be the architecture of a hotel on the moon? Surely, it must be something better than 99.999% of all hotels on Earth.

Click here and here for videos of Blue Origin test launches.