Stunning skies, mountain views, and contemporary art are just part of Marfa’s story.
Founded in the late 19th century as a railroad water stop and freight headquarters, Marfa was from its early years a social and commercial outpost in a far-flung corner of the country. It grew and prospered through World War II with the presence of military installations ranging from a prisoner-of-war camp to an advanced flight-training base, before entering decades of slow post-war decline, when Marfa was largely known as the filming location for the classic James Dean film, GIANT.
The foundation of Marfa’s reputation as a cultural destination was laid in the early 1970’s, when the New York-based artist Donald Judd began to acquire land and buildings in town to transform into large-scale art spaces. That reputation grew with the establishment of the Chinati Foundation, the Judd Foundation following the artist’s death, and other renowned arts and letters institutions. With its proximity to historical sites, numerous state parks, Big Bend National Park, and the Rio Grande river, Marfa also sees visitors year-round drawn to its natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities.
Planning your trip? No matter what draws you here, Marfa’s Visitors Center offers extensive resources on what to do and see. Marfa is the scene of several high-profile annual events and festivals, listed below; time your visit to town around any of them and there will be plenty to keep you busy – but make your lodging arrangements well in advance, as available rooms and rental properties in the area book quickly (the same advice applies to holidays and Spring Break visits.) Dates, in many cases, are subject to change each year, so consult individual event websites or pages for up-to-date information.