Nostalgia and natural beauty combine in tiny-but-terrific Alpine
Hit the Road
Way out west lies Alpine, a small town with big charm that's surrounded by a gorgeous desert mountain landscape. Equally desirable is the weather: The dry air and elevation keep the days fresh and cool year-round, especially in the mornings and evenings.
Though it may seem far from big cities, Alpine is centrally connected to the most scenic routes in the state, with easy day-trip access to Big Bend National Park, Marfa, Fort Davis, Marathon, McDonald Observatory, and more.
Whether you're passing through or parking your suitcase for a while, here's what to see in Alpine:
Located north of downtown, Kokernot Field has been called the “best little ballpark in Texas” by Sports Illustrated. It's the home of the Alpine Cowboys, a nonprofit team that plays in the Pecos League, a professional baseball club which is not affiliated with the Major or Minor Baseball League.
The field dates back to 1947, when longtime rancher Herbert Kokernot Jr. built a baseball stadium to replicate Chicago's Wrigley Field, using materials from his own ranch to add that personal touch. The Cowboys' season typically starts in late May and continues until the end of July (unless they make the playoffs). The players are recruited from all over the United States, with some having come as far as Japan and Puerto Rico.
Lace up and explore
So much beautiful scenery demands to be explored, and Alpine has plenty of parks and trails to satisfy that urge.
Hancock Hill, behind Sul Ross State University, has a small system of hiking trails that feature scenic overlooks of the town and the path to The Desk.
If you haven’t heard the story of The Desk, it goes like this: In 1981, three Sul Ross students carried a desk up Hancock Hill to study. Soon they were spending hours on the hill, enjoying the beautiful surroundings. When one of them left a notebook in a desk drawer and later saw someone had written in it, he replied and soon the tradition of a notebook associated with The Desk was born. There have been dozens of notebooks filled since that are now stored at SRSU's Archives of the Big Bend.
Of course, Big Bend National Park is not to be missed, and neither are Big Bend Ranch State Park and Davis Mountains State Park. Make sure you're appropriately prepared, with proper hiking clothes, plenty of water, and an emergency plan before you head out.
You can also spend a day at the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center, where in addition to hiking trails you'll find informative exhibits and programs, a greenhouse, and a botanical center.
Eager to learn more? Head to Museum of the Big Bend on the Sul Ross State University campus for what director Mary Bones calls "your best introduction to the Big Bend area."
The museum celebrates natural and human history as well as cultures of the Big Bend region. Rotating exhibits include paintings, photography, and more. If you love maps, you’ll be fascinated by the historical pieces in the Yana and Marty Davis Map Collection.
In 1948, the Sul Ross State University rodeo team met with 11 other schools and formed the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association, or NIRA. Today, the university still hosts the annual Southwest Region competition and has several national championships under its belt.
Rodeo fans can also get their fill at the Big Bend Ranch Rodeo, held this year August 11-12.
Get ready for a summer and fall filled with fun events, starting with the music festivals Viva Big Bend (July 26-30) and Fiesta 1888 (August 5). Art lovers should show up for Trappings of Texas September 14-16 at Museum of the Big Bend and Artwalk on November 17-18, while music fans will want to attend the Big Bend Bluegrass Festival October 6-7.
Round it all out
Wondering where to eat while you're here? There are several options for casual fine dining and plenty of spots that specialize in fresh seafood. Expect a lot of small, family-owned and operated restaurants and food trucks for a truly homemade flavor.
That's also the theme when it comes to shopping, with locally owned boutiques found throughout downtown, including a spot for vintage vinyl records and a fine independent bookstore with an attached coffee shop. While you're browsing, pause to snap pics at the more than 40 murals dotted throughout downtown.
Lay your head
Stay in the historic Holland Hotel, Alpine’s classic railroad hotel originally constructed in 1928. There were originally two railroad hotels: one for the ranchers and one for the workers.
In addition to trusted hotel chains, other hotels with unique vibes include Quarter Circle 7 at Hotel Parker, the Maverick Inn motor court, Alpine Bed & Breakfast, and more.
Learn more about Alpine and begin planning your visit here.