“When I was 12 years old and in 7th grade, I had a phenomenal science teacher who organized summer trips out to West Texas from our small east Texas town. That was the first time I experienced the quiet beauty of the vast, West Texas landscape, which was in such stark contrast to the piney woods and swamplands where I grew up. The wide open spaces that seemed to go on forever opened up my world and fostered my love for heading west.
Now as a mom of two young girls who love adventure, my husband CJ and I visit our favorite spots in West Texas every chance we get, always capped off with a stay at Marathon’s Gage Hotel.
The tiny town of Marathon, TX has won our hearts with it’s quiet, charming main street and friendly residents. We like to bring along our bikes, cruise around the sleepy town and take pictures of the desert landscape. The history of the Gage Hotel and their attention to detail makes staying here such a unique experience, and is such a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of city life in Austin.
As photographers, the West Texas landscape offers endless opportunities for photos with it’s unique quality of light and open expanses. Recently, we had the opportunity to document a wedding at the Gage Hotel, and it’s one of our favorites to date. A wedding at the Gage Hotel is such a relaxed, and festive atmosphere where everyone can come together to celebrate, and practically have an entire town to yourselves! It’s such a fun weekend getaway and unique experience for your guests, and great proximity for exploring Big Bend National Park.
We were so inspired while documenting this wedding, with the ceremony held at the historic Captain Shepard’s House, and reception at the Gage Hotel courtyard. We were able to steal the bride and groom away for some portraits against the stunning desert landscape, which are my favorite images from the day. We’re looking forward to documenting another wedding here this fall!
Some of our other favorite West Texas spots include Balmorhea State park, the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool. The water is cold and clear and our family enjoys snorkeling and swimming with the catfish.
We always try to make it to a “star party” at McDonald’s Observatory, the darkest observatory in North America. Astronomers will point out constellations in the night sky and you can view planets through their massive telescopes. It’s a wonderful facility and the stars are spectacular!
Other spots we love include Big Bend National Park, El Cosmico in Marfa, the Indian Lodge in Davis Mountains State Park, built in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corp, and we’ll stop off in Alpine to grab a hot dog from “Cow Dog,” a food truck parked on their main street, and pop into Ring Tail Music to browse their records.
Our family loves visiting West Texas and we find something new each time we visit. We can’t wait to head west again!”
(All photos courtesy of Nichols Photographers)