by Mya Estrada
There are, of course, more wonders in West Texas than just seven. Sonora Caverns, Big Bend National Park, and Hueco Tanks are all great places to visit and explore, in fact, I’ve been to all of those places a time or two myself. However, as a native West Texan, I wouldn’t say they’re wonders.
In the eyes of this West Texan, wonders, like those we are discussing today, are things that you are hardly going to find anywhere else. Sure, no two national parks are the same, but where else are you going to find mysterious glowing orbs of differing shapes, sizes, and colors hanging out in the desert? Or a Prada store that caters to bad dancers by only housing shoes made for left feet?
Wonders have a certain element of mystery and awe, and they invoke emotional responses from those who gaze upon them. Now, those emotional responses may be confusion or laughter, but these West Texas wonders invoke emotion nonetheless.
A disclaimer before we continue: I am biased. I was born and raised in West Texas, and I will die on the hill that West Texas is more than just dirt and oil fields.
However, as you go through this list, I am sure you’ll find a wonder or two that’ll make you want to pack all your friends in your car and make the long road trip across the state.
Let’s get into it!
- Elephant Rock- Franklin Mountains State Park, El Paso, TX
As the name implies, the first wonder on our list isa rock that looks like an elephant. Sometimes referred to as ‘Mammoth Rock,’ this wonder can be found by heading Northeast on the Transmountain pass that connects theNortheast part of El Paso to its far west side.
While there is no lore surrounding this wonder of West Texas, I always imagined that the elephant just got tired of walking up the mountain, so he stopped to take a nap. You can stop at the designated west-facing scenic viewing area to get a better look at and take some cool photos of this West Texas attraction.
While you’re stopped you might even catch a glimpse of an honorable mention for this list: the Lone Franklin Mountain Goat, affectionately named Bob.
Bob is the only mountain goat on the Franklin mountains, and he is believed to be a runaway goat who decided to make a home out of the mountains all by his lonesome. He stays well hidden in the mountains, but every now and then a fortunate passerby can spot Bob munching native plants.
Jorge Salgado/El Paso Inc.
- Cadillac Ranch- Amarillo. TX
Erwin Widmer/ Shutterstock
Cadillac Ranch is one of the most recognized and well-known west Texas wonders, and people from across the globe have been coming to spray paint these vehicles for decades. A joint project between an artist collective from San Fransisco and an Amarillo billionaire, the cars are a tribute to the evolution of the Cadillac tail fin and are all buried at the same angle as the pyramid of Giza. Visitors are free to paint as they please, but be sure to take photos! Because it will only be a few hours until it’s covered up by someone else.
- Prada Marfa- Valentine, TX
I can already tell that you’re thinking, “Valentine? But it’s Prada Marfa?” Here is yet another hill I will die on: Prada Marfa is in Valentine, Texas. Not Marfa. If you look it up on Google, it will say that Prada Marfa is located in Valentine.
One of the other most famous west Texas wonders on our list, Prada Marfa is a recognizable establishment, and its name can be found on wall decor and dorm room pillows across the country. A Prada Marfa home decoration can even be seen in the Van Der Woodsen’s apartment in Gossip Girl. Needless to say, it’s pretty popular.
The display contains only left shoes and purses with no bottoms to discourage thieves, and behind the store is a wire fence that has become a west Texas version of the “Pont des Arts” in Paris.
The permanent sculpture by artist duo Elmgreen and Dragset is a must-stop to complete any west Texas road trip.
Another honorable mention on our list is Tiny Target. Tiny Target was a similar structure to Prada Marfa, however, it was short-lived. Equipped with a red Target shopping cart, the “Marathon Mini Target” located in Marathon, Texas, was torn down almost as quickly as it was put up due to safety concerns. No one is totally sure who put up the Tiny Target, but it is surely missed by Marathon locals and art enthusiasts across Texas.
- Guadalupe Peak- Guadalupe Mountains National Park, TX
Shu Xu / 500px / Getty Images
Guadalupe Peak, otherwise known as the “Top of Texas,” is the highest point in the Lone Star state. The hike to get to Guadalupe Peak is around 8.5 miles with an elevation gain of 3,000 feet. If you chose to visit this wonder of WestTexas, plan to spend from 6-8 hours hiking the trail.
While the Guadalupe Mountains have the highest peak in Texas, they also have one of the most picturesque peaks as well. Travelers can hike or photograph El Capitan, the tenth highest but most pictured, point in Texas.
- 10,000 Year Clock- Sierra Diablo Mountain Range, TX
The Long Now Foundation
This wonder of west Texas is still under construction. However, the 10,000 Year Clock is something that i
s currently developing in West Texas, and it will be (and kind of already is) a wonder. I mean, how many other things on this list are going to outlast humanity and all of civilization?
The 10,000 Year Clock is a project that is being worked on by Jeff Bezos and his aerospace company, Blue Origin. The clock is meant to last 10,000 years and is being built inside one of the mountains in the Sierra Diablo Mountain Range. The clock counts time in centuries and millennia the way that a normal clock would count minutes and hours. The protection from the mountain it is being built into is to keep it from being damaged, similar to how ancient Egyptian artifacts are kept intact by the protection of the pyramids they are housed in.
Once the clock is finished, it will be open to the public, although the current completion date has not been specified.
- Star on the Mountain- El Paso, TX
The second best wonder in West Texas is the Star on the Mountain in El Paso, Texas. The star does not have a glamorous history. In 1940, the El Paso Electric Company decided they wanted to put a star on the side of the Franklin Mountains, and they did just that.
Since that time, the star has become one of the most widely recognized symbols in El Paso, and it’s lightning every night has become a beacon of light and hope to the whole community. However, aside from being a symbol of El Paso, the star is also a brilliant display of Texan pride that shows that love for our state can be found even in the furthest of corners. The star can be seen from miles away and is the perfect sight for travelers to behold as they leave Texas heading West.
- Marfa Lights- Marfa, TX
The number one wonder in West Texas is the Marfa Lights. First spotted in Marfa in 1883, the lights have attracted scientists, skeptics, and paranormal reachers for generations. Explanations of these lights range from headlights on Highway 67, to ghosts, to fallen stars, to aliens. However, despite a number of studies being done on these lights, no one really knows for sure.
The Marfa Lights top our list because they are truly a West Texas wonder. These unexplained lights in the desert perfectly capture the essence of all the things that are strange and beautiful to see in West Texas. Every September, the mysterious lights are even celebrated in the Marfa Lights Festival, which features vendors, musicians, and great Tex-Mex.