Affiliate Disclaimer: This article may contain affiliate links. We may earn a small commission if readers clicks through and make a purchase. See Affiliate Disclosure here.

9 Charming Texas Mountain Towns That Are Too Good To Ignore

Although mountains aren’t necessarily the first thing you think of when it comes to Texas, the state actually has a surprising amount of them!

From the glorious Big Bend National Park to the luscious green Davis Mountains, Texas has so much to explore.

And the best part is that there are many picturesque small towns nearby which offer breathtaking views of the mountains.

The only difficult part is knowing which towns to visit!

That’s why, in this guide, we’ve done all the hard work for you and come up with the ultimate list of the best mountain towns in Texas.

These towns are all surrounded by or located close to mountains meaning you’ll be treated to scenic views wherever you are in town.

Let’s get exploring!

1. Fort Davis

Fort Davis is a small town in West Texas, tucked away in the Davis Mountains. 

It’s named after the nearby Fort Davis National Historic Site which was once a military post in the 1800s. 

This place is famous for its beautiful mountainous scenery and rich history. There’s also 4 miles of hiking trails to explore.

At Fort Davis, you can explore the old fort where soldiers used to live. You’ll get the chance to learn about their daily lives and the history of the area. 

Every year, Fort Davis even hosts various events and reenactments that bring the old fort to life, giving a glimpse into the past. 

The town is also known for the McDonald Observatory. Here you can gaze at stars and planets through some of the largest telescopes in the world. 

There are also plenty of hiking trails in the area that offer breathtaking views of the mountains. It’s a must-do.

Bird watchers can also come here to spot rare and colorful birds that aren’t found anywhere else in the world!

Fort Davis is one of the most temperature-cool towns in Texas during the summer so it’s a great place to go to escape the heat. 

You can also enjoy the many local shops and restaurants that offer a taste of West Texas culture. 

2. Lajitas

Lajitas is a small town located in West Texas, right on the edge of Big Bend National Park. 

This unique place is known for its stunning desert landscape, outdoor adventures and a very unusual mayor – a beer-drinking goat!

Diann Bayes / Flickr

Its goat mayor, known as Clay Henry, was originally elected in 1986.

The original Clay Henry unfortunately passed away but his descendents have been elected as mayor every year since.

You can still see the original Clay Henry though as he’s since been stuffed and put on display!

Lajitas offers a variety of fun activities including horseback riding through the desert, playing golf on one of the most remote courses in the United States and river rafting on the Rio Grande. 

For those who love nature, there are miles of trails for hiking and mountain biking. You’ll be treated to close-up views of the beautiful and rugged terrain. 

One of the highlights is taking a scenic drive through Big Bend National Park to see the breathtaking canyons, mountains and river. It’s stunning!

You can learn about the area’s history by exploring the ancient rock art sites nearby at Big Bend Ranch State Park. 

These were actually created by Native Americans thousands of years ago!

Lajitas also offers some of the most spectacular sunsets and night skies in the entire state.

3. Presidio

Presidio is a small town located in the far western part of Texas, right on the border with Mexico near the Rio Grande River. 

This town is known for its rich cultural history and its location in one of the most scenic areas of the Texas desert. 

Presidio is a great starting point for exploring the Big Bend Ranch State Park, which is full of rugged landscapes, hiking trails and outdoor adventures. 

In Presidio, you can enjoy a range of activities like horseback riding, mountain biking and canoeing on the Rio Grande. 

The town is also a gateway to the beautiful Chinati Mountains which are widely known for their breathtaking views and opportunities for wildlife spotting. 

A fun fact about Presidio is that it’s actually one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in North America with a history dating back thousands of years. 

You can learn more about the area’s interesting past by visiting local museums and historical sites. There’s so much to see and do!

You could even pop over the border into Mexico to visit Presidio’s sister town Ojinaga. Many locals consider the 2 towns to be one and regularly cross the border most days.

Presidio is also known for its vibrant community events, including traditional Mexican celebrations and music festivals, which showcase the town’s diverse culture. 

Presidio’s remote location also makes it a perfect spot for stargazing with clear night skies free from light pollution. 

4. Canyon

cmh2315fl / Flickr

Canyon is a small town located in the Texas Panhandle, just south of Amarillo. 

It’s best known for being the gateway to Palo Duro Canyon State Park which is the second-largest canyon in the United States after the Grand Canyon.

This stunning natural wonder offers miles of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails through its dramatic, colorful landscape.

You’re also able to watch a live outdoor musical called “Texas” which is performed in the amphitheater of Palo Duro Canyon every summer. It tells the story of early Texas settlers.

The town is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum where you can learn about the area’s rich past, from dinosaurs to pioneers. 

It’s actually the largest history museum in Texas!

Canyon is actually situated on the historic Route 66 which means that it could easily form part of a larger trip.

Other popular activities in Canyon are camping under the stars in the state park or picnicking in one of the town’s scenic parks. 

Bird watchers (or anyone that loves nature) will find plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife and capture the beauty of the Texas Panhandle. 

The town offers a variety of dining options with local restaurants serving up everything from traditional Texas barbecue to Mexican cuisine. 

5. Alpine

Jack Parrott / Flickr

Alpine is a small, picturesque town located in West Texas. You’ll find it within the beautiful Davis Mountains. 

It’s close to the stunning Big Bend National Park which is one of the largest and least visited national parks in the United States. It’s absolutely worth a visit though!

This town is a hub for artists and musicians and you’ll find galleries, murals and live music venues scattered throughout. 

You can spend time exploring the Museum of the Big Bend which showcases the region’s history, culture and natural beauty. It’s fascinating stuff.

You’ll also love hiking and mountain biking on the many trails that offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

Alpine also hosts the annual Viva Big Bend music festival each July which attracts bands and music fans from all over the state. It’s a lot of fun.

Dave Hensley / Flickr

Another highlight is the vibrant local market where you can buy fresh produce, handmade crafts and unique art pieces. 

You can also take a scenic drive through the Davis Mountains, discovering hidden gems and breathtaking vistas along the way. 

The town’s local restaurants and cafes serve up delicious Texan cuisine, offering everything from juicy steaks to traditional Mexican dishes. 

6. Marathon

Marathon is a small town in West Texas, often referred to as the “Gateway to Big Bend” because it’s the closest town to Big Bend National Park. 

This quiet town is known for its stunning desert landscape, starry night skies and historic charm. 

It’s also incredibly scenic as the entire town is surrounded by mountains.

One of the main attractions in Marathon is the Gage Hotel which is a beautifully restored historic hotel that offers a glimpse into the Texas of the early 1900s. 

Bill Herndon / Flickr

There’s also tons of outdoor activities to choose from in Marathon like hiking, bird watching and photography. This area just has so much natural beauty. 

The town also serves as a great starting point for adventures into the nearby national park where you can explore mountains, deserts and rivers. 

BFS Man / Flickr

A fun fact about Marathon is that it’s actually named after Marathon, Greece, because of the similarity in landscapes. 

For anyone interested in history, the Marathon Museum is another must-visit as it offers insights into the area’s past. 

7. Van Horn

Van Horn is a small town in West Texas, located in the vast and scenic landscapes of the Chihuahuan Desert. 

It’s known as a crossroads for travelers as it sits at the junction of Interstate 10 and Highway 90, making it a popular rest stop for those exploring the region. 

Van Horn is surrounded by the beautiful Van Horn Mountains and offers plenty of opportunities for hiking, rock climbing and exploring the rugged outdoors. 

LunchWithaLens / Flickr

One of the main attractions near Van Horn is the Red Rock Ranch where you can take a guided tour to see ancient rock paintings and learn about the area’s history and geology. 

You’ll even get to see a historic ranch which dates back to 1880 as well as an old western movie set.

Van Horn is also close to the famous Prada Marfa art installation which attracts visitors from all over the world despite being located in the middle of the desert. 

The town also serves as a gateway to the Guadalupe Mountains National Park where you’ll find the highest peak in Texas as well as tons of stunning natural beauty. 

For those interested in space, Van Horn is also near to the Blue Origin launch site, a private spaceport owned by Jeff Bezos’ company, where rockets are tested for future space tourism!

The Clark Hotel Museum in town is another must-do as it provides insights into the local history and showcases a range of artifacts from the region’s ranching and railroad days. 

8. Marfa

Marfa is a small, artsy town located in the high desert of West Texas, far from the big cities and bustling crowds. 

It’s famous for its modern art installations, like the Prada Marfa and the mysterious Marfa Lights that appear in the night sky.

Marfa has become a cultural hub in recent years attracting artists, musicians and creative minds from all over the world to its galleries, studios and festivals. 

In town, you can also visit the Chinati Foundation which is an outdoor museum displaying large-scale installations that blend art with the surrounding landscape. It’s fascinating! 

Despite its small size, Marfa has been the filming location for many movies including the classic “Giant” starring James Dean. 

The Marfa Lights Viewing Area offers a unique experience where visitors can try to catch a glimpse of the unexplained lights that have fascinated people for generations. 

Some people even claim they’re haunted!

Foodies can enjoy a variety of dining options from food trucks serving up local favorites to fine dining restaurants offering gourmet dishes. 

For those who love the outdoors, there are plenty of opportunities for hiking and exploring the natural beauty of the West Texas desert. 

The town’s architecture includes historic buildings and minimalist art pieces that create a unique blend of old and new. 

Plus, Marfa’s laid-back atmosphere makes it a great destination for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle to see something new.

9. Balmorhea

wablair / Flickr

Balmorhea is a small town located in West Texas, known mostly for the Balmorhea State Park, which is home to the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool.

This pool is a cool oasis in the hot desert and it attracts people who want to swim, snorkel and dive into its crystal-clear waters. 

But Balmorhea State Park is not just for swimming – it’s also a great place for picnicking, camping and bird watching as there are a variety of birds and wildlife to spot in the area. 

Angi English / Flickr

The pool itself is filled with fish and turtles which makes it an amazing natural aquarium for those who enjoy snorkeling. 

The pool was actually built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s during the Great Depression. 

The town itself is small and quiet meaning it offers a peaceful retreat away from busy city life. 

You can explore the surrounding desert landscape which is full of beauty and solitude. The stunning Davis Mountains can also be seen from all over the town.

At night, the clear skies of West Texas offer some of the best stargazing opportunities around with millions of stars visible to the naked eye. 

And if you want to stay overnight, there are many cozy cabins and camping sites in the area which provide a rustic experience. 

E / Flickr

Balmorhea also serves as a gateway to exploring the wider region which includes the nearby mountains that can be seen from all over the town.

Despite its size, Balmorhea plays an important role in conservation efforts. It actually protects the San Solomon Springs that feed its pool.

Tom Jackson

Tom was born in San Antonio but spent most of his childhood in Dallas, he has lived in several cities across Texas and joined the team in 2024 to create travel guides on Texas.

Learn more about the Traveller's Elixir Team.

Share to...