Five fun things to do in tiny Marathon, Texas

Stroll through a garden, visit galleries, run a marathon or celebrate with the locals


A former sea captain founded Marathon in 1882, declaring that the landscape reminded him of Marathon, Greece.

Stroll the Gage Gardens, a 27-acre oasis of native landscaping that includes ponds, an orchard and a fire pit.

Galleries feature the work of photographers, artists and writers including James Evans and E. Dan Klepper.

You can walk from one end of Marathon to the other in 5 minutes if you want, but what’s the point?

The quiet crossroads, which serves as an overnight stop for visitors heading to Big Bend National Park, begs for a little exploration.

But first, some history. A former sea captain named Albion Shepard founded Marathon in 1882, declaring that the landscape reminded him of the plains he’d seen during travels around Marathon, Greece. Today, about 430 people live there, and it’s a tight-knit group that includes a healthy number of artists, photographers and craftspeople.

What to do while you’re there?

First, swing by the French Company Grocer + Deli for sandwiches, salad, cookies and drinks. It’s like a little Whole Foods in the desert, with a selection of natural and organic food, plus supplies for bike repair, camping and more.

Second, take your grub over to the Gage Gardens, located on the south side of the Highway 90 near the intersection of Southeast First Street and Avenue F. The 27-acre oasis of native landscaping includes ponds, a small fruit orchard and fire pit, and it’s a nice spot for a picnic. Walk the quarter-mile trail through the landscaped garden or go for a quick run on the 1-mile exercise loop.

RELATED: Big Bend: A much needed dose of desert solitude

Third, wipe your hands clean, then hit the shops and galleries along Main Street.

At the top of the list? Evans Gallery Fine Art Photography, 102 East Highway 90, headquarters of longtime resident James Evans, who has been photographing the area since 1988. You’ve probably seen his two brilliant photo collections “Big Bend” and “Crazy From the Heat.”

Around the corner, you’ll find Klepper Gallery, 105 North Avenue D, where writer, artist and photographer E. Dan Klepper, whose “Why the Raven Calls the Canyon” captures the desolate beauty of Texas, sells his stuff.

Other galleries of note include Wes Spears’ Sonworks Gallery for woodwork, at 900 East U.S. Highway 90; Carol Townsend Photography inside the Cactus Flower gift shop on Main Street; and Maisie Lee Hand-Carved Wooden Doors, whose work is on display at Eve’s Garden B&B, 200 NW Third Street.

Fourth, keep in mind that Marathon hosts events year-round, including a Fourth of July Dance and Barbecue that has taken place annually for more than a century. The event always takes place the Saturday closest to Fourth of July, and it coincides with the annual chili cookoff at Post Park. (For more information email

The lineup for this year’s Viva Big Bend Music Festival, scheduled for July 26-29, will be unveiled in May, but expect a couple of local venues — the Gage Hotel and Eve’s Garden — to participate in the event, which includes more than 50 musicians performing in Marathon, Alpine and Fort Davis. For information, go to

The Marathon Arts, Crafts and Quilt Show is set for Sept. 8 at the Marathon Community Center, and it’s free for viewers.

The West Fest Cabrito Cook-Off and Dance takes place in mid- to late September at Post Park, and cooks compete for accolades for best cabrito, brisket, salsa, dessert, bloody mary and margarita.

And last of all, grab your running shoes for the Marathon 2 Marathon, scheduled this year for Oct. 27. Nearly 500 runners participate in this USA Track & Field-certified, Boston Marathon qualifying race. The good news? It’s usually dry and cool, and the course is a gradual downhill with very little traffic. Learn more at

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Travel

Uncovering Ireland’s culinary delights
Uncovering Ireland’s culinary delights

Irish cuisine has long been the fodder of jokes — a kind of penance to suffer through in order to enjoy the people, music and lush scenery of the Emerald Isle. But that’s an outdated notion: Travelers today find fresh, inventive, flavorful meals there — and many Irish towns are working to establish themselves as foodie destinations...
A treasure trove along Florida’s Emerald Coast
A treasure trove along Florida’s Emerald Coast

The shades of blue stack up on the horizon like a beach-lover’s paint chip. Sky. Ocean. Pool. When I envision the Florida Panhandle, these are the colors I see. Growing up, I cherished my family’s annual August pilgrimage to Destin, where we’d spend a carefree week filling up on hearty breakfasts at the Donut Hole, shopping for trinkets...
Hurricane Safety: 6 scary, infectious illnesses you can catch from floodwater
Hurricane Safety: 6 scary, infectious illnesses you can catch from floodwater

Hurricanes can leave behind tons of damage, including flooding. But did you know that treading through the wrong kind of water can cause illnesses or even death? Floodwaters and standing water are often contaminated, posing several risks, such as infectious diseases, chemical hazards and injuries. Here are six sicknesses you should...
Austin is one of the most tourist-friendly cities in America, according to this list
Austin is one of the most tourist-friendly cities in America, according to this list

Some locals may whisper “don’t move here” under their breath to tourists, but that doesn’t stop them from coming. Austin has made yet another list, this time ranked as one of the most tourist-friendly cities in America by travel website Expedia. RELATED: Austin named best travel destination for solo...
Epicurean escape: Eat like a local with new Paris food tour
Epicurean escape: Eat like a local with new Paris food tour

On a sunny afternoon in a quiet park in Paris’ 10th Arrondissement, a dozen people have gathered for a moveable feast. Removed from the hectic heart of the city, where visitors crowd around the enigmatic “Mona Lisa” and cloud-tickling Eiffel Tower, we’re eschewing escargot for an off-the-beaten-menu tour seasoned with savory...
More Stories