Marfa plain gallery

Panorama of Marfa plain and surrounding mountains and mesas as seen from the
Marfa Lights Viewing Center.

This gallery was created as a companion to the book, Mysteries of the Marfa Lights Revealed. From these pictures, you'll get a sense of the area shown on the map in Figure 21 as well as a feel for the environment of the Marfa plain decribed in the book. If you've never experienced west Texas, these panoramas will give you a glimpse of its vastness. The Big Bend region of Texas is characterized by expansive flat plains extending for miles until interrupted by towering mountains. It is a land rich in beauty and geological history. 
 
These photos were all taken from the Marfa Lights Viewing Center (MLVC [#6]), elevation 4,907 feet above sea level (asl). They are at a 5X magnification compared to a picture taken with a standard 55mm lens. The captions below the photos include the elevations, the compass bearing (magnetic) at the highest point of each named feature, and the distance from the MLVC.
 
 
 
Cathedral Mountain, 14.8 miles away, is 6,875 feet asl.
View east-southeast; bearing 110 degrees.
 
The distinctive shape of this mountain makes it recognizable from all directions in this part of the Texas Big Bend. Go to the University to Texas McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis (north of Marfa), for instance, and you'll see Cathedral Mountain in the distance (40 miles away) as you begin your tour of the observatory on Mount Locke. 
 
 
 
 Cienega Mountain in the background is 17.3 miles away and 6,575 feet asl.
View east-southeast; bearing 122 degrees.
 
 
 
View of foothills between Cienega Mountain (left background) and Goat Mountain (right).
 
 
 
Goat Mountain is 15.2 miles away and 6,641 feet asl.
View southeast; bearing 133 degrees.
 
Goat Mountain dominates the southeastern view as you drive east from Marfa on US67/90. It also figures prominently in Chapter 10, "Lights on the One O One Flat" and looms large as the opening illustration for Chapter 9, "Larger Than Life".
 
 
 
Goat Mountain on the left followed by the eastern portion of OT Mesa (19.8 miles away; elev. 5,635 feet asl).
View southeast; bearing 145 degrees. 
 
  
 
Continuation of OT Mesa with Mitchell Mesa (a) in the background just peeking over the flank of OT Mesa. Mitchell Mesa (a), bearing 149 degrees, is 22.5 miles away and 5,369 feet asl. Rustlers' Gap (b), (elev. 4,897 feet asl, bearing 152 degees; 17.2 mile away) emerges onto the Marfa plain from the south side of OT Mesa.
 
If you stare in the direction of OT Mesa, Mitchell Mesa, and Whirlwind Mesa (shown below), you'll see lights emerge after sunset. Some will move, while others will appear to be stationary. Stare at the stationary ones for awhile and you just may see them move, too. 
 
 
 
Whirlwind Mesa (20.2 miles away; elev. 5,557 feet asl) is to the right of Rustlers' Gap (b). Mitchell Mesa (a) is barely visible in the background.
View south-southeast; bearing 155 degrees.
 
 
 
With the Marfa plain in the foreground, the hazy specter of the Chinati Mountains (elev. 7,732 feet asl) emerges above the lower hills in the middle of the photo. US67 crosses
over these hills 25 miles away from the MLVC. The crossing point is nine degrees left of the Chinati Peak summit.
The Chinati Mountains are 42 miles from the Marfa Lights Viewing Center which is why they appear hazier than Cathedral Mountain at 14.8 miles and Goat Mountain
at 15.2 miles. View southwest; bearing 231 degrees.
 
This is the view in the direction of the "Classic Marfa Lights" described in Chapter 6. It is where most visitors to the MLVC look to find mysterious lights.