In the heart of a beautiful, mountainous ranching area, 315 mi/505 km west of San Antonio, Alpine is a retail and shipping center as well as an informal artists colony. Its proximity to Big Bend National Park (80 mi/130 km south) and the Davis Mountains (just north of town) makes it a popular stop for motorists. It contains more people and a wider variety of restaurants and lodging than other towns in the area (Marfa, Marathon, Fort Davis).
When you're in Alpine, visit the Museum of the Big Bend to educate yourself on the history of the region (it's at Sul Ross State University; http://www.sulross.edu/~museum). Rock hounds can search for agate, jasper, opal and other rocks and minerals at the Woodward Agate Ranch (http://www.woodwardranch.net). At the very least, visit the lapidary. The Apache Trading Post just outside of town (on Highway 90 West) sells Native American and Mexican jewelry, gifts and regional books.
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