Glamping 2018. THIS is how you do a tipi at the end of the earth in West Texas.
There are six tipis on the Basecamp Terlingua property, adjacent to Terlngua Ghost Town. Don’t let the ghost town moniker fool you. Relatively speaking for the Big Bend area, it’s lively enough. More on that later.
The tipis seem thoughtfully designed and well constructed considering the remote location and climate. All are similarly decorated. They just have different names. We stayed in the Sotol Tipi as you see in the photo below.
The interior is about four feet below ground level and large enough. In fact larger than many hotel rooms I’ve experienced around the world. You could literally invite 10-15 of your closest friends inside and host an all-night jam session/party/or whatever floats your boat inside one of these things. However the idea and the goal for us, and I think most who visit, is the silence and solace of the desert to enjoy without disturbing your next-door guests, who are nearby but far enough away for privacy.
We experienced a very comfortable king-sized bed, a seating area, and a couch that we did not use, but that can be folded out into an extra queen bed.
In particular it was lovely to hear the dry desert wind blow from inside the tent, particularly at night. Despite the warm temperatures outside it was comfortable on the inside. An adjustable and rotating floor fan is provided to cool things down a bit.
There is no A/C so not sure how that will play out in the crazy heat of July or August. JUNE UPDATE: I am informed they have added high volume evaporative coolers inside all the tipis. “This means lots of air movement and much much cooler temps inside.”
There are heated blankets to keep you warm on the colder nights and I’m guessing during winter. Because of the design and construction technique it seems there is little danger of getting wet in the event of a thunderstorm. Actually I think it would be totally cool to be in the tipi in the middle of such! Another benefit of being out here are the spectacular lightning and thunder shows put on by Mother Nature, typically during the summer. Nothing like it when in the Big Bend.
Below is a not-so-glamorous shot I took with my phone in panoramic mode just after waking up. The small ice chest perched at the top of the entrance was there for a reason, per my better half. As the entrance/door flap did not close completely flush to the tipi she wanted to block the possibility of any desert critter wandering or slithering in during the night.
The things we do. As if it would really work. Honestly I had little concern.
There is also a coffee and tea station, and even a microwave, small fridge/freezer, and sink with running water that you can drink. The outflow, or dirty water going down the drain, appears to be thoughtfully channeled underground and then eventually watering some of the flowering plants growing just beyond the outdoor fire pit area. We brought our ice chest inside. We always bring one stuffed with travel-friendly favorites when we’re in the Big Bend area, as restaurant food variety, especially for vegetarians, is on the slim side in the region. There is no food service at Basecamp.
If you must connect there is wifi access to the Internet, but I found it spotty and working best when outside the tipi. Besides, the idea is to be offline here. Put away your phone!
Our favorite time in Terlingua is the evening, especially the magic hour at dusk, and later the incredible view of the stars—even better than the Marfa lights.
In Terlingua and the Basecamp, you don’t necessarily gaze west and watch the sun go down over the horizon. There is a propensity to look east, towards the Chisos Mountains, wholly contained within the massive Big Ben National Park.
The scale and marvel of it all fuels relaxation. Time to think. Time to contemplate. Time to turn-off. Time to have a refreshing beverage. And if it’s cold and there are no fire restrictions—light up the fire pit—although not the situation when we were there.
Early May this year afforded us a moonrise over the Chisos. Lovely to view from Basecamp, or from The Porch in the ghost town. However the full moon means the sky is not nearly as dark for stargazing. And let me tell you, the view of the heavens out here is magical and one of the main reasons we like visiting the Big Bend!
I did manage to capture an intensely colored sunset, with a tip of the hat to my wife. I was inside our tipi when she shouted, “Get out here with your camera! You’ve got to see this!”
No filter here. This is the first image I captured of about ten with my Canon EF IS USM 70-300mm lens. About a minute later the color was all gone.
Below is the view looking north from the common area shared bathhouse. I’d say this is the best view in Texas from such a facility!
There are three separate restroom/showers in the bathhouse. Each has their own private entrance. They were modern, spotless, and equipped with lovely overhead rainshower heads, shampoo/soap and hair dryer. We never had to wait to use them. Plenty of fluffy towels were provided in our tipi. It’s all good if you’re a bit dusty after a day hiking in the desert.
While we thoroughly enjoyed our tipi glamping experience, I caution the Terlingua area and this facility are not for everyone. IMHO it’s not for your typical tourist vs. an adventurer/explorer with an open mind.
Basecamp Terlingua is not a motel or hotel. There is no food, no bar, no reception desk, no office, no service per se, although there are responsive folks you can contact by phone to address your inquiries or needs. There is no restaurant, bar, convenience store or vending machine across the dirt road that you must traverse in order to get here. There is no concierge or bellman, although there are some handy wagons you can use to transport your stuff from the private parking area to your tipi. This is really a campsite, although a luxurious one. Glamping 2018. Perhaps BaseGLAMP Terlingua?
I also remind this is located in the high Chihuahuan Desert. There can be critters. We experienced zero, especially the slithering-rattling kind that my wife does not appreciate! There are flying insects that can make there way inside your tipi—attracted to any artificial light at night if your entrance/exit flap is not secured tightly. With that said we only had a few moths that tickled us inside the tipi before they gave up the effort.
As I mentioned at the start of this post, there is life in the nearby Terlingua Ghost Town. As in general in the desert, all is not as it seems until you get our of your car, walk around and inspect a little closer.
Checkout the Starlight Dinner Theater – Restaurant and Saloon, which sounds cheesy, but in fact a long-time reliable and great spot for food, drinks and live music, and is literally next to the town’s hallowed daily sunset time, music, and local gathering/chit-chat/chill-out spot, “The Porch.”
Basecamp is also only 5 minutes away by your motorized vehicle of choice to one of our favorite covered garden patios for great espresso, breakfast and/or lunch, Espresso…Y Poco Mas. They’ll even pack a lunch for you to take in to Big Bend National Park.
Basecamp Terlingua was an unforgettable experience. We look forward to visiting again.
Last, here’s a short video I put together during our stay in early May 2018.
I would like to note that I was not paid or compensated in any way by anyone in relation to this post. I don’t typically post extensively about accomodation. I just thought the experience was extra special and worthy of sharing.