It owes its reputation to sculptor Donald Judd, who moved there from New York in the '70s to make minimalist concrete installations.
Other artists followed, ultimately leading to the establishment of the Chinati Foundation, which preserves these large-scale permanent installations by a number of artists.
Some are lushly landscaped mid-century modern architectural oases -- your Palm Springs and Palm Desert.
Others are crumbling, dust-to-dust ghost towns where Wild West booms once thrived -- your Bodie, California and Rhyolite, Nevada.
The city gets you easy access to two of them, Canyonlands and Arches.
It's also close to Dead Horse Point State Park, an International Dark Sky Park with dramatic formations just as wild as any other formations you'll find throughout Utah.
, as well as the remnants of other communities like Llano del Rio and Lake Los Angeles.
And let us not forget Joshua Tree National Park, with its otherworldly "trees" of twisting limbs like something sinister from the mind of Dr. Rock formations make Joshua Tree a favorite destination for climbers, with 8,000 established climbing routes for all skill levels.
Getting to Marfa is an exercise in patience and persistence, as even the closest airports, Midland-Odessa and El Paso, are still about a three-hour drive away, which may help to explain why only about 1,700 people have committed to year-round living. Spend some time on Highway 90 about 9 miles east of Marfa at the "official Marfa Lights viewing site" to maybe see the spooky "Marfa lights" -- glowing orbs that have been attributed to UFOs, paranormal activity, and...
It is (still) an artists haven on the edge of the Chihuahuan Desert, though the "hipster paradise" that was promised could very well have been its own undoing, and there are plenty of hand-wringing op-eds on this to prep you before your visit as a rank tourist who, you know, doesn't "get" Marfa. atmospheric reflections of automobile headlights and campfires. And since it took so long to get here, you might as well venture out.
The American desert is awfully welcoming for such a damn haunted place.