If you’re visiting Marfa and staying overnight then you absolutely must check out the Marfa Lights and try to see the lights dancing along the horizon! I’ve looked for the Marfa Lights on each of my visits to Marfa, Texas and I’ve successfully maybe seen “something” only one of the three times. Keep reading my Guide to the Marfa Lights to see the videos I took of the mystery lights and learn how you can try to see the Marfa Lights for yourself.
Guide to the Marfa Lights
If you visit Marfa, Texas and don’t try to see the Marfa Lights, then did you really visit Marfa?
I’ve visited Marfa two times and on those two trips I’ve looked for the Marfa Lights three times. And I’ve maybe seen them once. Were they car lights or Marfa Lights? Who knows. But let’s start with the basics.
Like, what exactly ARE the Marfa Lights?
What are the Marfa Lights?
No one really knows. The Marfa Lights are unexplained lights which seem to dance along the horizon in Marfa when looking towards the Chinati Mountains. Also known as the Marfa Mystery Lights, the Marfa Ghost Lights, or the Chinati Lights, they can appear as different colors and people who have seen them claim that the lights move around, merge, bounce up and down, disappear and reappear.
Like I mentioned, I’ve looked for the Marfa Lights three times and I’ve maybe seen them once. Here’s a couple of videos of what I saw in August of 2019 at 8:31 pm. Are they car lights winding down the Paisano Pass on Highway 67? Or are those Marfa Mystery Lights?
Check out my video of the Marfa Lights below. At some point, the brightest lights seems to rapidly move forward and then they all seem to shoot up into the sky at the same rate and come back down:
You might think the movement is due to my own movement/breathing while holding the camera, but I was holding my breath while I took these videos, I did not move like that, and I was watching the lights do this in person.
The various theories of what the Marfa Lights may be include alien UFOs, headlights driving down the mountain, swamp gases, or atmospheric reflections of camp fires, headlights, etc.
Here’s the best article I’ve read about the different explanations of the Marfa Lights if you’re interested on learning more about them.
Where Do You Look For the Marfa Lights?
The Official Marfa Lights Viewing Area along Highway 90 about 9 miles east of Marfa is the place to go to try to see the Marfa Lights. It’s a beautiful center built in 2003 with benches, fixed binoculars, and, maybe most importantly, clean bathrooms featuring vaulted toilets.
Apparently, thanks to the Texas law that you’re allowed 24 hours at all Department of Transportation Rest Areas,Picnic Areas, or Roadside Pull-offs, you can park your camper or RV there overnight. Although because there is no running water, it isn’t technically a camp site. And remember, the train passes nearby all night and there will be people coming and going to the Viewing Area all night long, so it may not be the quietest place to sleep.
What Time of Year Can You See the Marfa Lights?
You can try to spot the Marfa Lights anytime of year. Some say the best time to see the lights is at dusk, but I’ve always gone after dinner because there are so many great places to eat in Marfa!
Can You See the Marfa Lights Every Night?
While you can try to spot the Marfa Lights every night, you aren’t guaranteed to see them.
I first visited Marfa in 2014 with my husband and we tried looking for the Marfa lights two nights in a row and unfortunately did not see anything. Probably due to the weather – it had rained earlier in the day.
However, the hunt itself was just as fun! There was a lightning storm off in the distance and all of the people who were gathered at the Marfa Lights Viewing Center were just so friendly and talkative.
When my husband went to use the restroom at the Marfa Lights Viewing Center, he spotted an elaborate aluminum hat on the floor which just added to the mysteriously fun experience.
Here’s what my husband wrote about the aluminum foil helmet:
“Some guy had abandoned his aluminum foil antenna helmet on the floor of the bathroom of the Marfa Lights Viewing Center. Either the helmet hadn’t helped in the way he had hoped (presumably for better orb viewing) or it had worked so well he had no further need of it. I’m quite sure it was the latter, but still I could not summon the courage to pull that magical helmet off the men’s floor and place it on top of my own head.”
Even if you don’t see the lights, it’s still a fun stop with interesting conversations with both believers and skeptics alike, not to mention the beautiful views of the sunset and star-filled skies!
Where to Find the “See Mystery Lights” Sign?
If you’re looking for the “See Mystery Lights” sign as shown in my photos, it’s located at the Thunderbird boutique hotel in Marfa. It’s fun for a photo op!
The hotel used to sell Mystery Lights keychains inside their office, but now I see that they sell “See Mystery Lights” coffee mugs online.
Marfa Lights Festival
There’s also the Marfa Lights Festival, a popular yearly celebration of the lights held in Marfa with food, live music, and a parade!
I have not visited Marfa during this festival, so I can’t comment on it, but if your draw to Marfa is because of the Mystery Lights, then maybe you should plan your trip during the festival.
If you’re planning a trip to Marfa, have you seen my other blog posts? I have guides for What to Do in Marfa on a Monday (or Tuesday), how to visit Prada Marfa, Where to Shop in Marfa, a review of the El Cosmico, and more! Check them all out below: