When summer stakes its claim in the Lone Star State and going outside becomes more unbearable by the day, there’s a town in far West Texas where cool mornings and evenings are the norm. With its high elevation and low humidity combination, Alpine, Texas gets the best year-round weather in the state, and it’s the perfect place to visit this June to comfortably enjoy spending time in nature.
Start your Day with the Perfect Sunrise Hike
A cool, crisp morning is the perfect setting for a sunrise hike. Stop by Alpine’s Desert Rose Provisions the day before your hike to pick up any gear you may need, like a convertible tote, day pack or a travel mug that you can take to enjoy your morning coffee while watching the sunrise. When your alarm clock goes off, make your way to Hancock Hill, Alpine’s most loved hiking trail. If you want a quick and easy stroll (or if you slept a little later than planned…), walk a short way up the path and turn around for a great view over Alpine. If you’re looking for more of a morning workout, walk the entire 1.8-mile loop, but make sure to stop at The Desk, an iconic landmark placed on the path by Sul Ross students in 1981 seeking a quiet study space. It faces east, so get there early for a perfect view of the sun rising over the West Texas desert mountains.
End your Day Admiring the Darkest Skies in Texas
Ninety percent of the nation can’t see the Milky Way, and the night skies are getting nine percent brighter each year. Meanwhile, the skies that make up the Greater Big Bend International Dark Sky Reserve (“The Reserve” for short) got darker over the past three years. The Reserve is the largest area in the world where the night sky is protected. It covers over 15,000 square miles of West Texas and Northern Mexico, and Alpine sits right at the heart of it.
What can you expect to see in the sky on a clear June night? “It depends on when you’re up and primarily what the phase of the moon is,” says Stephen Hummel, a dark skies initiative coordinator at the McDonald Observatory. “You don’t want to plan your trip around a full moon. The moon washes out the sky and prevents you from seeing and appreciating the stars and the Milky Way.” The Milky Way begins to rise in the east, stretching south to north, around 11 p.m. Scorpius is probably the most prominent and recognizable constellation that you will see this time of year. You can identify Scorpius by its brightest star, Antares, which will shine an orange-red color. Look for where the tail of the scorpion curls back, and that’s where the Milky Way begins.
While you don’t need a special place to take in the grandeur of Alpine’s night sky, some favorite viewing spots include McDonald Observatory (make reservations in advance for its Star Parties in June on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, or Saturdays) or the Marfa Lights Viewing Center between Alpine and Marfa. Bring your binoculars, and enjoy a cool night under the stars.
This article was produced by Texas Music’s content studio as part of a paid partnership with Visit Alpine, Texas.