Our good friend Heath Braun aka The Great White Bison got a cryptic text in a group chat to go on a run and ride vintage choppers with like minded friends. It's never a planned thing, just kind of something that happens. That's the beauty of The Mystery Light Run. A motorcycle road trip filled with tons of adventure, riding, beautiful scenery, good people and good times.
Watch the Mystery Lights Run Video Below:
So come ride along with Heath and his friends as they crunch some miles on vintage choppers from Marfa to Terlingua Ranch. Experiencing all that Texas has to offer from mountains, desert landscapes and everything in between.
If you are seeking the Marfa Mystery Lights, or just a good time, consider this route!
The Mystery Lights Run
Every year, a cryptic text pops up in the group message - 'Who's in?'. It's never a hard question to answer if you're on the receiving end of that text.
The truth is - there is only one answer. The truth is - occasionally, it is necessary, especially this year, to get as far away from civilization as possible on a bike. For this you don't have to do a motorcycle road trip across America. That's the spirit of the Mystery Lights Run. Let it be what it is & don't try to define it. The hardest part is the waiting. That, and the 10 hour ride through barren West Texas to get there.
Riding off after gandering at some enlarged weird billboards, scenes and characters from the James Dean movie, Giant.
Think I caught one in the left corner of this image...
History of the Marfa Mystery Lights
Start the weekend in Marfa, the small farm town that rose to minor fame when it hosted Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean during the production of the film Giant in 1956.
Something strange happened in the following decades, throngs of artists made the pilgrimage to Marfa and transformed the sleepy farm town into a sleepy retreat for artists and weirdos looking for a permanent escape from city life.
But before the artists and actors arrived and even before the farmers settled the land, reports filled the wire of mysterious lights appearing in the desert darkness surrounding the town.
The mystery lights in Texas move quickly along the horizon, occasionally shooting straight in the air before disappearing into the darkness of night.
Motorcycle Trips in Texas for Chasing the Mystery Lights
Now, there are viewing areas along Highway 67 where intrepid travelers can hope to get a peak of the Marfa mysterious lights. Aliens? Astral Phenomenon? Motorcycle headlights in the distance? Whatever the Mystery Lights are, a bunch of bikers arrive in town every year to chase them.
Mile munching mountain roads
Marfa, Alpine, and Fort Davis are all picturesque, small towns that time and distance have forgotten but they awaken to the sounds of vintage Harleys rumbling through the Davis Mountains on great motorcycle trips.
Riding the loop around Mt. Livermore feels more like cruising mountain roads in Colorado or the Pacific Northwest than far West Texas. Occasionally the peaked cliffs give way to the view of the flat expanse of Texas desert, a reminder that there is still a lot of ground to cover before Terlingua.
Fields of rock formations call out to the sky as massive boulders balance delicately on top of each other as they have for since the ice age. The heat is oppressive. It's early September but the weight of the sun makes it feel like summer in hell.
Luckily, Balmorhea, the desert spring oasis, is a quick 50 mile ride away. The hot air feels sticky even at 65 mph. The asphalt glimmers along the horizon looking as if the road were trying to melt the landscape. Finally the cool waters of the San Solomon Springs offer a sweet, momentary relief.
The desert is hot!
100 miles south of Marfa lies Terlingua Ranch, whose origins are said to be even more shrouded in legend and fabrication than that of its northern neighbor.
In the early 1960's, legendary automotive racer Carroll Shelby and an attorney from Dallas found themselves in posession of a deserted, ghost town called Terlingua, and the 200,000 acres that surrounded it.
At one point Terlingua was a self-contained mining operation, all that remains now is a bar, a stage, and some scattered stone walls.
Over the years, parcels of the Terlingua Ranch land were sold off to those adventurous few willing to forgo the luxuries of modern living for the freedom of the solitude of the great American West.
That's partly what the Mystery Lights Run seeks to find every year, the last elusive traces of freedom among good company.
Little bit of spillage never hurt nobody... just the paint.
These days the Ranch and the Ghost town serve as a gateway to The Big Bend. A dust covered asphalt road leads from the ghost town to Big Bend State Park where the trickle of the Rio Grande separates Mexico from Texas.
The towering mountains on either side of the road are a reminder of the once mighty river's power. This must be the best road to ride in Texas, maybe even the country. Definitely one of the best motorcycle road trips in Texas.
There is a moment of reflection at the top of the lookout. The hardest part is leaving. That, and the 10 hour ride home.
Words, Video and Photos by Heath Braun
IG - @thegreatwhitebison / thegreatwhitebison.com
Taking the long way home.
Poolside hangs for much needed cool down.
Michael Glaze's 1948 Panhead chopper
My 1980 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead. I think these were the mystery lights, maybe, I don't know... I guess we are gonna have to come back and search some more next year.