Return to the Marfa Lights by Norm Brown

For quite a few years now, my brother and I have made an annual trek on our motorcycles out to west Texas during August. We spend a week camping at Balmorhea State Park, Fort Davis State Park, and sometimes Big Bend National Park. Compared to the rest of the state, the arid mountains are cool and pleasant at that time of year. From Fort Davis State Park it is an easy half hour ride down to Marfa, Texas, site of the famous Marfa Lights. Each year from 2006 through 2009, we rode from our camp in the evening to try to see the mysterious phenomenon. Rain stopped us a few times, but on a moonlit night in 2009 we thought we had succeeded. I published a blog about that particular trip. Below is a link to that article. Check it out. I’ll wait for you here.

Marfa Lights Observation Area

Marfa Lights Observation Area

That year, we saw odd lights the first night, but returned the next night only to be let down. The winking white points of light we had watched drift along near the dark horizon were only headlights of cars maneuvering along a twisting road on a distant mountain. There was a man there that second night with all sorts of camera equipment. Turns out he is probably the most enthusiastic researcher of the Marfa Lights. He has a book and  a website with lots of photos.

He explained we were looking in the wrong direction and told us the “real” Marfa Lights were very rare. We rode away that night feeling a little embarrassed and a lot more skeptical. I didn’t really think we’d ever go to the observation area again.

In 2010, we made the usual trip out to Fort Davis, but stayed in camp at night. Then in 2011, with nothing else to do on a beautiful clear evening, we decided to head down to Marfa again. Whether the lights truly exist or not, we both agree there is something about the Marfa Lights viewing area that just makes it a pleasant place to mill around with dozens of other visitors and gaze out across the rolling land. Call it an unexplained energy or whatever, it’s simply a nice place to be. So, with low expectations we rode down there.

I was glad we had returned. The night sky over the desert looked amazing. Living near a city, I sometimes forget how spectacular the Milky Way can be on a dark clear night. The trip was worth it, just for that. And then–I saw it. A dim spot of red light, straight out from the viewing deck, nowhere near the mountain road with the car traffic. It was fairly close, hovering just behind and above a small pump house. It was visible for only a few seconds, then faded away. I looked around the observation deck. Probably a couple dozen people were walking about and talking . Behind us, cars were coming and going from the small parking lot. There were a lot of taillights and brake lights, but they were all in exactly the opposite direction from the mystery light. For a moment, I thought I was the only one to see it, but the members of the family to our left were whispering excitedly and several still held cameras pointed hopefully at the exact spot. Even if I had brought my camera, I doubt it could have captured the dim, brief glow. All I can say is that it was round and appeared to be maybe a hundred yards out.

I looked over at my brother, Curtis. He was still staring in the direction of the little white pump house. He suddenly turned his head and asked, “Did you see that?” When I replied that I had, he pointed to the group to my left and added, “So did they.” That’s all the evidence we’ll ever have.

So, we saw something. I’m just not sure what. Could it be somehow related to the car taillights behind us? Maybe. Other than being the same color, I couldn’t see any connection. There was nothing beyond the pump house to cause reflection. And this time there was no “expert” there to explain away the sighting. The feeling at that moment was strange. After what had happened last time, I wasn’t really excited or convinced that anything paranormal had occurred. But I was oddly pleased. I think simply because now there would be a reason to return to this fascinating place with its unexplainably pleasant vibes. I’ll be back.

Norm Brown is the author of the suspense novel Carpet Ride, published by Secondwind Publishing, LLC.


Filed under Norm Brown, Travel, writing

7 responses to “Return to the Marfa Lights by Norm Brown

  1. Sherrie Hansen

    Very cool.

  2. Becky Thomas

    Well worth the re-read. Be careful, and look the right direction. Really hope you won’t be disappointed.

  3. I always look forward to reading your posts, Norm, and unlike the Marfa lights, you never let me down. I enjoyed hearing about experience. Whatever the light was, how cool to see something you couldn’t explain.

  4. Wow–riding a motorcycle thru the Davis Mountains; seeing the Milky Way with no light pollution; actually seeing the Marfa lights. I envy you, Norm.

  5. It’d be a treat to see them! I love the Northern Lights when they’re visible in Minnesota.

    • I’ll never be sure what we actually saw. I think that’s part of the fun of the place. If it was caused by the car taillights behind us, then there must at least be some odd visual effects involved. The “expert” we talked to the first time was a true believer in the lights, but he didn’t claim they were flying saucers. He told us some interesting scientific facts about the site. An ancient dormant volcano can be seen in the distance. This stretch of desert leading up to distant mountains, where people (back to native Americans) have seen odd lights, is a rolling plain with a solid volcanic rock flow just beneath the thin soil. He claimed it is highly magnetic due to metal content. Some sort of vortex? Who knows. The fun is in not knowing.

  6. Hi Norm:
    Nice description of what you saw and where to look. The odds are good that you saw the taillights of a truck off in that direction. You only need three things to occur in order for you to see them: 1) The lights need to be out there, 2) they need to be bright enough, and 3) you need an unobstructed path.My wife and I have just written a book onthe Marfa Lights covering all three of these items and the local terrain. There are lots of ranch roads in the direction you looked. See “Mysteries of the Marfa Lights Revealed” at Amazon, by Robert and Judy Wagers

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