Local & Emergency Services
This area is very remote. It’s 100 miles from BBNP headquarters to the nearest hospital. Gas and goods will always cost you a little more for the price of getting these conveniences delivered here. And the things we do have run out of stock from time to time. This is life in the farthest reaches of Far West Texas.
If you are visiting us, we hope that this guide prepares you for what’s ahead, but things happen. Cars break down, ankles get twisted, that essential item you thought you packed isn’t there, etc. While we are very much out in the middle of nowhere, there are quite a few of the services and such that you’d expect of any city, even though this is not a city at all, but an unincorporated area of Brewster County.
As with anywhere, if you have an emergency, DIAL 911. You know the drill. We’ll mention again that mobile phone service is spotty out here, but if you remain aware of where you are at all times, it shouldn’t be hard to get back to an area with good service to make that call in the case of an emergency. We’ll cover a few basic desert survival tips in a different section, but below you’ll find a list of local services that could be handy if your situation isn’t so dire. Life happens; be prepared.
Brewster County Sheriff’s Office (432) 837-3488
Brewster County Sheriff Ronny Dodson is one of the best in the country and definitely one of the finest law enforcement officials in our great state of Texas. His deputies that patrol South County—where Terlingua and the Big Bend parks are located—are hand selected to ensure the greatest judgement and oversight of the law in what may seem to some a lawless place. It’s, in fact, one of the safest places anywhere thanks in part to these peacekeepers. The number listed above is for non-emergency situations, but if you do have an actual emergency, DIAL 911.
Terlingua Fire & EMS (432) 371-2536
As Cypress Hill once said, when the shit goes down, you better be ready. Terlingua Fire & EMS does just that. Out here, fires can spread quickly, and there are a lot of unpaved roads that a regular ambulance would have trouble traversing and any number of situations that could arise that your typical big city fire department or EMS never handle. In the unlikely event that you should need their help, know that you are in the good hands of some highly and specially trained individuals. DIAL 911.
Alon Gas Station at Big Bend Motor Inn - Study Butte
Lajitas General Store - Lajitas
Panther Junction Service Station - Big Bend National Park
Rio Grande Village Service Station - Big Bend National Park
(In a pinch) Basecamp Terlingua - The Basecamp crew usually has a 5 gallon can around, just ask for a guy named Brows
Terlingua Post Office (800) 275-8777
You may not live here, but you might want to mail a postcard home. Our post office is located on TX 118, just north of the turnoff for TX 170. If you are here for an extended stay and need something shipped to you, the post office also accepts packages for General Delivery. For more information, inquire directly at the desk.
Quicksilver Branch – West Texas National Bank (432) 371-2211
This is the only bank in town and it has one of only two ATMs in Study Butte. The drive-through ATM is accessible 24 hours a day. Lobby hours are Mon–Fri 8:30AM–11:00AM and reopens from 2:00PM–4:30PM. Talk about banker’s hours!
Terlingua Auto (432) 371-2223
It is a fact, cars break down out here. That’s how some folks ended up moving here. If you’ve made the long drive to spend a few days and don’t feel like moving in, Archie and his shop crew are your best bet for getting back on the road. Keep in mind that you are in a remote area, so the price will be higher than it might be in the city, and parts are not always on hand and most often must be ordered. This is also the place to go if you have any tire troubles, which can also be common out here. One last thing: if you need to have your vehicle towed for any reason, this is your shop.
Bee Mountain Hardware (432) 371-3113
Chances are, you aren’t here to build a picnic table or fix some leaky plumbing. If you are, Bee Mountain Hardware has definitely got you covered. They also carry a relatively large selection of repair parts for RVs and are just about the only place to buy a gas can if you happen to have not heeded our advice in the previous section. And you should know that gas cans are not cheap, so please keep your tank topped off.
Doc Sam at Rio Vet Services (405) 795-3905
If for some reason you do bring your dog down here, which we have discouraged in the Welcome to the Desert section for your convenience and the safety of your pet, we do have a local veterinarian. He’s pretty much a character right out of a movie, a real country doc that not only loves the animals he treats but is also funny, calming, and very knowledgeable. He doesn’t work full-time, his clinic is attached to his house, and he’s not always in town, but if the need arises, it’s worth giving him a call.
Cottonwood General Store (432) 371-3315
We made mention of Cottonwood in the Food & Drink section, but if you know anything about the history of the Old West, you know that a general store is the lifeblood of any far-out town, and Cottonwood is no exception. In addition to being the only grocery store in town, they also carry some light camping gear, propane and firewood, some RV and auto repair parts, kitchenware and some maintenance tools, even horse and cattle feed, fence piping, and plants. This is also a good place to fill the water tank on your RV before heading into the parks.
Desert Lotus Healing Arts Massage Therapy (432) 386-3218
If you are anything like us, a good massage is as essential as any bank, post office, or hardware store. In the unlikely event that a relaxing or therapeutic massage is not high on your list of priorities while you are on vacation, hiking and other desert adventures can lead to sore muscles and this is your place to make it all better.
Bob Sutherland and Ceil Drucker bring their years of experience and love for what they do to their new space in Study Butte, offering full-body massage, couples massage, facials, Rolfing, and more. We can speak from personal experience when we say that you are in good hands with these folks. Call ahead for more information and reservations.
WTG Fuel – Alpine, TX (432) 837-2518
Note that WTG Fuel is not in Terlingua, but located in Alpine. We’re mentioning it here because it is one of the only places in the region to get propane tanks refilled, as opposed to exchanged, especially the larger ones that are built into an RV. The gas station in Study Butte does fill propane, but only between 10AM–3PM on select days, so your best bet is to fill them before you get here.
Quicksilver Branch – West Texas National Bank in Study Butte, available 24/7
Alon Gas Station at Big Bend Motor Inn in Study Butte – available during business hours
Big Bend National Park - ATMs located at Panther Junction Service Center, The Basin Convenience Store, and Rio Grande Village Store, available during business hours
Lajitas General Store – Lajitas, TX, available during business hours
Most hotels and rentals, restaurants and bars, and so on, have either open WiFi or will give you a password to use theirs. While many of you travel out here with the an expressed intent to disconnect, we understand how important Internet access can be in the world today, especially out here where resources are limited. Your best bet if you need to connect for a bit is the open WiFi in the Ghost Town, and it gets a relatively good signal on the porch of Terlingua Trading Company. Keep in mind that it’s for everyone, so try not to Netflix and chill or stream your Spotify while you are online.
Everyone loves a good shower after spending a few days outdoors. Well, most people, anyway. If you have been camping and are in need of a good self-cleaning, head to the Big Bend Resorts Office and inquire at the desk. They have pay-per-use showers that cost $2 in quarters only, limited to 6 minutes of shower time. If you want a longer shower, drop another $2 in the slot. Shower, sink, and toilets are provided, but soap, shampoo, and whatever else is up to you.
At the moment, there is no public laundromat in Study Butte or Terlingua. If you need to wash clothes, your best bet is Tumbleweed Laundry at Plaine Coffee Shop in Alpine. Or you could do your best to make friends with a nice local who happens to have a washer and dryer. Stranger things have happened around here.