Mountain Trail Region


Marathon, a rural community occupying only a small piece of Brewster County projects a pretty big profile as gateway to one of the largest national parks in the country. Albion E. Shepard, former sea captain and surveyor for the railroad, established his Iron Mountain Ranch in the 1880’s just north of the Marathon site, at that time only a stop on the Galveston, Harrisburg, and San Antonio Railway. The Captain, in an effort to attract growth to the area, applied for the establishment of a post office, listing the site as “Marathon” on the application because the surrounding terrain reminded him of the Grecian plains.

Although the community’s population has rarely reached above a thousand people at any time in its hundred-plus year history, a relatively small number of artists, ranchers, writers, locals, and guests occupy the high desert community year-round. Its attractions include a stay at the historic Gage Hotel, an overnight at the Captain’s renovated, two-story adobe residence known as the Captain Shepard’s Inn, or a bed and breakfast at one of the community inns or weekend vacation rentals.

Marathon’s climate is a well-kept secret, experiencing far fewer triple digit days than its neighbor Big Bend National Park fifty miles to the south and several thousand feet lower. No Greek gods or goddesses ever made it to Marathon but on certain balmy October afternoons, sitting on a Marathon porch watching the clouds float above the mountains, you just might feel like one.