West Texas and the Legend of Pecos Bill
Adventurer & Photographer
Start / End
Guadalupe Mountains, Big Bend
At least 14
Pecos Bill, in American folklore, cowboy hero of the Pecos River region of Texas who was an exaggerated personification of Western stamina and values; his vivid exploits are analogous to those of the legendary giant lumberjack Paul Bunyan of the North Woods. The theme of Pecos Bill is to be ready for whatever life throws at you, and to never give up, and that idea embodies the spirit of West Texas. When you think of Texas, more times than not your thoughts are drawn to the dusty plains where vast open spaces are long between water holes and cowboys and bandits and quick-draw lawmen are sharing dusty saloons. While that western spirit encapsulates Texas in American history, West Texas is also a place of modern cities, eclectic and dynamic communities and, of course, the birthplace of outlaw country. This route is perfect for those who want to experience the culture and beauty of West Texas.
We recommend approximately 14 days for this trip in order to experience each town and activity without feeling too rushed. We recommend approximately 14 days for this trip in order to experience each town and activity without feeling too rushed. You have a lot of miles to cover, so we suggest spending at minimum a day at each stop. This itinerary is full of suggestions of some of the best places to fully experience the area, with overnight stops in the towns along the way. Plan your trip accordingly so that you experience the places that spark your interest the most. These areas can be crowded in the summertime, and for good reason. There are multiple events and the weather is beautiful. Wintertime is still beautiful in these places, but the outdoor life that typifies West Texas Culture will not be as active. On the other hand, summertime temps in these places can often exceed 100 degrees, so take that into account as you decide your travel dates. The majority of this trip will be short drives between stops, but this is to allow you the most time at all the amazing places that you have traveled so far to see. Though this itinerary is a day to day guide, it is only a guide and you should feel free to adapt it however you want, taking as much time as you need to fully experience this wonderful part of the world.
LAND IN DALLAS-FORT WORTH, TRAVEL TO WICHITA FALLS
2 HOURS/140 MILES
This is a shorter day for a good reason. We suggest arriving early into DFW International Airport and renting your car from the airport and setting out west toward your first stop, Wichita Falls. It is the perfect town to get prepared and excited to start your road trip. The first thing you need to do when you get into town, is head to Whataburger. Generally on these Itineraries we try to send you to locally-owned establishments, but Whataburger is such a Texas institution, that we figured just this once wouldn’t hurt.
3.5 HOURS/224 MILES
As far as we can tell, there are around 25 songs about Amarillo, Texas. There is just something about this town that inspires people to sing its virtues. And speaking of inspiration, if you are looking for something to sing your own song about, head to Palo Duro Canyon. The second biggest canyon system in the United States, this dramatic 60-mile long and 800-foot deep canyon is noted for its excellent hiking, birding, fishing and mountain biking. If you happen to be in Amarillo during the summertime, one can’t-miss event is to catch a show at the TEXAS Outdoor Musical. It’s an event you won’t soon forget.
BUDDY HOLLY’S HOMETOWN
2 HOURS/120 MILES
Lubbock is, hands down, the most underrated music town in Texas. Hometown of the Rock n’ Roll legend Buddy Holly, Lubbock celebrates that music royalty in the top-notch Buddy Holly Center. Today Lubbock has become a mecca for the Alt-Country boom and bands from all over the country come to Lubbock to be a part of this dynamic city’s music scene. Clubs like the Blue Light and The Cactus Theater play host to this musical heritage with all kinds of live music and shows. One thing we would recommend is to get a room at the Woodrow House. It’s a great bed and breakfast and if you want, they have a restored Santa Fe Railroad Caboose you can stay in.
3 HOURS/170 MILES
Known as the Friendly Frontier, Abilene, like many of the towns in Western Texas, got its start as a cattle town. Today it is a vibrant town with a population of 120,000. The county seat of Taylor County, Abilene is home to a number of colleges and is known for its fun and vibrant downtown area. One thing you can’t miss in Abilene is the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature. It’s a great museum and will take you back to your childhood.
ODESSA AND THE MIDLANDS
1.5 HOURS/77 MILES
Odessa is said to have been named after Odessa, Ukraine, because of the local shortgrass prairie’s resemblance to Ukraine’s steppe landscape. Its not hard to see why, located on the eastern edge of the Llano Estacado, Odessa has been named the 3rd fastest growing city in the United States and that growth has been represented in a surge of culture, art and excitement. One of the first things you should do when you get into town is head to the Sherwood and Woodson Parks Aquatic Center. It’s a great place to cool off before you head out on the town.
GUADALUPE MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK AND EL PASO
This is going to be a longer day but with good reason. On your way to El Paso you are going on a slight detour to visit one of the loneliest national parks in the lower 48, Guadalupe Mountains National Park. There are a number of thing to do here, which is why we recommend spending the entire day here before heading on to El Paso, and exploring the city the next day. A border town, El Paso is home to a major university, numerous cultural activities and, as it’s along the flowing Rio Grande, many potential outdoor opportunities. If you decide to take a trip into Old Mexico, here are some things you need to know.
Take a stroll and maybe see a ghost:
Best Tex-Mex in El Paso:
Learn how to Line Dance:
BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK
6 HOURS/340 MILES
You have a long drive of several hours to reach your next destination, the spectacular landscapes of Big Bend National Park. In a sense, this is one of the best ways to experience the magnitude of Texas, as you will drive through hundreds of miles of flat desert expanse to reach the park, which is nestled along the border with Mexico. This park is especially significant as it is the largest protected area of Chihuahuan Desert topography and ecology in the United States. The park – which sprawls over 800,000 acres – is host to more than 1200 species of plants, 450 species of birds, 56 species of reptiles and 75 species of mammals. Backpacking, horseback riding, bird watching and fishing are all popular within this desert paradise. The first place you should stop is at the Panther Junction Visitor Center. Plan on spending at least a couple of days in Big Bend to take it all in.
REFRESH IN MARFA
3.5 HOURS/135 MILES
To get a dose of high culture in an unexpected place, head a couple of hours north to Marfa, a tiny West Texas town that has become a cultural mecca in recent years. What was for decades a sleepy old military town became a mark on the art-world’s map when minimalist sculptor Donald Judd bought numerous buildings in Marfa to turn into studio and living spaces in the 1970s. Today, though still quite rural, the town is host to many world-famous art institutions like the Chinati Foundation, the Judd Foundation and the Lannan Foundation, as well as a handful of smaller galleries and shops. The town has retained its mid-century looks over the years and many Hollywood movies are filmed here to evoke that time. There are, surprisingly, a few stellar places to eat in this middle-of-nowhere locale.
4 HOURS/260 MILES
Today we are sharing a secret with you. And that secret is San Angelo. Located on the banks of the Concho River, the town is known as an oasis in the heart of West Texas. There are an abundance of things to do. Fort Concho National Historic Landmark has restored buildings and displays original artifacts and weapons. The Concho River Walk is a long, green corridor with walking trails, gardens and parks, such as The Bosque and Kids’ Kingdom. Downtown Concho Avenue is lined with restored 19th- and 20th-century period buildings and has unique boutiques and shops. San Angelo is a just a really great town, and that’s all there is to it!
D-TOWN AND THE METROPLEX
1.5 HOURS/90 MILES
Welcome to Dallas! Long associated as the financial heart of the Texas Oil Boom, the town has grown a lot from it’s wild younger days. It is now a city that prides itself on its dedication to history and culture. Downtown’s Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza commemorates the site of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. In the Arts District, the Dallas Museum of Art is a world-renowned institution. Dallas has a number of great and eclectic neighborhoods all waiting for you to explore. Though Dallas is a great town, make sure you leave time for Fort Worth. Originally the last stop on the Chisolm Trail, today, it’s a modern city. Fort Worth has acclaimed museums, fantastic modern architecture and an array of wonderful dining and shopping opportunities. The Fort Worth Stockyards are home to rodeos, and the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame honors the pioneers that made this area great.