Let Your Plains Trail Journey Begin
FIFTY TWO THINGS YOU GOTTA DO IN THE TEXAS PLAINS TRAIL REGION!
Part One in a Four-Part Series
No doubt, The Texas Plains Trail is BIG – 50,000 square miles at least. That would make it as big as Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and the islands of Maui and Oahu in Hawaii all put together. Don’t believe it? Depending on your route and your speed, from the top of the region around Perryton driving north all the way down to Big Spring, it’s about 346 miles or five-plus hours. Wanna go from the west at Farwell on over to Chillicothe in the east of the region? Well, that’s a short little drive of only 346 miles or roughly four hours. So we’re talking ROAD TRIP DELUXE!
Within these miles and miles of Texas, you will find some of Texas’s most secret treasures. It was Charles Kuralt who said, “Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything.” Well, the Texas Plains Trail Region doesn’t boast of coasts, but we beg you to get off of that ol’ Interstate and begin your quest for the part of Texas that will inspire you with its Western and Native American history. There are many more must-see places, but to tip our hat to our 52 counties…we’ll start with these. Fill up your tank…it’s gonna take a while!
EXPLORE PALO DURO CANYON – The Grand Canyon of Texas
We are proud as peacocks of our 120-mile long and 20-mile wide Palo Duro Canyon. Whether you are a hiker, biker, jogger, bird-watcher, horseback rider, camper, or just plain ol’ lover of beauty, Palo Duro Canyon is the ideal place to take in the stunning colors and landscape that this treasure offers. It also is the perfect backdrop for the musical drama TEXAS which runs from June-August, telling the story of Charles Goodnight and the early Panhandle settlers. While there, don’t miss one of the Big Texan’s favorite steak dinners. Goosebumps are promised when the horseman carries the Lone Star flag across the rim of the canyon and the fireworks begin.
CRUISE ON OVER TO THE CADILLAC RANCH IN AMARILLO
Out in the middle of a cow pasture on the I-40 frontage road west of Amarillo, you can’t miss the 10 half-buried Cadillacs planted there by eccentric millionaire Stanley Marsh III. This unusual road art is a must for sightseers who travel along historic Route 66. The Cadillac models ranging from 1949-1963 are regularly spray painted by all kinds of graffiti artists. Enjoy the simply amusing little side stop that entertains travelers along the long stretch of road through the Plains Trail Region.
ROCK ‘n’ ROLL TO BUDDY HOLLY’S GRAVE IN LUBBOCK
Oh Boy! Texas Plains Trail Region continues to Rave On about the beloved and bespectacled rock legend from Lubbock, Texas. For those who can’t get enough of Buddy Holly, you can visit the Buddy Holly Center and join those other dedicated fans who make trips to Buddy’s grave each week to sing a few choruses from “That’ll Be the Day,” “Every Day,” or “True Love’s Ways.” The story of Buddy’s short life, which was taken early by a plane crash in 1959 along with the Big Bopper and Richie Valens, can be found at the Center. For those overly avid fans, Buddy’s home, church and school still stand. Have fun on your Buddy Hunt.
CHOMP DOWN ON SOME CHEESEBURGERS IN FRIONA
Yep, it’s officially the Cheeseburger Capital of Texas by resolution of the 80th Legislature of the State of Texas. Since 2006, gourmet cheeseburger-lovers from all over have been flocking to get their slice of the grandest tasting cheeseburgers every July at the Cheeseburger Festival in Friona. For about $6 you can sample different cheeseburger delicacies. Lots of family fun and opportunities. Say CHEESE, if you please!
GAZE AT THE STARS AT THE THREE RIVERS FOUNDATION & KISS A LONGHORN AT COPPER BREAKS CANYON STATE PARK
The stars at night are big and bright – deep in the Texas Plains Trail Region. Want to search the skies for the Big Dipper, the North Star, or the Bear? What better place to get in touch with the universe than at the Three Rivers Foundation Observatory outside of Crowell. Join the fun at the monthly Star Parties. While in Foard County, stop a while at Copper Breaks Canyon for some outdoor fun.
CAMP OUT WITH YOUR FAMILY AT WOLF CREEK PARK/LAKE FRYER
Take a journey into a historical past just outside Perryton on Hwy 83. You can escape from it all and enjoy the tranquility of nature’s beauty while picnicking, camping out, fishing, swimming, or boating. There’s jogging paths, children’s playgrounds, tennis, and even a fine restaurant to make your day (or week) a perfect get-a-way.
TAP YOUR TOES AT THE OLDHAM COUNTY BLUEGRASS FESTIVAL
You want some pickin’ and grinning all in one cozy spot on the road? Each July, Bluegrass lovers of all ages swarm upon the local park in Vega/Oldham County for some old-fashioned, toe-tapping fun. Bring a blanket, your family, and just relax at this two-day event where you’ll experience small-town America at its best. The annual Comancheros de Vega County-wide Garage Sale just happens to coincide with this event.
LET ‘ER BUCK AT THE CAL FARLEY’S BOYS RANCH LABOR DAY RODEO
This may not be your first rodeo, but it’s definitely one to look forward to. The cowboys (and cowgirls) that perform at the Cal Farley Boys Ranch Rodeo are at-risk youth who attend school there. A 63-year tradition brings folks from out of the woodwork to enjoy barbeque and the awesome talent of these youngsters. It’s a sure-fire crowd pleaser.
PIECE TOGETHER THE QUILT TRAIL IN BROWNFIELD/TERRY COUNTY
Quilters, prepare to stitch your way to Brownfield to take the very unusual driving tour of quilts…yes, quilts! At last count, there were 10 gorgeous quilt pieces hung around Terry County. Plus, for the very avid quilting fans, Brownfield hosts a yearly quilt show where the question isn’t, “Are there quilts there?” The question is, “Is it possible to count them all?” Brownfield has many fun shops too.
GO BATTY IN CAPROCK CANYONS STATE PARK
What? Bats in the Texas Plains Trail Region? We’re not batting an eye when we tell you that the Caprock Canyons State Park and Trailway is home to a massive colony of Free-tailed Bats. Located near Quitaque and opened in 1982, you’ll want to hike the 65-mile trail that was developed within the park in 1992. Keep your eyes open for these 3,000 bats that make their home along the Clarity Tunnel.
WANDER THE STREETS WHERE WOODY GUTHRIE LIVED
Named after President Woodrow Wilson, singer/songwriter Woodie Guthrie spent several years in Pampa working, writing songs, and playing his music at dances. Pampa citizens’ tribute to Woody Guthrie preserves his music and memory. You can visit the old Harris Drug Store building, where Woody worked during his time in Pampa, and according to legend, learned to play the guitar. This building is dedicated as “THE WOODY GUTHRIE FOLK MUSIC CENTER.” In addition to the center, there are several other Woody Guthrie sites including the “This Land” sculpture on Hobart Street, homes where Woody and his family lived in Pampa, and the Woody Guthrie Memorial Highway.
DIVE INTO THE POOL AT ROARING SPRINGS
Way, way out there where you’d least expect it, you’ll find the “Hidden Playground of West Texas.” The Roaring Springs Ranch Club is proud of its crown jewel, which would have to be the springs and pool area. The springs cascade over the falls and flow through the pool. This keeps the pool at an average temperature of 63 degrees. Visitors will find more than a pool; there’s fishing, golfing, hiking, and wading in the Pease River. And really, it’s not so far…only about two hours from Lubbock or Amarillo. Spread your arms, take a breath, and take the plunge.
SET OFF FOR A SUNDAY DRIVE ON HIGHWAY 207
You would have to go a lot of places to find a prettier, more scenic drive than Highway 207. You can hit 207 several places, but take the suggestion to drive it all the way from Claude to Silverton. It’s a stop-the-car, breathtaking road trip that deserves a complete day to absorb the beauty of it all. Lake MacKenzie is on the road, so pack your fishing gear and a picnic lunch and be sure to bring your camera…a photographer’s paradise for sure.
BITE INTO SOME PASTRIES AT THE SLATON BAKERY
Whether you are on your way to Abilene, Lubbock…well, why do you have to be on your way anywhere? Make it a point to stop in at the Slaton Bakery for your sweet-tooth fix. It claims to be “West Texas’ Best Kept Secret,” but after 60 years of making delicious donuts, cookies, pastries, cakes and more, I’d say the cat’s out of the bag. As for me, my car literally won’t go through Slaton without braking in their cute downtown area. Wanna stay all night? Can’t beat the Harvey House.