Map Detailing Route

Wild West Texas

Cities in tour: El Paso, Hueco Tanks, Juárez (Mexico), Fort Davis, Presidio, Lajitas, Big Bend, Terlingua, Alpine, Langtry, Del Rio, Brackettville and Uvalde

Map Detailing Route

Texas Mountain Trail

Cities in tour: El Paso, Van Horn, Marfa, Presidio, Big Bend Park, Study Butte, Alpine and Fort Davis

Map Detailing Route

Texas Hill Country Trail

Cities in tour: San Antonio, Kerrville, Fredericksburg, Johnson City, Llano, Austin, San Marcos and Wimberley

Map Detailing Route

Lone Star Heritage

Cities in tour: Amarillo, Hereford, Canyon, Lubbock, Pecos, Odessa, Midland, Wichita Falls, Denton, Sherman and Gainesville

Map Detailing Route

Texas Pecos Trail

Cities in tour: Midland/Odessa, Monahans, Fort Stockton, Ozona, Langtry, Del Rio, Brackettville, Rocksprings and Junction

Map Detailing Route

Texas Brazos Trail

Cities in tour: Austin, Salado, Temple, Waco, Groesbeck, Marlin, College Station, Caldwell and Elgin

Wild West Texas
El Paso, Hueco Tanks and Juárez, Mexico

In the cool morning hours of your first day in El Paso, take some time to delve into a bit of American history. El Paso's three historic missions (the Ysleta Mission, the Socorro Mission, and the San Elceario Presidio Chapel) will take you back to an earlier time, when a nation was in its infancy. Located in the Lower Valley, these are the oldest of the Texas and California missions. You might want to save the Ysleta Mission for last, so that you can tour the Tigua Indian Reservation (located right next door). The reservation is a haven for those who love handmade arts and crafts and Native American culture. Feeling hungry? Splurge on goodies at the reservation's adobe-oven bakery. You also might want to stay for a pottery demonstration. After lunch, spend a few hours acquainting yourself with the tricultural heritage of the city at the El Paso Museum of History. Here, the people and events that have shaped the city's 400-year-history are depicted in dioramas featuring settlers, conquistadores, Indians, Mexican vaqueros, and the U.S. cavalry.

After the museum, more outdoor adventure awaits you. Whether you're a history and archaeology buff, or a rock climber in search of a new challenge, you'll not want to miss the attractions at Hueco Tanks, just a short ride from the reservation. Hueco Tanks is a fascinating gigantic rock formation, carrying the legacy of long-lost Native American tribes in the form of ancient pictographs. As evening descends, walk across one of the international bridges to Juárez, Mexico. Indulge in an authentic Mexican meal, then wander along the quaint marketplace, where bargains abound. Juárez also boasts a number of lively entertainment venues, making it the perfect choice to round out the evening.

Fort Davis, Presidio, Lajitas, & Big Bend

Fort Davis lies at the junction of the old Chihuahuan Trail and the Butterfield Overland Mail Route. Both the ruins and the restored structures of the Fort Davis National Historic Site echo the struggles of the settlers who lived in the shadow of the fort's walls. After wandering through the ruins of the old fort, let's take a drive out to the Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute to learn more about the unusual terrain of the West Texas desert. From there, it's a drive up Mount Locke to the McDonald Observatory, where several telescopes help you explore the expansive Texas sky.

We can have lunch at Indian Lodge at Davis Mountains State Park, where breathtaking scenery and an abundance of exotic flora make for an awe-inspiring stop. Next, we'll drive south to Presidio, which is most frequently in the news as the nation's hot spot. This is the place to catch the scenic Camino del Rio (River Road), which hugs the Rio Grande as it courses past the spectacular scenery near the western entrance of Big Bend National Park. We'll need to stop at the Lajitas Trading Post to purchase supplies for our excursion into the vast expanses of the park, then devote the afternoon to enjoying the immense natural beauty of the Big Bend. The park derives its name from the angle the Rio Grande takes here, which forms a part of the southwest border of the state. Did we mention that the park is large? Big Bend encompasses more than 800,000 acres, featuring a mountainous landscape dotted with pi–on forests, desert scrub, and refreshing river beds. Don't worry about navigating our way around, though. Rangers conduct walking tours throughout the year, and horseback riding excursions depart daily from the Chisos Basin. The possibilities for hiking are endless. In the evening, relax in the comfort of the Chisos Mountains Lodge or any number of other overnight facilities, or return to one of the many lodges in Lajitas.

Terlingua & Alpine

Now that we've seen some of the most beautiful desert country in existence, let's head for the river in West Texas. There's nothing like the river-rafting adventure we'll take on the Rio Grande. Several outfitters in Terlingua--including Big Bend River Tours, Far Flung Adventures, and Outback Expeditions--are poised to set us up with everything we'll need for a thrilling ride down the "Big River." We can settle down on the bank for lunch, then spend the early part of our afternoon completing our exploration of Big Bend.

After we've finished our Big Bend experience (though it's nearly impossible to experience it all), let's drive north to Alpine, the "Gateway to the Big Bend." Since we entered the park from Presidio, going to Alpine is like leaving through the front door. We can stop in at the Museum of Big Bend, and study exhibits which trace the discovery and development of the magnificent area we've just left behind. If you're a rockhound, we must stop at Woodward Ranch, with its 4,000 acres of rocks. Among the 70 varieties of stones you can find and purchase are red-plume agate, jasper, and feldspar. Finally, check in to Terlingua Ranch, a guest ranch in Alpine that features swimming and fine restaurant dining.

Langtry, Del Rio, Brackettville & Uvalde

As we drive east on sparsely populated U.S. Highway 90 from Alpine to Langtry, we'll traverse limestone ledge, dusty soil, and scrub teeming with desert life. Once in Langtry, you'll find yourself back in the wild, wild West. Langtry was the infamous post from which the legendary Judge Roy Bean dispensed his quirky justice, the "law west of the Pecos." At the Judge Roy Bean Visitor Center and Cactus Garden, the colorful judge's tenure is documented with dioramas and the restored structure where he presided, a combination saloon, courtroom, and billiard hall.

On our way to Del Rio, let's stop at Seminole Canyon State Historical Park, site of some of the nation's oldest Native American pictographs, which are believed to be 8,000 years old. Once in Del Rio, pack a lunch and a bathing suit and we'll head for an afternoon at Lake Amistad, which boasts an amazing 1,000 miles of shoreline. The nation's third-largest man-made lake is unique in that it lies on the Texas-Mexico border. On the Texas side, water sports enthusiasts will be hard pressed to make a decision about what to do first: swimming, fishing, scuba diving, boating (rentals available), or sailing. If water sports don't sound appealing, walk across the bridge to spend an afternoon in Old Mexico. Ciudad Acuña is a delightful little border town that feels more like Old Mexico than other border cities do.

Next comes a drive to Brackettville to ham it up at Alamo Village Movieland, which features a replica of the Alamo built in the 1950s for the John Wayne classic, "The Alamo." Our final destination is Uvalde, home of former vice president John Nance "Cactus Jack" Garner. Pay tribute to the man at Garner Memorial Museum, housed in Garner's former home. Garner, a colorful character, was once quoted as saying the office of vice president "isn't worth a bucket of warm spit." His death came in 1967, just shy of his 99th birthday. Next we can tour the Grand Opera House: Garner bought the building and used the second floor for his office, while keeping the downstairs open for theater productions. With the Rio, Sabinal, and Nueces rivers flowing through it, suffice it to say that there are plenty of river-oriented activities to indulge in the city of Uvalde.