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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

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Texas Mountain Trail

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

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Texas Hill Country Trail

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

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Lone Star Heritage

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

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Texas Pecos Trail

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

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Texas Brazos Trail

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

Lone Star Heritage
Amarillo, Hereford, & Canyon

What better way to start our Western adventure than at the Amarillo Livestock Auction? Amarillo's biggest business is cattle, so it makes sense that this is Texas' largest individually owned auction--more than 300,000 head of cattle are sold here every year. The grounds are almost always buzzing with activity. From cattle, it seems appropriate to move on to horses by taking a tour of the American Quarter Horse Heritage Center and Museum, where we'll learn about this all-American breed. Next we'll travel south to Hereford. On the way, a detour on Interstate 40 just west of Amarillo brings us in view of Cadillac Ranch, a whimsical roadside attraction featuring ten finned Cadillacs buried nose down at the same angle as the Cheops pyramid. No need to analyze it, just enjoy.

In Hereford, we'll discover the Deaf Smith County Historical Museum. The museum features collections from the Pioneer era, and Indian artifacts. As the early afternoon hunger comes upon us, let's open a boxed lunch in nearby Canyon and enjoy a picnic at Palo Duro Canyon State Park.

Its worth it to devote the entire afternoon to the trails of the stunning Palo Duro Canyon. Stretching for 120 miles, the "Grand Canyon of Texas" carves a gaping path right through the stark Texas landscape; at one point, the path is 20 miles wide. Visitors who climb down to the bottom of the canyon will be walking among geologic formations that are more than 90 million years old. If that much hiking doesn't sound appealing, perhaps a ride on the narrow-gauge Sad Monkey Railroad could be more to our liking. The frequently scheduled 25-minute trip takes passengers along the bottom of the canyon in thoroughly modern comfort. On a summer evening, it's a treat to wander over to the Pioneer Theater (also in the park) to attend a performance of the internationally acclaimed musical drama Texas, which traces the history of the region and the people who called it home.

Lubbock, Pecos, Odessa, & Midland

Ever bid "good morning" to hundreds of furry little prairie dogs? That's to be expected at Lubbock's Mackenzie Park, where there lives one of the few remaining colonies of prairie dogs in the nation. After greeting the wildlife, let's explore the fascinating Science Spectrum, a hands-on science and technology museum featuring more than 70 exhibits. We'll have an opportunity to learn more about modern technology at the Museum of Texas Tech University and Moody Planetarium, before looking into the past at the Ranching Heritage Center, a collection of 30 restored structures which were moved to this site to give visitors an understanding of early life in the Panhandle. After lunch at any of Lubbock's barbecue restaurants, we can burn off the calories at the Walk of Fame, a commemorative walkway that honors Lubbock and West Texas natives who have made significant contributions to the entertainment industry, among them Mac Davis, Jimmy Dean, and Waylon Jennings. There's also a life-size statue of Lubbock's favorite son, Buddy Holly.

Next is a drive through the mesmerizing open expanse of West Texas to Pecos, Pecos had the dubious distinction of being the roughest town in the Old West. Its major form of entertainment was a shoot-out -- practically a daily occurrence in the three-saloon town. To experience the Old West lifestyle, visit the West of the Pecos Museum. On the grounds of the museum is the grave of Clay Allison, known as the "Gentleman Gunfighter." The inscription on his headstone reads, "He never killed a man that did not need killing."

Our drive from Pecos to Odessa is marked by serene desert scenery, rarely interrupted by reminders of the modern world. In Odessa, we then can take a quick trip to merry old England via the Globe of the Great Southwest and the Anne Hathaway Library. The former is an exact replica of the Globe Theater, where William Shakespeare staged his plays, and the latter is a replica of the cottage the Bard's wife called home. Also in Odessa is the Presidential Museum, a unique repository for anything related to the office of the President of the United States. Featured are memorabilia relating to every president from George Washington to Bill Clinton, including campaign posters and pins.

Our next stop: Midland. A must-see in Midland is the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum, Library, and Hall of Fame. The museum is dedicated to the resource which led to this region's fame: oil. The museum chronicles everything about oil, from its prehistoric roots to its preeminence in modern economies. Of particular note are a 30-foot "underwater" walk through a Permian Age sea and a simulated well blowout in a wrecked oil-drilling rig.