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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

Texas Mountain Trail
El Paso

The Texas Mountain winds through the colorful city of El Paso, a metropolitan area surrounded by mountains and full of ethnic diversity, from Mexican-American and American Indian heritages to hardy ranchers whose ancestors settled this beautiful, yet rough terrain. Once outside the city limits, the landscape hasn’t changed much since the days when missionaries, Mexican military, Indians, desperados and settlers looking for opportunity roamed the vast lands of West Texas.

Visitors should spend some time exploring El Paso. Depending on your interests, you may choose to do some shopping across the border in the Mexican city of Juarez, the largest city in Mexico bordering the United States. Practice your Spanish as you bargain for handmade arts and crafts and other good buys. If you are more of a history buff, you may prefer to explore the three Spanish missions in El Paso – Ysleta, Socorro and San Elizario - which are a century older than the famous missions in California. For those interested in Indian heritage, the Tigua Indian Reservation offers an educational opportunity to learn about the many facets of the Tigua’s lives through the centuries and how they live today. They even have horse and dog races on the reservation.

Nature buffs will be interested to know that El Paso is home to the Franklin Mountains, the southern-most mountains of the Rocky Mountains chain that extends 3,000 miles northward all the way to Alaska. Geologists believe that the granite and volcanic rocks that make up the Franklin Mountains are approximately one billion years old. For a close-up investigation of this historic geological wonder, hiking trails are accessible from McKelligon Canyon. For information about the hiking trails, and all of El Paso's offerings, stop at the city Visitors Bureau.

After a busy day of shopping, hiking and sightseeing, there’s no better way to relax and recuperate than with an authentic meal of Mexican cuisine. Beware of the spicy chiles, but don’t miss the opportunity to sample some real Tex-Mex.

Van Horn and Marfa

Leaving El Paso and traveling east on I-10, our driving tour takes you through two small towns, Sierra Blanca and Van Horn. If you aren’t the driver, take the opportunity to study the rugged mountain ranges to the south and be on the lookout for rolling tumbleweed, swirling dust devils, wildlife and flowering cacti commonly seen in the deserts of West Texas.

If you make a stop in Sierra Blanca, notice the 7,000-ft. volcanic intrusion peak to the northwest for which the town is named. In Sierra Blanca you will find the Hudspeth County Courthouse made of stucco and adobe that honors the area’s Spanish heritage.

Further east on I-10 is Van Horn, a popular rest stop and re-supply destination in the mid 1800s along the Old Spanish Trail, and now a great place to stop for lunch on the driving tour. While in Van Horn, take the opportunity to view the Van Horn and Wylie Mountains to the south and the Baylor Mountains to the north. From Van Horn, head south on Highway 90 through more mountain ranges. The end destination for the day is Marfa, a town that landed on the map first as a railroad stop, later as a ranchers’ haven, and most recently as a frequent stop for film makers and other artists.

Make sure to arrive in Marfa by late afternoon to allow plenty of time to settle in to your accommodations, grab some dinner or pack a picnic and then head out to see the mysterious and infamous Marfa “ghosts lights.” A land made of legends, no one knows exactly why the lights flicker across the desert sky every night. A scientific reason may allude to the flat mountain basins surrounding Marfa that are composed of material eroded from the adjacent mountains. Such processes have left the igneous intrusions visible today. Or maybe it’s simply old miners or Indians from the distant past trying to send a message.

Presidio and Big Bend Park

Before leaving Marfa, you may want to explore the Chinati Museum , which offers an unusual display of monumental sculptures. With plenty of space to be shared by all in West Texas, the Chinati offers art that is big. It’s something very different than what you’d find in a metropolitan area in the U.S.

After a morning visit to the museum and lunch in Marfa, head south on Highway 67 to Presidio, a historic town across the river from Mexico that was instrumental in the Texas War for Independence and the U.S.-Mexican War as well. En route to Presidio, as you drive through the old silver mining town of Shafter, notice the Chinati Peak to the north that stands tall at 7,730 feet. It is part of the Chinati Mountain range. Geologists say this region is the biggest volcanic center in Texas and estimate the age of Chinati's rock at 32 million years old. As the northern gateway to Big Bend Ranch State Park , Presidio is a good place to spend the night and get ready for a Big Bend adventure.