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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 Pecos Trail
Midland/Odessa and Monahans

The Midland/Odessa metro area lies at the heart of the busy West Texas oil industry and is the largest population center for more than 200 miles in any direction. Linked by oil and geography, Midland and Odessa are often considered the twin cities of West Texas – although natives maintain a friendly rivalry and willingly extol their town’s superior charms.

Both cities offer a range of historical and cultural attractions, in addition to plentiful shopping and dining options. Begin with a visit to Midland’s Permian Basin Petroleum Museum, which offers a superb introduction to the oil and gas industry. Its multimedia exhibits and dioramas vividly picture the region’s geology and geography, and will enrich your understanding of many features to be seen along the Pecos Trail route. Midland also offers a close-up look at President George W. Bush, who grew up here and returned to start his business and political careers. Several important Bush family sites can be visited.

The area has a rich aviation history and is home to the Confederate Air Force, whose historic aircraft are displayed at the American Airpower Heritage Museum on the grounds of the Midland International Airport. Many of the planes take to the air during the annual CAF air show in October.

Look to Odessa for excellent cultural offerings, including a symphony and Shakespearean venue performed in a replica of the original Globe Theater. Odessa is also home to the Presidential Museum , the nation’s only museum dedicated to the office of the president. And don’t miss two of Odessa’s biggest claims to fame – the World’s Largest Jackrabbit , an impressive 10-foot tall statute just perfect for picture-taking, and the Odessa Meteor Crater , a crater 550 feet in diameter caused by a barrage of meteors about 20,000 years ago. A marked nature trail winds through the crater, which is located about ten miles west of town. Keep your eyes open for Texas horned toads, an endangered species that can still be found in the area.

Fort Stockton and Ozona

As you drive southwest on Interstate Highway 20 toward Monahans, the Pecos Trail takes you across semidesert landscapes that appear featureless on the surface, but overlie fabulous pools of oil and natural gas deep underground. Monahans , like Midland and Odessa, began as a water stop to serve steam engines on the Texas & Pacific Railroad. Today, Monahans is an oasis stop for travelers on long West Texas drives. Attractions include the Million Barrel Museum , which features a reservoir designed to hold a million barrels of oil, and a refurbished downtown that features metal sculptures on all street signs.

Monahans Sandhills State Park, five miles east of town, is a fascinating and unique spot that combines 4,000 acres of white sand dunes and a 40,000-acre forest of Harvard oak trees that stand only waist high. Perfect for camping and dune surfing, the park is also a haven for wildlife adapted to the environment. Look for tracks announcing the presence of coyote, jackrabbit, quail, kangaroo rats, rattlesnakes and coachwhips. Farther west is the former Pyote "Rattlesnake" Air Force Base where thousands of WW II bomber crews trained. An excellent small museum is located on the site, which now houses the West Texas Children's Home.

Continuing southwest on Interstate 20 brings you across the Pecos River for the first time and into Pecos , a true wild west town that today is best known for producing deliciously sweet canteloupe . Check out the Union Pacific caboose on Main Street, the nearby grave of gunfighter Clay Allison and the West of the Pecos Museum , situated in the former Orient Hotel.

Head south on Highway 285 to reach Fort Stockton , home to many historic sites, including Comanche Springs, a large, natural springs that made this area a stopping point for centuries before the white man reached Texas. Today the springs feeds Fort Stockton’s olympic-sized city swimming pool. Another highlight is the original fort, which features several restored buildings, some original adobe, and an excellent small museum. Fort Stockton is best known as home of Paisano Pete , a giant statue of a roadrunner. No trip through West Texas is complete without a photo of Paisano Pete.

As you depart Fort Stockton, consider a side trip through McCamey , Rankin and Iraan . Learn about the region’s history at McCamey’s Mendoza Trail Museum , housed in the old Santa Fe depot , and get a glimpse of the future by viewing the fields of huge electricity-generating windmills southeast of town. Rankin’s former Yates Hotel has been transformed into the Rankin Museum that recounts the area’s early history. Iraan, which was named for town founder Ira Yates and his wife Ann, is the birthplace of the once-popular cartoon strip Alley Oop. Large statues pay tribute to Alley Oop and his dinosaur Dinny at the wooded seven-acre Fantasyland west of town. Next door is the Iraan Archeological Museum , which includes exhibits ranging from pre-history to early 20th century.