At the top of Texas is the Panhandle Plains region. It's rectangular shape which protrudes above the rest of the Lone Star State is easily one of the state's most recognizable features. Within this region is also some of the state's most unique attractions. Iconic Route 66 cuts across the Panhandle. The "Grand Canyon of Texas" is also located in the Panhandle Plains, as are numerous quirky and odd attractions, such as the nationally famous "Cadillac Ranch." So, while the Panhandle may seem at first glance to be nothing but wide open spaces, there is actually plenty to see and do in the region.
Although the Panhandle region is known as the Panhandle Plains, these are actually high plains, complete with numerous deep canyons. The largest of these canyons is Palo Duro Canyon, known as the Grand Canyon of Texas. Palo Duro Canyon is 120 miles long, 20 miles wide and 800 feet deep and today is part of the 20,000 acre Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Popular activities inside Palo Duro State Park are hiking, camping, horseback riding, and mountain biking.
Big Texan Steakhouse
Located on historic Route 66, the Big Texan Steak Ranch offers a "free meal" to anyone who can finish a 72 ounce (4 1/2 pound) steak, baked potato, salad, dinner roll, and shrimp cocktail in one hour. Since 1965, tens of thousands have attempted the 72 ounce steak challenge, which has been immortalized in numerous movies, books and other pop culture mediums, becoming a national icon along the way.
Located on I-40 about 12 miles west of downtown Amarillo (between Exits 60 and 62), Cadillac Ranch is an iconic attraction. Originally placed along Route 66, Cadillac Ranch was moved to its current location in 1997 due to the ever-expanding city limits of Amarillo. The Cadillac Ranch was created by a California-based group of artists known as the Ant Farm at the behest of eccentric Amarillo millionaire and art patron Stanley Marsh 3. Cadillac Ranch consists of 10 Cadillacs planted nose-down into the ground. The 10 cars used were year models 1949, '52, '54, '56, '57, '58, '59, '60, '62, and '64. These models were chosen to represent the evolution of the Cadillac's signature tail fins. Cadillac Ranch gained cult-like status thanks to Bruce Springsteen's ode to this odd attraction.
Nicknamed "Devil's Rope" due to the metal "thorns" found along its length, barbed wire revolutionized ranching. At the time barbed wire was invented, the Texas Panhandle was the hub of the nation's cattle industry, so the impact of "Devil's Rope" was certainly felt in the region. Today, the Devil's Rope Museum, located just off Route 66 outside of Graham, TX (actually connected to Route 66 Museum), houses more than 6,000 examples of various barbed wires.
Route 66 is a long road to be certain. But, the section cutting across the Texas Panhandle is certainly worth driving. The entire length of Route 66 contained within Texas is dotted with interesting and unique attractions. Also situated on Route 66 is the iconic Texas town of Amarillo. Founded in the early 1800s, Amarillo was once the center of the American cattle industry. It later gained fame as a central stop along Route 66.
Located approximately 100 miles southeast Amarillo, Caprock Canyon State Park is home to the state's official bison herd. In addition to the bison herd, there are numerous canyons which were once home to several different groups of Native Americans, including the Folsom Indians, one of the earliest recorded Native American cultures. The park is also home to a 120 acre lake and more than 100 miles of trails. Popular activities within Caprock Canyon State Park include mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, boating, fishing, swimming, and camping.