Amarillo Things to Do Tips by Bunsch Top 5 Page for this destination
Amarillo Things to Do: 29 reviews and 38 photos
Your ride awaits (not my pic)
Elkins Ranch offers you a chance to see quite a bit more of Palo Duro Canyon than you can do in your own vehicle -- or even with a mountain bike or horse unless you are very fit. Numerous jeep tours explore the rim, walls, and floor of the canyon. You can choose what works best for you and your family. The one hour tour includes a waterfall and various lookout points. Hidden Spring Canyon tour lasts over two hours and takes you to a hidden finger of the canyon. The big kahuna is a 3 hour circuit combining the shorter tours and adding some features. Rates range from $25 (1 hour) to $65 (3 hours) per person; children's rates are less.
The ranch also has both a chuckwagon breakfast and a ranch supper, depending on your time of tour, which although expensive looked pretty appetizing.
Address: RR2, Box 279, Canyon, TX 79015
Directions: Off SR 217, directly across from the main entrance to Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Phone: (806) 488-2100
The different strata clearly show
The guide you obtain when you enter Palo Duro Canyon informs that the park consists of 18,438 acres in Randall and Armstrong Counties, encompassing a formation which is about 120 miles long and 600' to 1000' feet deep. It was formed less than a million years ago when the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River carved through the Southern High Plains. The canyon exposes geological formations more than 250 million years old, revealing colorful strata of red claystone, white gypsum and yellow mudstome as well as limestone and sandstone.
Most of the roads and other permanent non-natural features a the Park were constructed by the CCC in the 1930's, but they've withstood the test of time. The only obvious updating was at the six water crossings at the bottom of the canyon. A Texas friend had cautioned me that there would be flood gauges at these low-water spots, and not to drive into flowing water more than six inches deep. Because of the drought, I didn't think I needed to worry about flash flooding -- and indeed the first two water crossings were essentially dry. But the third was submerged. I took a look at the pole and figured that I was still safe, but I have to admit it gave me the willies!
My plan had been to drive the sixteen mile loop (you can only see a tiny fraction from the road, however) and then make the three-mile hike to visit Lighthouse Point, which is a major park feature. That's when I noticed the second "gauge": at each trailhead, there was a prominent thermometer, and the temperature around ten o'clock was already edging past ninety. I decided I'd simply have to substitute the jeep journey for the hike. But there are at least 30 miles of biking/hiking trails and about half that many miles of bridle paths if you prefer to ride one way or another.
But during my ride, I saw quite a bit of wildlife. First was a coyote loping across the road, and then turning to give me a stare as I slowly passed. Then there was a trio of wild turkeys. Hawks and buzzards were plentiful. The park is home to bears and other critters, and of course snakes. Another reason to prefer the jeep to the tootsies!
Hours are daily 8:00 AM to 10:00 PM (June-August), with closing at 8:00 PM during April and May on weekdays. The entrance fee is $5.00.
Address: 11450 Park Road 5, Canyon, TX 79015
Directions: 12 miles east of Canyon off SR 217
Phone: (806) 488-2227
Yeah, it's my logo, but I didn't put it there!
The Cadillac Ranch was a huge disappointment. From photos going back about forty years, I was expecting a pink Cadillac or two. What exists now is a lot of graffiti-covered junk. All the original paint is gone, and some of the cars have been vandalized. I hate to say it is a reflection of the way our culture reacts to art, broadly defined, but it is hard to see it and not wince.
"Roadside America" had this to say about the installation:
"Standing along Route 66 west of Amarillo, Texas, Cadillac Ranch was invented and built by a group of art-hippies imported from San Francisco. They called themselves The Ant Farm, and their silent partner was Amarillo billionaire Stanley Marsh. He wanted a piece of public art that would baffle the locals, and the hippies came up with a tribute to the evolution of the Cadillac tail fin. Ten Caddies were driven into one of Stanley Marsh's fields, then half-buried, nose-down, in the dirt (supposedly at the same angle as the Great Pyramid of Giza). They faced west in a line, from the 1949 Club Sedan to the 1963 Sedan de Ville, their tail fins held high for all to see on the empty Texas panhandle.
"That was in 1974. People would stop along the highway, walk out to view the cars -- then deface them or rip off pieces as souvenirs. Stanley Marsh and The Ant Farm were tolerant of this public deconstruction of their art -- although it doomed the tail fins -- and eventually came to encourage it.
"Decades have passed. The Cadillacs have now been in the ground as art longer than they were on the road as cars."
Well, there you have it. If you're determined to go anyway, take Exit 60 (Arnott Road) from I-40. The display is out in a field to the south of the interstate, just off what looks like a service road but is actually Route 66. You can park next to the fence and walk out to the vehicles.
Address: Route 66, west of Amarillo
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