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Amarillo, Texas

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Not far from the halfway point on the old Route 66 lies the city of Amarillo, Texas. Today, I-40 bisects the city which is hard to miss on any mid-America east-west road trip. Amarillo is a classic, from it’s Route 66 historic area to its museums and quirky Americana. Road trippers will want to spend a day or more checking out everything this city has to offer.

On the beaten path…

American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and Museum

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For those who aren’t horse people (we aren’t) and especially for those who are, this is a fantastic experience! Located in a beautiful building at 2601 I-40 east (I-40 and Quarter Horse Drive), this museum and hall of fame is definitely worth a stop for an hour or two.

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Bloodlines from the first recorded quarter horse in America in the 1700s to present day are shown on the floor of the stunning Grand Hall.

Cadillac Ranch

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Ten old Cadillacs (we only captured seven of them due to mud) buried nose down in a field just west of Amarillo on the south side of I-40. Bring your spray paint and leave your own mark on this American classic art installation.

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Jack Sisemore’s Traveland RV Museum

Bring on the nostalgia – this place is fun and free! Located at 4341 Canyon Drive (off of I-27 and Georgia). Enter the RV dealership for an escort out to the museum. Below are some of the vintage RVs and motorcycles that are on display.

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Trivia: Wally Byam incorporated the Airstream travel trailer company in 1931.
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Happy Max. 1948 Flxible used in the movie “RV” starring Robin Williams.
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The world’s oldest Airstream, a 1935 Torpedo, was owned by the Holman family for 81 years.
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1918 Harley Davidson motorcycle with rare left-hand side car.

The Big Texan

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An Amarillo and Route 66 icon! There is a restaurant (obviously), motel, and an RV park, along with photo ops and a free 72 oz steak dinner if eaten within one hour!

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Other points of interest on the beaten path:

  • Route 66 Historic District – west of downtown, beginning at SW 6th Street and McMasters.
  • Amarillo Zoo – 700 Comanchero Trail.
  • Wonderland Amusement Park – 2601 Dumas Drive.

Off the beaten path…

Coyote Bluff Cafe

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Located at 2417 S Grand, this place has some of THE BEST BURGERS we’ve eaten anywhere! Love the laid-back atmosphere here, too. Arrive early for lunch. There are only twelve or thirteen tables and they fill up fast.

Helium Monument

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Officially called the Helium Centennial Time Columns Monument, the 60-foot tall stainless steel structure was erected in 1968 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of helium. Four time capsules dedicated to the preservation and responsible use of natural resources are contained in the columns. The first capsule was opened in 1993, and the second in 2018. The other two will be opened on the hundredth, and thousandth anniversaries of the 1968 establishment of the monument. Amarillo is home to a former helium plant and the Texas panhandle once held most of the world’s helium reserves.

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Other points of interest off the beaten path:

  • Bill’s Backyard Classics. Classic car museum – 5309 S Washington Street.
  • Texas Air & Space Museum – 10001 American Drive.

Quirky…

Ozymandias on the Plains

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These “two vast and trunkless legs of stone” are located near the southeast corner of the intersection of I-27 and Sundown Lane, south of town. We suspect that people are using their leftover spray paint from Cadillac Ranch to keep this sculpture colorful.

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Second Amendment Cowboy

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This big (muffler man) guy can be found next to the Cadillac RV park at 2601 Hope Road and the south I-40 frontage road, west of Amarillo and just east of the Cadillac Ranch. The site also includes three old Cadillacs that have mannequins of Willie Nelson, John Wayne, and Elvis sitting in the driver’s seats, and a gift shop. The marker in front of the cowboy is a faux historical marker that touts our Second Amendment right to bear arms, but surprisingly the cowboy does not have a gun. Side note: the RV park is fabulous!

Nearby points of interest…

Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument

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  • Website: Alibates Flint Quarries
  • Cost: free
  • Visitor center hours: daily 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • Where: approximately 40 minutes north of Amarillo off of Highway 136
  • Hiking trails
  • Ranger led tours of the quarries by reservation only

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Come here to learn about the Plains Indians who quarried the harder-than-steel flint to make arrowheads and spear points. Dating as far back as 13,000 years, flint from these quarries has been found far and wide. While at the visitor center, watch a film about the monument, and then enjoy the small museum.

Lake Meredith National Recreation Area

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  • Website: Lake Meredith
  • Cost: free entrance
  • Visitor center located in Fritch, Texas open daily 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, except holidays
  • Where: seven minutes west of Fritch, Texas, which is approximately 40 minutes north of Amarillo
  • Hiking, RV and tent camping, boating, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hunting
  • Hotels, additional RV campgounds, restaurants, and groceries available in Fritch and in Borger, which is approximately 20 minutes east of Fritch

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Check with the park regarding lake levels and boat preparation before arrival. Hunters must comply with park and state regulations. Texas fishing licenses are required. Camping is free at all sites, except for the electric/water hook-up sites at Sanford-Yake. See the website for details.

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Other nearby points of interest:

  • Palo Duro Canyon State Park – approximately 30 minutes south and east of Amarillo. Beautiful Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the US. (We will cover Palo Duro Canyon in a separate post.)
  • Large Cross in Groom, Texas – approximately 45 minutes east of Amarillo on the south side of I-40. Great stop with Stations of the Cross, which are life-size sculptures depicting the crucifixion of Jesus, and a visitor center that displays an exact replica of the Shroud of Turin. Free, but donations are appreciated.

Okay, that’s going to do it for our Amarillo, Texas overview. We hope you enjoy your journey. We love that you joined us on ours. Please come back again! You never know where we’re going to take you. Until next time…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Get Ready and Four Let’s Go to Petrified Forest National Park

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  • Website link: Petrified Forest National Park
  • Cost: $20.00 per car (one week pass)
  • Hiking, biking (on paved roads), backpacking, horseback riding, backcountry camping with permit
  • Scenic drive
  • Historic Landmarks
  • Museums
  • Picnic areas
  • Restaurant in the park
  • Accommodations and restaurants in Holbrook, Arizona (30 miles west on I-40 or US Highway 180). Check out the Wigwam Motel for some Route 66 nostalgia. Here’s a link: Wigwam Motel. RV campgrounds also available in Holbrook.
  • When to go: anytime, but note that summer temperatures can be very high.

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The Teepees

Petrified Forest National Park is 208 miles from Albuquerque, New Mexico, which has a major airport. This is our starting point, so gas up the car, drop the top, and turn on some golden oldies. We’re going to get some kicks on Route 66!

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From Albuquerque, take I-40 west toward Gallup, New Mexico via Grants. Cross the Arizona state line and continue on I-40 to Petrified Forest National Park. Drive time between Albuquerque and Petrified Forest: 3 hours.

*Recommended hotels in Albuquerque: Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express

Campgrounds and RV parks are also available in Albuquerque.

Bonus stop: El Malpais National Monument. Website link: El Malpais. Stop by the visitor center in Grants, New Mexico then head south on Highway 53 to the monument. Entrance is free. Drive time between Albuquerque and Grants: 1 hour. Drive time between Grants and El Malpais: 30 minutes.

Bonus stop: El Morro National Monument. Only 15 minutes from El Malpais on Highway 53. Entrance is free. Website link: El Morro.

*Recommended hotel in Grants: Holiday Inn Express

RV parks are also available in Grants.

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From El Morrow National Monument take Highway 53 west to Highway 602 north to Gallup, New Mexico. Drive time: 1 hour.

Continue west on I-40 to Petrified Forest National Park. Drive time between Gallup and Petrified Forest: 1 hour.

⇒Side Trip: Chaco Culture National Historic Park. Located 86 miles north of Grants via Highway 509. Cost: $25.00 per vehicle for a one week pass. Camping available, but no RV hook-ups. Closest hotels and restaurants are approximately 1.5 hours north of the park. Here’s the website link: Chaco Culture National Historic Park. Backtrack to Grants to resume your journey to Petrified Forest National Park. Drive time between Chaco Culure and Grants: 2 hours.

Destination: Petrified Forest National Park

This is a big park! The park road is 28 miles long and includes many pull outs and stops. Come for the scenery and the learning experience. (We also like the nostalgia of Route 66.) There are photo ops around every turn, and as you will see, the sights in the park are spectacular. Be sure to stop at the visitor centers, the Painted Desert Inn Museum, and the Rainbow Forest Museum. The park also features archaeological sites, including Puerco Pueblo, Newspaper Rock, and Agate House. Theodore Roosevelt did us all a favor when he made Petrified Forest a national monument in 1906. It became a national park 56 years later in 1962.

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Petrified Tree Trunk
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Wood turned to stone
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These logs appear to have been cut and purposely placed here by an ancient lumberjack.

Below are some up-close views of the beauty of the petrified wood. Just look at those colors!

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Where else can you see this?
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Or this?
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Painted Desert Vista
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Another view of Painted Desert
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Oh, the colors!

Much of the park can be seen from the car, but we highly recommend getting out, taking a hike on or off the trails (see website), and absorbing the sights, sounds, and smells this amazing place has to offer.

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⇒Side trip: Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Entrance is free. Website link: Canyon de Chelly.

Take I-40 east to Chambers, Arizona. At Chambers, take Highway 191 north toward Ganado, Arizona.

Bonus stopHubbell Trading Post National Historic Site. Website link: Hubbell Trading Post. Cost: $5.00 per person to tour the Hubbell Home. Kids 15 and under are admitted free.

Continue north to Chinle, Arizona and Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Drive time between Petrified Forest and Canyon de Chelly: 1.5 hours.

This concludes our trip to Petrified Forest National Park. Thank you for joining us, and we hope you enjoyed the journey. We would love to hear from you, so leave us a comment and tell us about your road trips. In closing, we are leaving you with one last photo because it reminds us of a vintage postcard that might have been found in a Route 66 curio shop back in the day!

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Hoodoos

Until the next trip…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye

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As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.

©2018