Traveling Route 66: Visiting Amarillo, Texas

Santa Fe in a Day: Culture, Food, and Outdoors
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My official road trip from Houston to Los Angeles began last Thursday! This is exciting for so many reasons, not the least of which is the opportunity to explore new towns.

I’ve already made this trip once, with Tara, and we took the southern route between the two cities (along I-10). The trip wasn’t without its road bumps, but we managed to see some amazing places, like White Sands National Monument.

This time, I’m traveling with my mom, and rather than taking the southward route along Interstate 10 we opted to travel a more northern route, hooking up with the Historic Route 66.

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Our first pit stop on the drive was Amarillo, Texas. A good nine hours from Houston, this is where we first picked up Route 66. Luckily, our friends Josh and Marie from Ardent Camper have spent ample time here (Josh is an Amarillo native!), so even though I had never been we had the insider’s scoop.

If you’re passing through Amarillo on a limited schedule, here are a few activities I’d recommend:
Route 66 Road Trip (1)

Visit Palo Duro Canyon

It’s amazing how land as flat as that in west Texas can also be home to such a huge canyon as Palo Duro. It pops out of seemingly nowhere, and offers stunning views.

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Palo Duro State Park has overnight camping available, but you can also access the park for day use. The trails are great for hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrian riders, and cover a range of difficulty levels. If you’re visiting for the day there’s a $10 entrance fee.

Visit the canyon in the morning, before the sun gets too high and temperatures skyrocket (especially if you’re visiting in the summer). If you’re feeling adventurous and have 4-6 hours to spare you can hike to the Lighthouse, which is an iconic Palo Duro rock formation and the most popular trail.

We didn’t have time for such a lengthy hike, so instead we did a driving tour of the canyon and one of the shorter hikes. Even without venturing too far from the road, it was a beautiful drive, with inspiring views.

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Grab lunch on 6th Street

Along Route 66, 6th Street has a number of antique shops and restaurants, and it makes for a good stopping point. Grab some brisket or barbecue, and be sure to try the gelato from Cowboy Gelato.

Once your stomach is full, take a stroll up and down the street, peeking into the shops. There’s no shortage of antique stores on 6th Street.

Check out the Cadillac Ranch

No trip along Route 66 is complete without a visit to the Cadillac Ranch.

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An iconic (and totally free) roadside attraction, the Cadillac Ranch is a public art installation that dates back to 1974. This row of Cadillac cars sticking out of the soil have been covered in spray paint over the years, as visitors stop by to make their mark.

Park your car along the berm and take a short stroll through the field (there is a gate, but it is unlocked and visitors are welcome).

It’s astounding how many layers of spray paint have developed over the years, completely covering the original vehicles. Bring a can of paint along and add to the artwork — just make sure you throw away the can when you’re done!

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Visit the Jack Sisemore RV Museum

Once you’re done taking selfies at the Cadillac Ranch, head on over to the Jack Sisemore RV Museum to really fuel your wanderlust.

This hidden gem is tucked behind an RV store and repair shop on the side of the freeway. You wouldn’t know there was a museum there to look at it — it looks like any other roadside RV store. If you ask, though, they’ll obligingly lead you through the back of the building, where the museum is hidden.

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Many of the featured campers are from the 60s and the 70s, when RV and trailer camping really began to take off. The featured campers are in astoundingly good condition, and include a variety of different styles, from the simple to the extreme.

I’m a fan of the 1953 Fleetwood, myself. Isn’t it adorable?

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The best part is that you can enter each of the trailers, so visitors can enjoy the interiors as well as the exteriors.

If you want to drool over some of the other models on display, take a look at Ardent Camper’s detailed post about the RV Museum — it’s definitely a stop you won’t want to miss!

As an added bonus, there’s no charge to visit the museum. It’s open to anyone interested in taking a look!

What did we miss?

What do you recommend for visiting Amarillo? If you’ve been, tell us what I missed in the comments so I can hit it up next time!

Santa Fe in a Day: Culture, Food, and Outdoors
An Ice Age Adventure: Snowmass, Colorado
  • I didn’t realize Palo Duro Canyon was close to Amarillo. I think I’d make a point of seeing that Texas musical if I was out there. I’ve always wanted to visit Carhenge, but that RV Museum is news to me. Looks like Amarillo has more to offer than I thought.

  • Amanda & Brian

    We have not ventured further west than Austin during our time in Texas. We need to start venturing further west, especially if a place as beautiful as Palo Duro Canyon exists! Seems like a great spot for a pit stop on your road trip with no shortage of things to do.

  • Well, there is the Big Texan, the steak house with the famous challenge for eating a 72 ounce steak in an hour. If you can do it, the steak is free. I don’t know if that’s a reason to stop, but it is a long-standing Route 66 landmark. The next time we’re up there, we’re heading for the RV Museum – which, to your point, we never knew was there! Thanks for the tip! #WeekendWanderlust

    • Yes, definitely! We didn’t stop here, but I’ve heard a lot about it. The thought of a 72 oz. steak made me a little queasy, so we went for Thai instead. Next time!

  • How awesome! I will love to drive this route too. We have only done Los Angeles to Flagstaff (which is only a fraction of your route). As a matter of fact, we have a friend in Amarillo. it would be nice to pay her a visit and explore the areas around town.

  • Route 66 is one of my road trip goals!! I’ve heard about the Cadillac installation too+it looks cool!! Looking forward to experiencing the rest of your trip!