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Texas Scenic Drives & Remote Highways

Here are some of the best scenic drives in Texas. On a hot summer day, cool spring afternoon, or when it's sunny and too cold to go outside, why not take a relaxing and scenic drive and enjoy some remote highways and stunning scenery in Texas. There are over 2600 miles of scenic drives and remote highways in Texas. So "hit the road" and enjoy somebeautiful Texas scenery and lots of fun things to see and do.

 

Texas Scenic Drives & Remote Highways

Scenic Drive - What to Expect

Route: West of Ozona on I-10 to 290 West to Sheffield then Hwy 2400 to Sanderson

Miles: 84

Counties: 3

Highlights: Rusty metal truss bridge crossing the Pecos River, rugged landscape, green river valleys, Fort Lancaster, and no traffic

The Rugged Texas Scenic Drive

Start at Fort Lancaster and explore the ruins of a Fort established in 1855. Drive through buttes and outcroppings with lots of oak, mesquite, and prickly pear plus green river valleys. Expect a wave from other drivers on this lonely stretch of road with a sprawling desert landscape, mountains raising in the west on the horizon, no billboards, few to no buildings, and little trace of humanity. For 39 miles, the road runs through broad canyons and some magnificent vistas. Stop in Sanderson, an ancient railroad town and the Cactus Capital of Texas.

Route: From Mission on Hwy 83, 77, and 100 to South Padre Island

Miles: 89

Counties: 2

Highlights: Some good golf courses, Bensen-Rio Grande State World Birding Center, several birding opportunities, and South Padre Island and all it has to offer

Our Feathered Friends Scenic Drive

The Rio Grande Valley is known as the birding center of Texas with over 500 visiting as well as permanent species of birds from Mexico, Central America, and lots of other spots. If you're looking for birds, then start at the Benson-Rio Grande State Park World Birding Center (one of nine World Birding Centers) and visit the nearby National Butterfly Center. Visit Texas Parks & Wildlife and check out the Birding in South Texas website or the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail for maps and information on what to expect. End the trip spending a few days of fun in the sand, surf, and seafood of South Padre Island.

Fort Lancaster vistaTexas Birding

Route: Port Arthur to Port Aransas

Miles: 308

Counties: 11

Highlights: Several lighthouses, pastel colored homes on stilts, and some small Gulf Coast cities

Texas Lighthouse Trail Scenic Drive

This drive is for some lighthouse fans. Start at Sabine Pass Lighthouse and along the way to Port Aransas visit Sabine Pass Battleground State Historic Site, McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge, the 1852 Bolivar Point Light Station, the Half Moon Reef Lighthouse, and the 1855 Lydia Ann Lighthouse. Plan on spending some time in Port Aransas, one of our favorite Texas cities, which is loaded with some fun nightlife, good restaurants, plenty of beaches, and excellent fishing.

Route: Bandera on 470 and 83 to Concan and back through Leakey on 337 to Medina

Miles: 125

Counties: 3

Highlights: Cowboy Capital of Texas, Frio River, and some stunning scenery

Texas Swiss Alps Scenic Drive

Start by spending the night in Bandera another Texas Outside favorite Texas City and the Cowboy Capital of Texas. This scenic Texas Drive gives you an "out of Texas feel" with some stunning vistas, massive geological upheavals, lush valleys, stark canyon ridges, and several signs warning "Watch for Rocks," "Steep Grades," and "Sharp Curves." This route defines the Texas Hill Country. Along the route you can pick some apples in Medina, tube the Medina River, stay at a Dude Ranch, hike in Lost Maples State Park, see the majestic 2400' rock faces in Leakey (home to the Swiss Alps of Texas), and tube or swim in the Frio River.

Half Moon Reef LighthouseDrive from Bandera to Leakey

Route: Uncertain, Carthage, San Augustine, and Jasper on Hwy 96

Miles: 140

Counties: 6

Highlights: the erie Caddo Lake and Big Cypress Bayou, Toledo Bend Reservoir, alligators, and more

The Piney Backwoods of East Texas

To get to see, smell, and taste what seems like the deep south, then you need to try this scenic drive through the backwoods and rolling hills and pines of east Texas. Check out Caddo Lake (the only natural lake in Texas), the famous Big Pines Lodge Restaurant & Waterin' Hole, the birthplace of Lady Bird Johnson in Karnack, the monument to country star Jim Reeves in Galloway, spend some time on Toledo Bend Reservoir, try the Catfish Acadiana at Catfish Cabin in Jasper, and take a peek at One Eyed Willy, Ugly Betty, Chomper, Peanut, and the other gators at Gator Country in Jasper.

Route: Fort Belknap, Abilene, San Angelo, Pecos, and Red Bluff Reservoir

Miles: 505

Counties: 15

Highlights: the 1860 Fort Belknap outpost, Robert E Lee's first command post, and some west Texas scenery

The Cattle Trail Drive

This drive is for some history buffs interested in reliving a little history centered around the Wild west and historic cattle drives. You can follow the path of Charles Goodnight, who set out to punish the Comanche raiders in 1860 and to free captive Cynthia Ann Parker, In 1886 Goodnight drove 2000 head of cattle over 400 miles to Fort Sumner in the New Mexico Territory. On the way you'll cross the Callahan Divide which is a beautiful range of hills that divides the Brazos and Colorado River.

Caddo LakeFort Belknap

Route: Tow to Austin

Miles: around 100

Counties: 3

Highlights: the Highland Lakes, beautiful Texas Hill Country, Longhorn Caverns, excellent wineries, and great golf courses

The Highland Lakes Drive

It's hard to beat the Highland Lakes! Start by treating yourself to a stay (lodge or camping) at Canyon of the Eagles which over looks Lake Buchanan, the first of the seven Highland Lakes. Next up is Inks Lake which has a fantastic State Park with sites on the water. Stay at the Horseshoe Bay Marriott on Lake LBJ and enjoy the beach at their Yacht Club and 4 excellent golf courses. Stop at River City Grill for food and music on the deck overlooking Lake Marble Falls. Rent a boat or party barge on Lake Travis or try the Lake Travis Zipline. Camp at Emma Long Metro Park on Lake Austin or try a spa treatment at the upscale Lake Austin Spa. And bike around the last of the Highland Lakes - Lady Bird Lake. Don't forget to stop at some of the award winning wineries, Longhorn Caverns, go fishing with one of the local fishing guides, or rent a boat on any of the Highland Lakes.

Route: Big Bend, Terlingua, Lajitas, and Presidio

Miles: 70

Counties: 2

Highlights: stunning scenery and west Texas mountains, excellent hiking and biking, rafting, and a fantastic golf course

Big Bend & Rio Grande Drive

If you've never been to Big Bend, it's a Texas bucket list destination, and a great starting point where you should plan on spending a few days hiking, rafting the Rio Grande, and enjoying the stunning scenery. Use this Big Bend area map to find fun stuff to see and do. From there head to Lajitas for a stay and golf at Lajitas Golf Resort & Spa. Make sure you explore Terilingua, La Kiva, and Starlight Theater, take an ATV tour, and play Black Jack's Crossing Golf Course. And if you have time float the Rio Grande River through the stunning St Elena Canyon. From there take the only road to Presidio which has been rated one of Top 10 US Scenic Drives - stunning scenery as the road winds up and down the hills and along the Rio Grande River.

Sailing on Lake TravisSt Elena Canyon

Route: Ft Davis on 118, Spur 78, and 166 and 17 back to Ft Davis

Miles: 75

Counties: 2

Highlight: drive the loftiest public highway in the State and one of the most scenic

Davis Mountains Scenic Loop

The Davis Mountains rise up to over 8000 feet of green slopes punctuated by pine and oak trees, carpets of golden grasslands that meander through canyons, and jumbles of rocky spires and escalating peaks - it just doesn't get much more scenic in Texas. During this scenic drive make sure you stop at Davis Mountain State Park for hiking and some scenic views or maybe spend the night camping or in Indian Lodge which was built in the 1930s, marvel at the stunning view at Dead Man's Canyon, tour McDonald Observatory, hike the Madera Canyon Trail, enjoy a picnic lunch at any of several scenic picnic stops, take a picture of Baldy Peak (the highest point at 8378'), and check out Sawtooth Mountain, Point of Rocks (a cluster of tremendous boulders), and lots more.

Route: Turkey, Pampa, Amarillo, Clovis, Littlefield, and Lubbock

Miles: 366

Counties: 13

Highlights: Bob Wills Museum, Palo Duro Canyon, Woodie Guthrie Music Center, Norman and Vi Petty Rock & Roll Museum

Buddy Holly

The Music Legend Drive

This is a music lovers drive where you can tour the wide open spaces of west Texas and learn about some of the Texas music giants. Start in Turkey where the the "King of Western Swing" came from and on the way to Pampa explore the Grand Canyon of Texas, Palo Duro Canyon. Stop at the Harris Drug Store where Woodie Guthrie worked and learned to play guitar. It's a long flat drive to Clovis, New Mexico which is home to Norman Petty Recording Studios where Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Buddy Knox and the Rhythm Orchids, and a slew of other bands recorded in the 1950's. Next up is Littlefield which was home to Waylon Jennings and an unusual music museum inside Waymore's Liquor Store which is run by a member of Waylon's family. End up in Lubbock which was the home of Buddy Holly and his gravesite.

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the above content and ideas came from Texas Monthly Magazine.