Nature

The Best Hidden Places in Texas for Road-Trippin'

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Chilling Out at Enchanted Rock If you've never seen the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, it's time you remedied that. Enchanted Rock is an enormous pink granite pluton dome that rises naturally out of the earth, and as a landmark, it is impressive all on its own. But when you factor in the legend of Enchanted Rock — the folklore of the Tonkawa, Comanche and Apache tribes all describe the area as mystical and magical — it truly takes you to another place and time.

Creaking and "groaning" can be heard from the rock at night, and while scientists attribute this noise to the cooling of the rock after it's been heated by the sun during the day, the Native tribes attributed it to ghost fires. They also believed that the rock made them invisible when Anglo settlers started to come to the area, and a number of legends surround the rock to this day.

Distance from Houston: 3 hours 59 minutes

Kayaking on Medina River While the area surrounding Medina River is quite popular for water fanatics, the river has managed to skirt a lot of the rowdier toobers, and has found its niche with the more sedate — and nature-loving — kayakers instead. The Medina is a pristine, greenery-covered waterway, free of overly tenuous whitewater rapids or the like. It's basically made for relaxation, and kayaking it is the perfect way to experience that.

Birds chip, fish jump and frogs croak, and you'll be able to hear all of it without having to hear "Spring Break, YEAAAAAAAHHHHHH!" over and over, quite unlike what you'll find on some of the more hard-partyin' rivers in the area.

Distance from Houston: 2 hours 57 minutes

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Giant Steer Statue at Big Texan Steak Ranch Amarillo by mornin'...

Eh, it may take you a bit more time than that to get up to Amarillo, but if you happen to make it up to the very distant area, you should swing on by the giant steer statue at the Big Texan Steak Ranch. Oh, and then you should go into the Big Texan Steak Ranch and challenge yourself with that huge 72-ounce steak that the place has become famous for.

Remember when Bobby Hill killed that challenge after being dumped by the vegan chick on King of the Hill? Yeah, that's the place. And you know you want to go.

Distance from Houston: 8 hours 57 minutes

Asserting Artistic Expression at Cadillac Ranch Oh, and if you do make your way up to Amarillo, be sure to stop by the Cadillac Ranch. The enormous public art installation is amazing, with a number of junked-out old Cadillacs half-buried with their noses in the ground. The cars are repainted periodically to provide "fresh canvases" for visitors, who are invited to spray-paint them to their heart's content. So awesome.

Distance from Houston: 8 hours 47 minutes

Cascade Caverns The caves at Cascade Caverns are simply breathtaking. And at points slightly claustrophobic, but that's besides the point. What is the point, however, is how stunning geologic formations like the ones found at Cascade Caverns can be. Texas sure is awesome, ain't it?

Distance from Houston: 3 hours 19 minutes

"Texas' Grand Canyon," or Palo Duro Canyon This canyon, nicknamed the "Grand Canyon of Texas" due to its massive size, dramatic geological attributes and those steep mesa walls, is the second-largest canyon in the United States. There are plenty of trails meant for hikers — but if you're a novice, start slow — which lead down to the area's most impressive sights, like the Lighthouse Peak.

The area is rich with history, especially about the Native American tribes who were once its prime inhabitants. If you've never seen the Grand Canyon and are a bit afraid of heights, perhaps this is the place to start. And even if you've seen the Grand Canyon, you should still check out Palo Duro. It's Texas through and through.

Distance from Houston: 9 hours 14 minutes


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Angelica Leicht
Contact: Angelica Leicht