6 Scenic Drives in Texas
Sometimes you just need to get away from it all and hit the road for a drive. In the Fort Worth, Texas, area, you don’t have to go far to view stunning vistas. Many of these drives consist of farm-to-market (FM) roads, which farmers used to transport their crops to the county seat without having to travel via tractor. When these FM roads were paved, farmers didn’t want the concrete to mark up their land, so these roads have sections connected by sharp 90-degree turns. Make sure you pay close attention when traveling these six scenic drives in Texas.
Cattle Trail Drive
If you’re interested in history and the Wild West, this scenic drive is perfect for you. Start in Fort Belknap near the Palo Pinto Mountains State Park near FM 61. In 1860, a group of soldiers, led by Charles Goodnight, gathered here to punish the Comanche raiders. During the Battle of Pease River, he helped to rescue Cynthia Ann Parker, who was a famous Texas captive. Visit the small museum that shares history about the area and houses long rifles and pistols used during the raid. Afterward, travel on FM 61 north and west onto U.S. 380.
From there, you’ll go over the Brazos River. This spot is where Goodnight assembled 2,000 cattle in 1866 for the first cattle drive after the Civil War. Continue west until Throckmorton, and head onto U.S. 283 south, which is near the site of Camp Cooper. In this spot, Robert E. Lee had his first command of a fort.
Afterward, head onto U.S. 180 west and FM 600 south to view Fort Phantom Hill and the ruins. Go toward Abilene on FM 89 south toward the Buffalo Gap, and go on U.S. 277 south to view Fort Chadbourne. Take U.S. 67 west when leaving town, but consider jumping onto FM 2469 to take in the astonishing vistas of the Concho Valley. The total mileage for this trip is 505 miles.
Roughly 3.5 hours south of Fort Worth, the Devil’s Backbone trail starts and ends in Blanco. This 57-mile trail is known for its ghost stories about Native Americans and Confederate soldiers. Along the route, you’ll see stunning views of the 400-mile-long Balcones Fault, fields of cacti, and rolling hills. Head south on U.S. 281 from Johnson City and turn onto FM 32. View the erosion of the limestone hills, as evidence of its volcanic past.
Stop at the Devil’s Backbone Outlook, which is a great spot to enjoy a picnic or take some photos. Take FM 32 to FM 12 and head to the quaint town of Wimberley, which has several historic buildings, art galleries, and antique shops. Back in Blanco, visit the Old Blanco Courthouse, which was built in the 1800s.
Music Legend Drive
Although it starts about four hours northeast of Fort Worth, the Music Legend Drive is a perfect scenic drive to help you learn more about several of Texas’ greatest musicians. Begin in Turkey where James Robert Wills, also known as the “King of Western Swing,” came from. Take TX 70 north out of Turkey toward Pampa, and stop at Palo Duro Canyon, which is also known as Texas’ Grand Canyon. Don’t forget to check out the Harris Drug Store in Pampa, where Woody Guthrie learned how to play the guitar.
Take U.S. 60 east toward Clovis, New Mexico, which is right across the Texas border. This town features the Norman Petty Recording Studios, where in the 1950s Buddy Holly and the Crickets recorded several songs. Return east to Texas via U.S. 84 and head to Littlefield, where Waylon Jennings called home. This town now has a music museum dedicated to him inside Waymore’s Liquor Store. Continue via U.S. 84 to the final trek on this 366-mile drive in Lubbock, where you’ll find the Buddy Holly’s home and grave site.
Red River Roadway
About 40 miles north of Fort Worth lies Denton, which is where the Red River Roadway begins. Head north out of Denton via FM 2164 and turn left onto FM Route 455. Take this route to Forestburg in the North Texas Hill Country.
Going north out of Forestburg on FM Route 677 shows you the majesty of the Red River, which includes expansive views of the river valley. You can stop at one of the many towns and diners to relax and take in the views. When you’re ready to return to Denton, head over to Highway 82 from Gainesville. The total mileage for this scenic drive is 110 miles.
The area near the southwestern part of Fort Worth is full of lush landscape, most of which has a hilly terrain. It splits the Blackland prairie, Piney Woods, and the Hill Country. If you prefer a smoother roadway, start on FM 4 from U.S. 67 in Cleburne and head to Palo Pinto via U.S. 180. From just east of Granbury to Interstate 20, you experience one high-speed roadway connected to the next. Once you get near Palo Pinto, the road has two rugged sections composed of highly compressed turns. The entire route consists of 71 miles.
Trail of the Dinosaurs
Although only 29 miles long, the Trail of the Dinosaurs gives you a feel of how the land was when majestic dinosaurs roamed the earth. Start at Cleburne, which is about 37 miles south of Fort Worth, and head to Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose. This route features rolling hills that might remind you of a Brachiosaurus. Depending upon the time of year, the plains are scattered with colorful wildflower blooms. If you feel so inclined, you could pull the car over and take some stunning photographs of this stunning array of colors.
Once you arrive at the Dinosaur Valley State Park, check out the real-life dinosaur tracks near the riverbed of the Paluxy Road. You can also take a guided horseback riding tour or horse-drawn wagon ride to enjoy spectacular views along the park’s scenic trails.
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Image via Flickr by TexasExplorer98