The Best Hidden Places in Texas for Road-Trippin'

Categories: Nature, Travel

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Photo by dherrera_96 via flickr
Oh, there's so much to see in Texas. From the white sands of the coastal shores to the deep canyons on down, our state has so much to offer.

And while everyone knows about some of our more national attractions -- Big Bend, South Padre Island and so on -- this is an enormous state, covering 268,820 square miles of land. With girth like that, there are bound to be a number of hidden gems in Texas that are just itching to be explored.

So if you're still busy planning out a summer vacation, perhaps you should eschew the typical and head for the hills -- of the Hill Country, perhaps -- or one of the many other places on this list, to find yourself a real adventure, Texas-style.

Here are the best hidden places to road-trip in Texas. Saddle up, y'all, but leave the spurs at home.

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Photo courtesy of the Marfa Texas Chamber of Commerce

Marvel at Marfa's Mystery Lights
For a town as tiny as Marfa, Texas, it sure is a place full of rad stuff to do. If you road-trip it somewhere near this town -- which you may, considering it's located between Big Bend National Park and the Davis Mountains -- perhaps you should make plans to stay a night or two in order to check out the mystery lights.

The mystery lights, Marfa's claim to fame, appear in the sky between Marfa and Paisano Pass on clear nights, and are visible when facing southwest toward the Chinati Mountains. The lights have been twinkling since at least 1883, when the first record of them appears, and have been puzzling viewers ever since.

At times they appear colored, and at others quite mobile, with some appearing to fuse and split with the others, and they disappear and reappear at will. No one's quite sure where they came from, but there they've been for over a hundred years.

Distance from Houston: 8 hours 24 minutes

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Photo courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Diggin' Up Bones at Dinosaur Valley State Park
Well, please don't actually try to dig up bones at Dinosaur Valley State Park. You might get in a lot of trouble for pulling something like that. But do check out this massive state park in Glen Rose, Texas. It's located right on the Paluxy River, and yes, it has dinosaur footprints and all sorts of other cool dinosaur-themed stuff, but it's way more than just that.

There are eastward-dipping limestones, sandstones and mudstones that were deposited about 113 million years ago when this park, which is also a National Natural Landmark, was the shoreline of an ancient sea. The park and the natural setting of the area are gorgeous and well worth a visit, even though it's less well known than Texas's other parks like Big Bend.

Distance from Houston: 4 hours 9 minutes

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John Wayne's Head
In Lubbock, Texas, there is a 13-ton boulder carved into the likeness of John Wayne's head. That's pretty much it, but does there need to be much more? It's John Wayne's head, on a boulder, in Lubbock. Could a landmark get any more Texan than that?

Distance from Houston: 7 hours 54 minutes

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8 comments
Julieta Bosque
Julieta Bosque

Gah, I didn't know about the dinosaur park! My daughter is going to FLIP! Thanks!!

RebeccaS
RebeccaS

I say make a long weekend of visiting west Texas -- take in the Marfa lights, visit Alpine, the McDonald Observatory, Fort Davis and don't forget to go swimming at Balmorhea State Park. Take the long way home and stop off in the not so hidden Fredricksburg and also visit Luckenbach, TX. I did this trip with a friend several years ago and while it was a lot of driving, we had a blast. 

Brian Daly
Brian Daly

I'm surprised that the Frio River didn't make the list but John Wayne's head in Lubbock did.

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