History • Panhandle
Adults: $4 • Children 6-18: $3 • Children 5 and under are free
In 1877, Charles Goodnight and John Adair established the first cattle ranch in the Texas Panhandle. In addition to running the ranch from their two-story home, Charles and his wife, Mary Ann (known as Molly), also rescued and raised orphaned bison, establishing the Goodnight buffalo herd. Descendants from the herd make up today’s state bison herd and helped rebuild the bison population across the United States.
Snap a selfie in front of the statue of Molly Goodnight, which depicts her with the first two bison calves rescued. Fun fact: the statue was sculpted by Veryl Goodnight, a distant relative of Charles Goodnight.
Splash • Panhandle
Adults 11+: $16 • Kids 6-11: $6 • 5 and under: Free
Lubbock’s go-to destination for swimming, fishing, paddling and water fun — whatever floats your boat, you can do it at Buffalo Springs Lake. The 200-acre spring-fed lake features two swimming beaches. You can fish from a boat, pier or shoreline; boating options include kayaks and motorboats.
Snap a selfie in, over or on the water at Buffalo Springs Lake.
Wild • Panhandle
Adults 13+: $12.50 • Kids 4–12: $6 • Children 3 and under get in free
Step back in time to millions of years before the arrival of people, when the Panhandle Plains were a swampy, tropical rainforest ruled by dinosaurs. At the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, you can still walk among their fossils, including the huge, crocodile-like phytosaur, saber-toothed cats and the mighty Allosaurus.
Snap a selfie in the museum next to your favorite dinosaur fossil.
Quirky • Panhandle
For almost 50 years, the 10 half-buried cars of Cadillac Ranch have been a ritual site along Route 66, inviting visitors and their cans of spray paint to make their own mark along the Mother Road. This is one site where graffiti is encouraged, but if you do make your mark, better get a picture quickly — odds are it will be covered by someone else in a few hours.
Snap a selfie in front of any Cadillac (or all of them!) at Cadillac Ranch.
Regional sponsors: Texas historical commission, Visit Amarillo, PanhanDle-Plains Historical museum, TEXAS Outdoor musical
Grand Adventures in State Parks
Without question, hiking is the most popular outdoor activity in Texas state parks. It’s little wonder: all you need is a good pair of shoes or boots, and you’re on your way. Best of all, all skill levels can participate — whether you’re casually strolling a flat, quarter-mile nature trail or scrambling up the final steep, rugged terrain of a miles-long trail to reach a scenic viewpoint.
Panhandle state parks are rich in the number and variety of hiking trails. Here are a couple of our favorites:
PIONEER NATURE TRAIL, PALO DURO CANYON: Watch for Texas horned lizards on this easy, family-friendly 0.5-mile trail that loops down to the river and back at Palo Duro Canyon. (After your hike, stay late at the park and enjoy the Texas Outdoor Musical — now in its 57th season — for a bonus GASP adventure.)
MESA TRAIL, CAPROCK CANYONS: As its name implies, this moderately challenging 3.1-mile (round trip) trail circles around a flat-topped hill with a vantage point offering spectacular views of the southeast portion of Caprock Canyons State Park.
Take a selfie hiking your favorite state park trail. Be sure to tag the state park and the name of the trail you’re on in the comments.