Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine   




Big Country Bonanza

Find ranches and rivers intertwined with art and culture in the Rolling Plains.

The Rolling Plains region of Texas contains undulating hills, canyons and rangelands broken by rivers and streams, and encompasses cities such as Abilene and San Angelo. Here are five things to do in Texas’ Big Country.

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 Maegan Lanham | TPWD

John Graves Scenic Riverway

Named for Texas author John Graves, this stretch of the Brazos River begins at the dam forming Possum Kingdom Reservoir and flows for 19 miles, following a portion of the river Graves paddled for his classic Goodbye to a River. Concerns about expanding quarry operations led citizens to seek protection of the river, which courses through tall limestone bluffs and cedar-covered slopes.


 Karen Loke | TPWD

Old Jail Art Center

Albany’s acclaimed cultural center is full of surprises — it houses works by artists such as Picasso, Rembrandt and Renoir, along with an extensive collection of Asian art. There’s regional history here, too: The Sallie Reynolds Matthews historical collection and Watt Matthews ranching collection document the area’s rich ranching history, including their own iconic Lambshead Ranch.

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Maegan Lanham | TPWD

Thurber Ghost Town

Thurber, about an hour west of Fort Worth, was a coal-mining town and a brick town. Now it’s a ghost town. Once the biggest city between Fort Worth and El Paso, Thurber attracted droves of immigrant workers from Europe, reaching a population close to 10,000. Two restaurants remain, including the Thurber Smokestack; the W.K. Gordon Center for Industrial History of Texas preserves the past of this colorful town.


 Maegan Lanham | TPWD

Conrad N. Hilton Center

Between Abilene and Dallas in the town of Cisco, you can find the first Hilton Hotel. Now turned into a museum, the Conrad N. Hilton Center documents the hospitality empire that ensued. After a 1919 Cisco visit to buy a bank, Hilton instead bought a hotel, the Mobley, a booming business catering to oil workers. Hilton went on to buy and build hotels throughout Texas.



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