Texas Panhandle – Route 66

Welcome to Texas

The road itself became less desirable as we made our way from the Oklahoma state line to Shamrock, Texas on our “Eastern Texas Panhandle Route 66 Tour”. Here, the route runs next to I-40, which isn’t very exciting because there is nothing unique about driving this part of the route. We stayed true to our plans though and made the 20-minute drive while watching the I-40 traffic whiz by us in the opposite direction.

Shamrock, Texas

For those who have seen the movie “Cars” the highlight of Shamrock will be reminiscent of Ramone’s Auto Body and Paint Shop in the movie. Tower Station, also known as the U-Drop Inn and the Tower Cafe were built in 1936. The gorgeous Art Deco style building passed through several owners until it was foreclosed on in the mid-1990s. Shamrock’s First National Bank gave the building to the city in 1999. The city procured a $1.7 million-dollar federal grant to refurbish its beloved landmark, and restorations were completed in 2006. The property was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.

Tower Station, Route 66, Shamrock, Texas.
The U-Drop Inn Cafe is located on the opposite end of the building. A Chamber of Commerce visitor center sits between the gas station and the cafe.
A view inside the cafe today. By the way, their food is great!

We are particularly enamored with the Tower Station because we watched it transform over the course of several years during its renovations while traveling I-40 to Oklahoma City.

Ironic twist: This new Tesla charging station is right next to the cafe. Times are certainly changing!

The Tower Station isn’t the only refurbished filling station in Shamrock, we also found this nostalgic Magnolia Station. The station originally opened in 1929.

Magnolia filling station, Shamrock, Texas.

In addition to the sites we’ve highlighted here, Shamrock’s stretch of Route 66 features several vintage hotel properties and other gas stations that are either closed or are being used for other purposes. We spent over an hour checking out the town before grabbing a bite at the U-Drop Inn cafe. Then we were on our way to our next stop, McLean.

McLean, Texas

The tiny town of McLean has an interesting history. An English cattle rancher by the name of Alfred Rowe, who sadly died in the sinking of the Titanic, donated the land for the town in 1901. Prior to that time, there was nothing on the future townsite except for a railroad stop used for loading cattle for transport. The railroad built a water well and the town began to grow when a post office opened in 1902. By 1903, the town claimed two banks, two cafes, and a newspaper, among other thriving businesses. Route 66 came through the town in 1927, and by that time, McLean had established itself as an oil, gas, and agricultural hub. In 1929, McLean became the home of the first Phillips 66 Service Station in Texas.

Though it needs a little TLC now, this Phillips 66 was the first restored station on old Route 66.
We’re kind of enamored with the cottage gas stations.
The name Phillips 66 and their shield shaped signs, which were introduced in 1930, are in honor of Route 66.

Trivia: Barbed wire is also known as devil’s rope. McLean is home to the Devil’s Rope Museum which a contains a large collection of information and examples of different types of barbed wire. The museum is housed in a former brassiere factory and also features some Route 66 memorabilia.

Alanreed, Texas

Alanreed’s townsite was selected because it was on a stagecoach route between two of the Texas Panhandle’s first two towns. Before Alanreed had been formally established, the community had been called Springtown, Spring Tank, Gouge Eye, and Prairie Dog Town. The official name came from the railroad surveying company, Alan and Reed, which laid out the townsite. In 1901, the first school was built, and a post office was moved to Alanreed from six miles away in 1902. At its height in 1927, the town’s population reached 500. Over the next four decades, Alanreed’s population rose and fell but never again surpassed 350 residents. By 2001 there were reportedly only 52 people and a couple of businesses left. We saw no signs of commerce or inhabitants when we visited in 2022.

We found this Texaco service station in what used to be downtown Alanreed. A sign on the building says the service station was built in 1930 by Bradley Kiser. The building with the Merit Feed & Seed sign appears to be an old garage.
This is the landscape around Alanreed and McLean which are just seven miles apart on old Route 66.  The land shown here once belonged to Alfred Rowe’s 100,000-acre RO Ranch. The RO, though now much smaller, still exists today under different ownership.

Groom, Texas

Groom is still a thriving little town with a population of 547 residents. As with many of its neighboring towns, Groom was established on ranchland and grew because of the railroad. Today, the town’s claim to fame is the 190-foot Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the second largest cross in the Western Hemisphere.

The Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ was built in 1995.

Around the base of the cross are thirteen stations of the cross, depicting Jesus’ walk to Calvary on the day of his crucifixion, plus the tomb and resurrection site. Other features include a replica of the Shroud of Turin and a gift shop.

Stations of the Cross
The Thirteenth Station.
The beautiful Divine Mercy Fountain.

The leaning Britten USA water tower is on the I-40 access road (old Route 66) on the east side of Groom. Once an advertisement for a truck stop that burned down in the 1980s, the purposely tilted water tower is a favorite Route 66 landmark.

Sixteen miles to our next stop…

Conway, Texas

Conway is a ghost town with little left standing to indicate that a town ever existed. A closed hotel and cafe, an old school that has been closed for years, and a couple of grain elevators are pretty much all that’s left. However, where old Route 66 intersects with I-40, there is one landmark that is a popular stop for Mother Road travelers – Bug Ranch!

Bug Ranch, Route 66, Conway, Texas

Bug Ranch was created as a takeoff on the iconic Cadillac Ranch (located 35 miles away in Amarillo, Texas) to attract travelers to a gas station, trading post, and rattlesnake ranch at Conway. As with Cadillac Ranch, the five Volkswagen Beetles buried nose down have become a place for visitors to express their creativity with spray paint. The spray paint doesn’t stop with the cars though. The surrounding buildings have also become “works of art”, one of which is our featured photo.

Tumbleweeds grow among the cars and buildings of Bug Ranch.

Next stop: Amarillo…

Trivia: Pantex, located 17 miles northeast of Amarillo, is the nation’s only assembly and disassembly facility for nuclear weapons. The plant is Amarillo’s largest non-school district employer with over 4,000 full-time employees.

Amarillo, Texas

Amarillo was established in 1887 as a cattle shipping center and soon became the largest “cow town” in the world. At times there were 50,000 head of cattle in pens around Amarillo just waiting to be shipped. By 1910, the city was home to almost 10,000 residents, and today’s population tops 200,000. Amarillo means yellow in Spanish.

Route 66, Amarillo, also known as Amarillo Boulevard and Business I-40.

There are several old hotels, gas stations, and other businesses on the old Route 66 through Amarillo, but nothing that really grabbed our attention. The historic 6th Street area boasts of its Mother Road roots, but it is mostly bars, restaurants, a couple of galleries and an antique shop or two. Amarillo does have some great attractions, but most of them are actually on I-40. Cadillac Ranch and the Big Texan Steak Ranch are probably the most iconic. Speaking of icons, the beautiful and talented Tula Ellice Finklea was born in Amarillo. 

Cadillac Ranch
Home of the free 72 oz. steak dinner if eaten within an hour!

To see the best things to do in Amarillo, check out our post Amarillo, Texas. We have come to the end of our Route 66 adventure – at least for now. Illinois, and the entire western half of the route are on our list to do at some point. Stay tuned for those posts in the future. Thank you so much for joining us on the Mother Road.

Need more American road trip inspiration? Check out these great destinations:

Rocky Mountain National Park

Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park

Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park


  Safe travels, y’all. We will see you on the road!

Mike and Kellye

As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.



Amarillo, Texas


Not far from the halfway point on the old Route 66 lies the city of Amarillo, Texas. Today, I-40 bisects the city which is hard to miss on any mid-America east-west road trip. Amarillo is a classic, from it’s Route 66 historic area to its museums and quirky Americana. Road trippers will want to spend a day or more checking out everything this city has to offer.

On the beaten path…

American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame and Museum


For those who aren’t horse people (we aren’t) and especially for those who are, this is a fantastic experience! Located in a beautiful building at 2601 I-40 east (I-40 and Quarter Horse Drive), this museum and hall of fame is definitely worth a stop for an hour or two.


Bloodlines from the first recorded quarter horse in America in the 1700s to present day are shown on the floor of the stunning Grand Hall.

Cadillac Ranch


Ten old Cadillacs (we only captured seven of them due to mud) buried nose down in a field just west of Amarillo on the south side of I-40. Bring your spray paint and leave your own mark on this American classic art installation.


Jack Sisemore’s Traveland RV Museum

Bring on the nostalgia – this place is fun and free! Located at 4341 Canyon Drive (off of I-27 and Georgia). Enter the RV dealership for an escort out to the museum. Below are some of the vintage RVs and motorcycles that are on display.

Trivia: Wally Byam incorporated the Airstream travel trailer company in 1931.

Happy Max. 1948 Flxible used in the movie “RV” starring Robin Williams.

1918 Harley Davidson motorcycle with rare left-hand side car.

The Big Texan


Other points of interest on the beaten path:

  • Route 66 Historic District – west of downtown, beginning at SW 6th Street and McMasters.
  • Amarillo Zoo – 700 Comanchero Trail.
  • Wonderland Amusement Park – 2601 Dumas Drive.

Off the beaten path…

Coyote Bluff Cafe


Located at 2417 S Grand, this place has some of THE BEST BURGERS we’ve eaten anywhere! Love the laid-back atmosphere here, too. Arrive early for lunch. There are only twelve or thirteen tables and they fill up fast.

Helium Monument


Officially called the Helium Centennial Time Columns Monument, the 60-foot tall stainless steel structure was erected in 1968 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the discovery of helium. Four time capsules dedicated to the preservation and responsible use of natural resources are contained in the columns. The first capsule was opened in 1993, and the second in 2018. The other two will be opened on the hundredth, and thousandth anniversaries of the 1968 establishment of the monument. Amarillo is home to a former helium plant and the Texas panhandle once held most of the world’s helium reserves.




Other points of interest off the beaten path:

  • Bill’s Backyard Classics. Classic car museum – 5309 S Washington Street.
  • Texas Air & Space Museum – 10001 American Drive.


Ozymandias on the Plains


These “two vast and trunkless legs of stone” are located near the southeast corner of the intersection of I-27 and Sundown Lane, south of town. We suspect that people are using their leftover spray paint from Cadillac Ranch to keep this sculpture colorful.


Second Amendment Cowboy


This big (muffler man) guy can be found next to the Cadillac RV park at 2601 Hope Road and the south I-40 frontage road, west of Amarillo and just east of the Cadillac Ranch. The site also includes three old Cadillacs that have mannequins of Willie Nelson, John Wayne, and Elvis sitting in the driver’s seats, and a gift shop. The marker in front of the cowboy is a faux historical marker that touts our Second Amendment right to bear arms, but surprisingly the cowboy does not have a gun. Side note: the RV park is fabulous!

Nearby points of interest…

Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument


  • Website: Alibates Flint Quarries
  • Cost: free
  • Visitor center hours: daily 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • Where: approximately 40 minutes north of Amarillo off of Highway 136
  • Hiking trails
  • Ranger led tours of the quarries by reservation only


Come here to learn about the Plains Indians who quarried the harder-than-steel flint to make arrowheads and spear points. Dating as far back as 13,000 years, flint from these quarries has been found far and wide. While at the visitor center, watch a film about the monument, and then enjoy the small museum.

Lake Meredith National Recreation Area


  • Website: Lake Meredith
  • Cost: free entrance
  • Visitor center located in Fritch, Texas open daily 8:00 am to 4:30 pm, except holidays
  • Where: seven minutes west of Fritch, Texas, which is approximately 40 minutes north of Amarillo
  • Hiking, RV and tent camping, boating, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, hunting
  • Hotels, additional RV campgounds, restaurants, and groceries available in Fritch and in Borger, which is approximately 20 minutes east of Fritch



Check with the park regarding lake levels and boat preparation before arrival. Hunters must comply with park and state regulations. Texas fishing licenses are required. Camping is free at all sites, except for the electric/water hook-up sites at Sanford-Yake. See the website for details.


Other nearby points of interest:

  • Palo Duro Canyon State Park – approximately 30 minutes south and east of Amarillo. Beautiful Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the US. Click here for our Palo Duro Canyon post.
  • Large Cross in Groom, Texas – approximately 45 minutes east of Amarillo on the south side of I-40. Great stop with Stations of the Cross, which are life-size sculptures depicting the crucifixion of Jesus, and a visitor center that displays an exact replica of the Shroud of Turin. Free, but donations are appreciated.

Okay, that’s going to do it for our Amarillo, Texas overview. We hope you enjoy your journey. We love that you joined us on ours. Please come back again! You never know where we’re going to take you. Until next time…

Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye


As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.


















Caprock Canyons State Park and Trailway

We apologize for any neck pain that viewing this photo may cause!

  • Website link: Caprock Canyons
  • Hiking (25 miles of trails), biking, swimming, canoeing/kayaking, fishing, horseback riding. There is also a great scenic drive.
  • For RV and tent campers, Honey Flat Campground offers water, electricity, restrooms, showers, and a playground. Book early!
  • Tent and basic camping areas offer water only, and primitive campsites are also available in the park.
  • Equestrian campground available.
  • Backcountry camping is allowed anywhere along the Trailway. Check the website for Trailway information.
  • When to go: anytime. We like spring and fall.


Caprock Canyons State Park, located near the small town of Quitaque (Kitty-Quay), Texas, is the home of the official Texas State Bison Herd. In addition to the bison (they have the run of the park, by the way) this park has stunning scenery and is a place to literally get away from it all. Set off on one of the great trails and immerse yourself in the rugged beauty of this West Texas gem.

20181013_154405*Caprock Canyons State Park is:

102 miles from Amarillo, Texas96 miles from Lubbock, Texas170 miles from Wichita Falls, Texas

Our trip is going to start from Lubbock, Texas, as it is the closest city with a major airport.



Getting There

From Lubbock, take I-27 north toward Plainview, and then continue north to Tulia. At Tulia, take Highway 86 east toward Silverton, and then continue east to Quitaque. Drive time between Lubbock and Caprock Canyons: 1.75 hours.

Note: a visit to Caprock Canyons is an easy day trip from Lubbock or Amarillo, however, we recommend staying for a day or two (or longer) to enjoy everything this park has to offer.

There are a few accommodations in the area, including a bed and breakfast in Quitaque, a hotel in Turkey (11 miles east), and a couple of RV campgrounds. Here are the website links: Quitaque and Turkey.

Travel tip: there’s a vintage cottage gas station in Turkey that is worth driving the 11 miles to see.

Restored Phillips 66 gas station in Turkey

Destination: Caprock Canyons State Park

Misty Watercolor Memories! Caused by bright sun in the east and a cold front moving in from the west. The unusual lighting turned the red bluffs pink.

We hiked the Canyon Rim Trail on an overcast day. The scenery was gorgeous, but the pictures, unfortunately, do not do it justice. The wildflowers really put on a show, though.

Looking  down in to the canyon from Canyon Rim Trail

Wildflowers along Canyon Rim Trail

The scenic drive along the park road enables you to get up close and personal with some the features of the park. Below are a few shots of the beautiful scenery along the road.

Creek bed with interesting geologic features in the cliff face

20181013_122320 (1)
Canyon perspective

How did nature do that? And those plants!

Panorama from a viewpoint along the road

Be sure to stop at the pull outs and learn about the park. While you’re at it, stop by the visitor center for books and information about Charles Goodnight and his wife, Mary Ann. They are responsible for preserving the predecessors of the bison herd that calls Caprock Canyons home. It’s a very interesting story, especially since American bison were once on the verge of extinction. We find the bison enchanting, and fun to watch, but always from a distance. These are wild animals that can be dangerous, and it is illegal to approach or feed them.


The video below was taken early in the morning while the herd was walking from wherever they spent the night to a grassy grazing area.

That’s our overview of Caprock Canyons State Park and Trailway. Thank you for joining us. We hope that our post has prompted you to visit this great park. As we always say, “Just get in the car.” Please leave us a note and tell us about your trip to Caprock Canyons, or any of your trips for that matter. Maybe you will inspire us to take your trip!


Travel safe, travel smart, and we will see you down the road.

Mike and Kellye


As always, we strive to be as accurate with our information as possible. If we made a mistake, it was unintentional. (Hey, we’re only human!) We aren’t paid for our recommendations, and we only recommend our own tried and true vendors and venues. Our suggestions are for places that we’ve heard good things about but haven’t visited personally, and our opinions are our own.