1) If you want to start at the high point of this journey, Black Mesa State Park (580-426-2222, stateparks.com ) in the far Western end of the Oklahoma panhandle is where to do it—at just under 5,000 ft., the mesa is literally the highest point in the Sooner State. A slight jaunt to the southeast will then land you in Boise City (travelok.com), where there’s a memorial for the only state in the continental U.S. that was bombed in World War II (on July 5, 1943, a U.S. B-17 pilot got turned around and thought the lights in the town square were his practice targets). One more southeast jaunt will take you to Goodwell, Okla., home to the No Man’s Land Museum (580-349-2670, www.nmlhs.org). Named for the common moniker associated with this part of the state, the museum is a celebration of the early Okies.
2) Head on down to Amarillo to get your kicks on Route 66. Visit the iconic Cadillac Ranch (visitamarillotx.com) before grabbing some grub at The Big Texan (806-372-1000, bigtexan.com) where putting down a 72 oz. steak in under an hour wins you a free meal—an offer that has stood since 1962. Luckily, you can also throw down your bedroll in their motel when you succumb to the inevitable food coma that follows.
3) The Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum (806-651-2244, panhandleplains.org) in nearby Canyon is currently showcasing the slightly more genteel side of Texas with exhibitions like “High Fashions of the West” and “Girls of the Golden West.” From there, do some horseback riding while checking out “The Grand Canyon of Texas” at Palo Duro Canyon State Park (806-488-2227, tpwd.state.tx.us). And not far away, Caprock Canyons State Park (806-455-1492, tpwd.state.tx.us) is the home to the descendants of Charles Goodnight’s bison herd—the official bison herd of the Lone Star State.
4) For the encore, roll into Lubbock to check out the Buddy Holly Center (806-775-3560, buddyhollycenter.org). Housed in the original railway depot, the center is a memorial to Lubbock’s own Rock and Roll star, Buddy Holly. Hop across the street to check out Waylon Jennings’s contribution to his friend’s memory, The West Texas Walk of Fame. For a comprehensive look at the region, visit the Museum of Texas Tech (806-742-2443, mottua.org) and to get an up-close-and-personal view of the area’s ranching history, the Ranching Heritage Center (806-742-0498, nrhc.ttu.edu) is not to be missed. In finale, enjoy the great expanse of the southern most portion of the Great Plains with a trail ride on one of the many equestrian trails through Mackenzie State Park (806-775-2687, visitlubbock.org).