Top Five Desert Southwest Destinations of Texas

To emphasize what I said about deserts in the winter in my last essay on Utah, while researching this essay on the great places to visit in the desert southwest of Texas, I found an article germane to the subject. It is simply titled, ?How NOT to die in the Desert.? The main emphasis, if you don?t feel like downer stories on people dying in the desert, is that you need to be prepared and you need to stay hydrated. Hydration is much easier in the winter months when temperatures stay below 100 degrees.

Whoa mama!

However, not everything in the desert means that you have to defy death. Some things in Texas can be done indoors, like the first item on the list.

1. Try to eat a 72 oz. Steak at the Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo

I feel that this one may be clich?d since you often see on reality shows, TV shows or movies, some attempt to eat a big ol? steak. John Candy in ?The Great Outdoors? comes immediately to mind and the Big Texan Steak Ranch has a link to the Man Vs. Food episode on its website. Still, I know I need to try at some point. What makes me think I can eat a 72-ounce steak in an hour? Well, have you ever eaten 5 out of 8 slices of an 18-inch pizza and thought to yourself, well, I should probably keep some for breakfast instead of finishing it off? I?m sad to say that I have, although sometimes it ends up being just two slices for breakfast. On the other hand, there?s the financial pressure of the endeavor, because if you don?t finish in an hour, it?s a $72 meal for one.

2. Go to the Alamo

Admittedly, San Antonio is on the very border of the desert southwest, if not on the outside of it. (I couldn?t in good conscience include attending SXSW in Austin in this list, but if you?re in Texas in March, I highly recommend it.) However, if you think of the southwest, don?t you have to think of the Alamo? Just looking at the building, it screams southwest. Well, the building doesn?t actually scream. If it did, I doubt anyone would have died defending it. But, quick movie pitch, what if you combined ?The Amityville Horror? with ?The Alamo?? Huh? Huh?

3. Bird Watching in Big Bend National Park

I know, I know, bird watching isn?t exactly at the top of the list of ?cool? or ?hip? or ?groovy? or ?streets ahead? things. I realize that. Think of it this way ? do you know any blue mammals that don?t live in the sea? Birds come in all colors and they gather in the winter in Big Bend National Park to enjoy the weather like we do. If you don?t see any (which I highly doubt), at least you got a good hike in on one of the many trails.

4. Go to the CAF Airpower Museum

Maybe I just like things that fly, but there is definitely something cool about going to the CAF Airpower Museum in Midland, Texas. They have an exhibit of nose art, which are the paintings cut from the fuselages of WWII planes. There?s a hangar with displays of several different kinds planes. Combine this museum as it focuses on WWII with the Alamo as a part of the Texas Revolution, and you get to see the differences in war over 100 years and 330 miles of travel.

5. Canoe the Rio Grande

Finally, escape the hustle and bustle and hit the wilderness on a float trip down the Rio Grande river. If you want a little more hustle and bustle though, you can kayak Mariscal Canyon and run the class II and III rapids on that stretch of the river. I think after my exploration of the rest of Texas, I?ll just stick with the calm Boquillas Canyon.

That’s my top five for the Texas desert. Any suggestions for things that I missed? Any restaurant/greasy spoon recommendations for the area? I?m open to adding to these five ideas.


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About Jason McClain Jason is an aspiring novelist, which means there is a lot of time to put off writing and watch baseball or go fly-fishing, hiking and traveling. By "a lot of time", Jason means "procrastination."

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