The Panhandle is the northern-west area of Texas. It's a remote region, scarcely visited, embodying the harsh reality of the old west, with its ranches and cattle grazing. Amarillo and Lubbock are the main cities in this backyard region.
South of Panhandle lies the area known as the West Texas - a large area bordering Mexico and New Mexico. This region is a typical land of cactus and deserts, with some exceptions, such as the Davis Mountains, a verdant and mountainous region. El Paso, its main city, and the Big Bend National Park, southeast of El Paso, are the main travel highlights.
WHAT TO VISIT IN THE PANHANDLE TEXAS
The rural Panhandle - with its typical landscape of mesquite trees, cactus and tumbleweeds - offers many opportunities for visiting old west ranches. You will find a reasonable number of these ranches - offering tourist visits and accommodation (often pricey) - on the outskirts of Amarillo and Canyon.
Amarillo, in the heart of the I-40 (once the legendary Route 66), offers antique stores and homes (along Sixth Street) and some good museums on the pioneer life. Six miles out of Amarillo, the Cadillac Ranch (offering a wide show of Cadillac designs from 1950 to the early sixties) is a popular reference.
Canyon and its Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum and nearby ranches, just fifteen miles south of Amarillo, are a major travel reference in the region (Canyon is itself a former cattle town).
Pallo Duro State Canyon Park, twenty miles southeast of Amarillo, with scenic views, wide deserts, abundant local wildlife and exceptional camping opportunities, is a major travel option in the region.
Lubbock is also home of the best Panhandle annual events: the September Fest (the old Buddy Holly Music Festival), several rodeos (the ABC Rodeo happens in Spring) or the Panhandle South Plains Fair (late September or early October).
BEST TIME OF THE YEAR TO VISIT THE PANHANDLE TEXAS
Spring, Summer and Fall are the best times for a visit. Temperatures are normally mild at these times of the year (summers are hot, with some humidity, but do not reach the extremes of other Texas regions).
The Panhandle winter weather is rather unpredictable and can be very harsh. Very low temperatures and snow are common.
WHEN NOT TO GO TO PANHANDLE TEXAS
Winter weather can be very harsh
Winter, with its cold temperatures and the occasional snow, is not a good time for travel.
For details on precipitation, temperatures, humidity... see the Travel Weather Map below for Amarillo.
Amarillo, Texas: Travel Weather Data Map
HOTELS AND FLIGHTS TO TEXAS PANHANDLE
Amarillo and Lubbock offer a variety of accommodation options, from the inexpensive to luxurious.
WHAT TO VISIT IN WEST TEXAS
The Big Bend National Park - southeast of El Paso - is a good place for enthusiasts of hiking and camping.
Small towns (some of them old abandoned towns) and ranches among plateaus and canyons are becoming popular travel attractions. It's the case of Terligua and Latijas (in the neighbourhoods of the Big Bend National Park), two examples of long abandoned towns converted into tourist centers.
Davis Mountains - south of I-10 and I-20 intersection - with its relatively fresh temperatures, is a popular summer destination. Fort Davis - a very small town - is the travel hub for the region, that also includes the Fort National Historic Site (excellent for hiking, fishing, swimming and walking) and the McDonald Observatory, which provides guided visits.
El Paso (and the Mexican Ciudad Juarez) provides a blending of Texan and Mexican cultures, some interesting museums, shopping opportunities, good accommodation and restaurants (with predominantly Mexican food) and rich historic Tigua Indian sites and old Spanish missions (Mission Trail) .
BEST TIME OF THE YEAR TO VISIT WEST TEXAS, EL PASO REGION
December through March is the best period to visit the desert regions of West Texas: in this period nights are cool and days are typically warm, with the desert plants blooming, making the region more beautiful.
If you intend to visit the Davis Mountains region, then summer is a good and popular period: here, contrary to most other West Texas places, you can find mild temperatures and sites for swimming, fishing or hiking.
WHEN NOT TO GO TO WEST TEXAS, EL PASO REGION
Avoid summer and the mid-season months close to summer. Temperatures soar to unbearable levels during the daylight in the West Texas desert regions (if you do go, do not forget to use appropriate sports wear, strong walking shoes and sunscreen in the hotter days).
For details on precipitation, temperatures, humidity... in the El Paso region, see the weather map below.
Travel Weather Data Map El Paso, West Texas
HOTELS AND FLIGHTS TO EL PASO
El Paso offers wide accommodation options in the old downtown hotels or in the chain motels along I-20.
The El Paso Airport is just some miles northeast of downtown.