The Best Scenic Drives on Texas Highways, Ranked

Itching to get out on the open road? Start your journey on any one of scenic drives across Texas' highways.

Whether you're in the rolling Hill Country or deep in the pine curtain, the way out west canyons or the windy wisps of the panhandle, Texas highways offer a diverse array of backdrops and natural surroundings for everyone to explore on wheels. Outside of Alaska, the Lone Star State has the most ground to cover in the United States, and since Texas isn't mostly a frozen tundra, that makes it the most explore-worthy state, according to us at least.

If you're ready to light out on the wide open road to bask in the glory of towering trees, majestic mountains, deep bayous, sprawling deserts, and flowing rivers, then these five drives are a good place to start.

5. The Lonesome Highway

If you're looking to find a little solace in your Texas road trip try this quiet stretch of road leading up to the Guadalupe Mountains. Head west on Highway 285 until it meets Highway 180 in Northwest Texas, and continue on until you hit some epic mountain views. This drive is perfect for a George Strait playlist and a trip with your dog and your thoughts.

4. El Camino Real Highway

Welcome to Texas road sign in front of cloudy sky

Also known as Texas 21, El Camino Real Highway begins amid the piney woods of Sabine National Forest and etches west through the state until it lands in San Antonio. Side note: whoever made up the highways in Texas really wanted travelers to get to San Antonio, it seems.

Anyhow, history tells that Spanish missionaries and Native Americans used the road (not the actual paved road we roll on now, of course) as early as the 1700s, so you know it's legit.

3. Highway 16

Spring wildflowers along Texas State Hwy 16 north of Fredricksburg.

Starting just south of Wichita Falls in the northeastern block of Texas, Highway 16 is one of the longest Texas highways.

Roadtrippers can follow the road from the north and cut through the entire southern direction of the state, spotting everything from big cities to small dusty towns, rivers and lakes to the lush Texas Hill Country. Some major stops along the way include San Antonio, Fredericksburg, and the mighty Rio Grande.

2. Davis Mountains Scenic Loop

Straight road to horizon in high desert landscape of Davis Mountains, Texas, US

Drivers can get a little altitude at the highest elevated of Texas highways, located just north of Marfa in the western part.

This drive tops out with a 6,700-foot-high peak and ambles on for 75 miles, offering stunning views and a whopping 2,000-foot change in elevation. Scenery ranges from scrambling grasslands to vast forests of Ponderosa and Pinon, perfect for picnics and quick breathers in state parks.

1. Highway 207

Road in Palo Duro Canyon in Texas.

Palo Duro Canyon, the second-largest canyon in the United States next to the Grand Canyon, is an outdoor explorer's heaven with ample hiking and camping, and beautiful layered red rocks. Highway 207 spines along the eastern border of the state park and offers amazing views of Texas' Old West.

You can even hitch your ride in the park and watch a singing cowboy musical. Really.

What's your favorite drive to make in Texas? Share your story at our Wide Open Roads Facebook!

This article was originally published March 6, 2019.

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