True West’s Ultimate Historic Travel Guide: The Desert Southwest

Desert Southwest Travel Guide True West
Tourist, Grand Canyon, Arizona Territory, circa 1903.
— Courtesy Library of Congress —

From the Grand Canyon to the Texas Gulf Coast, from the Rio Grande River Valley to Oklahoma’s endless grasslands, the Desert Southwest Region is a land of sky islands, spectacular canyonlands, plains and prairies, unforgiving deserts and rugged mountains.

The natural beauty, vast distances, and diversity of cultures in the regions will inspire the visitor to gain a greater understanding of how the aridity of the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts has influenced the Indian, Hispanic and American settlement of the region.

The Desert Southwest Region is home to many of the nation’s  most recognizable geologic landmarks, ancient pueblos, monuments and historic sites, but also some of its oldest Indian and Hispanic communities.

Visitors to the four states will quickly find themselves on the trails of conquistadors and explorers, cowboys and cavalry, and walking in the footsteps of ancient peoples, Indian nations, homesteaders and prospectors.

Arizona

Battle of Big Dry Wash Site

In July 1882, the last bloody battle between Army regulars and the Apache tribe took place north of Payson and is commemorated by a marker built in the 1930s by the U.S. Forest Service and the Civilian Conservation Corps.

To visit the battle site from Payson, drive north on Highway 87 through Pine and Strawberry to the Rim Road, Forest Road 300. Turn right and drive east to the Battle of Big Dry Wash Historical Marker near General Springs.

Battle of Big Dry Wash Site, Payson, AZ
928-472-5110 • RimCountryMuseums.com

Camp Verde State Historic Park

Founded in 1865, Camp Verde State Historic Park is a living history center that commemorates and honors the history of the Army and the conflict with the Yavapai and Western Apaches during the American settlement of Central Arizona.

125 E Hollamon St, Camp Verde, AZ 86322
928-567-3275 • AZStateParks.com

Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Located in the heart of the Navajo Reservation, Canyon de Chelly National Monument is home to the traditional clans who have lived in the spectacular canyon for generations.

Tour the national monument, above and below the canyon, with special guided tours of the park, and learn about the canyon’s importance to Navajo culture, and the tragic years of the tribe’s incarceration at Bosque Redondo in New Mexico.

PO Box 588, Chinle, AZ 86503 • 928-674-5500 •  NPS.gov

Fort Apache Historic Park

A key outpost during the U.S. Army’s conflict with the Apaches from the 1860s to the 1880s, Fort Apache today is part of the Theodore Roosevelt National Historic Landmark, maintained by the Apache Tribe with assistance from the Fort Apache Heritage Foundation.

The park offers exhibits on tribal history plus a museum shop. The Nohwike’ Bágowa (House of Our Footprints) Museum is open six days a week, and on Sundays May through September.

127 Scout St, Fort Apache, AZ 85926
928-338-1392  FortApacheArizona.org

Fort Bowie National Historic Site

Located at Apache Springs near the national stageroad in the heart of Chiricahua territory, Fort Bowie National Historic Site can be reached by a short hike across the Butterfield Trail, past the spring and through the desert hills to well-maintained ruins of the fort and historic cemetery.

3500 S Apache Pass Rd, Bowie, AZ 85605
520-847-2500 • NPS.gov

Fort Whipple

Founded in 1863, Fort Whipple was one of the Army’s earliest outposts in central and Northern Arizona during the American post-Civil War settlement of the Grand Canyon state.

Gen. George Crook built the Crook Trail from Whipple to Fort Apache during the Yavapai War. Today, a historic museum is maintained in a 1909 officer’s home on the post’s grounds, which today is a V.A. Hospital for Northern Arizona.

AZ-89, Prescott, AZ 86303 • 928-445-3122  Sharlot.org

Grand Canyon National Park

The Grand Canyon is the traditional home and a sacred site to the Havasupai, Hualapai, Navajo, Hopi and Paiute Indians of northern Arizona.

Grand Canyon National Park’s South Rim visitors center receives 5 million visitors annually. Don’t miss the exhibition on John Wesley Powell’s exploration of the Grand Canyon and his epic 1869 river run on the Green-Colorado.

PO Box 129 Grand Canyon, AZ 86023
928-638-7888 • NPS.gov

Holbrook

Founded in 1881 by the Santa Fe Railway, Holbrook quickly gained a reputation as one of the toughest towns in the Southwest.

As the headquarters of the infamous Aztec Land & Cattle Company, aka the Hashknife Outfit, a walking/driving tour of the historic town once patrolled by legendary lawman Sheriff Commodore Perry Owens starts at the Historic Navajo County Courthouse.

928-524-6558 • CI.Holbrook.US.az

Picacho Peak State Historic Park

Just off Interstate 10, west of Casa Grande, the picturesque Picacho Peak can be seen for miles in every direction, a landmark for generations of travelers and the site of the Westernmost battle of the Civil War on April 15, 1862.

Every March re-enactors gather and entertain thousands with a re-enactment of three battles:  Picacho Peak, Glorieta and Val Verde, the latter two fought in New Mexico.

I-10, Exit 219, Eloy, AZ 85141 • 520-466-3183
AZStateParks.com

Prescott

The historic and picturesque Territorial capital of Arizona, Prescott is the perfect town in which to take a walk through state history.

Start at Sharlot Hall Museum, the living history center with several historic buildings, including the Territorial Governor’s Home, and walk down Gurley Street to Prescott’s historic Courthouse Square, where Solon Borglum’s Rough Rider bronze greets visitors to the park.

Across the street take a walk down Montezuma Avenue, known as Whiskey Row, and visit the historic Palace Saloon.

928-445-2000 • Prescott.org

Queen Mine

The centerpiece historical site in downtown Bisbee is Phelps Dodge’s Queen Mine, one of the richest mineral bonanzas in state history.

Retired miners lead the underground tours that take visitors on trams deep into the copper mine.

After touring the mine, don’t miss an opportunity to walk through Bisbee’s historic district, including a tour of the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum, and the legendary Copper Queen Hotel.

478 N Dart Rd, Bisbee, AZ 85603 • 520-432-2071
QueenMineTour.com / DiscoverBisbee.com

Slaughter Ranch

Texas John Slaughter was a legendary lawman and rancher in southeastern Arizona during and after the Apache Wars and Earp-Cowboy feuds in Cochise County in the late 19th century.

Today his San Bernardino Ranch is home to the Johnson Historical Museum of Southern Arizona and adjacent to the San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge.

6153 Geronimo Trail, Douglas, AZ 85607
520-678-7596 • SlaughterRanch.com

Tombstone

“The town to tough to die,” Tombstone is Arizona’s most infamous Territorial mining camp and is known internationally for the Earp-Clanton gunfight behind the O.K. Corral.

Tour the Tombstone County Courthouse State Historic Park, take a walk through Boothill Graveyard, and park at one end of Allen Street and walk into history.

In the National Historic District don’t miss visiting Big Nose Kate’s Saloon, the Crystal Palace, C.S. Fly’s, O.K. Corral, the Bird Cage Saloon, Rose Tree Museum, Good Enough Mine Underground Tour and the Tombstone Epitaph Museum.

888-457-3929 • TombstoneChamber.com

Tubac Presidio State Historic Park

Tubac Presidio was the first Spanish fort in present-day Arizona. In 1752, following a revolt by local native peoples, Spain placed a fortress, the San Ignacio de Tubac, in the Santa Cruz River Valley.

Tubac is famous for being the launch point of the Anza Expedition to San Francisco in 1775. By 1787, the fort was manned by the same native peoples who had revolted, now enlisted as a Spanish infantry company at Tubac.

The Tubac Presidio would later become headquarters for Charles Poston’s mining company when the Americans came in 1856.

The museum showcases every culture, with artifacts and displays that bring 2,000 years of history to life. The state park is also a trailhead for the Juan Bautista De Anza Trail that leads to Tumacacori National Historical Park.

1 Burruel St, Tubac, AZ 85646 • 520-398-2252
TubacPresidio.org / AZStateParks.com / NPS.gov

Warren Earp’s Grave

Warren Earp, the youngest brother of Virgil, Wyatt and Morgan, is buried in the Willcox Cemetery not too far from where he was gun downed by Johnny Boyette in Brown’s Saloon in 1900.

After paying your respects at Warren’s monument, enjoy a visit to a museum dedicated to Cochise County’s very own, Rex Allen, at the Rex Allen “Arizona Cowboy” Museum & Willcox Cowboy Hall of Fame.

454 N 3rd St, Willcox, AZ • ExploreCochise.com

Yuma

Near the confluence of the Gila and Colorado rivers, the U.S. Army built a post at the strategic crossing of the Colorado.

Today the Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Historic Park provides a window into early Territorial settlement, steamboat military, railroad and mining history.

Across the highway from the depot is the notorious Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park, once one of the most feared prisons in the Old West.

201 N 4th Ave, Yuma, AZ 85364
928-783-0071 • VisitYuma.comAZStateParks.com

New Mexico

Battle of Glorieta Pass, Pecos National Historical Park

A separate unit from the main visitor center of Pecos National Historical Park, the Glorieta Battlefield commemorates the key battle between New Mexico forces and the Confederate Army that had been attempting to secure Southern control over the Southwest.

To walk the park’s 2.35-mile Glorieta Battlefield hiking trail, ask the rangers at the Pecos National Historical Park visitor center to provide you the gate code and a map.

NM-63, Pecos, NM 87552 • 505-757-7241 • NPS.gov

El Morro National Monument

For centuries travelers across New Mexico would cite El Morro as a key landmark on their trail north and south from the Pueblo communities along the Rio Grande and New Spain’s settlements in Mexico.

Many who paused and rested at the butte’s watering hole carved their name into its sandstone face.

With over 2,000 inscriptions, El Morro’s importance from ancient times to the present is documented at the monument’s visitor center and along the Inscription Trail to Inscription Rock, and the Headland Trail to Atsinna, the 875-room pueblo ruin atop El Morro.

Ice Caves Rd, Grants, NM 87020 • 505-783-4226 • NPS.gov

Fort Bayard National Historic Landmark

Built in the territory of New Mexico east of Silver City in 1866, Fort Bayard was an army camp until 1900 when it became a military hospital.

Adjacent to the former hospital (closed in 2010) is the Fort Bayard National Cemetery, opened in 1866, and operated by the Veteran’s Administration. The museum is open every Monday, April through September and by appointment only, October through March.

3rd St & D Ave, Fort Bayard, NM  • 575-956-3294
FortBayard.org / SilverCityTourism.org

Fort Selden Historic Site

Built in 1865 along the Rio Grande River in the Mesilla Valley, Fort Selden was an important Army post in the Southwestern Apache wars until its closure in 1891.

Just ten miles north of Las Cruces, Fort Selden Historic Site offers a visitors center, adobe ruins visitors can walk through and on weekends during summer months, living history events with re-enactors in period dress.

1233 Fort Selden Rd, Las Cruces, NM 88007
575-647-9585 • NMHistoricsites.org

Fort Stanton Historic Site

Built in 1855, Fort Stanton was a key Territorial outpost in the Army’s war with the Mescalero Apache tribe until its closure in 1896.

The fort’s soldiers were also called into service during local conflicts, including the Lincoln County War between Billy the Kid and his Regulators fighting for the Tunstall-McSween faction and the Murphy-Dolan faction.

Just ten miles from Lincoln, visitors should start their tour at the Fort Stanton Museum before taking a walking tour of the 240-acre site, which has 88 historic buildings.

104 Kit Carson Rd, Fort Stanton, NM 88323
575-354-0341 • NMHistoricsites.org

Fort Sumner Historic Site/Bosque Redondo Memorial

During the Civil War, the U.S. fought a war with the Navajo people that led to the tribe’s defeat and long walk to incarceration adjacent to Fort Sumner at the Bosque Redondo Reservation.

The miserable location for the 8,500 Navajos led the tribe to negotiate a peace settlement that allowed them to return with sovereignty to their traditional lands in the Four Corners region.

Over 500 Mescalero Apaches who had also been incarcerated at Bosque Redondo fled the reservation in 1865.

Visitors should tour the museum and walk the Old Fort Site and River Walk trails. The outlaw Billy the Kid was killed in the town of Fort Sumner on July 14, 1881, and is buried in the village cemetery.

707 N 4th St, Fort Sumner, NM 88119
575-355-7705 • NMHistoricsites.org

Fort Union National Monument

One of the most significant U.S. Army posts in eastern New Mexico, Fort Union was built at the crossroads of the Santa Fe Trail’s Mountain and Cimarron Cut-off trails.

Re-enactors hold regular events at the monument and visitors will enjoy the many tours of the grounds and the fort’s well-preserved ruins.

NM 161, Ocate, NM 87734 • 505-425-8025 • NPS.gov

Kit Carson Home and Museum

Located in the center of Taos, Kit Carson’s family adobe has been preserved as a museum that interprets his dramatic—and controversial—life as a mountain man, explorer, trailblazer, soldier and family man.

113 Kit Carson Rd, Taos, NM 87571
575-758-4945 • KitCarsonMuseum.org

Lincoln

In the annals of Western U.S. history, the humble town of Lincoln’s notorious past is synonymous with the violence that plagued the West, and especially the New Mexico Territory after the Civil War.

The historic buildings in the center of town are managed and preserved as a New Mexico Historic Site.

Visitors can walk the streets of Lincoln and stride in the footsteps of the Regulators, Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett, John Tunstall, Alexander McSween, Lawrence G. Murphy and James J. Dolan. Stay the weekend at the Dolan House, Ellis Store or Wortley Hotel.

Tour the 17 historic structures (call ahead for scheduled openings), including the Old Lincoln County Courthouse, the Tunstall Store, Montaño store, the 1850s stone Torreon, San Juan Mission Church and the Anderson-Freeman Museum.

Old Lincoln Days are held every August and re-enactors entertain tourists with some of the most infamous moments of the Lincoln County War, including Billy’s dramatic escape from the Lincoln County Jail.

Highway 380 Mile Marker 97.5, Lincoln, NM 88338
575-653-4025 • NMHistoricsites.org

Mesilla

Founded in 1848, Mesilla is one of the oldest settlements in the southern Rio Grande River Valley in New Mexico and was an important crossroads for territorial trade and travel on the El Camino Real and Southern Overland Route of the Butterfield Stage Line.

Mesilla’s historic plaza is where U.S. troops from Fort Fillmore raised the American flag after the conclusion of the Gadsden Purchase in 1853.

The town served as the short-lived capital of the Confederacy in New Mexico during the Civil War.

In the 1870s and 1880s Mesilla’s popular saloons and dance halls attracted law-abiding citizens and outlaws, including Billy the Kid.

Visitors should tour the historic plaza (the Kid was tried and sentenced to die in the historic building that is home to today’s Billy the Kid Giftshop), the local Gadsden Museum and the New Mexico Ranch & Farm Museum in nearby Las Cruces.

2231 Avenida de Mesilla, Mesilla, NM 88046
575-524-3262 • OldMesilla.org

Palace of the Governors

Built of adobe in the early 1600s as New Spain’s seat of government in New Mexico, today it is the state’s preeminent museum and archives of the city, state and region’s history.

A Registered National Historic Landmark and American Treasure, the Palace of the Governors is the oldest occupied public building in the United States.

The New Mexico History Museum opened next door to the Palace on Santa Fe’s Historic Plaza in 2009 and is dedicated to the ancient multi-cultural history of the Land of Enchantment state.

105 W Palace Ave, Santa Fe, NM 87501
505-476-5100  PalaceOfTheGovernors.org /NMHistoryMuseum.org

Pat Garrett Murder Site Historical Marker

Sheriff Pat Garrett became famous for his killing of Billy the Kid, but along the way the notorious and controversial lawman made many enemies in many powerful moneyed circles in the territory of New Mexico.

One morning, violence ended Garrett’s life, much like he lived it, and a marker commemorates his assassination in Dona Ana County.

Jornada Rd & I-70 Service Rd, Las Cruces, NM NMHistoricMarkers.org

St. James Hotel

In Cimarron, the historic St. James Hotel bears the bullet holes in its ceiling as evidence of its Wild West past as a Lambert’s Saloon before the proprietors expanded it into a popular hotel.

Many well-known Westerners traveling along the Santa Fe Railway stopped for the night, including Buffalo Bill Cody, who was a friend of the owners—French chef Henri Lambert and his wife, Mary.

Today, the historic hotel welcomes guests to enjoy the vintage, well-appointed rooms and a meal and drink at the restaurant and saloon. 

617 S. Collison, Cimarron, NM 87714
575-376-2664 • ExStJames.com

Village of Columbus/Camp Furlong

On March 9, 1916, Mexican revolutionary Gen. Francisco “Pancho” Villa led a raid into the United States across the border into the Village of Columbus and past the troops stationed at Camp Furlong. 

With nearly 500 Villistas riding hard wantonly through the town, the revolutionaries set fire to downtown before suffering dozens of losses.

Today, the only attack on U.S. soil by foreign invaders until 9/11 is remembered at Pancho Villa State Park, the former Camp Furlong from which Gen. Jack Pershing led 10,000 soldiers into Mexico in search of Villa.

224 Lima Ave, Columbus, NM 88029
575-531-0046 • ColumbusNewMexico.com

Oklahoma

101 Ranch Memorial

The internationally renowned Miller Brothers’ 101 Ranch Wild West Show, billed as “The Greatest Show of the West,” toured the world from 1905 to 1939.

During the Miller Brothers heyday, the Oklahoma family empire included vast land holdings, oil wells and international fame.

The 101 Ranch Old Timers Association owns 72 acres of the original ranch site and in 1996 opened the public picnic area.

Visit the E.W. Marland’s Grand Home Museum in Ponca City to see the official 101 Ranch Collection and 101 Ranch Old Timers Association Museum.

Visit Ponca City in June to experience the annual celebration since 1960 of the great 101 Ranch Wild West Show at the 101 Ranch Rodeo.

On State Highway 156, 13 miles SW of Ponca City
101RanchOTA.com / KayCounty.info / MarlandGrandHome.com

Chisholm Trail Heritage Center

In Duncan, Oklahoma, The Chisholm Trail Heritage Center is located north of the Red River along the historic Chisholm Trail.

An interactive museum with regularly scheduled events inside the exhibit hall and outside on the museum’s grounds, the centerpiece of the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center is the Garis Gallery of the American West.

In addition to the museum’s extraordinary Western art collection, visitors will enjoy both permanent and temporary exhibitions that celebrate the history and culture of the Chisholm Trail, American cowboy and the West.

When walking the museum grounds, don’t miss Paul Moore’s On the Chisholm Trail bronze that greets visitors at the entrance to the Heritage Center.

1000 Chisholm Trail Pkwy, Duncan, OK 73533
580-252-6692 • OnTheChisholmTrail.com

Fort Gibson Historic Site

A national historic landmark, Fort Gibson dates to 1824 when the U.S. Army began exploring the region.

A key post during the Indian Removal era, it was closed in 1857. After the Civil War started the fort was reoccupied and became a key military outpost until 1890.

Tours should begin at the Commissary Visitor Center on Garrison Hill and proceed through the reconstructed log fort, and historic buildings constructed between the 1840s and 1870s.

Visitors also enjoy re-enactors leading living history programs and events during the year.

110 E Ash Ave, Fort Gibson, OK 74434
918-478-4088 • OKHistory.org

Fort Sill National Historic Landmark & Museum

One of the most significant historical military museums in Old West history, the Fort Sill National Historic Landmark and Museum is dedicated to the interpretation of nearly a century of American and Indian history in the region, including the post-Civil War engagements with the Southern Plains tribes.

Fort Sill was enlarged in 1894 when the Chiricahua Indians, imprisoned for nearly a decade in Florida and Alabama, were moved permanently to a reservation at the military base.

The interactive history facility boasts 38 buildings and curates over 235,000 objects at the 142-acre Historic Landmark. The museum is completely dedicated to its historic era, while the US Army Field Artillery Museum has been a separate institution since 2008.

437 Quanah Rd, Fort Sill, OK 73503
580-442-5123 • Sill-WWW.Army.mil

Fort Supply Historic Site

Founded out of necessity during the winter of 1868 to support the Army’s war with the Southern Plains tribes in Western Oklahoma, Fort Supply was a key outpost in the Indian Territory for 25 years until its closure in 1894.

Today, five original buildings, including the 1875 ordnance sergeant’s quarters and a replica of the 1868 stockade, can be toured at the site.

Visitors should start at the restored and furnished 1892 brick guardhouse, which houses Fort Supply’s exhibitions.

1 William S Key Blvd, Fort Supply, OK 73841
580-256-6136 • OKHistory.org

Fort Towson Historic Site

Built in 1824 to protect early settler in the Arkansas Territory, Fort Towson was a key border outpost between Mexico and the United States prior to the Texas Revolution.

The Choctaw and Chickasaw encamped at the fort before settlement in the Indian Territory. U.S. forces prepared for war against Mexico at the fort in 1846 before it was closed in 1856.

The Confederate Army had its headquarters at the abandoned fort and in 1865 the final Southern surrender, by Gen. Stand Watie, occurred at Fort Towson.

Visitors can tour the Suttler’s Store, 18 interpretive sites on a walking tour, and enjoy regularly scheduled living history demonstrations throughout the year.

896 N 4375 Rd, Fort Towson, OK 74735
580-873-2634  OKHistory.org

Honey Springs Battlefield Historic Site

North of Checotah and adjacent to Rentiesville, the Honey Springs Battlefield Historic Site commemorates and honors the largest of 107 engagements in the Indian Territory during the Civil War.

Visitors can walk six different trails across the 1,100-acre park and learn about the July 17, 1863 Battle of Honey Springs at 55 interpretive sites.

The Union’s decisive defeat of the Confederate forces has earned the battle the nickname “Gettysburg of the Indian Territory.” A new visitor center is under construction in Rentiesville.

101601 S 4232 Rd, Checotah, OK 74426
918-473-5572 • OKHistory.org

National Cowboy Western & Heritage Museum

Founded in 1955 in Oklahoma’s capital city, the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Museum is one of the preeminent museums in the United States dedicated to the cultural history and heritage of the American West.

Annually more than 10 million visitors tour its Western art galleries, Old West and American Indian history galleries, and its three halls of fame: the Hall of Great Westerners, Hall of Great Western Performers and Rodeo Hall of Fame.

1700 NE 63rd St, Oklahoma City, OK 73111
405-478-2250 • NationalCowboyMuseum.org

Oklahoma Territorial Museum

In Guthrie, the Oklahoma Territorial Museum and Carnegie Library is the centerpiece of the historic downtown district that honors and celebrates the Oklahoma’s transformation from Indian Territory to statehood that began with the 1889 land run.

The downtown district is on the Register of Historic Places and is the largest contiguous urban historic district in the country.

Begin your tour of the Guthrie Museum Complex in the museum at the Territorial and first state capitol building before taking a walking tour of the historic city.

406 E Oklahoma Ave, Guthrie, OK 73044
405-282-1889 • OKTerritorialMuseum.org

Washita Battlefield National Historic Site

The Lt. Col. George A. Custer-led U.S. 7th Cavalry surprise attack at dawn on the Southern Cheyenne village of Peace Chief Black Kettle on November 27, 1868, is commemorated at the Washita Battlefield National Historic Site.

Follow the 1.5-mile trail from the overlook to the site of Black Kettle’s village and learn about the tragic conflict between the U.S. and the Southern Plains Indian tribes.

426 E Broadway, Cheyenne, OK 73628
580-497-2742  NPS.gov

Texas

The Alamo

Internationally the most recognized historical site in the state of Texas, the Alamo is a Shrine of Texas Liberty and those who visit should revere it as hallowed ground.

Built originally by Spanish pioneers in 1718, the Mission San Antonio de Valero was abandoned in the 1790s. 

By 1836 and the Texas War of Independence, the mission was known best by its nickname “El Alamo” renamed by Spanish soldiers in the early 1800s.

Visitors to the Alamo will enjoy the various tour opportunities of the mission and battlefield site, history talks, audio tours, regularly scheduled special events and the unique Phil Collins Collection of Alamo and Texas history.

300 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, TX 78205
210-225-1391 • TheAlamo.org

Concordia Cemetery

Take a walk back into time in El Paso’s historic Concordia Cemetery, the eternal resting place for the famous and infamous, valiant and brave, humble and unknown.

El Pasoans have buried their dead in the graveyard since the first soul was interred in the 1840s. The historic cemetery is managed by the Concordia Heritage Association to protect, preserve and maintain the graveyard.

Visitors can walk its grounds and see outlaw John Wesley Hardin’s grave as well as the grave of John Selman, the lawman who put Hardin in Concordia.

Don’t miss the special section dedicated to Buffalo Soldiers, the graves of Texas Rangers, Civil War veterans and the innumerable headstones of El Paso’s citizenry forgotten with time.   

3700 E Yandell Dr, El Paso, TX 79903
915-842-8200 • ConcordiaCemetery.org

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

An ancient dome of granite in Texas’s Hill Country, Enchanted Rock has been a landmark to the peoples of the region for thousands of years.

Protected in a state natural area, the landmark 425-fott pink granite outcropping, has over 400 archeological sites, and is considered sacred by many tribes.

Enchanted Rock was the site of a famous shootout between Texas Ranger Capt. Jack Hays and a band of Comanches in 1841.

Today, visitors can hike its trails, explore the granite dome and star-gaze, all the while considering why the local Tonkawa believed the granite dome was the “Glowing, singing rock.”

16710 Ranch Rd 965, Fredericksburg, TX 78624
830-685-3636 • TPWD.State.Tx.gov

First Battle of Adobe Walls Site Historic Marker and Second Battle of Adobe Walls-Battle Ground Marker

Southern Plains pioneer and proprietor William Bent built an adobe trading post on Bent Creek north of the Canadian River in 1843.

Five years after his initial log cabin was expanded into an adobe fort he closed and blew up his 80-square-foot outpost because of Indian attacks.

In November 1864 and then in June 1874, the ruins of Bent’s adobe fort became ingrained in Western history as the site of the First and Second Battle of Adobe Walls, respectively.

Visit the Hutchison County Historical Museum in Borger to learn more about the local history, culture and the two Battles of Adobe Walls.

613 N Main, Borger, TX 79008
806-274-2211 • BorgerChamber.org

Fort Concho National Historic Landmark

Built in 1867 as a strategic U.S. Army outpost during the post-Civil War conflict with the Southern Plains tribes, Fort Concho served its purpose effectively until it was closed in 1889.

The City of San Angelo operates the historic landmark museum and handles the preservation of 23 fort buildings.

Walk in the footsteps of soldiers and their families who lived at the fort and tour Officers Row and Quarters, the Enlisted Men’s Barracks, Post Headquarters, Hospital, School House and Chapel.

Fort Concho is also the site of numerous annual living history events, including Buffalo Soldier Heritage Day in February and Fort Concho Frontier Day in April.

630 S Oakes St, San Angelo, TX 76903
325-481-2646 • FortConcho.com

Fort Davis National Historic Site

From 1854 to 1891, Fort Davis played a strategic military role in the settlement of West Texas and the protection of travelers on the San Antonio-El Paso Road.

Today, Fort Davis National Historic Site is one of the best examples of frontier posts involved with the Indian Wars with the Comanche, Apache and Kiowa people in the American Southwest.

Visitors can tour the fort’s restored and refurbished buildings on a self-guided tour, and enjoy regular scheduled living history events with re-enactors in period and military dress, including an annual Independence Day celebration.

101 Lt. Henry Flipper Dr, Fort Davis, TX 79734
432-426-3224 • NPS.gov

Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District

From 1866 to 1890, Texas cowboys drove the cattle north to market, and in the early days, Fort Worth was a last stop before the trail boss headed his outfit and herd north across the Red River, across Oklahoma to the railheads in Kansas.

After the railroad arrived in 1876, Fort Worth became a shipping station and the first stockyards were built.

For the next seven decades, Fort Worth developed into the nation’s largest stockyard and livestock exchange in the nation. In the 1970s, with the steady decline in the cattle business and packing houses in the city, the Fort Worth Historical Society was created to preserve the historic district.

Today, the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the state (don’t miss the twice-a-day longhorn cattle drives), and cattle are still sold at the Livestock Exchange Building every week—via satellite.

131 E. Exchange Ave, Suite 110, Fort Worth, TX 76164
817-625-5082 • StockyardsMuseum.org

Goliad State Park & Goliad Historic Site

When visitors arrive at Goliad State Park they should be prepared to take a walk into Spanish Colonial, Mexican and Texan history.

Tour a 1930s refurnished restoration of the Spanish Colonial Era Mission of Nuestra Señora del Espíritu Santo de Zuñiga, the reconstructed birthplace of Mexican Cinco de Mayo hero General Ignacio Zaragoza, the Fannin Memorial Monument and the 1749 Presidio La Bahia, where Fannin and his men were executed under the orders of Mexican Gen. Santa Ana in 1836.

The Fannin Battleground State Historic Site is ten miles east of Goliad, and well worth a tour, as is a walk through Goliad’s historic downtown.

108 Park Rd 6, Goliad, TX 77963
361-645-3405 • TPWD.State.Tx.gov

Historic Fort Stockton

First constructed in 1856 near present-day Pecos, Camp Stockton was abandoned in 1861 at the outbreak of the Civil War.

In 1867, Fort Stockton was re-established at its current location and garrisoned with the 9th Cavalry, a newly created Black regiment. The fort was used to the tactical advantage of the Army in its fight with Southern Plains Indian tribes until it was closed in 1886.

Historic Fort Stockton consists today of the parade ground, the guard house, two reconstructed enlisted men’s barracks and kitchens, and three structures from the original Officers’ Row, two of which are open to the public.

301 E. 3rd St, Fort Stockton, TX 79735
432-336-2400 • HistoricFortStockton.org

Hueco Tanks State Park and Historic Site

Home to ancient peoples long before the Spanish entrada into the region, modern Indian tribes found refuge, water and shelter amidst the tanks, as did succeeding generations of explorers, travelers, settlers, and even the Butterfield Overland Mail had a station there in the late 1850s. A working ranch from the 1890s to the 1940s, the rancher’s adobe home is the park’s interpretive center today.

6900 Hueco Ranks Rd No. 1, El Paso, TX 79938
915-857-1135 • TPWD.State.TX.us

Old Fort Parker Historic Site

Fort Parker bears the name of the family who suffered an Indian raid on May 19, 1836, that
led to the kidnapping of nine-year-old Cynthia Parker. She would be raised as a Comanche and married to Chief Peta Nocona. Their son grew up to be the legendary Chief Quanah Parker, the last to lead the Comanches in war on the Southern Plains.

Tour the restored fort, built in 1936 in honor of the Texas Centennial, adjacent to Fort Parker State Park.

866 Park Rd 35, Groesbeck, TX 76642
254-729-5253 • OldFortParker.org

Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Monument

On May 8, 1846, the Mexican American War started on on the prairie of Palo Alto near the Gulf of Mexico.

Visitors to the Palo Alto Battlefield Historic Monument should begin their tour at the visitor center’s museum before walking interpretive trails to the battlefield site.

7200 Paredes Line Rd, Brownsville, TX 78526
956-541-2785 • NPS.gov

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

In the Panhandle of Texas, Paul Duro Canyon State Park, known as “The Grand Canyon of Texas,” protects a unique natural and culturally important site in the Lone Star state.

Home to Native peoples for over 12,000 years, the Comanche and Kiowa tribes occupied the canyon lands prior to their wars with the U.S. in the 19th century.

In 1874, the tribes suffered a major defeat in a battle at Palo Duro, and two years later, famous cattle baron Charles Goodnight established his JA Ranch in the canyon.

Events are held at the park every month, but for five decades Texas! Outdoor Musical held in the Pioneer Amphitheatre in the Canyon, June to Mid-August, is the highlight of the year.

11450 State Hwy Park Rd 5, Canyon, TX 79015
806-488-2227 • TPWD.Texas.gov

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park

A World Heritage Site since 2015 that includes the Alamo, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park protects, preserves and interprets Missions Concepción, San José, San Juan and Espada four of the most important 18th century Spanish Mission complexes in North America.

6701 San Jose Dr, San Antonio, TX 78214
210-534-1540 • NPS.gov

San Elizario Historic District

Just east of El Paso, the San Elizario Historic District is a living history center that provides visitors with a window into 18th and 19th century life along the Rio Grande River in southwestern Texas.

Founded in 1789, the town of San Elizario grew up in support of the Presidio San Elceario. Visit the city’s historic sites on a walking tour that includes the Presidio, Old City Jail, Memorial Placita and Los Portales, home to the city’s museum and visitor center.

12710 Church St, San Elizario, TX 79849
915-974-7037 • CityofSanElizario.com

San Jacinto Battle Monument

General Sam Houston’s decisive victory over Mexican leader General Santa Ana’s army on April 21, 1836, is honored and enshrined at the San Jacinto Battle Monument and Museum just 20 minutes outside of Houston.

The 567.31-foot obelisk towers over the battlefield site with an observation tower at the top and the San Jacinto Museum in the base. Tour the museum’s exhibits and watch the film Texas Forever!!

1 Monument Cir, La Porte, TX 77571
281-479-2421 • TPWD.Texas.gov

Waco Suspension Bridge

Driving the longhorn herds north from southern Texas to Kansas, the range bosses and cowboy crews faced innumerable daily dangers, but pushing thousands of steers across rivers on the Chisholm trail led to many drownings of men and animals.

The Brazos River in Waco was unpredictable, and the ferry crossing cumbersome for cattle drives.

The city recognized an opportunity for the future and built a 475-foot suspension bridge, the first ever in Texas. Today, the Waco Suspension Bridge is for pedestrians only, but Waco still holds its Independence Day celebration at the bridge and Indian Springs Park, the original townsite.

Waco Visitor Information Center
106 Texas Ranger Trail, Waco, TX 76706
800-922-6386 • WacoHeartOfTexas.com

Check out: True West Ultimate Historic Travel Guide: Pacific Coast

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