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Far-flung Corners of Texas

Charmed by the state's remote beauty.

Dawn, northeast Texas.
Dawn, northeast Texas.

Seventh time was the charm. Took me that many drive-throughs before I fell in love with a corner of Texas. Because aside from Padres Island National Seashore, I just couldn’t see much to like.

To be honest, visually, much of the state is hard on the eyes because regardless of the time of year, a huge portion of the Lone Star State is a flat, sunburnt, windblown nothingness as far as the eye can see. So many ugly spewing refineries and too many abandoned dilapidating towns.

But coming through the Mountain Trail area surrounding El Paso at dawn stopped me in my tracks. A few days later, driving through northeast Texas at dawn did much the same.

Dawn over the Hueco and Juarez mountains in Far West Texas.

One of 10 Texas Heritage Trails, the Mountain Trail weaves through the region referred to as FAR West Texas, which should give you a very clear idea of how broad the state is. The incredibly scenic byway passes Big Bend National Park (referred to by some as a paleontological jewel), Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and the Monahans Sandhills, for those drawn to massive inland dunes. The area is a hiker’s/biker’s/climber’s haven.

There are historic missions (some of which are now inns), forts (even some affiliated with the Buffalo Soldiers who laid the trails on many of the western national parks) and railroad depots all along the wayside.

In comparison to the high desert of Far West Texas, the northeastern corner is 23,500 square miles of lush piney woods blanketing the gently rolling hills east of Dallas.

Texan steers grazing in the early morning mist.

The region's most famous claim to fame might be held by Tyler, the "Rose Capital of America" that produced nearly 20% of the country’s commercial rose bushes. Each October, the city draws hundreds of thousands of spectators to the Texas Rose Festival, held in the municipal Rose Garden that displays more than 32,000 bushes.

If the Rose Festival’s not enough of an incitement to drive three states east, the town of Sweetwater in central Texas hosts the world's largest rattlesnake roundup, which occurs annually on the second weekend in March.

If you’d prefer not to log the miles, fly into El Paso, rent a car, drive the Mountain Trail, hit the roundup and leave out of Dallas.

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Dawn, northeast Texas.
Dawn, northeast Texas.

Seventh time was the charm. Took me that many drive-throughs before I fell in love with a corner of Texas. Because aside from Padres Island National Seashore, I just couldn’t see much to like.

To be honest, visually, much of the state is hard on the eyes because regardless of the time of year, a huge portion of the Lone Star State is a flat, sunburnt, windblown nothingness as far as the eye can see. So many ugly spewing refineries and too many abandoned dilapidating towns.

But coming through the Mountain Trail area surrounding El Paso at dawn stopped me in my tracks. A few days later, driving through northeast Texas at dawn did much the same.

Dawn over the Hueco and Juarez mountains in Far West Texas.

One of 10 Texas Heritage Trails, the Mountain Trail weaves through the region referred to as FAR West Texas, which should give you a very clear idea of how broad the state is. The incredibly scenic byway passes Big Bend National Park (referred to by some as a paleontological jewel), Guadalupe Mountains National Park, and the Monahans Sandhills, for those drawn to massive inland dunes. The area is a hiker’s/biker’s/climber’s haven.

There are historic missions (some of which are now inns), forts (even some affiliated with the Buffalo Soldiers who laid the trails on many of the western national parks) and railroad depots all along the wayside.

In comparison to the high desert of Far West Texas, the northeastern corner is 23,500 square miles of lush piney woods blanketing the gently rolling hills east of Dallas.

Texan steers grazing in the early morning mist.

The region's most famous claim to fame might be held by Tyler, the "Rose Capital of America" that produced nearly 20% of the country’s commercial rose bushes. Each October, the city draws hundreds of thousands of spectators to the Texas Rose Festival, held in the municipal Rose Garden that displays more than 32,000 bushes.

If the Rose Festival’s not enough of an incitement to drive three states east, the town of Sweetwater in central Texas hosts the world's largest rattlesnake roundup, which occurs annually on the second weekend in March.

If you’d prefer not to log the miles, fly into El Paso, rent a car, drive the Mountain Trail, hit the roundup and leave out of Dallas.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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