This post was originally published as three separate adventures back in Spring 2018 as part of the On the Road segment as suggested by Stephen Claycamp [official Tierra Negra Fiction West Texas Expert Consultant and Friend]. The stories have been revised for quality purposes because we felt like it and is now a part of Texas Tales and Trails. Deal with it.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. I’m sure there is a third idiom out there about different perspectives, but we’d be here all day trying to figure it out. As previously stated, West Texas is a region that notoriously gets an unfair assessment as an ugly, boring plot of land. While it’s true that arguably the main allure to the area is work in the Oil and Gas Industry, beautiful and interesting finds are there. They are just a little hard to find, but who said adventures were supposed to be easy?
Here are three quirky, little travel stops that can easily provide a full day’s worth of entertainment, especially for those who enjoy a little bit of natural history.
Dinosaur Tracks in Girvin, Texas
Ok, this destination isn’t exactly in Girvin, Texas. That’s because there isn’t hardly anything in Girvin, Texas. Just one of many of your typical West Texas Ghost Towns, Girvin is about fifteen minutes North of Bakersfield on FM 11 at the US HWY 385 intersection. Travel West for a while until you come across a picnic area on the left-hand side of the road. I marked down coordinates of Lat 30.9590 Long -102.5807. Take that with a grain of salt because they came from the iPhone compass app.
Once you arrive, likely after a few u-turns and slow drive-bys, you can park at the rest stop and take a walk down the path to see the tracks. Don’t worry about the cage, it’s not to keep real dinosaurs in, its there to keep pesky humans out. As people can generally be counted on to be people, leaving natural oddities like this out in the open is probably not a good idea.
Though there are only a few tracks left at the sight [the rest being victims of aforementioned people], they are neat enough to take you back in time where you can imagine what the world looked like back when whatever it was made these tracks. Millions upon millions of years ago, a big ole lizard [or bird] was standing in that very spot. Well, that very spot as far as geology, tectonics, and history allowed. Time happened. Life happened. And be glad that it did and that someone had the wherewithal to put a big ole cage around it so that everyone can enjoy it.
Odessa Meteor Crater
After you spend a little while checking out the dino tracks in Girvin, you might be wondering, “What happened to them big ole lizards [or birds]?”
Well, I’m no scientist, but I bet there might be an answer not too far down the road. If you continue up North from Girvin, you’ll eventually end up in Monahans. Now, depending on how much time you have, feel free to check out some of the Sandhills in the area. If you are in a hurry though, head eastbound on I-20 toward Odessa. Be careful though, that road is full of heavy traffic and is notorious for people not paying attention. Make sure you practice the safest driving habits that you can and be diligent.
Now that we’ve got the safety talk out of the way, you’re gonna want to drive for about 25 miles and take exit 108. This destination is much easier to find as there are signs and a whole road dedicated to this destination. Continue onto Meteor Crater RD and give it about 5 miles and you are there.
Before you start getting your hopes up for a giant crater like that massive one they have in Arizona, let’s keep the expectations reasonable. The Odessa Meteor Crater may not be quite that impressive, proof that not everything is bigger in Texas, but it is still fun and packed full of interesting history. You can check out the museum and then take a walk through the educational trails and learn about all sorts of meteor and geologic history you never knew you were missing. Plus, you can let your imagination run wild. Was this the meteor that wiped out all the pre-historic Texas dinos? Who knows?
Hopping back on I-20, you can head into Odessa proper. By this time, you’re probably wanting to grab something to eat or drink. Depending on when you make your West Texas adventure, there’s a good chance it’ll be hot outside. While in town, you can plug this last stop into your phone to get the precise directions to the University of Texas Permian Basin campus to find the West Texas Stonehenge.
This attraction, being man made and all, might not fit in with pre-historic theme we had with the first two stops, but it is interesting all the same. Not quite so grand as the real Stonehenge, but it is a sight larger than the Stonehenge structure used in the classic movie Spinal Tap. Again, there is some good reading to go along with feature and some insight into how the structure came to be.
The Wrap Up
Those three little stops in West Texas might not be the grandest adventures, but they are interesting. And they are just the tip of the iceberg [if you could imagine an iceberg in the desert-like area of West Texas]. The region offers so much more than just oil and gas, sometimes you just have to get out there and look for it. So, channel your inner explorer and head out on an adventure.