Visiting the Cadillac Ranch was at the top of my road trip wishlist when I found out it was on our route. This roadside stop has been an icon of Route 66 since 1974 when it was created by a group of artists and architects. The Cadillacs reside in a baron field; sharply stick out from the earth waiting for visitors to take photos and add yet, another layer of spray paint to the surface of each car.
Getting to the Ranch
Just before you turn on to the frontage road there is the Route 66 RV Ranch, here you can see the 2nd Amendment Cowboy and stop into the gift shop. From there, Cadillac Ranch is less than a minute drive westbound. There isn’t any designated parking. Wide dirt shoulders line both sides of the road.
The entrance is a paint-covered narrow gate. A dusty path leads to the statuesque Cadillacs with the expansive blue Texas sky as the perfect backdrop. We arrived 30 minutes before sunset. People seemed to quickly filter in and out. I anticipated more people would be adding their personal artistic touch to the cars. Surprisingly, most people were there for the photo ops and left.
Adding Your Artistic Touch
The Cadillac Ranch is on the West side of Amarillo, Texas. Those who are traveling from the East on I-40 can easily stop by a home improvement store to pick up spray paint before arriving at Cadillac Ranch. Travelers coming from the West will have to drive fifteen minutes into the city and do a bit of backtracking in order to pick up paint supplies.
The biggest tip when picking paint colors is to pick one light and one darker color. You want your art to stand out from the chaotic canvas others before you have created. The lighter color will act as a highlight, allowing the dark color to pop for photos.
Don’t get too sentimental about your art. It will go quickly. I painted until my heart was content and snapped a few pictures. As soon as I walked away, another person came behind me and quickly covered it with their expression of art.
Leave The Art, But Take Your Trash
The ground around the cars is littered with empty paint cans and lids. Using a full can of spray paint does take a long time. Especially, if you haven’t fully thought about what you wanted to paint (like I did) or your masterpiece doesn’t require a lot of paint. Fully prepared to throw away our spray paint as we walked back to the car; a fresh group of visitors began to filter in. We passed our half-empty cans to a family we passed on our way through the narrow gate. There is a large dumpster just outside of the entrance to throw away garbage if needed.
Honorable Mention – The Big Texas Steak Ranch
If you worked up an appetite after visiting the Cadillac Ranch, I highly recommend eating diner at The Big Texan Steak Ranch. This place screams tourist trap… in the best way possible. The building is bright yellow with the biggest fiberglass cow I’ve ever seen proudly standing guard at the front entrance. They are also home to the 72oz Steak Challenge; where guests who are brave enough can attempt to eat a 72oz steak, shrimp cocktail, baked potato, salad, and buttered roll in under 60 minutes. If the challenge is completed, the meal is free, if not, it’ll cost you $72.00. There was one person attempting the challenge while we were there. He was not successful.
Once inside the restaurant, we browsed the gift shop while we waited to be seated. For a Friday night, the wait was no more than twenty minutes. We order the rocky mountain oysters, a T-bone steak, and country-fried steak. I had low expectations for the food, I was roped in for the experience, but the food exceeded my expectations. In our short amount of time passing through Texas, I feel like we got the full tourist experience.
This was a fantastic way to start our sightseeing attractions along Route 66!
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