West Texas Multisport

On most atlases, this expansive Lone Star landscape appears as featureless as a pancake-flat mesa. But head into this region of Texas, and you'll find a brave new world of rugged family adventures.
  |  Gorp.com
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Big Bend National Park
The Great Wide Open: Big Bend National Park at sunset  (PhotoDisc)
Family Road Trippin'

The landscape of remote west Texas is more akin to Mexico than to the rest of the state. Stark and rugged, the land has a compelling beauty, in part because in an age of coast-to-coast subdivisions and strip malls it remains utterly wild, raw, and untamed—just as it has been for centuries. It may be stark but it's filled with wildlife and surprisingly colorful vegetation. Then there's the Rio Grande and all the western romance that name conjures up. This is a driver's paradise—ribbons of highway running for hundreds of miles, often with hundreds of miles between outposts of civilization—so load up the car with camping gear and hit that wide-open road.

Day One: Midland to Monahans Sandhills State Park (55 Miles)
Take I-20 west for about 50 miles to the Monahans Sandhills State Park (432.943.2092; www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/findadest/parks/monahans_sandhills), which is just east of the highway on Park Road 41. The park encompasses nearly 4,000 acres of perpetually shifting and changing sand dunes, some 70 feet high. What do you do with sand dunes? Surf on them, naturally, and if you don't have your own equipment, you can rent sand toboggans and disks at park headquarters. The Dunagan Visitor Center has hands-on exhibits, and you can view birds and other wildlife that come for water and food outside the center. Among the more unusual activities are camel treks through the park (www.tpwd.state.tx.us/newsmedia/calendar/?calpage=a0059). There's one 26-site camping area with water, electricity, restrooms, and showers.

Published: 1 Mar 2006 | Last Updated: 12 May 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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