9 Best Scenic Drives in Texas

February 16, 2017 3 min read

9 Best Scenic Drives in Texas

Texas is pretty big. That means it has a lot of roads. Do you see where we're going with this?

Riders and drivers in Texas are really looking at a smorgasbord of scenic drives, and narrowing down the best into a neat little list is almost impossible.

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With that said, we did our best. Here are some of the best scenic drives in Texas you can find, from the short to the long, dusty to verdant, mountainous to riverside, and everything in between. Enjoy.

1. Highway 90/385

AKA the Gateway to Big Bend, this route offers breathtaking views of the Chisos Mountains off on the horizon. If you want to get your eyeballs on this amazing view, follow Highway 90 as it merges with 385, and get ready for some serious vistas.

2. Davis Mountains Scenic Loop

Feast your eyes on the Davis Mountains looming 8000 feet up, with your view broken by clumps of green clinging to the dry landscape. A definite must-ride, start off in Fort Davis, heading west on Highway 118 until you reach spur 78, then loop around back to Fort Davis.

3. El Camino Real Highway

El Camino Real Highway has many aliases, the most common of which is simply Texas 21. The road was used way back in the 1700s by the Native Americans and Spanish, but it's slightly more enjoyable with a motor and a pair of sunglasses. Start near Toledo Bend Reservoir (close to Milam), and continue on all the way to San Antonio for the full experience.

4. Highway 16

Boring name, spectacular views. You want a long ride? We got 'em. 16 is one of the longest routes in Texas, forking off 281 to the south of Wichita Falls. From there, the highway meanders across a huge chunk of the state, and we mean HUGE. That includes scenic drives in Texas hill country, by the way.

5. River Road

River Road also goes by the less-imaginative name FM 170, but we prefer the former since it runs right alongside the Rio Grande. This stretch of FM 170 is a winding, twisting route from Lajitas to Presidio, offering glimpses far more than just the river.

6. Highway 207

Texas is the second-biggest state and also happens to boast the second-biggest canyon in the US, Palo Duro Canyon. Coincidence? No way. Highway 207 cuts right through Palo Duro on FM 284—just ride west along the road towards the state park.

7. Texas Swiss Alps Scenic Drive

This road is suffering from an identity crisis, but rest assured it's definitely in Texas. Not quite the Swiss Alps, the scenic drive sure doesn't feel much like Texas, either. Even in the summer, this route is surrounded by green—yes, green—unlike many of the other roads on this list. The drive also takes you past the huge rock faces near Leakey, just in case you don't like plants.

Start on Highway 470 in Bandera, driving towards Concan as the road turns into Highway 83. Next, jump on 337 at Leakey and continue on to Medina.

8. Lonesome Highway

In such a wide open place as Texas, lots of road have that lonesome feeling but none quite like THE Lonesome Highway. With very few cars or signs of life, this route offers a break from civilization that simply isn't possible in more crowded parts of the country. Ride west on 285, turning left on Highway 180 at the junction. Ride up into the Guadalupe Mountains, and try not to get too lonely.

9. Willow City Loop

If you're looking to get back to nature, Willow City Loop might be for you. Let out your sensitive side as you ride through fields of wildflowers, and stop to pick some for your mom (as long as no one is looking). From Fredericksburg, head north on State 16 to Willow City. From there, ride east along Ranch Road 1323, then turn left on the Willow City Loop.

Everything's More Scenic in Texas

Maybe Texas has so many awesome scenic rides because it's so big. The state is hogging up half the country, making a monopoly on scenic byways and state parks.

But instead of being jealous, let's embrace the big, wide open spaces of the Lone Star State. And there are a whole lot more scenic drives out there that didn't make it onto this list, just waiting to be tamed.

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