Amarillo - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Amarillo


The city of Amarillo, about 330 miles (531km) northwest of Dallas-Fort Worth, is where the old West lives on in the commercial centre of the Texas panhandle.

Amarillo started out in 1887 as a 'buffalo-hide tent camp' for railroad construction workers. Today, the town named for a nearby stream, the Arroya Amarillo, boasts a convention centre, symphony, ballet, theatre, opera and two higher education facilities, Amarillo College and Texas State Technical College.

Amarillo's fortunes have long rested on the horns of cattle ranching, but it has also become a popular stopover for tourists keen to play cowboy or cowgirl, with numerous motels and restaurants having opened up in recent years. The town is located on the major Route 1-40 east-west highway, making it easily accessible for visitors and those who come for the famed frenetic Amarillo Livestock Auctions.

At first glance Amarillo may seem unprepossessing and have little to offer apart from cowboys and cattle, but it is worth digging below the dust of the high plains to discover its attractions.

Information & Facts


Amarillo on the High Plains of the Texas Panhandle has a basically dry, semi-arid climate with four distinct seasons. Summers are scorching hot, and winters can be numbingly cold. The area is prone to severe weather conditions, having experienced ice storms, drought, and floods. Average annual rainfall is difficult to calculate, there being little constancy. Rain falls mainly in thunderstorms, some of them quite violent, between March and October. Snow falls between October and April, averaging 15 inches (38cm) a year.

Getting Around

Visitors to Amarillo are advised to hire a car from one of the many international agencies in the city. This is the most popular way of getting around as it is the only way to see most places. To hire a car, a full national driver's license, and in some cases and international driver's license, is required and drivers must be at least 25 years (some companies hire cars to those aged 21 to 24 with surcharges). Amarillo has a bus service that runs from Monday through Saturday between 6.15am and 6.45pm and taxis are a good way to get around but must be booked through one of the many private taxi companies operating within the city.

English is the most common language but Spanish is often spoken in south-western states.

The US Dollar (USD) is the unit of currency and is divided into 100 cents. Only major banks exchange foreign currency. ATMs are widespread and credit cards and travellers cheques are widely accepted. Travellers cheques should be taken in US Dollars to avoid hassles. Banking hours are Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm.

The Texas Panhandle's one and only accredited art museum is the Amarillo Museum of Art. The museum has six galleries housing a permanent collection that includes 17th through 19th century European paintings, 20th century modernists, photography, Asian art and Middle Eastern textiles. The museum also offers frequently changing exhibits ranging from contemporary art to the American and European masters.

Approaching Amarillo from the west on the 1-40 highway visitors will come across one of America's most noted roadside attractions, conceived and funded by an eccentric local man, helium tycoon Stanley Marsh III. The Cadillac Ranch consists of 10 finned vintage Cadillac cars, buried nose first in a field about 12 miles (19km) from the town. They have been buried, allegedly, at the same angle as the angle of the sides of the Great Pyramid of Egypt. Marsh doesn't seem to mind the ever-increasing amount of graffiti that is spray painted onto the cars by visitors.

Focussing on physical, earth and life sciences the Don Harrington Discovery Center is set in a 51-acre park with a lake and picnic area. The centre boasts more than 100 hands-on activities and a recently renovated Space Theater. There is also an aquarium on site featuring both saltwater and freshwater tanks as well as a botanical garden. Most popular sights here are a Foucault Pendulum, rotating independently of the earth's gravitational pull, a helium technology exhibit and a weather-watch section with a tornado machine.

Starting about a million years ago a branch of the Red River carved a massive canyon through the northern Texas plains. The walls of the Palo Duro Canyon plunge down to 1,000ft (305m) at points, exposing the multi-layered coloured rock strata. The colours are particularly brightly picked out on the spires and pinnacles that the forces of nature have carved out on the canyon floor. The Palo Duro Canyon State Park is a few miles east of Amarillo, reached via Texas 217 highway. The park offers picnic and camping facilities, a visitor's centre with a shop, an amphitheatre where shows are staged, and horseback riding trips. The park also has a famous historic site where the last great battle between troops and Indians took place in Texas. In 1874 Colonel Ranald Mackenzie and his 4th Cavalry defeated a large band of Native Americans camped in the canyon and transported them to reservations in Oklahoma.

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