The Texas Pecos Trail Region
Experience the legendary Wild West of classic books and movies, and the real-life landscape of the Texas Pecos Trail Region. Twenty-two counties cover 35,000 square miles and comprise an ecological transition zone at the junction of the Plains to the north, Edwards Plateau in the east, Chihuahuan Desert in the west, and the Brush Country in the south. The Texas Pecos Trail Region allows visitors to experience our rich and diverse Western heritage, including Native American rock art, cowboys and ranching, military forts, Hispanic culture, the Permian Basin Oil Boom of the 20th century, World War II training bases and artifacts, museums, county court houses, and a variety of unique and spectacular natural wonders and outdoor recreation.
History of the Pecos Trail Region
For centuries, various Native Americans hunted buffalo and other game across the immense grassland prairies. Canyonlands and rock shelters of the Lower Pecos River display native rock art and preserve evidence of prehistoric lifeways. Later came Spanish explorers, Hispanic and Anglo settlers and farmers, 19th century soldiers and the founding of military outposts, and cowboys and ranchers. The Butterfield Overland Mail Route passed through during the mid-19th century, bringing travelers and commerce to the region. Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving drove their cattle along the Pecos River northward to markets. The arrival of the railroads also transformed the area, bringing in new settlers, founding many new communities, and connecting the region to the wider world. The discovery of oil in the Permian Basin in the early 20th century and the establishment of training bases during World War II brought an economic and population boom to much of the region.
The mission of the Texas Pecos Trail Region is to develop and promote heritage preservation and tourism throughout the richly diverse West Texas area.
Our vision is that the unique culture and heritage of the Texas Pecos Trail Region is preserved for present and future generations and contributes to the region’s economic growth.
About the Texas Heritage Trails Program
The Texas Heritage Trails Program (THTP) is the Texas Historical Commission’s (THC) award-winning heritage tourism initiative. This economic development initiative encourages communities, heritage regions, and the state to partner and promote Texas' historic and cultural resources. These successful local preservation efforts, combined with statewide marketing of heritage regions as tourism destinations, increase visitation to cultural and historic sites and bring more dollars to Texas communities. This in turn supports the THC's mission to protect and preserve the state's historic and prehistoric resources for the use, education economic benefit, and enjoyment of present and future generations.
The THTP is based around 10 scenic driving trails created in 1968 by Gov. John Connally and the Texas Highway Department (now the Texas Department of Transportation) as a marketing tool. The trails were established in conjunction with the HemisFair, an international exposition that commemorated the 250th anniversary of the founding of San Antonio.
In 1997, the State Legislature charged the THC to create a statewide heritage tourism program. The THC responded with a program based on local, regional, and state partnerships, centered on the 10 scenic driving trails. These trails serve as the nucleus of 10 heritage regions, and include heritage tourism attractions and communities both on and off the trail.
The program began with the establishment of the Texas Forts Trail Region in 1998. Other heritage regions made a formal application to the program, demonstrating knowledge of area attractions and broad support from organizations and local government. The suite of heritage regions was completed in 2005 with the additions of the Texas Pecos and Hill Country Trail Regions.
The THTP received national recognition with the Preserve America Presidential Award in 2005. This award was given for exemplary accomplishment in the preservation and sustainable use of America's heritage assets, which has enhanced community life while honoring the nation's history. The following year, the program was awarded a Preserve America grant for developing the Heritage Tourism Guidebook and for providing heritage tourism training across the state.
We envision Texas as a place where:
- The diverse places of the Lone Star State are preserved and promoted for present and future generations.
- Visitors and residents delight in experiencing, firsthand, the real places telling the real stories of our state's heritage and cultures.
- The total visitor experience of Texas' diverse places stimulates local economies.
- Heritage tourism is a community-based enterprise that contributes to its livability and sense of place.