Day trips: Cadillac Ranch West Texas landmark

Compiled by Kevin Wilson

It’s been an unmistakeable feature of West Texas, and Cadillacs, for more than three decades. It’s been the subject of numerous magazine and newspaper stories, documentaries and even a theatrical film. It can be a day of fun for a family with a few cans of spray paint.
The Cadillac ranch, located a few miles west of Amarillo near Route 66, features 10 Cadillacs. All 10 are buried halfway into the ground with the nose down, facing west.

How to get there:
Amarillo is located about 100 miles from Clovis, and 120 from Portales. From Clovis, drive about nine miles to US 60 East. Turn left onto 60 and drive for 95 miles. Once you are in Amarillo, get to I-40 East. The ranch is in a cow pasture along I-40 between exits 60 and 62. Exit onto the frontage road, then enter the pasture through an unlocked gate.

Admission and hours:
The ranch rules are pretty simple. Admission is free, and the ranch is open during daylight hours. Since Amarillo is about a two-hour trip (possibly less in a speeding Cadillac), this gives a driver a window of approximately 12 hours to make the trip.

How the ranch came to be:
A group of artists came up with the idea for the ranch in the early 1970s, and land was donated by local tycoon Stanley Marsh III. In May 1974, the group began buying the 10 Cadillacs that would be used. The cars were purchased from junk yards, used car lots or private residences. One Cadillac, the artists said, was sold by a private individual at an exorbitant rate, so they got their revenge by buying the car and destroying the front ends with sledgehammers in front of the seller.

When the work was finished, Marsh invited about 200 people for a grand opening. Since then, the site has been visited by thousands. In 1997, the ranch was moved two miles west due to Amarillo’s expansion as a city.

What’s with the graffiti?
You may have noticed through pictures that the cars are covered in several layers of spray paint. The owner of the ranch encourages people to spray paint their own names and messages on any or all of the vehicles.

More information:
There are various sites about Cadillac Ranch on the Internet. The most complete is the Official Ant Farm page, located at: http://www.libertysoftware.be/cml/cadillacranch/crmain.htm