Texas is a large state with large cities. It has five cities in the top twenty most populated US metropolises. With this immense territory and large population, there are many large airports. But amidst hustling to catch a flight on time throughout this enormous, bustling territory, are there any scenic, enjoyable airports? Perhaps there’s one with a nice area surrounding it for a short day trip during an extended stayover? There is. This is the most scenic airport in Texas, plus one bonus mini-airstrip that was just too good to leave out.
Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport
Amarillo, TX (“am-uh-RILL-oh”) is one of many mid-sized Texas cities we often hear about but can’t quite place in our minds. This category includes Gadsden, Galveston, El Paso, Denton, Corpus Christi and Abilene. Yet Amarillo’s Rick Husband Amarillo International is interestingly placed as the most scenic airport in Texas, with some beautiful attractions nearby.
The Airport and Surroundings
City of Amarillo
The Lone Star State has some diverse scenery that features Western and Eastern flora and fauna and Amarillo, TX, is the principal city in the Texas panhandle. This culinary feature is in the north, squeezed between Oklahoma and New Mexico. Placed between the high-elevation, drier, scrubby canyons to the west and the Great Plains on the north and east, Amarillo has an interesting patchwork of flat, agricultural lands alternating with canyons.
Natural Checkerboard of Plains and Canyons
Coming in for a landing, the curious traveler looking out the plane window might see the nearby canyons with scrub vegetation and desert flowers. They might be surprised to then land in a flat stretch of prairie just a few minutes later. But it’s part of the beauty in the region holding the most scenic airport in Texas.
Wheels Down in the High Weather Panhandle
As peaceful as the immediate surroundings might look, landing at the Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport is best left to the most skilled pilots. The fearsome weather in this go-between for the Great Plains and the Southwest means some intense crosswinds.
These cross winds are so gnarly that the airport gives the pilots some extra room: there is a 13,502-foot-long runway that is ranked somewhere in the top 20 for longest commercial landing strips in the US. Aeronautics titan Boeing has been conditions-testing their 777 superjets at this Texas panhandle gauntlet.
Palo Duro State Park
Despite the winds, it’s a short drive from the airport for a hike through the unique canyons and the curious rock formations of Palo Duro State Park. (One formation that stands out, literally, is the Light House). Via online maps, the drive between the direct addresses of the state park and the airport is only 35 minutes.
For those unsure if this trip is worth it for a state park, there are options to check it out beforehand. This includes almost 9,000 possible sights! The park’s online map page lists admission as an affordable eight dollars. There are also ripsnortin’ hootenanny cowboy concerts—and ballet—in the park’s outdoor theater.
Cadillac Ranch, A Must-See Near the Most Scenic Airport in Texas
Some people are fans of vintage roadside attractions. Some are fans of stuff that falls under the “hey, why not?” category. For those who like both, there is Amarillo’s Cadillac Ranch. Located along the historic stretch of Route 66, this attraction is hard to comprehend exactly, but it’s worth a stop. In moderate traffic, it’s under a half-hour from the most scenic airport in Texas.
Cadillac Ranch was a curious collaboration between a Texas billionaire and West Coast artists. The attraction is several vintage Cadillac sedans buried halfway into the ground.
The Prairie Lands Helped Amarillo Become an Early Air Hub with Howard Hughes in the Mix
This, the most scenic airport in Texas, is one of the oldest in the state. As early as the 1920s, farmland was leased out for early thrill-seekers in their propellor-driven aircraft. By the mid-century, there was a thriving airport in Amarillo along with a large nearby military airfield.
Military aircraft still occasionally stop to refuel at this halfway point in the geographic US. Recently, a half-billion dollars worth of aircraft stopped in Amarillo to gas up. To be precise, it was six F-35C fighter jets, each valued at $80 to $100 million.
Hot, Cold or Windy the Most Scenic Airport in Texas Has Clear Skies
Interestingly, the clear weather was a deal-making reason for the persistent popularity of this windy, medium-sized city in the panhandle. The airport itself notes that, in recent history, there were consistently over 330 favorable flying days each year.
Bonus: Mustang Beach Airport
Visitors might have to take a ferry to reach the mainland, but it’s not far. From the landing strip, visitors can literally see leisure boats docked in the Atlantic at Mustang Beach Airport. It sits on Mustang Island, part of which is also Padre Island. The airport is about a half day’s drive (part of it along the actual beach) from Padre Island National Seashore, where visitors can camp on the sand dunes and might even spy a sea turtle.
Plus, Mustang Island doesn’t refer to sports cars: visitors can literally ride horses on the beach.
Canyons and Cadillacs at Amarillo International
It might be a bumpy landing, but the diverse landscape and hidden diamond of Palo Duro Canyon State Park make Rick Husband Amarillo International the most scenic airport in Texas.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © welcomeinside/iStock via Getty Images
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