A man stands with his arms open wide in front of a body of water.

© Todd White Stills & Motion

Tracing the ancient roads established by the Comanche tribe led travelers to this West Texas town and its namesake spring. More than just water draws folks in to explore the rugged city full of big views, big burritos, and big legends.

Comanche Trail Park

Comanches were masterful at traversing the vast Texas landscape along the Comanche Trail. This familiar route stretching from Colorado to Mexicoconnected natural springs like constellations in the sky. One important stop was the “big spring” that now sits inside the 400-acre city park. Historical displays within the park recount Big Spring’s past. Bring your bike and fishing pole to enjoy the lake and surrounding trails.

Heritage Museum of Big Spring

For more history on the rootin’ tootin’ cowboys and cowgirls who founded this town, this is the place. Inside, guests will find rooms filled with stories and artifacts about everything from frontier medicine to the Big SpringRefinery. There’s even a set of Longhorns that once held the world record for length at 10 feet, 6 inches. Don’t miss the display on Patricia McCormick, a bullfighter who fought gender stereotypes as well as bulls.


WoodShack Burritos and More

While this restaurant isn’t much bigger than an actual shack, it crafts some of the biggest and tastiest burritos in town. The cooks stuff their homemade flour tortillas with everything from barbacoa to chile verde stew. Add some avocado and a dollop of housemade salsa for added spice.


Big Spring State Park

This entire state park is located within city limits. Climb (or drive) to the top of its 200-foot bluff for sweeping views of Texas that expand in every direction. It’s an ideal spot to picnic or just enjoy a moment of solace. Word is there are still horny toads roaming the trails.


Hotel Settles

This 15-story hotel towers over downtown, making it the undeniable landmark of Big Spring. It first opened in 1930 with opulent art deco designs and lavishly appointed rooms, but its success rose and fell with oil booms and busts. Abandoned for 30 years, it was renovated and reopened in 2012even more glorious than before. The Settles Grill on the ground floor serves a delicious steak. Slide into a booth, order a “Bankhead Highway Blast” cocktail, and savor every bite of a perfectly cooked Texas rib-eye.

So whether you follow my footsteps or forge your own path, I hope to see you on the road.

Chet Garner is the host of The Daytripper® travel show on PBS.
To view the McLean episode, visit thedaytripper.com.
Follow along on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @chettripper.

From the May 2023 issue

Get the Magazine

Save up to 62% off the cover price


Sign Up for Our Newsletters

Sign up for magazine extras, upcoming events, Mercantile specials, subscription offers, and more.