A man in a blue shirt and small cowboy hat stands in front of a mural of two bulls reading Graham, TX

© Todd White Stills and Motion

Most travelers are familiar with the Hill Country located west of Austin, but many don’t know about the second, hidden hill country that lies west of Fort Worth. This rolling terrain not only features some of the prettiest land in the state, but it also lays claim to Lone Star legends and hearty plates of Texan cuisine.

 

 

Graham Downtown Square

This bustling district encompasses four square blocks. In the Old Post Office Museum & Art Center you’ll find sculptures, spurs, and murals that pay homage to Graham’s cowboy past. Step through “The Arch,” a stone doorway that’s the only thing left of the 1884 courthouse. And when your belly starts rumbling, head into Marlene’s at the Big Chill, serving up breakfast and lunch that could satisfy any rancher and his crew.
I recommend the Philly cheese omelet.

 

Fort Belknap

This historic fort, established in 1851, teaches lessons in frontier life. The museum occupies the old commissary building and tells the story of the clash between native Comanche and Kiowa citizens and settlers trying to control the land. This is also near where the famous Goodnight-Loving Trail started, the cattle trail that inspired the book and TV miniseries Lonesome Dove. Museum staff sometimes parade the grounds in full military regalia and fire the historic cannon in memory of those who served.

 

Wildcatter Ranch

If you want to live the cowboy life with a bit of luxury, this 1,100-acre ranch is just your speed. Hop on a guided horseback ride and take in panoramic views of the Brazos River. The ranch also boasts accommodations like a Western-themed hotel, cabin suites, and a restaurant. Since every cowboy needs to be quick on the trigger and good with cattle, I recommend a skeet-shooting or cattle-driving lesson led by staff.

 

Possum Kingdom Lake

When you need a break from the heat, take a dip in this scenic lake. You can wade in at places like Possum Kingdom State Park, or you can plunge off the lake’s famous cliffs as long as they’re 20 feet or shorter. Just don’t jump from the top of “Hell’s Gate,” a rock entrance to a popular cove. The two towering cliffs that flank the Gate are over 50 feet high and only used by professional cliff divers.

 

Brothers Smokehouse

Whether you have a hankering for barbecue, burgers, or a perfectly prepared filet mignon, brothers-in-law Allen Dixon and Chris Holland can set you up. Dixon cut his chops at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House and now serves up quality cuts with a side of small-town charm. The smokehouse is also famous for experimenting in the kitchen and serving delectable specials like seared scallops or braised pork shank. Come hungry and save room for homemade banana pudding.

 

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 Graham episode visit thedaytripper.com.
Follow along on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter @chettripper.

From the September 2021 issue
The September 2021 cover of Texas Highways Magazine


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