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Roadside Curiosities: Cadillac Ranch near Amarillo, Texas

Last Updated on July 18, 2018 by Jody Halsted

Cadillac Ranch, located just west of Amarillo, Texas along Interstate 40, is an iconic roadside attraction and a stop for many roadtrippers as they cross the southern plains on historic Route 66.

Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas
Cadillac Ranch

But just how far out of your way should you go to visit Cadillac Ranch? In my opinion, not far.

Tips for Visiting Cadillac Ranch

Located on the I-40 frontage road, you’ll know you are at the right place by the cars and trucks lining the road. As you park and prepare to enter, you’ll see this sign-

The sign doesn’t receive much respect. But the entry gate and trash cans seemed to be the only other brightly adorned objects in the vicinity. Then again, there isn’t really anything else near by to paint.

I thought Cadillac Ranch was more impressive the farther away you were. As you walked closer, the cars went from being interesting swirls of bright colors to large metal masses covered in inches thick, bubbly paint.

Though I knew you could add your own personalization to the cars, we didn’t bring spray paint. On the day we visited, there was plenty there. Peeking ‘inside’ cars showed quite a few partially used cans in a rainbow of colors. We told the girls to leave them be, but as we walked along the installation another visitor offered them each each a can of paint.

Cadillac Ranch painting
Adding their own touches to the Caddies

A few tips for painting a Caddy at Cadillac Ranch

These cars are covered in inches of paint. To really make your addition stand out takes a few steps.

  1. Bring two colors, a lighter color and a darker color.
  2. Use the lighter color to create a base. This gives you one single color to cover, instead of a tangle of colors where your addition will be lost.
  3. After the base is dry, make your main addition in the darker color.
  4. Be aware that the paint fumes are awful. Even though you are in an open field, those fumes don’t seem to move far.
  5. Take a picture of your finished product- because it won’t last long!

Though Cadillac Ranch carries with it a huge amount of nostalgia and a reputation of epic proportions, a visit is rather meh. If you are passing by, go ahead and stop. But don’t travel far out of your way for this roadside curiosity.

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14 Comments

    1. Texas is huge! We were at nearby Palo Duro Canyon – which was amazing! If you are driving by, Cadillac Ranch is worth stopping at. But don’t go out of your way for it. 🙂

  1. Oh wow, that is something different! Haven’t heard of Cadillac Ranch before but if I’d happen to be driving through I would stop to look around try to scribble a very first little tag of my own 🙂

    1. Satu- it’s just an art installation. From Wikipedia: Cadillac Ranch is a public art installation and sculpture in Amarillo, Texas, U.S. It was created in 1974 by Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez and Doug Michels, who were a part of the art group Ant Farm. It consists of what were (when originally installed during 1974) either older running used or junk Cadillac automobiles, representing a number of evolutions of the car line (most notably the birth and death of the defining feature of mid twentieth century Cadillacs; the tailfins) from 1949 to 1963, half-buried nose-first in the ground, at an angle corresponding to that of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.

  2. I went a couple years ago. I thought it was meh from the road, but pretty darn great up close…just the opposite from your experience. Which I guess does prove that much of art has to do with the eye of the beholder. We brought some paint with is and I tagged a couple cars with my kids names and texted them the photos. There were others out there doing the same and we had fun taking pics of each other’s groups so no one was left out.

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