Road to Nowhere

Cutting across America’s heartland, US‑83 remains a must-do long-distance byway—transnavigating this broad, odd nation without once grazing a conventional tourist destination.

Paint Rock Pictographs

Fifteen miles or so south of Ballinger, just west of US-83, the Paint Rock Pictographs are the largest concentration of prehistoric drawings in Texas, with well over 1,500 brightly colored images covering a limestone bluff along the north bank of the Concho River. These images, which range in size from a few inches to over five feet tall, are on privately owned ranchland. Two-hour guided tours are available through Paint Rock Excursions (325/732-4376, $6, with a $15 minimum). Many of the paintings were made in the frontier days of the 19th century, when Comanche Indians lived in the region, but some are believed to date back over 1,000 years, to the time when Kiowa and Apache forebears settled here.

The town of Paint Rock is a relic of sorts itself, with photogenic abandoned buildings and a couple of picturesque churches.

Paint Rock
Paint Rock Pictographs