On the outskirts of town, lying about halfway between Bushland and Amarillo is a rare oddity that is one of the area’s biggest attractions. When entering Amarillo, TX from the west on Interstate 40, travelers will come up on what is known as Cadillac Ranch, a public art installation sitting approximately 0.5 miles east of the Potter County Justice of Peace at 13651 I-40 Frontage Rd, Amarillo, TX 79124.
Accessible 24 hours every day, Cadillac Ranch is a well-known tourist attraction that is visited by roughly 2 million people every year. It is one of the more, rather odd installations in the Texas Panhandle consisting of 10 classic Cadillac cars sticking out of the ground nose-down. When first erected, the cars were slick and clean with no traces of spray paint. Today, each car is coated in an extremely thick layer of spray paint.
The millionaire that funded the construction of Cadillac Ranch is the late Stanley Marsh 3 who passed away in 2014. Marsh was not only the artist responsible for most of Amarillo’s unusual art installations but a businessman and local “prankster” who famously interrupted a weather broadcast to perform his own rendition of a Native American snow dance. You will notice his name is spelled with the number 3 rather than the roman numeral. This is because Marsh found using roman numerals “pretentious” and he preferred his name spelled out with the actual number.
Cadillac Ranch was drawn up and constructed by an avant-garde art group called Ant Farm which focused on architecture, graphic arts, and environmental design practice. Marsh contracted the group in 1974 to complete the project in a wheat field outside of the city. In 1997, the installation was moved to a cow pasture two miles west to avoid being swallowed by the growing city of Amarillo. For a long time, the pasture was barren and there was only a dirt path leading out to the featured cars. Today, the entrance is nicely paved with food and souvenir trucks setting up camp to accommodate visitors.
Those who are keen on travel and have a motorhome or RV can mosey down to Cadillac Ranch RV Park / Cadillac Ranch Gift Store at 2601 Hope Rd, Amarillo, TX 79124 to stay overnight. Check out the three classic Cadillacs displayed in front of the store alongside the Second Amendment Cowboy statue. If you look closely, you will see mannequins resembling Willie Nelson, Elvis Presley, and John Wayne at the wheel of each car.
Spectators began spray painting the automobiles after some time and eventually the art group responsible began encouraging it. When one of the artists who worked on Cadillac Ranch, Doug Michels, passed away in 2003, all the cars were painted black as a tribute. The famous Cadillac lineup has also been featured in a number of movies, TV shows, and music videos. Pixar’s 2006 movie Cars references the formation through a mountain range that is in the shape of nose-down Cadillacs called “Cadillac Range.” There are also other references to the artwork in books and other forms of media.
To read more about what to do in Amarillo, TX, click here.