Cadillac Ranch is a great little piece of Americana that is located just outside Amarillo Texas. If you are following Route 66 or want to visit some of the classic stops on the route, this one is definitely a must-see.
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Cadillac Ranch – Everything You Need to Know
While traveling be sure you bring change so you can take advantage of any pressed penny machines you come across. These make great souvenirs.
When you research Route 66 it comes up almost immediately and although there are a lot of cool things to see on the famous Mother road, I believe this is one of the coolest of them all.
When was Cadillac Ranch created?
Cadillac Ranch was created in 1974 by a group of San Francisco artists known as the “Ant Farm”. These artists were also architects who appreciated shapes and they buried a series of Cadillac cars halfway down into the ground, noses down. There are 10 in all and each one is a little different.
One lesser-known fact about the sculpture is that it was originally located elsewhere in a wheat field and was moved in 1997 to this location so more people could easily view it. The cars have been painted various colors over the years and when they were in the previous location, they remained solid colors, but the artists wanted people to interact with them and create their own art, so the graffiti style of paint on them now is something they did want and celebrate.
Related: 145+ Top Free Things to do in Texas
Where is Cadillac Ranch on Route 66?
Cadillac Ranch is visible from the interstate there, (which is I-40) although it is easy to miss if you are not already clued into its location ahead of time. I was looking for it on the opposite side of the road and luckily, my hubby saw it. What you have to do to visit it is to exit the interstate and take the frontage road up to it, which is just alongside I -40. There is a decent amount of space along the road and cars just park beside the road in a line there.
Who owns Cadillac Ranch?
The land is privately owned but they encourage you to visit and to paint. You will find spray cans of paint there, ready to be used.
Is Cadillac Ranch Free?
You can walk right up and go in the gate at your leisure. There is no admission fee or anything, and you may have a little vendor set up there at the gate selling souvenirs, as we did when we went. (He was selling handmade pendant necklaces that had pieces of the paint chips off the cars in them.)
What do you need to know before visiting Cadillac Ranch & what can you expect?
You'll also find lots of cow patties, so be prepared to deal with the smell, but to be honest, it wasn’t that bad at all, and I was enamored enough with the cars, I didn’t care one bit.
You can bring spray paint if you like of course, but there was plenty there to use. One thing that bothered me was the empty cans and lids on the ground. You could see lids going out pretty far into the field from the wind blowing them out, and I find it annoying that people don’t pick up after themselves when emptying the cans. I would recommend taking a bag with you and taking your trash when you leave.
There is a foam layer on the underside of the cars that protects them so you’ll notice the texture isn’t smooth metal and you will see multiple layers of paint on them. It's very cool to think of all the thousands of people who have come and painted on them, and all the designs they’ve had on the surfaces over time.
We visited in January, and the wind was quite bad, with it being such an open space, so if you go in the colder season, I’d wear a hat. Our ears literally hurt for a while afterward from the cold wind and it just wasn’t something we thought about ahead of time, especially being a bright, sunny day.
The cars really have such a nostalgic shape to them with the tail fins standing up and as you walk up to them it is surprising how tall they are, with half already missing.
I think overall it is a great way to celebrate art and being an American, and appreciate that someone created this purely for us to enjoy and take part in the evolution of its design.
If you are going there for a day trip, Amarillo is very close by and there is a lot to do there, so it would be easily a great family day if you wanted to turn it into that. Otherwise, as we did, we were driving through Texas and wanted to see it in person and made a point ahead of time to know where to expect it. It was a nice 30 minute or so stop in our day and a great time for our family making memories.
If you’re ever in the area, Cadillac Ranch is definitely worth a visit. It’s one of those places that leaves a lasting impression, and it’s sure to put a smile on your face. Be sure to share photos of your visit in the comments – we love seeing them!