Many people think that the Old West cowboy is nothing more than a memory, a romanticized character in a dime-store novel. While the true old day cowboy may not be as common as he used to be, the Western lifestyle is still at the core of Amarillo. Sure, today's cowboy sometimes swaps his horse for an ATV, and on the bigger ranches helicopters now buzz overhead during roundups, but the authentic Western spirit still thrives here in well-worn chaps and dusty boots.
Horses are part of the culture here, so it is only fitting that Amarillo has a museum that chronicles one of history's most trusted mounts. The American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) is the world's largest equine breed registry and membership organization and honors the unique lifestyle created by the popular horse. Visit the AQHA Hall of Fame and Museum and immerse yourself in the people and horses that have earned their places as legend in Western history. A tribute to the important role the American Quarter Horse has played in shaping the Old West and the Modern West, this spectacular museum thrills history buffs and horse enthusiasts with artwork and life-size bronzes.
Rodeos are synonymous with Amarillo's past and present. The Coors Cowboy Club Ranch Rodeo held each June is steeped in the legacy of West Texas and features heart-pounding competitions between cowboys from working Lone Star State ranches. September's Tri-State Fair & Rodeo invites the top 10 cowboys in the world from each Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) event to compete in the Wrangler Champions Challenge. Visitors can also witness the action first-hand at the annual Working Ranch Cowboy Association World Championship Ranch Rodeo at the Amarillo Civic Center each November.
Life on the plains of the Texas Panhandle had its unique challenges. Share in the hardships and triumphs many early settlers faced as they carved out their independent lifestyle at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum. This history-rich museum was established during the depths of the Great Depression, with the invincible determination of the people of the Texas Panhandle bringing a dream to reality. The fascinating exhibits and displays of artifacts tell the story of the people of the region, including famous ranchers and Indian chiefs.
The Kwahadi Museum of the American Indian includes colorful displays of paintings, bronzes, artwork, beading and other cultural items of the Pueblos and Plains Indians. Visitors get an intriguing view into the culture and traditions of the Native Americans who first inhabited the area.
Regardless of how you unpack your Amarillo experience-whether it's museum browsing, learning about the livestock and agrarian history or hopping atop a horse and wandering through the geologically rich land-the past comes full circle to the present in an unforgettable way in Amarillo.