Cadillac Ranch is a public art installation and sculpture in Amarillo, Texas featuring ten Cadillac cars half-buried nose-first at an angle in the ground. We stopped at Cadillac Ranch during our recent Spring Break trip to the Panhandle and the kids loved it.
What’s a spring break trip without a little trespassing and vandalism, am I right? Emily and I set out for an educational experience with the kids when we visited Canyon, Texas– complete with a trip to the Panhandle Plains Museum, hiking in Palo Duro Canyon, and a quick lesson on tagging cars.
In the case of Cadillac Ranch, trespassing and vandalism are welcomed and encouraged. Basically, Cadillac Ranch is almost a dozen cars sticking out of the ground covered in thick layers of paint. When I say covered, I mean completely. Paint so thick it is dripping.
It was originally constructed in 1974 by the art group Ant Farm and funded by eccentric, West Texas millionaire Stanley Marsh 3. It has been referenced and featured in various pop culture mediums since its installation.
Cadillac Ranch is visible from the highway, and though located on private land, visiting it (by driving along a frontage road and entering the pasture by walking through an unlocked gate) is tacitly encouraged. Writing graffiti on or otherwise spray-painting the vehicles is encouraged, and the vehicles, which have long since lost their original colors, are wildly decorated.
Emily prepped our oldest (the only one who can read) that there may be inappropriate words or images on the cars but I honestly didn’t see any of that. The paint is so thick that it’s difficult to make any distinguishing marks. I wouldn’t say it was overly crowded but there was a steady stream of patrons coming and going; don’t expect your artwork to stay for too long.
It is anecdotally rumored that the Amarillo Home Depot sells more spray paint than any other location in the US. We didn’t actually bring any spray paint with us but there were several cans laying around. Another family gave us their leftover can so our kids were able to “make their mark.” It was a shame to see so much other trash blowing through the field.
Emily was worried about the paint being messy but it wasn’t really an issue. Despite the layers being so thick, it still dried pretty quickly on the surface of the cars. We just kept an eye on Ian so he didn’t brush up against any wet paint. It was extremely windy on the day we visited so we were cautious to not stand too close to or downwind of anyone spraying.
All in all, it was a quick little adventure on our way to dinner at The Big Texan Steak Ranch. The kids enjoyed it, it was easy to access, and didn’t cost any money. I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it, but if you find yourself in Amarillo it’s worth a stop.