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Lubbock: A West Texas Icon

Lubbock isn’t just Texas — it’s west Texas, and full of things associated with the Wild West, like ranches, horses, prairie dogs and Native Americans.

Groups wanting to experience those quintessential cowpoke elements can follow Visit Lubbock’s popular Western-themed tourism itinerary.

 “Lubbock has a great Western heritage, and our museums, particularly the National Ranch Heritage Center, and our events, like the Cowboy Symposium, really showcase the history of Western culture in Lubbock,” said Lubbock Convention and Visitors Bureau director of sales Amy Zientek.

Visit Lubbock treats groups and group tour leaders right. The Texas town’s CVB will provide a group with hotel accommodation assistance for a confirmed total of 10 room nights or more, referrals for local step-on operators, incoming route escort notes and, upon request, marketing materials and up to 100 complimentary welcome bags.

Lubbock has great Western-themed events year-round, a number of which are popular with groups. Two such events take place in April, the ABC Pro Rodeo and Ranch Day, when more than 100 docents and other appropriately dressed event participants re-create scenarios demonstrating authentic Southwestern U.S. ranching through the centuries at the National Ranch Heritage Center.

In September, cowboy culture hits full trot in Lubbock. That’s when the National Cowboy Symposium and Celebration takes place, offering everything from the Parade of the Horse to the Native American Pow Wow and the National Championship Chuck Wagon Cook-off. Visitors can also enjoy cowboy poets, trick roping demonstrations and more. The Texas Tech University rodeo competitions get going in September, and the Lubbock Winter Rodeo Series runs October through April.

For those interested in the city’s year-round Western-themed attractions, the National Ranching Heritage Center, the William C. and Evelyn M. Davies Gallery of Southwest Indian Art, the American Wind Power Center and Museum, and Prairie Dog Town are top attractions.


National Ranching Heritage Center

Perhaps more than any other Lubbock attraction, the National Ranching Heritage Center immerses visitors in a historical period when the Colt 45 Peacemaker was strapped on many a man’s hip, blacksmiths regularly pounded out horseshoes, and cooking was done at the fireplace or campfire.

The ranching museum and historical park is located on a 27.5-acre tract of the Texas Tech University campus in Lubbock and has free admission. It preserves the history of ranching and pioneer life with 48 authentic ranch structures and objects that present the development of ranch life from the late-1700s to the mid-1900s. Among the restored structures are barns, corrals and pens, a blacksmith shop, a train depot and locomotive, historic windmills, a bunkhouse and a cabin made of cactus stalks.

 “This is an opportunity for people to come and get a hands-on view of what ranch life was like when the Southwest was settled,” said Matt Brockman, executive director of the National Ranching Heritage Center (NRHC). “What this place puts on display goes to the heart of our identity out here on the southern plains. Well over 100 years ago, people braved the weather and other hostilities, came here and created one of the most enduring industries the United States will ever have: the ranching industry. It’s a place that tells that story.”

Group members may experience NRHC through self-guided tours that last about an hour and a half, or with advance reservations, they can enjoy a docent-led tour. According to Brockman, NRHC will have a new mobile application available May 1 that will engage the visitor with a more interactive experience including video and audio elements. It will be available for download at the ranch heritage center; visitors will also be able to check out an iPad there.

NRHC also has an art museum with both permanent and revolving exhibits that are dedicated to imagery of ranches and Western themes, as well as artifacts including an antique firearm collection and a spur collection. The site also has a gift shop.