Texas Travel

City Spotlight: Pecos

By Kristy Alpert 1.17.17

Long before the first tracks were laid in 1881 for the railroad leading into town, back before the first person dove headfirst into the spring-fed waters at the Balmorhea State Park pool in 1930, and way before Israel “Pody” Campos began lighting up his infamous smoker at Pody’s BBQ — Pecos was just a tiny stop-off on the cattle drives that crossed the Pecos River.

The town is set just west of the Pecos River at the eastern edge of the Chihuahuan Desert, just south of the border of New Mexico. Although the discovery of oil put Pecos on the map, the town has never lost sight of its bovine beginnings with an annual rodeo topping the city’s social calendar. Pecos claims to be the home of the world’s first rodeo, where cowboys from three ranches competed for bragging rights as the fastest steer ropers on July 4, 1883, and the Pecos Rodeo has become famous and people from around the world come out each year to witness this historic event.

The city is also home to the Texas Rodeo Hall of Fame, where visitors can dig into the history and honor of the sport before heading out to check out other historic sites, like the replica of the original Judge Roy Bean Courthouse and Jail and the West of the Pecos Museum. All of the major hotels in the city are located just minutes from the main sites (don’t forget to use your Texas Farm Bureau membership when checking in to receive discounts on select hotels); and it’s just a short drive out to Davis Mountain State Park or to the world’s largest spring-fed swimming pool located inside Balmorhea State Park.

Pecos has long been considered one of the cantaloupe cultivation capitals of the Lone Star State, and each year more than 2,000 acres of cantaloupe are planted in and around Pecos. The Pecos cantaloupe is notably sweeter than most other varieties, thanks to the healthy soils and ideal climate of the area, and in recent years the fruit has been in high demand for both Texans and non-Texans alike. It has been rumored that Helen Keller, President Eisenhower, and President Johnson all ordered Pecos cantaloupes for delivery. The town hosts an annual Cantaloupe Festival to celebrate its famous fruit, with a cantaloupe cooking competition, a cantaloupe decorating contest, and even a cantaloupe eating contest.

If you plan on packing your bags and heading to Pecos for some sweet cantaloupe, be sure to give this handy-dandy guide to surviving family road trips a read — trust us, you’ll thank yourself later!