The best McDonald’s drive-thru, ever
Route: Texas 118 from Alpine to Interstate 10, Kent
Length: 87 miles
In West Texas, the Chihuahuan Desert meets the Permian Basin at the Davis Mountains, which has given us several awesome things: a nearby ranching town ironically named Alpine (with a restaurant, Reata, responsible for up-leveling chicken fried steak to gourmet status), an observatory with telescopes that are among the world’s largest, and Texas 118.
This is literally Texas’s highest highway, with a peak elevation of 6,791 feet at the top of switchback-packed, 1.5-mile Spur 78 at McDonald Observatory. Between Alpine and that point, you’ll beeline to the hills, then climb and curve through the southern range. After that, the drive dives down to Fort Davis where the fun really begins. Test your whip’s pulling power as you gain nearly 2,000 feet in 12 tightly-cornered miles through Davis Mountains State Park’s forest to the star domes of the observatory. The descent afterward is the best stretch, with sharp, multi-radius corners transitioning at Beef Pasture Gap to gracefully graded sweepers, then to valley-bracketed sections that end with a final quickie straight to Interstate 10.