59 Jaw-Dropping Roadside Attractions: Southwest
Our top reasons-from giant mazes to outdoor churches to the world's largest ball of twine-to pull off the side of the road and visit a while
Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch
Between Tucson and Phoenix, near Picacho Peak, the largest ostrich ranch in the country has more than 1,100 ostriches, and they'll eat the $2 feed right out of your hand. Stock up on infertile eggs, for eating ($15); feather dusters ($7 and up); and ostrich oil (four ounces for $30), said to be good for cracked heels, dry skin, acne, and eczema, or as an aftershave lotion. Exit 219 on Interstate 10, 520/466-3658, roostercogburn.com, free. Empty ostrich egg: $10.
Along Interstate 10, 40 miles west of Tucson, billboards about every quarter mile will lure you toward The Thing? There's no charge for checking out the taxidermic armadillo holding a beer (it's in the gift shop), but to discover what exactly The Thing? is--we're not telling--you have to fork over a buck. No photos allowed. Exit 322 on I-10, 520/586-2581, $1.
Now a National Historic Landmark, Trinity Site is where the first atomic bomb was tested in 1945. On the grounds of the White Sands Missile Range, the site is only open for bus tours twice a year--the first Saturday in April and October, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.--and is marked by a triangular stone tower and commemorative plaque. Walk the giant crater, still littered with Trinitite, the green-colored, glassy substance formed by the explosion's heat. Alamogordo Chamber of Commerce, 800/826-0294, alamogordo.com/activites/trinity.html, free.
The Blue Whale
The 80-foot cement whale, built by Hugh Davis as an anniversary present for his wife, Zelta, has been smiling at motorists on Route 66 for more than 30 years. About 15 miles east of Tulsa, the Blue Whale--with its walk-in mouth (you can't go farther, not that you'd want to)--is beached alongside a small pond right next to the highway. Catoosa Chamber of Commerce, 918/ 266-6042, free.
Off I-40, just west of Amarillo, 10 Cadillacs are half buried, tail fins up. Created in 1974 by a collective of artists called Ant Farm, it's a tribute to America's once-most-beloved cruiser. For the true artistic experience, bring spray paint; Ant Farm encourages audience participation. Free.