Do You Know Enough About Texas to Give a Texan Tour?


By: Elisabeth Henderson

7 Min Quiz

Image: Kristine T Pham Photography / Moment Open / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Where would a tour of Texas even begin? How long would it take to really get to know this massive state? Of course, there’s no way for a single tour to encapsulate all the aspects of Texas’ beauty, history, culture and landscape. But we’ll give it a try anyway! 

Texas is the biggest state in the lower forty-eight, with 261,914 square miles spanning its breadth. Approximately 28.7 million people call the Lone Star State home. Within that state, 16 national parks mark out places of spectacular beauty and rich cultural significance. The expansive and wild beauty of the landscape contrasts with the cosmopolitan paradises of Houston, Austin and Dallas/Fort Worth. These massive cultural meccas offer a beautiful contrast to the small-town magic of places like Fredericksburg, Jefferson, and Canyon, where community fabric is tightly woven.

A tour through Texas history would have to begin at least as far back as 12000 BC, the pre-historical period when Native American tribes populated the landscape and developed a complex culture in relationship to the land. The history shifted drastically with the Spanish conquest of the region, the Mexican ownership of the land, the fight for independence and the Republic of Texas.

Yup, giving a tour of this state is like giving a tour of an entire country, because Texas was one. Are you ready for your interview for the job? Put on your best, and we’ll see if you’ve got what it takes! 

Where would you guide a group of mountain climbers to the highest point in Texas?

Guadalupe Peak, at 8,751 feet, claims the highest natural point in Texas. Visitors enthusiastic about the great outdoors will love the rugged hike to the peak, where the desert landscape shifts dramatically to pine forests as the trail winds around the rocky bends.


From which Native American tribe did the name “Texas” originate?

The name of the state of Texas came from the Caddo word “taysha,” which meant friend or ally. The Spaniards interpreted the sounds to be “Tejas” and adopted the name for the land that was later translated as Texas.


If you’d like to take a group of retired folks on a trip to Enchanted Rock, what can they enjoy in Fredericksburg after the hike?

Enchanted Rock, the main attraction of the state park by the same name, is a spherical mass of pink granite rising out of the hill country. Near to the enchanted area, travelers can find authentic German food in the charming city of Fredericksburg.


Which Spanish conquistador is credited for stepping his boots on the land of Texas first?

In 1528, Cabeza de Vaca, along with 90 men, was shipwrecked off the coast of Galveston Island. When they arrived on shore, they became the first Europeans to set foot on Texas land. The group spent eight years in Texas and initiated the Spanish conquest of the area.


If a tourist asked you if they should worry about black bears in Texas, how would you answer them?

Tourists can set their minds at ease that they’re not likely to have an encounter with a black bear in Texas. They can be found in remote regions in West Texas, as in Big Bend and the Guadalupe Mountains. In more rare instances, they show up in Central and East Texas.


Why is Luckenbach, Texas, famous?

“Down in Luckenbach, Texas, with Waylon and Willie and the boys” is the famous beginning of the Texas country song that put the small town on the map in Americana. Willie apparently has a deep affection for the central Texas spot, as he had his family picnic there for years.


Where would you take a group to tour the Texas Capitol?

The Capitol of Texas sits amid the rush of traffic and culture of downtown Austin. Guide your group through the heavy traffic, watching out for the wild Austin characters cruising the streets, to 11th and Congress to stroll rolling green lawns beneath live oak trees.


What kind of animals would you point out to visitors on a swamp tour in Beaumont, Texas?

The swamps, or wetlands, of East Texas host the largest alligator population in Texas. At a park in Beaumont, Gator County, you can view the largest alligator in captivity, Big Tex, who weighs in at 1,000 lbs and boasts 13 feet and 8.5 inches.


What is one adventure that travelers to Big Bend National Park may try?

At the border crossing of Boquillas, visitors can cross the Rio Grande and legally cross into Mexico. The border crossing stands at a remote location along the river, deep in Boquillas canyon. For $5, a local will guide you on a burro to the town one mile away from the crossing.


When an inquisitive tour participant asks how long the Rio Grande traces along the border of Mexico and the United States, what will you tell them?

The Rio Grande forms the border between the United States and Mexico. The official measurement for the river is somewhat contested because the river can be measured in different ways. The lowest measurement of the length of the river border is 889 miles.


Why is the Alamo famous in Texas history?

The Alamo, in San Antonio, is the site of a Spanish mission that the “Texian” army turned into a fort during the war for independence from Mexico. Far from being a victory for the Texians, the Alamo marks the site of a tragic loss, where 200 men were killed after a long standoff. The tragedy sparked the rallying cry, “Remember the Alamo!”


What is the slogan most often associated with Austin?

All over Austin, visitors may puzzle at the prolific black and white bumper stickers proclaiming “Keep Austin Weird.” They may be likely to wonder at the statement because the city does not seem to have any trouble doing so.


Why might you take a group to visit the Alibates Flint Quarry National Monument in Fritch, Texas?

The Alibates Flint Quarry National Monument in Fritch, Texas, is a lesser-known attraction among Texas parks, but it hosts a historical marvel. Native Americans began quarrying the site for flint, used to make arrowheads and other tools, around 13,000 years ago.


Why would you want to bring friends who came to visit Austin to the Congress bridge at dusk in the warm seasons?

The white-tail bats, which emerge from the Congress bridge in downtown Austin from early spring to mid-November, compose the largest colony of Freetail bats in the world. People love the thrill of enjoying the crowds of people while witnessing the spectacle of a cloud of bats rising from beneath the bridge.


If you were looking for a location to offer a whitewater kayaking tour in Texas, where would you begin?

While most of Texas’ rivers are smooth and slow, some of the state’s wide array of rivers do have intermediate rapids to plunge down on a kayak. Comfort, Texas, is a popular destination to begin a 9.5 mile trip down the Guadalupe River, brimming with Class 2 and 3 rapids.


If you are leading a hike alongside a river and a participant asks you what the trees are, with the big roots coming up from the ground like knees, how will you educate them?

Bald cypress trees, common alongside Central Texas rivers, have distinctive knees jutting up from the ground around the base of the tree. The trees look evergreen, but actually their “needles” are leaves which drop in the fall.


What makes Caddo lake an important ecological site for Texas?

Caddo Lake, in far East Texas, was designated a “Wetland of International Importance, especially as waterfowl habitat.” The immense lake, covering 25,000 acres, is the only naturally occurring large lake in Texas.


Your Southwest Historical Tours group has selected Ft. Davis as a major stop. What highlights will you see?

Ft. Davis, located in the West Texas, Davis Mountains, was established in 1854 to guard the road from San Antonio to El Paso from the Native American tribes, also inhabiting the land: the Kiowa, Comanche and Apache.


When your tour group wants to eat some classic Texas-style BBQ, which item would you suggest above all others?

Each state has its signature BBQ dish, as any BBQ fan knows. In Texas, brisket is king. Brisket’s tough connective tissues require a smoker to cook it low and slow, and a hurried process will always result in an inferior product.


When your tour group requests to visit the largest dance hall in Texas, where will you go to dance?

Billy Bob’s Texas in Ft. Worth boasts itself, truthfully, to be the largest honky-tonk in Texas. The building, built-in 1910, used to be an integral part of the Ft. Worth Stock Show. Now, the renovated, enclosed building can throw a honky-tonk party for more 6,000 people, or 12,000 boots.


What kind of music originated in Texas and still can only come from Texas?

Texas country originated in Texas and remains native to Texas. It’s more than just Nashville-style country played in Texas. Texas country, rising out of artists like Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, has a distinctive, traditional sound, humming with violins and acoustic sounds.


If you were guiding a trip to visit Marfa, what might you tell your group to prepare them?

If you go to Marfa, Texas, expecting a typical ranch town, you might fall out of your boots. Men in tight red pants walk down the street past art galleries and boutique, hipster boot shops. The desert surrounding Marfa received international renown for Donald Judd’s art installation at the Chinati Foundation.


What is the BBQ capital of Texas?

While many a Texas town would like to claim the title, many BBQ aficionados would place Lockhart as the BBQ capital of Texas. Lockhart, 35 miles southeast of Austin, has officially been dubbed with this prestigious title by the Texas Legislature.


When your tour participants want to see the most famous brewery in Texas, where will you take them to smell the hops?

Texas’ craft brewery tradition is flourishing, and beer connoisseurs have widely differing opinions on which brewery produces the most fantastic brew. Shiner is likely the most well known, while Jester King may provide the most unique and influential in the craft scene.


If someone wants to go drive their shiny new sports car at a racetrack, what’s the best place to take them?

Not all speedways allow personal use of the racetrack, as car enthusiasts know all too well. The Texas Motor Speedway, though, in College Station, is one of the seven “superspeedways” in Texas and hosts open track days in addition to NASCAR and test and tunes.


A group of tourists visiting Texas will inevitably want to get their own pair of cowboy boots. Where do you take them for the quintessential pair?

While this issue certainly poses a contentious question, a strong argument can be made that Lucchese boots are the quintessential boot maker in Texas. Founded in 1883 in El Paso on “the principles of family,” Lucchese continues the art and tradition of legit Texas bootmaking.


If someone called wanting a horseback tour of the old Chisholm Trail, what advice would you give them?

In the late 1860s, millions of cattle were driven up the Chisholm Trail from San Antonio, through Ft. Worth to the Kansas Railway. While riding this trail would be interesting, a car may be a better mode of transportation than a horse, as part of the trail is now a tollway.


What is the longest river flowing in Texas?

The Rio Grande covers the longest stretch of land in Texas, at 1896 miles. The river has its beginning in the snowmelt of Colorado and glides southeast till it reaches the Gulf of Mexico. Due to agricultural use and dams, however, an estimated one-fifth of the river water reaches the Gulf.


What will tourists find if they visit the Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso?

The Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso, Texas, marks the location of a century-long dispute about the border between the U.S. and Mexico. As a sign of goodwill, the Memorial spans both sides of the border. The portion in Juàrez, Mexico, is called Parque Chamizal.


What was the San Antonio Mission Trail designated in 2015?

In 2015, the San Antonio Mission was named a UNESCO World Heritage site, a significant recognition, demonstrating that the site is of “outstanding universal value” to be preserved for all of humanity.


In the fall, many tourists desire to see the fiery fall color they associate with the season. Where do you take them in Texas?

Lost Maples, in the Central Texas Hill Country, hosts a rare stand of Bigtooth Maple trees, native to the region but small in number. The trees turn fiery red in November like trees do in most other parts of the country. In Texas, though, it’s a big deal. The park has a “fall foliage tracker” on its website.


What would you advise a group to expect when taking an outing to the San Antonio Riverwalk?

The San Antonio Riverwalk, one of the city’s main tourist destinations, sets the stage for miles of restaurants and shops along the San Antonio River. Visitors can enjoy pricey food from many regions and try a wide variety of overpriced margaritas while watching the river of people stroll by.


Which beach in the Texas Gulf Coast has the reputation for being the ultimate spring break destination for college students?

South Padre Island, the small beach town in the Gulf of Mexico, draws hordes of college students each spring break. In 2018, an estimated 50,000 college students came south to party hard on the white beaches.


For a tour of the best live music in Texas, which city do you land in?

Austin is hands down the live music capital of Texas. From the thriving music scene, with quality shows being played in small venues all over the city, to the famed festivals of SXSW and ACL, Austin draws top artistic talent from all over the world to play music in this creative city.


What is one way that the Texas Hill Country uniquely makes summers bearable?

Even though the summer heat can seem unbearable in the Texas Hill Country, where like most of Texas, temperatures and humidity soar in the summer, the Hill Country has a secret to keep you cool: springs. The limestone rock here creates the perfect filter for rainwater to gurgle up into cool, life-saving springs.


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