The Texas plains west of the Hill Country are only somewhat less sparsely populated than they were a century and more ago. In the 18th century this region marked the high-water mark of Spain's expansion north. A century later it was the scene of the frontier wars as settlers and ranchers fought for control of the land against the tribes who had called it home for eons.
Forts for militia and troops were built at regular intervals during the 1850s. Many are now historic sites and the Forts Trail (http://texasfortstrail.com) links many across this vast region. Contrary to stereotype, a lot of the country here is fairly lush, with rolling hills and winding streams. You can still get a sense of what it must have been like to be a young soldier on the edge of wilderness in the often-lonely sites below.