The semi-arid scrublands between McAllen and Laredo are sparsely populated northwest of Rio Grande City and have a certain desolate beauty. Falcon International Reservoir is favored by fishers (and drug smugglers), and after the long dry desert drive, the sight of the lake is fantastic by comparison.
The Los Ebanos Ferry, the only hand-pulled ferry across the Rio Grande and the last on a US border crossing, carries travelers over an isolated section of the river west of McAllen. The ferry can carry three cars and several people on each five-minute journey.
After all that desert, the city of Laredo feels like something of a metropolis, and the combination of historic sites and fantastic Mexican food alone makes it worth a stop of a day or two.