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156 miles S of San Angelo; 154 miles W of San Antonio; 268 miles NW of Corpus Christi; 392 miles SW of Dallas

For my money, this pleasant little city of about 35,000 people is the nicest border town you'll find from Texas to California. Situated along the U.S.-Mexico border across the Rio Grande from Ciudad Acuña, Del Rio is a great base for watersports enthusiasts visiting Amistad National Recreation Area, and also has an excellent museum where you can learn about Judge Roy Bean, one of the most colorful judges in the history of the American West, who became both famous and infamous as "The Law West of the Pecos."

The site of Del Rio was originally called San Felipe del Rio by Spanish missionaries, who unsuccessfully tried to start a mission here in 1635 but were thwarted by hostile American Indians. The name survived, however, and was in use in the mid-1800s when the reliable water source of San Felipe Springs helped the area begin to develop as a farming community. The springs also were a watering stop for the short-lived U.S. Army Camel Corps, in which camels imported from North Africa were used on the Western frontier as a substitute for horses. The name of the community was shortened to Del Rio in 1883.

In the late 1960s, a dam was built on the Rio Grande near Del Rio, creating a 67,000-acre lake that provides flood protection and irrigation water, as well as a huge water playground in what is generally an arid and rocky land of cactus and sagebrush.