As Hemisfair ’68 was set to open in San Antonio, so, too, were preparations being made to open the Travel Trails. The trails, which ranged in individual length from 523 to 859 miles, totaled nearly 7,000 miles of state highways and farm-to-market roads. The brochures created by the Highway Department for distribution at the state’s Travel Information Centers proved popular; the agency would print half a million annually.
The Travel Trails garnered significant media coverage statewide and in newspapers large and small. Gov. and Mrs. Connally dedicated several of the trails during 1968, traveling to major cities with an entourage of supporters. A caravan traveled portions of the Texas Mountain Trail — the first to be dedicated and launched — on Mar. 27 and 28, beginning in Alpine, traveling down to Lajitas, back up to Van Horn, and over to El Paso—with an evening reception across the border in Juarez—and winding up the next afternoon at Fort Davis for the dedication of Texas’s first million-dollar state park.
HemisFair itself was beset by a series of troubles, some of its own making and some coincidental. While HemisFair never met its projected draw of 10 million tourists and ended up $7.5 million in the hole, the Travel Trails flourished. The Trails, which required little in the way of maintenance other than the occasional reprinting of brochures and replacing of damaged signs, fulfilled their mission as anticipated. Visitor traffic to Trails communities increased threefold. The TTDA made ample use of the Trails as a tourist promotion.