Much to Coloradans’ annoyance, Texans have been flocking to the Centennial State in recent years, both to schuss down our slopes during the winter and to escape the oppressive Lone Star heat during the summer. This week, however, a Texas icon arrived who’s been welcomed with open arms—or at least open, gobsmacked mouths.

Buc-ee’s, the Texas-based gas station chain, opened its first Colorado location off of I-25 in Johnstown (5201 Nugget Road) on Monday, instantly becoming one of the wonders of the state. That’s mostly because Buc-ee’s stores (there are 34 in Texas and 14 in other states) are massive, but size alone doesn’t explain why people are so passionate about this beaver-branded convenience store. (When the Johnstown location opened at 6 a.m., there were hundreds of people waiting to get in.) Fortunately, as a native Texan, I am blessed with inherent insight into why Buc-ee’s is so beloved.

Size Matters

If it weren’t for the conga line of billboards announcing your impending approach to Buc-ee’s, you might mistake the Johnstown outpost for a small military installation. Upon opening, the 74,000-square-foot edifice tied another Buc-ee’s location, in Tennessee, for the largest gas station in the world. (Alas, it will only hold the title until Buc-ee’s debuts its Luling, Texas, store sometime this spring.) The property includes a whopping 116 gas pumps and 12 electric vehicle charging stations. The radiant artificial lighting means you’ll never be in danger of missing the turn off for this bucktoothed beacon—but also likely snuffs out any hope Johnstown harbored of ever joining our list of the best places in Colorado to go stargazing.

Great Food

Photo courtesy of Buc-ee’s

Considering its Lone Star roots, you’re probably not shocked to learn that Buc-ee’s serves up house-smoked barbecue at its in-store Texas Round Up counter. Still, considering it’s a glorified gas station, you might be surprised to learn that the company has its own pitmaster, Randy Pauly, who won the World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo when he was only 20.

Other homey, Texas-flavored offerings include burritos, tacos, fudge, and kolaches, a sweet pastry Czech settlers brought to Texas in the 1800s. But it also wouldn’t be Buc-ee’s without the epicurean marvels that are Beaver Nuggets and the wall-o’-jerky.

Clean Restrooms

An iconic Buc-ee’s billboard reads, “Top Two Reasons To Stop: #1 and #2.” The ad is no joke; these loos are downright luxurious. The Colorado store is home to 34 stalls in the women’s room and 17 stalls and 19 urinals in the men’s room—and there’s still usually a line to get in. Why? Each Buc-ee’s station employs a cleaning staff whose only job is to wipe down the sinks, floors, and thrones all day, every day.

It makes you wonder, though: Did Buc-ee’s pick Johnstown because of the city’s convenient location along I-25? Or, for free marketing?

Coveted Swag

My beloved mother-in-law prepared for the impending arrival of her first grandchild not by stocking up on, say, baby-proofing measures for her toddler deathtrap of a condo, but by roaming the aisles of a Buc-ee’s, where she was able to procure a beaver-branded sippy cup, beach chair, swim trunks, shirt, squishy pillow, pajama bottoms, and onesie. This showed unusual restraint on her part.

The massive stores also sell cornhole sets, soft coolers, shoelaces, bobble heads, quilts, pet shirts and hoodies, Christmas ornaments, and shot glasses—all adorned with Buc-ee’s visage. In the end, the joke was on us: Our little one hasn’t swallowed a single sharp object while at Yaya’s house but has guzzled gallons of juice from his Buc-ee’s cup while chilling in his Buc-ee’s beach chair decked out in his Buc-ee’s swim trunks and swim shirt.

5 Foods You Have to Buy at Buc-ee’s

Beaver Nuggets

A wall of Buc’ees Beaver Nuggets
Photo courtesy of Buc-ee’s

The package says these are puffed corn coated in caramel. However, my nephew said that a more accurate description of the product is “heaven.” Don’t leave without it.

Beef Jerky

Every Buc-ee’s location gets its own wall of jerky, from which the store offers a variety of dried meat options, ranging from teriyaki to ghost pepper.

Homemade Fudge

Served from a dedicated counter inside the store, Buc-ee’s homemade fudge comes in more than 20 flavors, including banana pudding, praline, and red velvet cake.

Brisket Sandwich

A brisket sandwich at Buc-ee’s
Photo courtesy of Buc-ee’s

Buc-ee’s smokes its brisket for up to 14 hours. Thankfully, you don’t have to wait that long for this sandwich, which comes wrapped and ready-to-go, whether you want the brisket sliced or chopped.

Jalapeno Sausage Cheese Kolache

Buc-ee’s does its Texas-roots proud with this variety of the soft, pillowy pastry, stuffed with just enough spice to keep you awake for the drive ahead.

Buc-ee’s is located at 5201 Nugget Road in Johnstown.