On your Champaign to Aspen road trip, you'll have a never-ending good time as you travel from east to west. Your adventures will take you trekking through alpine forests at Rocky Mountain National Park, savoring some of the best bbq in the Midwest at Joe's Kansas City Barbecue, and dancing the day and night away at Bands on the Bricks on Pearl Street in Boulder. Opportunities to immerse yourself in some good old-fashioned American History are on your route as well and feature visits to Gateway Arch National Park, the Lincoln House, and Buffalo Bill's Cultural Center.
If you love national parks, then you'll enjoy adding a couple of these classics to your Champaign to Aspen road trip itinerary.
Gateway Arch National Park
Gateway Arch National Park is just a one-hour and 30-minute drive south of Chatham, and it is well worth the slight detour. At this park, you can learn about the history of America's expansion further west and ride up 630 feet to the pinnacle of the arch on the Tram Ride to the Top, the park's most popular attraction. Don't miss the Museum of the Gateway Arch located under the towering monument, and walk the 630-foot distance between the arch's North and South Legs. You can also visit the Old Courthouse, a famous site known for two historic landmark cases.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Rocky Mountain National Park is about ninety minutes north of Denver near the small city of Estes Park. In this majestic setting, you can hike to Longs Peak, the highest summit in the park, check out a few of the most beautiful waterfalls east of the Continental Divide, and soak up some local history at the Beaver Meadows and Alpine Visitor Centers. World-class hiking trails abound for trekkers of all skill levels, with some leading you to breathtaking destinations at Emerald and Bear Lake, Alberta Falls, and Twin Sisters Peaks. With so much to see and explore at this park, consider staying for at least a day or two.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
At Great Sand Dunes National Park in Southern Colorado, you'll spend endless hours sledding in the sand, splashing in Medano Creek, and gazing at the brilliance of the Milky Way. If you're up for a challenge, attempt the 750-foot, five-hour hike to the top of the tallest dune in North America, High Dune, for spectacular 360-degree views of the park. Be sure to make your way to Zapata Falls and Zapata Ranch, where you can horseback ride and watch the buffalo roam on a real working ranch.
Check out a few of America's most beautiful state parks on your road trip from Champaign to Aspen.
Mark Twain State Park
Mark Twain State Park is a Missouri treasure with 2,775 acres of lush forested land to explore. Enjoy six miles of pristine hiking trails where you can view white-tailed deer, free-roaming turkeys, and a variety of bird species. This park also features a boat ramp, scenic picnic areas, and a relaxing beach that's perfect for fishing.
Wilson State Park
You'll find Wilson State Park in the Smoky Hills of Kansas off I-70, where you can enjoy access to Wilson Reservoir and a variety of outdoor activities. Make sure you check out two of the most popular trails in the park, the 10-mile Switchgrass Bike Trail and the Dakota Trail, which offer fantastic views of the reservoir and an overlook of the sprawling Kansas prairies. Viewing local wildlife, fishing, and camping are more great ways you can experience this park.
Golden Gate Canyon State Park
Golden Gate Canyon State Park is a mountainous paradise that's not far from the city of Golden. Take the Mule Deer Trail to the most beautiful spot in the park, Panorama Point Scenic Overlook, for sweeping vistas of the Continental Divide that spans 100 miles. Two of the best features of the park are its 12 hiking trails and bike paths that take you through alpine forests and wildflower fields. More exciting activities you'll want to enjoy here are fishing, rock climbing, and camping.
The Lincoln Home in Springfield is one of the most historical sights you'll see on your road trip from Champaign to Aspen. Experience a free guided tour of the residence that helped to inspire Lincoln's decision to run for the U.S. presidency, and watch two films about Lincoln's life in the small town in comfortable viewing galleries. Outside, you can explore the neighborhood where you'll find a more historic area to learn about at the Dean House Exhibit and Jameson Jenkins Lot.
Buffalo Bill Cultural Center
Oakley, Kansas, is not only the birthplace of the legendary Buffalo Bill, but it's also the location of the Buffalo Bill Cultural Center, where you'll have an opportunity to learn about the famous Wild West figure. While you're here, you can enjoy several art displays, shop at the Buffalo Bill Cabin Gift Shop, track Bill's life on a Wild West map that includes his famous Heritage Trail, and snap a few photos next to the huge monumental bronze statue outside.
Pearl Street in Boulder, Colorado, is an eclectic and fun must-experience destination on your Champaign to Aspen RV road trip. This unique street is home to the Boulder Theater, the Dushanbe Tea House, and a weekly live music event — Bands on the Bricks — that features a beer garden hosted by local brewers and restaurants. Entry is free, so be sure to check it out.
Check out Kansas City on your way through the big MO for a screaming good time at Worlds of Fun. Country Club Plaza is another fantastic place to visit; it is lined with unique boutique shops, incredible eateries, and plenty of outdoor entertainment. You can also swig some beer at an honest to goodness biker bar at Knuckleheads and get your fingers dirty, dirty, dirty at Joe's Kansas City Barbeque, where the ribs just keep coming. Beautiful campgrounds are located near the city, so you can spend more time here. Easy to find dump stations help you keep your RV clean.
Denver is nothing if not awesome, and with no shortage of amazing sights to see and fun things to do, you'll want to jump right in and start downtown at Larimer Square for fantastic nightlife, live events, and delicious Mile-High cuisine. From there, you should head further into D-Town for a walk up and back down the 16th Street Mall before you wander over to Union Station. Don't neglect some of the city's hidden treasures at the Denver Mint, Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey Tour, and the Coors Brewery. As you venture away from the city, try and catch a concert at the hands-down best music venue ever at Red Rocks Amphitheater. Many campgrounds around Denver feature on-site dump stations for your convenience.
Breckenridge abounds with beauty and tons of mountains, so get ready to hike, ski, and chill like a local. At this lush location, you can hitch a ride on the BreckConnect, Breckenridge's premier gondola that transports passengers up the mountain for free in the summer and winter seasons. Downstairs at Eric's is the after-outdoors-activity kickback spot that's a sports bar/arcade with great food and a long list of beers on tap. More things you'll want to see and enjoy in Breck are the Breckenridge Troll on the Trollstigen Trail and the shops and cafes on historic Main Street. The Hearthstone Restaurant, where you can feast on duck and elk in an old Victorian home, is another spot to add to your list of must-visit places. Be sure to treat yourself to breakfast at Crepes a la Carte before you hit the road. Explore Breckenridge at your leisure with an overnight stay or two at a local campground. Clean dump stations can be found in Breckenridge and the neighboring town of Frisco.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Champaign, IL, to Aspen, you will enjoy historic locations and beautiful scenery along the way. If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider an RV rental from RVshare. From large motorhomes to compact campervans, there is a rig that will meet your travel and budget needs. Once you hit the road, you are protected by our renter guarantee and 24/7 roadside assistance. Find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs in Champaign or Aspen.