There are so many vacation adventures to enjoy in Texas that it is almost impossible to center on a single journey. Many think Texas is a vast desert of rolling steppes without relief from great monotony, but nothing could be further from the truth. Whereas much of Texas is flat, there are hidden arroyos, clefts, and washouts that only an attentive traveler notices. Texas holds rich fertile valleys, extensive coastline, and jagged peaks. A Dallas to San Antonio road trip is a wonderful journey of discovery that reveals all the diversity of the Texas landscape.
There are three national parks in Texas, two of which are within driving distance of this road trip route. Visiting these parks gives a family on vacation a brief reprieve from the busy road while gaining some insight into the history that makes up this land of ours.
Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park
This national park highlighting the life of Lyndon B. Johnson provides an example of Texas ranch living, a prevalent part of Texas history and its psyche. The park is easily reachable from I-35; just take East Highway 290, exit in Austin, and follow the signs. Lyndon B. Johnson Ranch sits in the middle of the Texas Hill Country with its fertile valleys and slow, tumbling hills that ranchers found perfect for cattle. The house, barns, and other buildings on-site are carefully preserved. A visit to this park provides a brief encounter with a president who took over the country in a time of grief and led it toward prosperity.
Big Bend National Park
At the end of a Dallas to San Antonio RV road trip, you will find an excellent opportunity to travel back to a time when the land we now know of as Texas was wild and untamed. Big Bend National Park includes 810,000 acres of the area along the big bend of the Rio Grande River on the U.S./Mexico border. The Park features stark terrain with deep gullies, a roaring river, mountains, canyons, deserts, and several thermal hot springs. Big Bend National Park is one of the most isolated parks in the continental U.S. The park is a seven-hour drive from San Antonio and can be reached either by traveling I-10 through Sonora or Highway 90 through Del Rio. Visiting this park is a natural ending for your road trip from Dallas to San Antonio. It will likely stand in stark contrast to the modern charms and conveniences you have experienced along the way.
Dinosaur Valley State Park
Dinosaur Valley State Park is a great place to begin your road trip from Dallas to San Antonio. At this park, you get to explore a valley carved out by the Paluxy River. It features 1,524 acres of a primitive land that is also designated as a National Natural Landmark. Along the river, you can see “twin tracks” of dinosaurs – one set from a predator and the other from the prey. Taking US-67 out of Dallas takes you through Fort Worth. Then, you follow the signs to Dinosaur Valley State Park. The whole side trip takes only 45 minutes. When you arrive, you will find plenty of other recreational opportunities, including biking trails, hiking, fishing, and, on a hot day, swimming in the Paluxy River.
Colorado Bend State Park
Almost equidistant from Dallas and San Antonio and sitting nearly in the dead center of Texas is the Colorado Bend State Park. The park is the ideal spot to stop and rest overnight on your road trip from Dallas to San Antonio. Colorado Bend features a wide assortment of waterfalls, caves, springs, and sinkholes. There is a guided tour that takes you through a system of over 400 caves, each with its own personality. There are three RV camping parks with plenty of room for travelers. The park is easily accessible from I-35 and amounts to a diversion of only an hour from the main road.
McKinney Falls State Park
As you drive south along I-35, you will reach Austin, Texas, about 300 miles from Dallas. McKinney Falls State Park is just 13 miles from the Texas State Capitol building, well within the Austin city limits. The park covers 641 acres and is part of the El Camino Real de Los Tejas National Historic Trail. Eighty-one campsites are available for weary travelers seeking a respite from I-35 traffic. Within the park, you will find Smith Rock Shelter, where American natives found relief from the elements for hundreds of years and the remains of McKinney’s homestead. Both locations are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Palmetto State Park
Palmetto State Park is only an hour's drive to the east of San Antonio. The park is a patch of green wonderland dotted with native dwarf palmettos. For those taking a road trip from Dallas to San Antonio, this park is the perfect spot to stay while exploring the San Antonio area. To get there, take the I-10 East out of San Antonio and exit at U.S. Highway 183. Follow the signs, and you will quickly come upon the RV campgrounds where you can hike and bike and even swim in the San Marcos River.
Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District
Taking a short side trip west out of Dallas gets you quickly to Fort Worth, where an essential part of Texas history awaits you. The Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District features two cattle drives per day. These are not the modern herds generally associated with cattle throughout the rest of the west; these cows are the remaining herd of the classic Texas Longhorn that fed a hungry nation back in the day. Get a close-up look at the herd as it crosses the original brick walkways on its way to wooden corrals. There is nothing like getting a view of Texas history to anchor a trip through time.
Dr Pepper Museum & Free Enterprise Institute
A brief visit to Waco, Texas, is well rewarded with a visit to the Dr Pepper Museum & Free Enterprise Institute. Few people outside of Waco know that the tasty Dr Pepper drink originated in the town. The museum features memorabilia of the drink's history. Along with Dr Pepper exhibits, there are exhibits highlighting nearly every other soft drink created in the U.S. A visit to this museum is a family delight and an eye-opening experience.
No Dallas to San Antonio road trip is complete without a visit to the Alamo. The mission itself is a testament to man’s perseverance during trying times. The events that took place in the small mission, which stands among towering skyscrapers today, affected the entire world. Culminating your road trip from Dallas to San Antonio at the Alamo is an appropriate way to honor an unforgettable legacy.
While the area you'll pass through on a road trip from Dallas to San Antonio appears to be relatively unpopulated, it offers every amenity an RV traveler needs. Near the three major cities that you will travel close to or directly through on your road trip, there are dump stations and campgrounds to keep you rested and your RV clean.
Temple, TX, sits about five miles off the I-35 corridor. The city is home to many art and craft stores, as well as other quaint shops. Temple is known for its medical community. The town is conveniently located equidistant between Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston, making it the ideal spot in Texas for fulfillment centers of various high-volume stores. There are several dump stations close to Temple that you can use to keep your waste tanks clear. You can choose to spend the night or a couple of days at campgrounds in the area.
Waco, TX, is located between the banks of the Brazos River and the I-35 freeway. The community of over 125,000 people is situated midway between Dallas and Austin. Much of the Waco economy depends on outside visitors, and you'll find friendly and beckoning shops that include sizzling beef restaurants, quaint antique stores, and specialty markets. Consider spending some time in Waco while enjoying the nearby campgrounds.
Austin, TX, is an excellent example of what can be accomplished when money meets the environmental conscience. Waterways, green hills, and luxurious parks grace both the city and the surrounding area. Meanwhile, skyscrapers, shopping malls, and large businesses exist without disturbing the natural wonders that surround the city. An extensive system of campgrounds near Austin allows you to easily find a comfortable spot to spend the night.
Taking your road trip from Dallas to San Antonio is a venture through time and place. While you could complete the trip in a few hours, you and your family will want to create a road trip itinerary for Dallas to San Antonio that enables you to see all the great Texas destinations. Looking for an RV for your trip? Take a look at the rental RVs from RVshare in Dallas and San Antonio. No matter which direction you choose to take, be sure to enjoy the sites and create a vacation that your family will remember for a lifetime.