Going to Amarillo can be a grand adventure because you'll be able to see great sights, you can eat the infamous 72-ounce steak, see Cadillac Ranch, and so much more. Do not be so anxious to get there that you miss all the fun along the way, however. A Des Moines to Amarillo road trip through Kansas and Oklahoma is a great way to experience the Midwest. While you will have to drive further, you can incorporate trips to White Sands, Carlsbad Caverns, and the Guadalupe Mountains into this trip. You can discover world treasures on this route across America’s prairie land.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
You will need to drive five hours south from Amarillo to reach Guadalupe Mountains National Park near Salt Flat, Texas. This remote park is a terrific place to go hiking. Since most trails in this park gain a lot of elevation, be sure to include enough time to complete the hike. If you love to learn about geology, borrow a guide from the park’s office and hike along the 8.4-mile Permian Reef Trail. Alternatively, if you love wildlife, consider following the Smith Spring Trail to see deer, elk, and lots of birds.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
It is approximately 300 miles southeast of Amarillo to reach Carlsbad Caverns National Park. After navigating the windy road into this park, take the show cave tour or explore it on your own. The Big Room at this cave is the largest single cave chamber by volume in North America. You can also visit other caves at this park on ranger-led tours. In addition, this area has fantastic desert hiking trails to explore. The 100-mile-long Guadalupe Ridge Trail starts in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park and ends at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Watch the bat show in the evening to see the bats exit the cave and learn more about them. Approximately 150,000 bats live here all the time. During the summertime bat migration, this park becomes home to more than 1 million bats.
White Sands National Park
You will need to drive almost six hours southeast of Amarillo to reach White Sands National Park near Hollomon Air Force Base, New Mexico. Buy a waxed disc at the park’s gift shop and go sledding on the world's largest gypsum dune field. The eight-mile-long Dunes Drive is a terrific place to go biking. There are many hiking paths, including the Interdune Boardwalk, that runs through some of the park’s beautiful locations with the Sacramento Mountains in the background. Be sure to see the Native Plant Garden near the visitor center before leaving this park.
Walnut Woods State Park
Walnut Woods State Park near West Des Moines, Iowa, offers a fascinating Raccoon River bottomland to explore. Follow the trails to see some of the oldest black walnut trees in the state. This park is a fantastic place to enjoy a picnic while bird-watching. You can also launch a boat to explore the Raccoon River.
Lewis and Clark State Park
William Clark of the famous Lewis and Clark expedition described this site in 1804 as “full of geese and goslings,” and this location near Rushville, Missouri, is still a special place to go bird-watching today. In addition to geese, visitors to Lewis and Clark State Park can often see great blue herons, eagles, swans, and snowy egrets. Lewis and Clark Lake is also a great place to go fishing in its shallow parts for channel catfish, carp, and buffalo fish. A boat ramp makes it easy to access this 35-acre lake.
Weston Bend State Park
Climb the short trail at Weston Bend State Park near Weston, Missouri, to enjoy the Missouri River's scenic views. A telescope is available at the lookout so that you can see even better. The grassy trails, which can be easily hiked in under 45 minutes, offer beautiful views and a chance to see birds and wildlife.
Eisenhower State Park
You will want to stop at Eisenhower State Park near Osage, Kansas, during your Des Moines to Amarillo RV road trip. This park covering more than 1,786 acres is on Melvern Lake. If you love archery, be sure to try the archery range located near the Five-Star Campground. At this unique facility, you walk from one target to the next along a beautiful scenic trail. This park is also home to over 20 miles of mixed-use trails. The part of the path that lies on the undeveloped western side of this park is especially popular with equestrians. Two nine-lane boat ramps make it easy to launch your boat onto the lake, where anglers often catch walleye, crappie, sauger, white bass, and channel catfish.
Alabaster Canyon State Park
Explore one of the world's largest gypsum caves by stopping at Alabaster Canyon State Park near Freedom, Oklahoma. While guided tours occur on the hour from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., this park is a fantastic place to go spelunking in caves up to 1,600 feet long. The short Alabaster Cavern's Raptor Roost Trail is a great place to watch for raptors.
Frontier Army Museum
The Frontier Army Museum near Leavenworth, Kansas, covers the U.S. Army's development from Lewis & Clark’s expedition through the chase of Pancho Villa by General John Pershing. Over 7,000 items, including weapons, uniforms, equipment, and vehicles, are available to view.
Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop & Farm Historic Site
The Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop & Farm Historic Site allows visitors to visit a Civil War-era farm. View numerous horse-drawn wagons, including a mud wagon, prairie schooner, and mess wagon. This location has a unique program where children can write to the site’s oxen, sheep, goats, horses, and rooster and get replies before visiting or after. The staff writes back on behalf of the animals.
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve
Outdoor enthusiasts will want to visit the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve near Strong City, Kansas, to see the restored habitat that once covered more than 170 million acres. Fishing is available in the catch-and-release pond and on the Fox River. The preserve is also a great place to go backcountry hiking. Take the guided bus tour to see the bison pasture and the stunning prairie views. You will also want to tour the historic farmhouse.
Marais des Cygnes Wildlife Area
Stop and explore the Marais des Cygnes Wildlife Area near Pleasanton, Kansas, on your road trip from Des Moines to Amarillo. Head to the marsh area to go fishing from April to September or fish the river and streams year-round. This park is a fascinating place to go bird-watching as over 100 species nest in this park. You must, however, stay on the roadways.
Museum of World Treasures
You will not believe what you can see on a road trip from Des Moines to Amarillo when you stop at the Museum of World Treasures in Wichita, Kansas. Some of the top-notch galleries at this location include fossils, rocks, plains sea creatures, a piece of the Berlin Wall, and an Egyptian mummy. This museum’s World War II collection is extensive.
Kansas City, Missouri
Worlds of Fun, American Royal, and many other top-notch facilities make it easy to find special events to attend in Kansas City. There are wonderful campgrounds in Kansas City, like Trailside RV Park, Stadium Park & Campground, and Miller’s Kampark, where you can be close to the city while enjoying a quiet site. There are great RV dump stations in Kansas City, including Watkins Woolen Mill State Park, Basswood Country RV Resort, and Missouri State Fair RV Park, that you can use for free or at a nominal charge.
Just 40 miles from Kansas City, Lawrence is a great spot to explore. You can find fantastic riverfront campgrounds in Lawrence at Riverfront Park Campground, Suncatcher Lake & RV Resort, and Walnut Grove RV Park. Use RV dump stations in Lawrence at Olathe Ford RV Center, Clinton State Park, and Leavenworth State Park before continuing across the state.
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Include Oklahoma City sites to explore cowboy history with a stop at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum and Red Earth Art Center on your road trip itinerary from Des Moines to Amarillo. There are many fantastic campgrounds in Oklahoma City with large shade trees to help you beat the summer heat, including Lake Thunderbird, Oak Glen RV Park, and Twin Fountains RV Resort. Before heading to the west on your road trip from Des Moines to Amarillo, use RV dump stations in Oklahoma City at Roadrunner RV Park, Pilot Flying J Travel Plaza #703, and Council Road RV Park.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Des Moines to Amarillo, 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 Des Moines or Amarillo.