If you have ever gone from Dallas to Austin on Interstate 35, you know the traffic is notorious. Instead of fighting it one more time, get off the beaten path and enjoy some of the Lone Star State’s back roads. You will enjoy passing by ranches where people will wave a friendly hello. You can also find beautiful state parks to explore, and you will want to stop at Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park and all the great towns along the way. While you can zip between Dallas and Austin in about three hours, you would miss many exciting things to see and friendly cities to visit. This means that you may want to plan for some extra time when creating your road trip itinerary for Dallas to Austin.
When on a Dallas to Austin RV road trip, you will have the chance to explore some national parks.
Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park
Once called the Texas White House, Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park contains the home, ranch, and final resting place of Lyndon B. Johnson. The park is divided into two separate areas that are located about 14 miles apart. The main unit in Johnson City contains his childhood home and his grandparents' home. The second area contains his ranch.
Big Bend National Park
While you will drive a decent amount out of the way of your route, it is possible to include a trip to Big Bend National Park on this road trip from Dallas to Austin. You can go backcountry camping, hike miles of trails, and see a variety of wildlife, including cougars and foxes, at this national park. It is also a great place to join the park rangers in learning more about the unique ecosystem. Consider eating in this park's restaurant, which is a special treat in the early morning hours when you can watch the sun hit the mountains for the first time.
On your road trip from Dallas to Austin, you can also visit some outstanding state parks that offer many fun things to do.
Cleburne State Park
You will find many things to do at Cleburne State Park, which surrounds Clear Lake and which is southwest of the DFW Metroplex. You can canoe, kayak, and swim. Anglers love this state park for its catfish and largemouth bass fishing. The campground here is a great place to stay if you are looking for a quiet retreat.
Dinosaur Valley State Park
Dinosaur Valley State Park is one of the most popular places to visit in the entire state, and it's just an hour outside of Dallas. Wade in the river to see footprints of dinosaurs that lived in this area many millions of years ago. There are over 20 miles of trails waiting to be explored on foot, bike, or horse. Take a swim in the Paluxy River, and be sure to attend the ranger-led programs.
Lake Whitney State Park
Take advantage of the free fishing equipment loaner program to catch blue catfish as well as largemouth, striped, and white bass at this state park northwest of Waco. Fishing tournaments are often held here. You will love the views of the large oak trees and the lake from the hiking paths at Lake Whitney State Park. The area is also an excellent place to go biking.
Mother Neff State Park
While others are fighting with traffic bottlenecks on their road trip from Dallas to Austin, you can be unwinding at Mother Neff State Park southwest of Waco. The scenery is breathtaking all year but especially in the springtime when the wildflowers are in bloom. During your stay, you can visit a cave used by Tonkawa Indians in the 1800s and climb the rock tower to see far into the distance.
Inks State Park
Before the end of your Dallas to Austin road trip, you will want to spend a day at Inks State Park. Head to the park store to rent a canoe or kayak and enjoy the no-wake lake's peacefulness. Bring along your scuba diving gear to explore the underwater scene at this park, which is located about one hour north of Austin. Hike along the paths to enjoy the pink granite outcroppings before tucking yourself into bed in the campground.
Keep your eyes open looking for exciting things to visit on your Dallas to Austin RV road trip, and you will find many things to see. Here are some spots where you will want to stop.
Fort Worth Stockyards
If you have never seen the longhorn cattle drives at the Fort Worth Stockyards, you may want to do it on your road trip. Go on a historical walking tour of the area and visit the Stockyard Museum and the Military Museum of Fort Worth. This stop is also a great place to play in honky-tonks such as Billy Bob’s.
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center
The scenic drive through the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center near Glen Rose is only 7.2 miles long, but you can feed animals from around the world as you drive its path. You will see over 1,000 animals representing 50 different species. An ostrich may lay an egg right in front of your RV, or bongos may decide to fight over a female just inches from your vehicle.
Magnolia Market at the Silos
Owned by Chip and Joanna Gaines of HGTV’s "Fixer Upper," this space in Waco is a great place to shop for home décor and other items. Get a bite to eat from one of the food trucks before strolling through the garden with its many imaginative spaces. Check out the fashion accessories and apparel.
Choose between the walking tour or the wild cave tour where you will wiggle, crawl, and squirm your way deeper into Longhorn Caverns. This cave northwest of Austin has been named the National Cave of Texas.
Luckenbach General Store, Dancehall, and Bar
Made famous in a country-western song recorded by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, Luckenbach, Texas, has events happening all the time. You can get a drink and then dance the Texas two-step on the iconic dance floor or sit under a tall shade tree and enjoy a soda from the general store.
You will pass through many small towns on your journey. You may want to make a point of stopping and visiting these on your Dallas to Austin RV road trip.
This city offers many exciting things to do and great places to eat. Consider staying at a Fort Worth campground such as Shady Hill Campground or Cowtown RV Park. Use the dump stations at Lewisville Lake Park Campground or the Elks Lodge.
Home to Baylor University, this community offers an exciting blend of Texas independence and high technology. Consider exploring it by staying at Flat Creek Farms RV Resort or one of these other fantastic Waco campgrounds. Use the dump station at Quail Crossing RV Park.
You will love the scenic beauty of the Georgetown area, and a great way to experience it is by staying in a campground such as Rio Bonito Cabin and RV Park or Country Oasis Campground. This community is centrally located to many other small towns that you will want to explore. Additionally, do not miss a chance to play on Lake Georgetown and visit the Inner Space Cavern. There are many dump stations in this area, including one at Cedar Breaks Park.
This city loves to celebrate its German heritage, and you should not pass up the chance to eat schweineschnitzel, corned beef and cabbage, and other favorites. There are also fabulous history museums here, including the National Museum of the Pacific War. You can find great places to camp near this community at spots such as Fredericksburg RV Park and Oakwood RV Resort. You can also find nearby dump stations at Lady Bird Johnson Municipal Park.
Birthplace to a former president, Johnson City is proud of its heritage. If you have children with you on your trip, they will love the Science Mill. You will love the vineyards near this community. Consider staying at Pedernales Falls State Park, which has a dump station.
While you can quickly travel down the interstate on a road trip from Dallas to Austin, you do not want to miss the opportunity to experience the smaller communities in the state. If you do not have an RV, you can rent one in Dallas or Austin. Before heading back to the hustle of major cities, consider visiting Lady Bird Johnson’s Wildflower Center in Austin and reflecting on all the great times that you had at stops along your road trip.