Some people think of Texas as a sizeable unblemished plain that goes forever. When they visit, they're shocked to find that the state is a mix of deserts, fertile valleys, areas of hill country, mountains, and arroyos. No one can see all of Texas in a single vacation, but they can explore some impressive regions and points of interest. A San Antonio to Austin RV road trip offers an excellent glimpse into the South Texas Plains and Hill Country regions of the state. While you could easily complete the trip in under two hours, you may want to expand the journey to a week and cover over a thousand miles. It all depends on how many memories you want to carry home with you.
Both National Parks in Texas are within driving distance of San Antonio. There are also several National Historical Parks in the area that you may want to add to your itinerary.
Big Bend National Park
Before you take off on your road trip from San Antonio to Austin, take the time to visit the two National Parks at the western end of Texas. Big Bend National Park lies 378 miles to the west of San Antonio. The park includes 810,000-acres of the area along the Rio Grande River. Big Bend features stark desert terrain interrupted by a river roaring through deep gullies, swampy areas filled with waterfowl, and canyons crowned by mountains. Several thermal hot springs exist in the park. Big Bend National Park is an isolated area, which makes it less visited than most parks in the U.S. It takes six hours to reach the park from San Antonio when you travel I-10.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
After your visit to Big Bend National Park, take time to visit Guadalupe Mountains National Park. The park only adds another 190 miles to your trip, and it is well worth the time. This 86,367-acre park offers an astonishing array of visuals, including the exceptional Guadalupe Peak, which at 8,749 feet, is the highest point in Texas. Visit the old stagecoach station and the restored Frijole Ranch, which holds a museum of Texas ranching history. Hiking trails run throughout the park, allowing you to observe the incredible sights from multiple directions. After exploring Guadalupe Mountains National Park, take a day to drive the eight hours back to San Antonio.
Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park
The Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park presents an example of Texas ranch living, an essential part of the state's history. You can easily reach this park from Austin by taking the Highway 290 Exit off I-35. The ranch sits in the middle of the Texas Hill Country. There are three houses on the property. The first was the original habitation of the Johnson family when it homesteaded the property. The second is the home in which LBJ grew up, and the third is the familiar “Texas Whitehouse” that Lyndon built years later. Guided tours, often led by the grandchildren of President Johnson, are available daily.
Central Texas is home to some amazing state parks. Whether you're looking to add a relaxing retreat or fun recreational area to your road trip itinerary from San Antonio to Austin, you'll find many options.
Palmetto State Park
Palmetto State Park lies an hour’s drive east of San Antonio. Hiking trails wander through the park past dwarf Palmetto trees growing beside the San Marcos River. The park is easy to reach from San Antonio by taking I-10 East until you reach the exit for U.S. Highway 183. Featured activities at Palmetto include swimming and paddling in the San Marcos as well as hiking and biking through the forest.
McKinney Falls State Park
The city of Austin set aside 641 acres of picturesque land to form McKinney Falls State Park. The park is part of the El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail. Along the western edge of the park, you can still see indentations in the rock used extensively as a wagon trail by early Spaniards. Other features include Smith Rock Shelter, where migratory American natives camped for hundreds of years and what remains of the original McKinney homestead.
Colorado Bend State Park
Colorado Bend State Park sits in the middle of the famous Texas Hill Country 90 miles northwest of Austin. The park is 5,328-acres of pristine land set aside in 1984 by the Texas legislature. The area’s features include waterfalls, sinkholes, caves, and springs. Guided tours through a system of more than 400 caves are available for the erstwhile spelunker. The park is a haven from the heat of the plain where fishing, paddling, and swimming are favorite pastimes for visitors.
Taking in points of interest along your road trip from San Antonio to Austin is essential to understanding Texas. There are parks, businesses, and landmarks that will appeal to any visitor. Take your time and enjoy the venture between the two cities while creating memories that will last you and your family a lifetime.
Before leaving on your road trip from San Antonio to Austin, visit the Alamo. The history behind this site beckons all who venture near. Of all the sites in San Antonio, the Alamo is a “must-see” part of any family vacation through the region.
Natural Bridge Caverns
Stop in San Antonio for a fun and energetic time at the Natural Bridge Caverns. The caverns are enormous, with one room that is larger than a football field. The underground rock formations are well lit, and the guided tour is instructive. Above ground, there is a sluice that reveals uncut gems and valuable minerals. Let the kids ride the high zip line to see the surrounding Texas Hill Country from above.
In the town of New Braunfels, 32 miles north of San Antonio, there is a 51-acre area called Landa Park. Kids and adults love this place. There are three pools on the property. One is a spring-fed swimming pool while another is an Olympic size pool. The final pool is a wading pond for the very young. Kids also love the miniature train that runs around the park. Landa Lake is the park’s centerpiece with trails running beside it and picnic tables set in viewing sites. Landa Park is designated a Lone Star Legacy Park.
On your San Antonio to Austin RV road trip, you will pass by at least one city of historical importance. Others lie beyond Austin and should not be ignored as they contribute much to any Hill Country vacation. Stopping at these centers of population introduces you to the rich diversity that makes up Texas.
New Braunfels is alongside I-35 about 32 miles north of San Antonio. The town of over 90,000 people was founded as a German immigrant community in the 1840s. Consequently, there are several German-oriented festivals throughout the year that attract RV campers from throughout the country. You can find dump stations at almost every service station in the community as well as at every park. Some of the top RV campgrounds that surround the town include Lazy L&L Campground and Hill Country RV Resort.
Located 25 miles north of Austin, Georgetown is a charming city that hosts events throughout the year. It's particularly known for its incredible restaurant community. For a town of only 48,000 people, Georgetown has an incredible number of attractions. Texans know this place as a great daycation visit. Several campgrounds in the surrounding area have full hookups.
The Killeen, Temple, Fort Hood Area of Texas
The Killeen, Temple, Fort Hood area of Texas is a major metropolitan region. Located between 60 to 90 miles north of Austin, the area is easily reached by traveling north on I-35. Attractions, such as Fort Hood and the Mayborn Science Theater, bring many visitors to the area. RV dump stations are easy to find in any of the communities. The area also supports numerous campgrounds, including the popular Cicada Springs RV Park.