A road trip in your RV from the state capital in Austin, Texas, to Colorado Springs, Colorado, is full of historical discovery and wilderness camping adventures. Start out from Austin where you can visit the Texas State History Museum and other interesting sites such as the red granite State Capitol building, attend University of Texas Tailgating parties, or view bat colonies launching on their nightly excursions in the evening. Peruse pleasant parks such as the 351 acre Zilker Park on Lady Bird Lake, where tons of recreational opportunities abound, including the Zilker Zephyr, a miniature train running along the water's edge. Zilker Park is also home to several annual events and festivals such as Zilker Hillside Theatre, Zilker Summer Musical, Blues on the Green, and Austin City Limits Music Festival. Check out the 26 acre Zilker Botanical Garden which includes the Hartman Prehistoric Garden, a unique site, with the garden is built around ancient dinosaur footprints that are embedded in the rock here.
Camp during your Austin stay at the Austin East KOA which has plenty of amenities and services, or on the southside of the city at McKinney Falls State Park. The main campground here has 81 sites, 69 of which have 30 amp electric hookups, and 12 have 50 amp service. Sites can accommodate RV units up to 50 feet in length, with some that can hold larger units up to 155 feet long.
Your journey to Colorado Springs covers 849 miles of open road. Take Highway 183, 84, 283, 153, and 70 north and west to Sweetwater, Texas, then Interstate 20 north to Highway 84. Continue north on Highway 84, to Lubbock, Texas. From Lubbock, take Intestate 27 north to Amarillo, then Highway 385, and 87 to Interstate 25. Interstate 25 north will take you to Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Visit the Travis County Exposition Center at any time of year for events at the dining and banquet halls, arena, and barn. But if your in Austin during March, coordinate your trip to take in Rodeo Austin, also called the Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo. Take in the usual rodeo events plus some unique fun events such as mutton busting, pig races, and a wild west show. The event takes place over two weeks and includes not only PRCA rodeo riding, but entertainment, exhibits, a carnival, petting zoo, live auctions, food vendors, and shopping opportunities. Tickets can be purchased online at Tickets for Rodeo Austin.
There is no onsite camping at the rodeo grounds. However, there are parking spots for larger RV units. Larger sites that will accommodate RVs are somewhat limited though, so you may be better off to leave your RV at a local campground or RV park. Parking spaces can be purchased ahead of time when you book your ticket, to guarantee a parking space onsite. The rodeo grounds are on grass and dirt terrain, so wear good footwear. The climate in Austin during the rodeo is moderate, usually not too hot or too cold, so shorts and T-shirts are popular rodeo going attire, but bring a sweater or jacket for cooler evenings.
As you travel north on Highway 153 and reach the junction with Highway 70, instead of continuing north on your journey, take a detour and head south about 20 miles to visit the historic Fort Chadbourne. The fort was originally established in 1852 by companies of the 8th U.S. Infantry. The fort was named for Second Lieutenant Chadbourne, who was killed during the Mexian War, and the lieutenant’s sash and sabre are displayed at the current fort visitor center.
The fort held between 50 and 450 men during its operation, and famous people passing through the fort over the years included Robert E Lee, George Pickett, and John Bell Hood. Currently the fort is open Tuesday to Sunday from 8 AM to 5 PM. It takes about one to two hours to tour the fort, so give yourself enough time. The entrance to Fort Chadbourne is framed by a giant gold spur, 30 feet high, and 17 feet wide, weighing 400 pounds. Exhibits include an antique firearms collection with over 300 antique firearms on display including examples of Winchesters and Colts. Learn about the stories of Fort Chadbourne through the eyes of past local Native Americans, military men, Texas Rangers, and cowboys.
The museum contains hundreds of artifacts excavated from the fort site, and an old ranch house. There is also a Native American Display with hundreds of arrowheads, flint tools, and grinding stones. Don't forget to view the short Emmy award-winning film at the theatre, “The Lost Fort”.
Approaching Amarillo, Texas, on Interstate 27 take exit 106 onto Route 217 which will take you a short distance east to the Palo Duro State Park south of Amarillo Texas. From one of the several campgrounds in this park, you can visit the sights and sounds of Amarillo, Texas, an easy drive away.
The Hackberry Campground has 32 sites for RVs with electric hookups. Amenities include a dump station, restrooms, and showers. Sites can accommodate RV units and tow trailers up to 60 feet in length, and some sites are paved for easy access. The campground is fairly open with little shade, so be prepared for the heat in the summer months. The Sagebrush Campground has 29 sites with electric and water hookups, and accommodates large RV units up to 60 feet in length with views of the surrounding hills. Access to an RV dump station is available and there are hot showers and restrooms.
The Old West Stables and trading post are just ½ a mile down the road and offers tours and supplies. There is also an amphitheater where performances are held during the summer months. Mesquite Compound has 20 sites with electric and water hookups and also accommodates 60 foot RVs with paved sites, and the Juniper Campground has 18 electric sites that accommodate RVs up to 50 feet in length.
Just after you get onto Interstate 25, take exit 452 onto route 72, then take route 526 north to Sugarite Canyon State Park where you can enjoy great overnight camping at the Lake Alice Campground. The campground is only about seven miles from your route. This is a small campground, with only eight RV sites with water and electric hookups, and two with full hookups, but it is a beautiful, natural, New Mexico wilderness site, set in a scenic canyon. The campground accommodates RVs up to 45 feet in length and there are water supplies, showers, flush toilet restrooms, and an RV dump station. Each site has picnic tables and fire rings, and pets are permitted. You can make reservations ahead of time online to secure an appropriate spot.
Explore the Sugarite Canyon terrain on 18 miles of hiking trails that wind through the oak and aspen filled canyon. The Sugarite Canyon was the site of coal mining activities in the 1940s, and the remnants of building foundations supporting these activities remain, although the park has reverted back to its natural state and wildlife flourishes in the canyon. The canyon is also the site of Lake Maloya, a 120-acre lake stocked with rainbow and brown trout, so don't forget your fishing gear.
The elevations in Sugarite Canyon sit above 6000 feet and the area is cooler than some of the surrounding desert landscape, rarely getting much hotter than 85 degrees in the summer months.
When you arrive in Colorado Springs, take advantage of the opportunity to explore the Wild West Ghost Town Museum, an indoor reconstructed ghost town with historic structures and fun activities. The buildings and artifacts here were rescued from abandoned town sites in the Pikes Peak region, and are now preserved in a historic 1899 stone structure, that once belonged to the Colorado Midland Railroad. The buildings and the artifacts contained within are set up much as they would have been 100 years ago!
Kids can have fun taking a turn at cranking an old butter churn, shooting in the shooting gallery, and playing arcade games. A big hit with visitors is the opportunity to pan for gold from May to September, at no extra cost. Staff will show you how to pan for gold just like they did on the Colorado frontier in days gone by. There's even a gift shop stocked with souvenirs and T-shirts to commemorate your visit. The museum is open every day, year-round.
RVers will find camping spots in Colorado, Springs, Colorado, at the Colorado Springs KOA and at the Mueller State Park. The Mueller State Park campground is open year-round and has 132 campsites with electric hookups, an RV dump station, laundry facilities, and restrooms.
During your stay in Colorado Springs, you will find a plethora of interesting things to do and see. Visit the US. Air Force Academy Planetarium, Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame and Museum of the American Cowboy, or Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum. Enjoy exploring wilderness areas and parks such as Garden of the Gods Visitor Center and Park, or the Cheyenne Mountain State Park
Partake in whitewater rafting and zip-lining activities, or check out the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo or the Dinosaur Resource Center. You will also find plenty of dining operations at local restaurants and great shopping.