The city with the third largest population in the state of Texas, Dallas is located in the northern part of the state. Considered a transportation hub, four major interstate highways run through the city, with an interstate loop that works its way around it. The city is also home to the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, which is one of the world’s largest and busiest. The city is mostly flat, at an elevation of 450-550 feet above sea level and built along the Trinity River. Green space along the river includes about 10,000 acres, resulting in one of the largest urban parks worldwide. Dallas is also home to White Rock Lake, a reservoir popular among boaters, rowers, bikers and runners.
With a central location and relatively moderate climate, Dallas is an ideal place to begin a road trip. About nine and a half hours from Dallas is the city of Santa Fe, New Mexico, an excellent choice for a destination when you have some time to explore. The capital of New Mexico (and the oldest state capital in the United States), Santa Fe is a small city of just under 85,000. Known as one of the world’s great art cities, Santa Fe is home to numerous art galleries and includes many cultural experiences like the Santa Fe Plaza and Palace of the Governors. The city also has easy access to outdoor recreation, ensuring that there is something for everyone visiting.
Of course, half the fun is getting there and you can find plenty of interesting things to see and do as you make your way from Dallas to Santa Fe!
After the museum and trip back in time, continue heading west on I-40 until you reach Albuquerque. The largest city in New Mexico, Albuquerque has plenty to see and do, making it well worth checking out.
One unique place to stop is Old Town, which is Albuquerque’s first neighborhood, having been established in 1706 when Spanish families settled there. The town was organized in Spanish colonial style, which included a central plaza with a church; after the first church collapsed in 1792, the San Felipe de Neri Church was built in its place and remains standing today.
Most of Old Town’s architecture is adobe in the Pueblo-Spanish style, with flat roofs and walls made of stucco. A center for culture, architecture, shopping and art, Old Town is a great place to explore and to grab a traditional New Mexican meal.
As you continue heading toward Santa Fe, you will find an interesting place to stop about an hour and 40 minutes away from Amarillo; Mesalands Community College’s Dinosaur Museum! The museum opened in 2000 and offers about 10,000 square feet of exhibits, where visitors can check out replicated and original fossils, including a skeleton of a 40-foot long Torvosaurus.
Classes are held within the Museum for those seeking a science degree with an emphasis on paleontology and geology and fossils discovered on field trips are displayed in the museum’s large laboratory. The focus of the museum is on the Mesozoic period and offers the largest collection of bronze skeletons (made in the college's foundry), fossils and replicas of prehistoric life in the world. The Exhibit Hall also includes a children’s area, where the majority of the exhibits are able to be touched by curious children.
After enjoying Caprock Canyons State Park, proceed for about an hour and 40 minutes to Amarillo, where you can check out a portion of the historic Route 66.
Amarillo has a dedicated Route 66 District, which takes up one mile in the city and is home to historical buildings and diverse places to shop. As you walk along Amarillo’s Route 66 District, you will encounter antique stores, funky art galleries and plenty of places to grab a bit to eat. Enjoy traditional Texan food, bars and live music at the District’s restaurants and bars.
Events take place within the District throughout the year; including a “Saturday Night Cruise” from April to October. Visiting the Route 66 District of Amarillo is a great way to experience the classic road while enjoying some good food and entertainment.
About two hours and 45 minutes from Wichita Falls is Caprock Canyons State Park, the site of your next stop. The Park’s rugged scenery is the result of the impact of wind and water on the land. Located about 100 miles southeast of Amarillo, the park is about 15,314 acres and includes 90 miles of trails ready to be explored. Bison can be seen roaming the park’s plains and you can also encounter bats in the park’s Clarity Tunnel.
There is plenty to do within the park; in addition to hiking or biking along the trails (which range from easy to very challenging), you can go horseback riding, geocaching, fishing, explore Lake Theo in a no-wake boat, enjoy a picnic and camp for a night or longer. Caprock Canyons State Park is perfect for a short stop or longer stay during your trip to Santa Fe.
From Dallas, begin your adventure by heading northwest on US-287 N for about two hours. This will bring you to Wichita Falls, Texas and your first stop, Lucy Park.
With 178 acres, Lucy Park is a regional park in the heart of the city of Wichita Falls on the banks of the Wichita River that includes large pecan and cottonwood trees, as well as a large pond where ducks make their home. There are plenty of things to do within the park, including disc golf, a swimming pool, playgrounds, sand and concrete volleyball courts, basketball hoops and a 1.7-mile trail that surrounds the park (perfect for hiking and biking). Lucy Park is an excellent choice for a picnic, with two large picnic shelters, five smaller picnic shelters, 30 picnic tables and 34 grills for barbecuing. Whether looking for a place to get some exercise, relax or a bit of both, Lucy Park is a great choice.
From Albuquerque, you are less than an hour from your destination of Santa Fe. Founded in 1610, Santa Fe is recognized by UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network and is well-known for art and culture. In 1573, King Philip II established planning rules and ordinances for the city which included Santa Fe being laid out around a central plaza, with the Palace of the Governors on the northern side and a church (now the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi) on the east side.
While visiting Santa Fe, you can visit its plaza and its galleries, shops, and restaurants. Many Native American artisans sell their work at the plaza, offering the opportunity to view their unique designs. Of course, this is not all that the city has to offer. The Santa Fe Opera is located just outside the city and the Sangre de Cristo mountains are offer excellent recreation opportunities, including hiking, mountain biking, and skiing.
Santa Fe has plenty of options for camping within the city, as well as in the wilderness areas that surround it, whether you are looking to stay in your RV or in a tent. Whether spending a few hours or a few days, a visit to Santa Fe will be a memorable experience.