The 391-mile road trip from Denver, Colorado, to Dodge City, Kansas can be taken on a weekend or during the week at any time of the year, but summertime travel allows you to take in a great festival and explore interesting outdoor venues. It’s an easy trip on well-paved highways appropriate for RV travel. Take Interstate 70 east to Highway 23, then head south on Highway 23 to Highway 400, which will take you east to Dodge City, Kansas. While in Denver you can camp at the Arapaho National Forest or Roosevelt National Forest. These national forests are popular for camping during the winter for visitors looking to take in some fabulous downhill skiing, or during the summer to take in the beautiful scenery and wildlife. These parks area also ideal for Colorado River white water rafting and hiking enthusiasts. RVers will find dozens of great RV campgrounds in the two national forests just west of Denver.
While visiting Denver, enjoy shopping and dining in the downtown area and the LoDo Historic District is definitely worth a visit. If you check out the Colorado State Capitol you will be 5280 feet above sea level, which is what gives Denver its nickname, “Mile High City ''. From the Capitol Dome, you can view 200 mountain peaks! Attractions in the city include the Denver Art Museum, Denver Zoo, Denver Botanical Gardens, and Denver Aquarium.
When you arrive in Dodge City, no trip to this wild west town would be complete without a visit to the Boot Hill Museum, at the site of the legendary Boot Hill Cemetery. The museum tells the exciting story of Dodge City, which has a rich history dating back to the Native Americans who originally inhabited the area, through the establishment of the Santa Fe Trail which brought settlers to the region, to the establishment of the frontier city.
The museum is open year-round and during the summer months, the museum hosts exciting gunfight reenactments and theatrical shows. You can have a photo taken at the Old West Photo Parlour dressed up in 1800s style garb for a unique souvenir. Climb the top of the hill to check out the Boot Hill Distillery or have a drink at the Long Branch Saloon on site!
Located a short walk north of the museum, in the Kansas Teachers Hall of Fame, is the Gunfighters Wax Museum which features figures of Wyatt Earp, Sitting Bull, Doc Holliday, and Jesse James to name a few, and makes your visit to the museum and your Dodge City wild west experience complete.
If you are traveling with kids, or for couples that want a romantic nostalgic experience, be sure to visit the Kit Carson Carousel in Burlington, Colorado. This 1905 carousel has its own museum and is located at the Kit Carson County Fairgrounds just north of town. From Interstate 70 take exit 437 north, continue past the commercial establishments to the gravel road on the east side of the road which will take you to the fairgrounds.
The historic carousel is housed in a large 12 sided building. The ride is available during the summer for a nominal fee. This carousel is a prime example of a wooden hand-carved carousel and is part carnival attraction, part work of art! The carousel is fully operational with a restored pipe organ. There are 46 hand-carved animals on a 45-foot diameter platform. Unique figures on the carousel include a giraffe with a snake twined around its neck and a zebra with a whimsical gnome behind the saddle. This is the only antique carousel in the U.S. that has the original paint on the background scenery and the animals. Carousel lovers should not miss this one-of-a-kind historic carousel ride. RV camping can be found just east of Burlington at Goodland KOA. The KOA has hookups, pull-through sites, and a beautifully landscaped setting.
If you're going through Denver in late September see if you can sync your trip up with the dates for The Great American Beer Festival. This is not just a beer festival, it is a competition that attracts international beer enthusiasts and brewers. Held at the Colorado Convention Center the festival is attended by 60000 participants annually.
The public tasting event allows visitors to sample over 4000 craft beers with over 800 breweries participating. The competition consists of a professional panel that samples the wares to determine the top three beers in over 100 categories. The event takes place over four days. For information on this year's event and tickets go to Great American Beer Festival Information. Purchase tickets ahead of time as this popular beer tasting event can sell out well ahead of time.
RVers should park RVs at campsites out of town and take passenger vehicles to this busy event; parking is available onsite but limited. If you are planning on sampling the wares at the beer festival, don't drink and drive, arrange for a designated driver in your party, take a taxi, or use public transportation.
When you arrive in Dodge City, Kansas, there is plenty of interesting wild west history and ambiance. The city is nicknamed the “Queen of the Cowtowns”, and proudly owns its “Wild West” history. A less popular nickname was the “Wickedest Little City in America” and the streets of Dodge City were once strolled by the likes of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday when the city was also known for being the site of infamous shootouts.
Historical sites and museums, and an annual rodeo celebrate Dodge City’s roots as a western frontier town. Dodge City has modern-day attractions to entertain visitors as well. Visit the Dodge City Raceway Park for automotive dirt track racing or the Boot Hill Casino and resort, a luxurious resort and casino with a nod to the city's old west roots.
Recreational opportunities include golf courses and the Long Branch Lagoon Waterpark. While staying at Dodge City, RV campers can stay at the Dodge City KOA which has RV camping with hookups and amenities.