Des Moines to Amarillo Road Trip Guide


Music lovers looking for a quick weekend road trip to enjoy RV camping and take in some excellent, eclectic music attractions, can take a road trip from Des Moines, Iowa to Amarillo, Texas. The 803 mile trip via Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, starts in Des Moines where visitors can camp at the Des Moines West KOA or nearby municipal, county, and state parks. RVers start their trip by proceeding south on Interstate 35 through Kansas City, Kansas, to Oklahoma City, and then picking up Interstate 40 to Amarillo, Texas.

Before leaving Des Moines, take in the city's interesting sites including the Blank Park Zoo, which houses animals from all over the globe on 25 acres, or the John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park. The sculpture park features the artwork of some of the planet's most famous artists in a 4.4-acre park. Enjoy a picnic amongst the unique sculptures located here for a one of a kind experience. The Des Moines Art Center is available for contemporary art lovers in an Art Deco style center, and history buffs can enjoy the Salisbury House and Gardens housed in a 1920 mansion and grounds, which is now a fabulous museum. A downtown farmer's market is also available on Saturdays with over 300 vendors providing local produce and wares.

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Max RV length
Max trailer Length
Road trip length: 2-3 days
Recommend rig: any
audience: couple

Point of Interest

Iowa State Fair

Visitors to Des Moines in August can sync up their trip to enjoy attending the Iowa State Fair which provides RV camping on site. This event spans 11 days and features a carnival midway with thrilling rides, 4-H and livestock exhibits, live musical performances, and unique events. Take in the dog agility event, or participate in interactive activities such as cow milking, or voting in exhibition competitions. Nosh on a hot dog while strolling the midway and trying your hand at carnival games.

There is a large trade show with handcrafted items, agricultural products and much more for shopping. Don't forget to take in the agricultural events and competitions for a real state fair experience. The Iowa State Fair is one of the largest and oldest in the country! RVers can camp on-site, but there is quite a waitlist for the coveted spots.

If you can obtain a spot, there are electric and water hookups at onsite campsites, or you can camp at a local RV park in the city, or out of town at numerous excellent country campgrounds.

American Jazz Museum

As you head south, you will pass through Kansas City, Kansas. Jazz lovers will be delighted with a stop here at the American Jazz Museum which is located in the historic 18th & Vine Jazz District. The museum highlights Jazz music through interactive exhibits, films, a visitor center, and the Blue Room Jazz Club and Gem Theatre’s live performances and workshops.

There are over 200 performances, programs, events, and exhibitions annually. Learn about legendary jazz performers and their modern-day counterparts. The museum celebrates jazz music, an original American art form, in their performances, exhibitions, and educational programs. Find out what's on at American Jazz Museum Information before your trip.

While staying in the Kansas City region, RVers can park their rigs at the Kansas City West KOA or Kansas City East KOA which have plenty of amenities and accommodate large units, or take in countryside camping at Hillsdale State Park.

American Banjo Museum

Before you head west to Amarillo, Texas, visitors passing through Oklahoma City can continue their American musical investigation, at the American Banjo Museum. This 21000 square foot facility contains a collection of over 400 instruments, films, recording, and memorabilia associated with the banjo, and banjo music. It is, in fact, the largest collection in the world of banjos that is available to the public.

You will be fascinated by the exhibits of primitive banjos built by African slaves, as well as 19th-century banjos and modern-day instruments used today in bluegrass and folk music. Many of the examples are from the American Jazz Age, during the 1920s and 30s. Visitors can enjoy listening to thousands of audio and video recordings of performances, and view publications, photographs, and personal memorabilia from great banjo artists.

While in Oklahoma City amazing RV camping opportunities are provided at Lake Thunderbird State Park south of the city. The state park is situated on a lake with marinas, swim beaches, and watersports opportunities. There are over 200 campsites to choose from, some with RV hookups that accomodate large RV units.


Arriving at your destination of Amarillo, Texas, be prepared for a quintessential Texan town with “Old West” charm. Visit desert parks and sample the typical Texan cuisine of steak and barbecued meat. Enjoy a meal at the Big Texan Steak Ranch Brewery and Hotel which is famous for its “steak challenge” If you can eat a 72 oz steak along with an appetizer, salad, and potato in one hour the meal is free.

Amarillo is located on the iconic Route 66, and an eclectic art installation made up of Cadillac cars pays homage to this historic route. There are also contemporary art exhibits and shopping opportunities, as well as traditional, historic sites and museums.

During your stay in Amarillo, camp at the Palo Duro Canyon State Park just southeast of the city. This beautiful park is regularly voted as one of the top 10 parks in the US and has the second-largest crater in America. During the summer performances at the Pioneer Amphitheatre at the park include “Texas-the Musical”, which tells the story of Texas from its early days right up until present times. The performance features Native Americans, cowboys, and pioneers, with fun and informative storylines, in an open-air setting. There are also plenty of camping opportunities at the park for RVers.

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