Driving from Colorado to Texas and looking for the best things to do and places to visit on your road trip? Whether you are visiting Denver or Colorado Springs, plan the best road trip from Texas to Colorado using our detailed guide. You may also like our post on the Best Things to do in Colorado.
For those living in Texas, Colorado is one of the most popular road trip destinations. One of the best reasons for this is that Colorado is a year-round destination. Whether you plan to enjoy the mountain air in the summer, see the beautiful aspen leaves change color in fall, or want to go skiing in the winter, Colorado offers the ultimate family vacation for everyone.
Colorado has a dramatic mountain scenery and offers a dramatic change from the flat grasslands and arid desert landscape of Texas. We have made the Houston to Colorado road trip several times and have found a variety of attractions to break the 15+ hours drive. You can also use this itinerary to plan a Dallas to Colorado road trip.
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The route is really interesting: you will be passing through the Texas Panhandle and then Southern Colorado. You will come across a couple of Route 66 attractions near Amarillo. One thing you can bet on: Texas is really huge and you will drive through the state for a really long time!
Essential Stops on Texas to Colorado Road Trip
Plan the best road trip using our Texas to Colorado road trip planner. Most of these attractions are on the drive from Dallas to Denver so you can customize and use this itinerary, whether you are starting from Houston, Austin, or San Antonio. We have mentioned essential stops on your road trip as well as recommendations on things to do in this guide.
Yes, we know your final destination is Colorado! But just in case you are driving from the south or west Texas and are looking for a great pitstop, then you can’t go wrong with Dallas! The city has everything: intriguing history, art and culture, and foodie destinations!
Start your visit at the iconic Sixth Floor Museum at the Dealey Plaza. It was here that JFK was murdered and the museum pays homage to his legacy and the events that led to the tragic incident. Then visit the Dallas Museum of Art or Perot Museum of Nature Science, depending on whether you love the old masters or dinosaurs!
See a panoramic view of Dallas from the Reunion Tower. Visit the Dallas Farmers Market for some quick bites or sample some barbecue if you are hungry for more. See the fantastic season displays at the Dallas Arboretum or enjoy the tranquil views of White Rock Lake.
Enjoy your time in the city before you begin the drive across the Texas Panhandle.
Optional: Fort Worth
If you have the time, then explore Fort Worth in addition to Dallas. This metro area has a host of impressive cultural attractions. You can visit the Kimbell Art Museum or the Modern Art Museum or the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, depending on your interest. If you like being outdoors, take a walk through the Botanical Gardens, which are the oldest in Texas.
The most popular attraction in the city is, however, the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District. It celebrates the history and tradition of Texas’s livestock and cattle industry. Here you can watch a mock shootout, ride a mechanical bull, drink in a saloon, and dance a two-step. We can never get enough of the stockyards and their unique vibe!
If you are doing the Texas Colorado road trip in the winter or during the holiday season, then you should definitely stop in Grapevine. Known as the Christmas Capital of Texas, Grapevine has enough holiday spirit to make everyone happy!
If your kids love trains, then take a ride on the Polar Express. Operated by the Grapevine Vintage Railroad, this holiday train takes kids to see Santa Claus and the North Pole. Take a stroll on historic Main Street and see the holiday lights.
Located on the banks of the Wichita River, Wichita Falls is a great pitstop on this road trip. There are many fun, interesting, and fascinating things to do here. You can visit cultural attractions and go antiquing in the town.
You can visit the Museum of North Texas history and see a collection of historic artifacts including cowboy boots, hats, and rodeo items. Also, you should visit Lucy Park to see the actual Wichita Falls waterfall. The Wichita Falls Railroad Museum is a great place to take the kids.
The real fun of this trip starts on the Amarillo TX to Denver CO route. Amarillo is one of the essential stops on Historic Route 66 and has many Route 66 themed attractions. It has an entire Route 66 Historic District which is a must-visit.
Amarillo is the symbolic Old West. Located in the Texan desert, Amarillo has cultural attractions, historic downtown, outdoor activities, restaurants, cafes, and art galleries. There are lots of things to do in Amarillo for all types of visitors.
Visit the Big Texan Steak Ranch Hotel and accept their steak challenge! See the Route 66 memorial and many murals on the walls. Take a photo with the Cadillacs at Cadillac Ranch (see below). See a show at the Amarillo Opera or symphony or Lone Star Ballet.
Take the kids to the Don Harrington Discovery Center or the Zoo. Stroll through the Botanical Gardens. See skeletons and historic artifacts at the Amarillo Historical Museum. Visit the Cowboy and Cowgirls of the West Museum.
There are honestly so many things to do in Amarillo that we definitely recommend stopping here for 2 to 3 days on your Colorado trip.
Cadillac Ranch is one of the most iconic Route 66 attractions. Located just a short distance away from downtown Amarillo, this unique attraction features ten Cadillacs half-buried in the ground.
The cars are covered with spray paint and you can see fantastic art on each and every part of the cars, including their interior. Cadillac Ranch is a must stop while in the Texas Panhandle. On a visit, you will meet several other Route 66 trippers who have come to see the iconic ranch.
Visitors can get spray paint and leave their own artistic vision on the cars. You will see names, symbols, patterns, and more etched by other visitors.
Optional: Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Located near Amarillo, Texas, Palo Duro Canyon State Park is a must-visit when you are in the Texas Panhandle. Palo Duro Canyon is known as the Grand Canyon of Texas and it is very impressive. It is the second-largest canyon in the country. The small town of Canyon is the gateway to the state park.
The best way to explore the Palo Duro Canyon is on a scenic drive through the park. The route dips low into the canyon before rising again towards the rim. On the route, you will have stunning views of the weathered rock layers and steep canyon walls. You can also spot wildlife and hike inside the park.
Some of the interesting geological formations to spot inside the canyon include hoodoos and canyons. The Lighthouse rock formation is an iconic feature of the park. Also must visit is the Visitor Center. Here you can spot fossils of prehistoric animals found inside the park as well as learn about the indigenous people that lived in the area many years ago.
Adrian, Texas is the midpoint of Route 66. To reach Adrian, you will need to take a detour and drive along Route 66 for an hour or so but the reward is worth it!
This small west Texas town is most famous for its Midpoint Cafe. This cafe was the inspiration for Flo’s V8 Cafe in the famous Disney / Pixar movie Cars. In addition to being a restaurant, the cafe also serves as a souvenir shop.
Adrian also has many other attractions, most of them are located on the Historic Main Street. See the Giles Hotel, one of the earliest hotels on Route 66, as well as three vintage gas stations.
The midpoint of Route 66 signs in Adrian are worth the trip itself! These are some of the best photo ops on Route 66.
Optional: Capulin Volcano National Monument
A very exceptional detour. If you have the time, definitely squeeze in a visit to Capulin Volcano National Monument in New Mexico. Here you can actually explore an extinct cinder cone volcano!
Located in northeastern New Mexico’s Raton-Clayton Volcanic Field, Capulin Volcano National Monument is a unique geological wonder. You can drive up to the rim of its crater and even hike down into its mouth. You can learn more about the area’s history and geology at the Visitor Center.
The symmetrical cinder cone of the volcano rises above the surrounding plains. From the top, you have stunning views of the panoramic field. On a clear day, you can see areas of 5 states including Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Oklahoma, and even Kansas!
Other things to do at Capulin Volcano National Monument include seeing wildlife, hiking into lava tubes, and stay gazing.
Optional: Great Sand Dunes National Park
Great Sand Dunes National Park is a wonder in this part of the country. It is as far removed from the Texas Grasslands or Colorado’s mountain ranges as it can be! Here you will find an endless sea of sand dunes stretching in every direction. Great Sand Dunes National Park and its gateway town of Alamosa are a destination in their own right.
Inside the national park, you will find some of the tallest dunes in the country. Star Dune, at 750 feet, easily towers above all others. One of the best attractions in the park is to go sand sledding or sandboarding down the dunes. You can rent the boards in Alamosa prior to your visit. In spring, a creek flows through the park and provides some splashing fun for everyone.
Your next stop while on your way to Denver from Texas, should be Colorado Springs. This is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Colorado and very popular with tourists. The city is located on the eastern foothills of the Rocky Mountains, adjacent to Pikes National Forest.
Colorado Springs is most famous for the Garden of the Gods park. Here you can see stunning red sandstone formations. Garden of the Gods is really photogenic and best enjoyed through the scenic drive and hiking.
The other most popular attraction in Colorado Springs is Pikes Peak. Located 12 miles from downtown, this is a famous fourteener peak and the views from the top are breathtaking. You can either drive to the top or take the charming cog railway to the top.
We recommend spending a minimum of 2 to 3 days in Colorado Springs to fully enjoy the area and its amazing attractions.
You can’t really visit Colorado without spending some time in Denver. Popularly known as the Mile High City, Denver is vibrant and full of culture. It is a culinary destination and also has several places of interest for art lovers.
We recommend starting your visit at the Colorado State Capitol. Take a free tour of this beautiful building and see the famous view of Denver from up above the Capitol. Then visit the nearby Denver Art Museum and appreciate a staggering collection of art pieces including paintings, sculptures, and mixed media artwork.
Other popular attractions in Denver include the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Denver Botanic Gardens, 16th Street Mall, Union Station, and Larimer Square. For more information on things to do in Denver, read our post on Denver Travel Guide.
The charming mountain town of Estes Park is the gateway to Colorado’s famous Rocky Mountain National Park and should definitely be on your trip itinerary. The park entrance is located just a few miles away and in the town, you can rent all kinds of outdoor gear including snowshoes and ATVs.
There are many historical buildings, museums, and art galleries in this charming town. You will also find an abundance of shopping boutiques selling everything from Colorado themed sweatshirts to cowboy boots and hats. Take a walk along the riverwalk and discover beautiful sculptures.
For such a small town, Estes Park has a great variety of eateries and restaurants. You can visit steakhouses and try an elk steak – a Colorado favorite! Enter the candy and fudge stores to sample a variety of snacks such as popcorn, truffles, fudge, saltwater taffy, and more.
There are also several things to do in Estes Park in the winter, read them here. After spending your day in town, rest for an exciting day of adventure in the national park.
Rocky Mountains National Park
Rocky Mountains National Park in Colorado is one of our favorite national parks in the country. The park is famous for its dramatic scenery, abundant wildlife, scenic drives, and outdoor recreation including hiking trails.
The best way to explore this beautiful park is by driving the many spectacular scenic drives inside the park. These drives are beautiful year-round: from summer wildflowers to golden-colored aspens to snowy mountain peaks, you are sure to find something enchanting irrespective of when you go.
Drive the Bear Lake Road to go deeper inside the park towards beautiful Bear Lake and to see enchanting views of the Continental Divide. Fall River Road is excellent to see the gigantic boulders in the Alluvial Fan area. The aptly named Trail Ridge Road crosses the Continental Divide and offers majestic views.
In the winter, the national park is a beautiful snowy wonderland with frozen lakes and sparkling trees. The icy mountain scenery in winter is breathtaking and such a welcome break from Texas’s grasslands, making this one of our favorite times to visit.
After seeing Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park, you can either head back via the Denver to Dallas drive or continue to explore even more of Colorful Colorado using our Colorado Road Trip Itinerary. Our detailed itinerary will take you to places such as Colorado National Monument and Mesa Verde National Park.
Or head for the ski towns of Breckenridge or Vail if you are visiting in the winter. Here’s a little information about both of them.
Breckenridge has its origins as a booming mining town in the Rockies. It has tons of Gold Rush history and Victorian-era buildings, which you can see in the Breckenridge National Historic District. Walk along the mountain towns Main Street and you will find charming pastel-colored buildings. Most of these are now home to spas, art galleries, boutique stores, cafes, restaurants, and bookstores.
While everyone knows about Breckenridge’s winter attractions, including skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling, the town is equally fun in the summer and fall. You can go hiking, camping, on scenic drives. Breckenridge also has plenty of water activities including white water rafting, kayaking, fishing, etc. Frisco which is just half an hour away from Breckenridge is also a great town to check out while in the area.
Vail, Colorado, has the reputation of being one of the top ski resorts in the country. Vail is very European, big, and exquisite. Unfortunately, it has the reputation of being one of the most expensive ski resorts in the country; however, visiting Vail is a must for ski lovers.
Few people know that Vail is inspired by Bavarian mountain villages in South Germany. Here you can find Austrian chalet-style architecture, restaurants serving Bavarian cuisine, and special events like Oktoberfest. We recommend taking a stroll in Vail and enjoying the food even if you are not skiing here. Try eating the bratwurst or pork schnitzel. Wash it down with German beer and try apple strudel for dessert.
Other snow activities in Vail include snowmobiling, snow tubing, sledding, snowshoeing, and building a snowman! If you happen to visit in the summer or fall, hike to one of the area’s waterfalls or take a scenic drive in the mountains. Indoor activities include shopping, spa massages, fancy meals, and more.
Vail is definitely worth the detour on your Texas Colorado road trip.
We hope you liked our post on Texas to Colorado road trip planner. Do you know of any other attractions on the road? Or any fantastic eateries that we should visit the next time we make this trip? Let us know in the comments!