I started my US National Park Adventure from Dallas, TX, traveling west for what felt like an endless time. For those who have driven across Texas before, you’ll know what I mean. However, there are multiple opportunities to make the journey more interesting. I highly recommend a stop in Amarillo, TX – and come hungry.
The Big Texan is a must do. I’ve never seen anything quite so Texan. The building, personality and food are all larger than life. Come in for a big steak and enjoy!
Just outside of Amarillo, make sure to stop at the legendary Cadillac Ranch. A open air art exhibit consisting of a series of 10 old Cadillacs stuck halfway into the ground and spray-painted with various designs by the willing visitors who pass through. You can either bring your own spray paint or purchase some from the vendors who set up shop outside the entrance. Parking is right off the highway, entrance is free and access is via a short, flat walk.
After leaving Amarillo, I made my way along the roughly 5 hour route to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Great Sand Dunes is open 24 hours a day all year long. The park contains the tallest sand dunes in North America and truly does feel like you are visiting an otherworldly desert. I was there in August, so didn’t have to ford the Medano Creek to reach the dunes as you do in the spring and summer time. I highly recommend hiking one of the dunes (there are 5 in total). The high dune appears the largest from the car park and is a great choice. It is nearly 700 feet high and takes between 2 and 4 hours roundtrip depending on stopping times and fitness level. The altitude is pretty high, so if you aren’t used to that make sure to take your time. In addition to hiking, there are numerous vantages to take beautiful photographs. I will definitely be returning to spend more time photographing this beautiful park!