People from outside the area are surprised by the amount of water they see on a San Antonio to Hot Springs National Park road trip. With the famous rivers of San Antonio, the freshwater lakes around Dallas and the impressive streams in the Ozarks of Arkansas, water flows through the landscape. Indeed, at Hot Springs, the water is naturally heated from deep underground. In every national park within driving distance of your road trip from San Antonio to Hot Springs National Park, water is the signature element that draws people to it. The cities depend on water, and state parks sit beside lakes of it. When you follow this San Antonio to Hot Springs National Park road trip itinerary, you will witness the influence of this fundamental element.
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park
Before you leave on your San Antonio to Hot Springs National Park RV road trip, visit the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. The structures at this national park illustrate the importance of water in an otherwise dry area by their placement next to the San Antonio River, where Native Americans of different tribes converged. The park protects four of the five missions constructed in the area, all of which are still working today. Their distinctive Spanish Mission architecture draws the eye of an architect.
Big Bend National Park
At the beginning of your San Antonio to Hot Springs National Park road trip, drive 378 miles west to see Big Bend National Park. The 801,163-acre park includes wide-open spaces covered in prairie grasses. Nestled in a large bend of the Rio Grande River on the southern border of Texas, this area served as a floodplain for the river's upper reaches for millennia. The river's flow was so intense that it carved deep clefts in granite rock, leaving towering shafts hovering above the fierce rapids. Whitewater adventures await those who are brave enough to challenge these waters.
Mammoth Cave National Park
When you reach Hot Springs National Park, you can keep going to visit two significant parks in the system, the first being a cave system in Kentucky. Mammoth Cave National Park lies in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, 482 miles northeast of Hot Springs National Park. It is famous for its natural underground caverns with over 400 miles of underground passages. Water draining through fissures for millennia formed cascading flowstone formations and incredible stalagmites and stalactites. Though some rooms, like the Rotunda and the Gallery, were damaged in the 19th century when visitors wrote their names on the walls and ceilings, most rooms are pristine. Above ground, the park’s 53,000 acres of rolling hills, wild streams, and dense forests provide hiking trails leading to several fishing streams.
Gateway Arch National Park
Before returning to Hot Springs on your San Antonio to Hot Springs National Park RV road trip, drive 280 miles northwest to Saint Louis to visit Gateway Arch National Park. The arch represents the connection of the east and west coasts of the continent by the Lewis and Clark Expedition’s efforts and the thousands of immigrants who followed just a few years later. The 91-acre park includes a large section of the Mississippi waterfront from which the Lewis and Clark Expedition launched its effort. Many buildings along the waterfront are meticulously renovated to appear as they were when important events took place in Saint Louis. These buildings are museums that serve as gateways to the past. Visitors ride a trolley to reach the top of the arch and an observation point to view Saint Louis, the waterfront, the country beyond, and the rivers from 630 feet up.
Guadalupe River State Park
Guadalupe River State Park lies 31 miles north of San Antonio alongside the Guadalupe River. The 1,938-acre park provides hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails that meander beside the river and into the hills. The river is unusually clear and beckons to swimmers, tubers, and those plying canoes and kayaks to experience the calm waters.
Cedar Hill State Park
When you reach Dallas, you are 274 miles into your San Antonio to Hot Springs National Park road trip. Ten miles south of Dallas lies Cedar Hill State Park. It is an excellent place to spend a couple of days while exploring the sights of Dallas. Sitting on the shores of Joe Pool Lake, this 1,826-acre park draws visitors to swim, fish, boat, canoe, and kayak in the peaceful waters.
Crater of Diamonds State Park
You have an opportunity at Crater of Diamonds State Park that you cannot find elsewhere. At this park, visitors are free to search for diamonds and other precious stones at their volcanic source. At least two diamonds and several other gemstones are uncovered in this park each day. Located 58 miles southwest of Hot Springs National Park, this park is further evidence of the geologic activity still occurring today. The park is situated near the Little Missouri River, providing fishing opportunities from the bank or kayaks or canoes. A waterpark sits in the 911-acre park for the enjoyment of kids and adults.
San Antonio River Walk
San Antonio River Walk is the largest urban ecosystem in the nation. Visitors can walk the 15-mile pathway alongside the river or jump into a colorful barge for a guided tour. The walkway bends through the city as the river slowly passes park-like settings, incredible shops and the buildings for which San Antonio is famous.
Perot Museum of Nature and Science
When you reach Dallas, TX, you are 274 miles into your road trip from San Antonio to Hot Springs National Park. It is an excellent time to stop and take in the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. Located in Downtown Dallas, the museum occupies a 180,000-square-foot building. The focus of the museum is the modern techniques used to harmonize nature and science in construction worldwide.
Garvan Woodland Gardens
As you started your trip on the San Antonio River Walk, finish it in the Garvan Woodland Gardens. Nestled in the picturesque Ouachita Mountains, this garden provides a peaceful release from the tensions of the road. Its focus is on human interaction with nature. Wander along the 4.5 miles of pathways where gentle waves lap beside you under a canopy of pines.
When you reach Austin, you have traveled 80 miles of your San Antonio to Hot Springs National Park road trip. Austin is rich in water with several lakes and the distinctive Barton Pool, which is a natural limestone body of water fed by natural springs from the Edwards Aquifer. Take the time to dip your toes or more into the natural waters you find in this city. While you are here, take advantage of one of its dump stations. Stay a night or two at one of the campgrounds that surround the city to enjoy the incredible array of restaurants and shops.
Dallas’s location is the byproduct of the Trinity River that runs through it, feeding several lakes along the way. Blessed with plenty of water, the city expanded, making room for an amazing array of small businesses, including restaurants, shops, and entertainment centers. Stop by a restaurant like Café 43 for a quick and nourishing meal. While you are here, take advantage of the numerous dump stations and campgrounds that Dallas offers.
Little Rock, Arkansas
You pass through Little Rock on your way to visit Mammoth Cave National Park. The city is the largest in Arkansas and provides an exciting mix of cuisine at its restaurants. At the Big Orange, you find food fit for meat eaters and vegetarians alike. While you are in the city, take the time to clean your tanks at one of the local dump stations before taking off for Mammoth Cave National Park. To stay a night or two and enjoy Little Rock’s sights, register at one of the many campgrounds in the area.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from San Antonio to Hot Springs National Park, you will enjoy historic locations and beautiful scenery along the way. If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider an RV rental from RVshare. From large motorhomes to compact campervans, there is a rig that will meet your travel and budget needs. Once you hit the road, you are protected by our renter guarantee and 24/7 roadside assistance. Find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs in San Antonio or Hot Springs National Park.