- Hot Springs National Park
- Colorado Springs Whitewater Rafting & Royal Gorge Bridge
- Big Bend National Park
1. Hot Springs National Park – Hot Springs, Arkansas
Maybe Arkansas doesn’t come to mind when dreaming of a weekend getaway, but there is more here than meets the eye. At an easy 4 to 5-hour drive or a 2-hour flight, Hot Springs National Park is an overlooked but awesome getaway. There are not many big cities between Dallas and Hot Springs, but Texarkana makes a convenient stop along the way and has some interesting museums, parks, home tours, and even a ghost walk.
Hot Springs National Park was established as a reservation in 1832, predating Yellowstone by 40 years. The park features 47 thermal springs, more than 30 miles of hiking trails, mountain views, scenic drives, microbreweries, scrumptious restaurants, and more. Unlike more mainstream offerings, it’s a lot more affordable as well. Check out Steinhaus Keller German Eatery for a unique and highly reviewed dining experience.
If breweries are your jam, check out the unique Superior Bathhouse Brewery. Superior is the first brewery established in a national park and the world’s first to use thermal spring water as the main ingredient. Pretty cool!
2. Colorado Springs Whitewater Rafting & Royal Gorge Bridge – Colorado Springs, CO
How could we skip our own backyard when recommending an amazing weekend trip from Dallas? An easy flight of fewer than two hours or an eleven-hour drive gets you there. If you drive you might enjoy a stop at Palo Duro Canyon at Amarillo TX, or the “Cadillac Ranch”, an interesting art installation.
As you enter Colorado things become a lot more interesting and an hour side trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park is definitely worth your time, whether coming from Dallas or heading home. Once you arrive in Colorado Springs, take the 25-minute drive to the Garden of the Gods. Explore the loop road and catch an amazing sunset. Best of all, it’s FREE. If you’re heading to Royal Gorge, grab yourself a room in the quaint little town of Canon City, and then go check out the park… Take a stroll across the Royal Gorge Bridge and then ride the Gondola back for a different view. At 955 feet above the river, it is literally breathtaking.
Enjoy rafting, hiking, zip-lining, a fun park, photography, train rides, or even sky diving if you’re a daring soul. Speaking of rafting, a short drive upriver will bring you to Bighorn Sheep Canyon, a very popular spot for rafting and fly fishing on the Arkansas River. If you come in the winter the Arkansas River valley has you covered for skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, dog sledding, snowmobiling, hot springs, resorts, and more.
Are you considering a Colorado Springs whitewater rafting trip with Arkansas River Tours? We have a few recommendations for you below.
- Bighorn Sheep Canyon Rafting Half Day – Arkansas River Rafting
- Royal Gorge Whitewater Rafting Half-Day – Arkansas River Rafting
- Gunnison River Rafting 2 Day – Gunnison River Rafting
3. Big Bend National Park, Texas
If getting away from it all is your goal, it’s easy to recommend Big Bend National Park. One of the most remote parks in the country, getting there is half the adventure.
For a weekend trip from Dallas, it’s a little less than an 8-hour drive, or around a 2-hour flight to El Paso and about a four-and-a-half-hour drive to the park. If you ‘fly & drive’ you’ll have the chance to explore various art communities along your way from El Paso such as Marfa, Marathon, and Alpine TX. All make enjoyable stops coming or going from the park.
Once you reach Big Bend enjoy stargazing, incredible canyon hiking, canoeing, bird watching, hot springs, ghost towns, fascinating human and natural history, scenic drives, or a quick side trip to Mexico. (Don’t forget your passport).
Interesting side trips near Big Bend include the ghost town of Terlingua, famous for its chili fest and the Starlight Theater Restaurant & Saloon, or the picturesque town of Marathon, and the historic Gage Hotel. The Gage is a natural oasis in this desert wonderland and has some of the best fine dining in the area. The resort atmosphere also makes for a great break from the desert heat. For museum buffs, an hour drive brings you to Sul Ross State University, which houses the museum of the Big Bend. An interactive experience will walk you through the history of West Texas from dinosaurs to Indian Wars, and it’s free as well.
Arkansas River Tours is your premier Colorado whitewater rafting outfitter. We’ve connected over 300,000 guests to the river since 1973! If Colorado Springs whitewater rafting is on your list, be sure and book a trip with ART!