13 Road Trip Destinations Through The West

13 Road Trip Destinations Through The West

The flavor, history and beauty of the American West is closer than you think.

Taking a road trip through the west will open your eyes to so much of the history that helped create this beautiful country. We recently headed out from Texas to explore these 13  destinations through the west. We visited 5 states and 13 beautiful and amazing destinations. To make sure we didn’t miss some of the more spectacular sites, we bought a National Park pass before we left; you never know when you might pass by a National Park and want to stop.

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13 Road Trip Destinations Through The West

Got My Kicks On Route 66

Our first stop was Amarillo Texas. I’ve passed through Amarillo more times than I can count on trips to Colorado. But I never took the time to see what this northwest part of the state had to offer. We stayed the night off the infamous Route 66, a perfect way to set the tone for our trip with great food and sites, including the famous Cadillac Ranch.

Another must-stop is the Big Texan Steak Ranch, also just off Route 66, home of the 72 oz steak challenge: if you can eat the full 72 oz. steak in an hour, it’s on the house. If you can’t, it’s $72.. We headed there for dinner, and were greeted with a long line  to get in. We learned from a local to head to the bar and order from the menu, as there is no wait there. They were right, we were able to order right away; and no, we didn’t do the 72 oz steak challenge, but we enjoyed some of the best BBQ ribs I’ve ever had.

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Cadillac Ranch

You have to take a photo at the Cadillac Ranch! Photo: Adeina Anderson

Cadillac Ranch

After dinner, we headed to the Cadillac Ranch, which is also known as the Cadillac Graveyard. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset and the sight of 10 painted Cadillacs sticking out of the ground. The Cadillac Ranch sits in the middle of a field right off Route 66. Built 1974 by artists Chip Lord, Hudson Marquez and Doug Michels of the Ant Farm art collective, the Ranch consists of ten Cadillacs buried nose-first in the ground. Since it was built it’s been a must-see for Route 66 travelers and in more recent times, a social media staple.

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13 Road Trip Destinations Through The West

Palo Duro Canyon

Our next stop was Palo Duro Canyon State Park, a mini Grand Canyon about a half hour outside of Amarillo and a must-see in my book. The descent into the canyon is about 800 feet and consists of more than 16 miles of paved road. There are a few pull-offs, beautiful views and historical sites and markers. They offer picnic tables, public restrooms and showers. There are also miles and miles of hiking and biking trails, horseback riding, and a large souvenir shop with a small restaurant and store. As we explored, we noticed there were some Glamping tents for rent. There are also a variety of camping and parking areas for day trips, tent camping, and RV camping sites.

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A Girls Guide To Cars | 13 Road Trip Destinations Through The West - Capulin Volcano

Capulin Volcano in New Mexico

Just a couple of hours northwest of Amarillo is the Capulin Volcano in Capulin, New Mexico. You won’t miss it if you are heading to Colorado Springs from Texas. It’s a National Monument, and a crazy fun drive up to the top of this 8,000 square mile Raton-Clayton Volcanic Field. You can read all about the Capulin Volcano at the visitor’s center at the start of the drive or explore more of it at the top of the volcano.  The views on your way up are spectacular during the day or at night. And on a clear day, you can see 4 different states from the volcanic rim.

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13 Road Trip Destinations Through The West

Colorado Springs, CO

Visiting Colorado Springs, CO is a regular destination when we road trip to Denver. It always offers something new for us; known as the Pikes Peak Region, it offers more than 55 attractions, with a lot of adventure focused activities like hiking, white water rafting and zipping. And with usually pleasant weather for outdoor activities, it’s easy to see why the US Olympic training grounds are headquartered here.

13 Road Trip Destinations Through The West

Garden Of The Gods

Not to be missed in Colorado Springs is the Garden of The Gods. This gorgeous and unique rock formation is free to explore and has 15 miles of hiking trails. Even my little pup Molly had a great time exploring this beautiful part of Colorado. Make sure you look for the kissing camels, a must-see while hiking this amazing park.

13 Road Trip Destinations Through The West

Royal Gorge

If you like adventure, I highly recommend heading to The Royal Gorge. The Royal Gorge is in Canon City, about an hour’s drive from Colorado Springs. It’s a canyon on the Arkansas River that is 40-50 feet at its base, and a few hundred feet at the top. It is 10 miles long and about 1200 feet in depth in some areas. It is home to one of the world’s highest suspension bridges over water, which we crossed with hesitation. It was windy the day we went, but that didn’t faze us. You can experience the 360-degree panoramic view of the Royal Gorge from the Gondolas, or try out America’s highest zip line. There is also whitewater rafting, and a historic railroad, I recommend staying in the area for a couple of days if you want to experience all the Royal Gorge has to offer.

13 Road Trip Destinations Through The West

Skyline Drive

Right outside of the Royal Gorge is a fun Skyline Drive. It’s a drivable park where you will experience a beautiful view and perhaps even discover some dinosaur bones; they were first discovered here in 1870. Along the drive, you can see the world’s most complete Stegosaurus.

A Girls Guide To Cars | 13 Road Trip Destinations Through The West - Red Lodge Yellowstone

Red Lodge, Montana

Montana is my absolute favorite state to visit, so we headed up to Red Lodge, Montana, one of the gateways to Yellowstone National Park, accessed via the Bear Tooth highway. It is easy to fall in love with the food, people, and amazing views of this area. 13 Road Trip Destinations Through The West

Go Horseback Riding Through The Mountains

We booked an Airbnb at the foot of the mountains and toured the old fashioned way: on horseback. Working with Remington’s Alpine Outfitting, we were able to see views and vistas not accessible by car. It was breathtaking.

Dinner And A Show

There are many places to eat in town, and we were very happy about our dinner choice. It was an amazing local Italian restaurant called Piccola Cucina with some of the best food I’ve ever had, and the interacting entertainment made this dinner extra special.

13 Road Trip Destinations Through The West

The Wild West Of Cody Wyoming

From Montana we headed to Cody Wyoming, a true Western town built by Buffalo Bill Cody. It’s about an hour from the east entrance to Yellowstone National Park. I had heard of Buffalo Bill from history books and movies, but until I visited this old west town, I had no idea how important Buffalo Bill was to the Old West. There is a museum dedicated to Buffalo Bill and the History of the West called Buffalo Bill Center Of The West, and it’s a must-visit.

13 Road Trip Destinations Through The West

Other Things To Do In Cody Wyoming

We stayed at the historic Chamberlin Inn, built in 1901. It has hosted celebrity guests like Ernest Hemmingway, and the staff makes you feel like family from the minute you arrive. There is live music and you’ll find food trucks on several days of the week. The full bar connected to the garden setting, and it’s the perfect place to wind down after a day of exploring.

If you want to immerse yourself in the full Buffalo Bill experience, you can catch a cowboy shootout every night in front of the Irma Hotel, named after Buffalo Bill’s oldest daughter. Or you can take a trolly ride around town for a  full history tour of Cody and Buffalo Bill.

13 Road Trip Destinations Through The West

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is not to be missed, but take the time to explore. This was the first national park that has more than 2.2 million acres of hydrothermal and geologic features, and opportunities to observe wildlife and explore geothermal areas that contain about half the world’s active geysers. We were able to explore the Upper and Lower Falls, Old Faithful, and Grand Prismatic Springs. It even snowed while we were there.

13 Road Trip Destinations Through The West

The Grand Tetons

We ended our road trip through the west at one of my absolute favorite places to visit: the Grand Tetons. Nestled at the South entrance of Yellowstone, and just northeast of Jackson hole, this beautiful site is something everyone should experience. You can hike, camp or just go for a stroll and enjoy the spectacular views. In the village of Jackson Hole, which is famous for its winter ski season, there are charming restaurants and shops. And dotted around the region are are numerous resorts, from basic to pampering, perfect for winding down from a busy couple of weeks of travel.

For over a decade, lifestyle expert Adeina Anderson has been a nationally trusted source of information on travel tips,... More about Adeina Anderson