SXSW getaway trip details

Austin always gets inundated with people for South by Southwest (SXSW), an annual 10-day festival celebrating interactive media, music, and film. This year I decided to avoid the crazy and rent my place on AirBnB, using the money to finance a trip instead. 

Trip Planning

Travel planning is fast becoming my weekend hobby

I had a number of destinations in mind, but given the Spring Break timing and one-week departure notice, flights were pretty expensive to just about everywhere so I decided to plan a road trip. Using The Most Scenic Drives in America: 120 Spectacular Road Trips and Off the Beaten Path: A Travel Guide to More Than 1,000 Scenic and Interesting Places Still Uncrowded and Inviting to help me brainstorm ideas for the trip, I ultimately decided to head to San Angelo State Park, TX; Palo Duro Canyon, TX; Taos, NM; and Santa Fe, NM. Like with my holiday hiking and camping trip in west Texas, I outlined the itinerary on my calendar using Sunrise, then used Evernote to organize all maps, directions, lodging confirmation numbers, etc. that were relevant to my trip.  

Trip Details

Over the course of my trip, I drove 1,750 miles and walked/hiked more than 50 miles. Details for each day are outlined below with total driving distance calculated via Google Maps and total walking distance walked calculated via the Jawbone Up iPhone app.

Day 1: Friday, March 13

Total Driving: 206 miles (3.25 hours)

Sunrise at Lakeview Campground, San Angelo State Park

  • DRIVE: Austin, TX to San Angelo State Park, TX
  • STAY: Tent camping, Lakeview Campground, San Angelo State Park
    • I left for San Angelo after work on Friday evening, which put my arrival after-hours at San Angelo State Park; luckily, the Texas State Parks system has a late check-in policy that allows campers entrance into the park even after the gates have locked.
    • The park entrance was not where Google Maps placed it, so I drove around a bit before finding it. Be aware of that if you ever decide to visit the park.

Day 2: Saturday, March 14

Total Walking: 21.1 miles (8.75 hours), Total Driving: 239 miles (3.5 hours)

A wild longhorn at San Angelo State Park

  • HIKE: Chaparral Trail to Winding Snake Trail to Burkett Trail to Potts Creek Trail to Turkey Creek Trail to Riverbend Trail to Javelina Trail to Flinstone Village Trail to Playground Trail to Potts Creek Trail to Burkett Trail to Winding Snake Trail to Chaparral Trail, San Angelo State Park 
    • There wasn't too much to see at San Angelo State Park; I found the hiking to be quite boring.
    • The park map showed a large lake, but it turns out that lake has been completely dry for four years. Old roads, signs, and picnic shelters are distributed throughout the park, rusted over and covered in weeds.
    • Although the hiking was quite boring, the park did seem like a great place for entry-level mountain biking, and I really wished I had brought my bike along with me on the trip.
    • The park is home to a herd of wild longhorns which were grazing alongside the trails (unexpected, but very cool). A wild javelina scampered across the trail in front of me as well.
  • DRIVE: San Angelo State Park, TX to Plainview, TX
  • STAY: AirBnB, Plainview

Day 3: Sunday, March 15

Total Walking: 10.8 miles (4.5 hours), Total Driving: 363 miles (5.25 hours)

Lighthouse Trail at Palo Duro Canyon State Park

  • DRIVE: Plainview, TX to Palo Duro Canyon State Park, TX
  • HIKE: CCC Trail and Lighthouse Trail, Palo Duro Canyon State Park
    • Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the United States behind the Grand Canyon.
    • There was a lot more of the park to see than I what I hiked: my feet were sore from my 20+ mile hike in San Angelo the day before and I was anxious to get on to New Mexico, so I left without exploring all of the trails I had planned to check out.
    • Like with San Angelo State Park, I saw a lot of mountain bikers and wished I had my bike, too.
  • DRIVE: Palo Duro Canyon State Park, TX to Taos, NM
  • STAY: AirBnB, Taos

Day 4: Monday, March 16

Total Walking: 9.4 miles (2.75 hours), Total Driving: 41 miles (1 hour)

View of Taos from Devisadero Trail

Day 5: Tuesday, March 17

Total Walking: 2.3 miles (0.75 hours), Total Driving: 87 miles (2.25 hours)

Santuario de Chimayo

Day 6: Wednesday, March 18

Total Walking: 5.2 miles (2.25 hours), Total Driving: 92 miles (1.5 hours)

Ancient cave dwellings at Bandelier National Monument

Day 7: Thursday, March 19

Total Walking: 3.4 miles (1.75 hours), Total Driving: 34 miles (1.25 hours)

Santa Fe National Forest Scenic Drive 

Day 8: Friday, March 20

Total Walking: 1 mile (0.25 hours), Total Driving: 690 miles (10.5 hours)

Final trip route

  • WORK: Santa Fe Baking Company Cafe, Santa Fe
  • DRIVE: Santa Fe, NM to Austin, TX
  • STAY: Home
    • I generally don't like to make drives this long but needed to get back for 10am soccer game on Saturday
    • Even though I rented my place out while traveling, it was was spotless upon my return -- a very welcome homecoming gift.

Trip Photos

To see photos from my trip visit my SXSW Getaway Trip photo album on Google+ or search for #k1avoidssxsw on Instagram.

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Posted on April 1, 2015 and filed under Travel.