For centuries, people have found solace in the healing power of the desert landscape. A road trip from Albuquerque to Las Vegas is just what you need to wind down and find yourself. This trip through the desert will provide plenty of opportunities to see museums, historical landmarks, and several parks.
To get the most of any road trip, you need to plan your stops. The beauty of taking the trip in an RV is that you don't have to worry about accommodation. Fortunately, most national parks also double as campgrounds. Here are some national parks along the route you should visit.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Carlsbad Caverns National Park is located in the Chihuahua desert in southern Mexico. The park is known for breathtaking desert landforms, such as rocky canyons and reefs. However, the real star of the show is the over 100 caves spread across the park. Apart from the natural features, the park is home to exciting wildlife like cougars, rattlesnakes, and several migratory bird species. If you enjoy hiking, you can choose between the Guadalupe or Surface hiking trails. Other activities at the park include stargazing and watching bats.
Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified Forest National Park is the first park you pass near as you cross into Arizona. This park is located right at the Colorado Plateau's edge and has unique geological features, which are colorful bentonites, mesas, and buttes. The diverse ecosystem harbors desert wildlife like mule deer, snakes, lizards, spiders, and birds. For those who prefer something more active, you can explore the trails and go biking and horseback riding. Although there are no RV campgrounds within the park, there are several private campgrounds within the area.
Grand Canyon National Park
This park is home to the magnificent 1-mile-deep Grand Canyon. Although the park is located in a relatively remote part of Arizona, it is one of the most visited parks in the U.S. Like most desert climates, the predominant vegetation her is cactus, pine, and desert scrubs. Hiking or biking through the South Rim is one of the most popular activities. Alternatively, you can take in the view riding a mule. Other attractions are raft trips, photography, and touring the museum. Additionally, RV campers can take advantage of the North Rim campground. You can make reservations and get permits online.
Great Basin National Park
The Great Basin National Park is located in eastern Nevada close to the border with Utah. The Great Basin is home to the 13,000-feet-tall Wheeler Peak. Lehman Cave tours are by far the most popular activity at the park. Other activities at the park include camping, fishing, and stargazing. The best time to visit is when the Great Basin Astronomy Festival is held. To get to the park, you will have to extend your trip by four hours, but it's worth the trouble.
There are only 421 national parks in the U.S. This number pales in comparison to the more than 3,000 state parks across the country. Here are some state parks you can visit during your Albuquerque to Las Vegas road trip.
Villanueva State Park
Villanueva State Park is located on the banks of the Pecos River in New Mexico. The park is just 1 mile from the small colonial village of Villanueva. Some of the popular attractions are fishing, hiking, and swimming in the Pecos River. If you enjoy camping, the Villanueva Campground is a must-see. Full hookups are available at the campground at Villanueva State Park, so it's popular with RV travelers. Even pets are allowed at the park. You can enjoy watching the numerous bird species here as well. The quickest way to get to the park is via the I-25, driving for 23 miles south.
Lake Havasu State Park
Lake Havasu State Park is located in the western part of Arizona near the border with Nevada. The park is a popular camping destination with 49 campgrounds. Even better, each campground has all the amenities you need for a comfortable stay. You can find dump stations, hot showers, picnic areas, and boat ramps. In addition to camping, fishing at Lake Havasu is also a popular pastime. Alternatively, you explore the trails in the park and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Other attractions are the wildlife refuge and the museum.
Cathedral Gorge State Park
This hidden gem is tucked away in the narrow valley in southern Nevada. Cathedral Gorge State Park covers 2,000 acres and has a desert landscape with stunning views. Years of erosion have created dramatic features and patterns in the bentonite clay. If you enjoy hiking, you can either explore the 4-mile trail or the shorter 1-mile option. The park also boasts 22 campgrounds with full hookups, showers, and picnic tables. You can access the park on any day.
A road trip is more than just exploring parks. It is an opportunity to see new places and meet interesting people. You can mix things up by adding these points of interest to your road trip itinerary from Albuquerque to Las Vegas.
This dwelling found in Taos holds the record for the oldest continuously inhabited place in the U.S. The humble structures are made of mud bricks while the roofs are supported by timber. More than 150 people still occupy this traditional building. The 95,000-acre property is a protected area that is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Just make sure to check the schedule online since the area is sometimes closed to the public during annual festivals.
New Mexico Steam Locomotive
This is a great place to visit if you are a train enthusiast. You can make a whole day out of it by wearing your best train attire. Visitors are allowed in the cabin, and you can take pictures to remember the day. You can also enjoy live music, hot dogs, and jewelry. Getting to the steam locomotive steam house takes seven minutes.
Horseshoe Bend is a rare natural feature known as an entrenched meander. This part of the Colorado River is found near the town of Page in Arizona. The bend is accessed by hiking to the location. However, we recommend seeing it from the lookout cliff for a bird's eye view, which is elevated at 4,200 feet.
An Albuquerque to Las Vegas RV road trip gives you the best of both worlds. It has the right balance of backcountry roads and cities. Here are some of the towns the trip will take you through.
Gallup is a small city located in western New Mexico close to the border with Arizona. The city has a population of 21,000 people. The city is known for the Red Rock Museum, which displays Anasazi heritage. Because of Gallup's proximity to the border, it an ideal stop before crossing into Arizona. USA RV park is a great campground if you need a place to pitch camp. It is also just two hours away from dump stations and campgrounds in Albuquerque.
Like most cities in the area, Flagstaff is surrounded by pine forests and deserts. The city is located in Northern Arizona and has an estimated population of 73,000. Flagstaff is also home to the tallest mountain peak in Arizona, Humphrey Peak. In addition to various attractions, you can also find campgrounds with modern amenities. It ensures that you stay as close to the action as possible.
Any trip across Arizona is not complete without passing through the state capital. While Phoenix is not directly on your route, you can make a detour and drive south via the I-17. The drive will only set you back about two hours. Phoenix is known for its thriving club scene and spas. It is also the fifth most populous city in the U.S. with a population of 1.6 million people. Like all major cities, there are plenty of dump stations where you can conveniently empty your RV's tank and campgrounds where you can spend the night.