If you're starting in Dallas, making a road trip to Los Angeles can be a great way to see the Southwestern United States. It can be a terrific chance to see Big Bend, Carlsbad Caverns, and the Grand Canyon. You can also stop at fabulous state parks in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Think about completing the journey in an RV because you'll be able to enjoy so many terrific campgrounds along the way. Exploring points of interest and significant cities add to the fun of a Dallas to Los Angeles road trip.
Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park in West Texas is known for its gorgeous desert scenery. While you can see lots of beauty on a scenic drive through the park, you will want to get out and hike some of the paths. The 1.7-mile Santa Elena Canyon Trail follows the Rio Grande River and includes views of cliffs up to 1,500-feet tall. Besides hiking, you can check out the Fossil Discovery Exhibit, go canoeing on the Rio Grande River, and enjoy the Langford Hot Springs.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
You may be overwhelmed by astonishing beauty the first time you enter the show cave at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. However, that's just the beginning of the amazing offerings at this park near Carlsbad, New Mexico. While the main cave is easily accessible, you can opt to go caving at some of the caves that have been left in a more natural state. You can also watch hundreds of bats exit the caves as the sun sets. From backcountry hiking opportunities to short nature walks, there are many ways to explore the desert at this park.
Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park is on many people’s bucket lists. If you're willing to go by way of the I-40 during your Dallas to Los Angeles road trip, you can easily add this northern Arizona national park to your itinerary. There are many ways to explore the Grand Canyon, including by mule, foot, helicopter, canoe, and hot air balloon. Since the Grand Canyon is so popular, consider making camping reservations here as early as possible.
Petrified Forest National Park
Northern Arizona is also home to the Petrified Forest National Park. A good way to get an overview of this park is on a scenic drive where you can stop at many overlooks. If you want to get out, hike along the designated paths to get a much closer look at the natural environment. Visitors can see petrified logs and more on guided and unguided experiences. You can also bike and ride horses in this park.
Lake Brownwood State Park
A great first stop on your road trip itinerary from Dallas to Los Angeles is Lake Brownwood State Park. This recreation area, which is located about three hours southwest of Dallas, offers great fishing opportunities. You can also canoe and kayak on this lake. Friendly park rangers offer a variety of programming throughout the year.
Big Bend Ranch State Park
Located in the same West Texas geographical area as Big Bend National Park, Big Bend Ranch State Park is a paradise for desert backpackers. If you have someone with you who can only make part of the trip, then this state park has an airstrip so that they can get back home. There are 238 miles of multi-use trails that will test your ability to handle elevation changes quickly. You can canoe and kayak on the Rio Grande. The skies get very dark at night, which makes this spot ideal for stargazers.
City of Rocks State Park
You will not believe the way that nature placed the rocks at City of Rocks State Park near Silver City, New Mexico. The rocks that can be over 40-feet-tall look like they were laid out along streets, and you can hike among them. These volcanic rock formations, which formed about 34.9 million years ago, are home to a variety of birds. At night, the sky gets pitch black and filled with stars, and the moonlight illuminates off some of the rocks, giving them an other-worldly look that you will want to try to capture in photos.
Slide Rock State Park
Slide Rock State Park in Central Arizona was originally the homestead of Frank L. Pendley, who settled here in 1910. He created the irrigation system that is still in use in this 47-acre state park to water his apple orchard, raise some livestock, and grow produce. Today, visitors to the park can still view cabins lived in by settlers who followed his example. You will love this park’s swimming hole where you can slide down a red rock into its cool water. The Travel Channel has called this water attraction one of the top 10 swimming holes in the United States. Elsewhere in the park, you can hike along nature trails that run along the sandstone bluffs that border Oak Creek Canyon.
Saddleback Butte State Park
Saddleback Butte State Park, which is located on the western edge of the Mojave Desert near Lancaster, CA, offers many hiking trails. The experienced hiker will want to hike across rocks and around boulders to the top of Saddleback Butte, where they will be rewarded with 360-degree views of the Mojave Desert and the Antelope Valley. Bring your camera to record photos of the cactus and Joshua trees that look particularly stunning at sunset.
Some of the darkest skies in Texas occur above this observatory, which is located in Fort Davis at the highest point in Texas. You can also see many of the large telescopes used to study those skies during your visit.
Located 60 miles west of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Acoma Pueblo is the oldest continually inhabited city in America. View the outside of homes where people have lived since 1150 and continue to live without running water or electricity. Learn the stories associated with the church they built and see the beautiful pottery they create during a tour of this site.
On December 8, 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt declared this site a national monument. This made it one of the first four national monuments in the United States. You will want to visit this 20-story castle carved into the side of a limestone cliff and learn the story of the people who lived in it.
Grand Canyon Railway
Climb aboard the Grand Canyon Railway in Williamson, Arizona, and ride the rails to the Grand Canyon. Visitors have been enjoying this train ride through immense scenery since 1901. Once the trip starts, you will meet many interesting cowboys with stories to tell about the Old West.
Sunset Crater Volcano
A volcano erupted at this site in about 1085, and it changed the landscape forever. If you come to this peak near Flagstaff, AZ, you can hike along basaltic lava trails to see a ponderosa forest. While the experienced hiker can reach the volcano’s peak, others will have a great time walking around its base on a paved trail.
El Paso, Texas
You will love experiencing the mixture of Hispanic and American cultures in this West Texas city. Consider visiting the El Paso Zoo, Mission Trail, and riding the Wilder Aerial Tramway. There are many excellent places to camp in El Paso, including Franklin Mountains State Park and Mission RV Park. Dump stations are available at Pilot Flying J Travel Plazas #724 in Anthony, Texas, and at Arvey RV Park.
Silver City, New Mexico
Silver City, New Mexico, sits on the edge of the Gila Forest. Here, you'll find a vibrant art community to explore, historic downtown area, and lots of festivals and events throughout the year. RVers may consider staying at Silver City KOA Holiday or Cherry Creek Campground. Silver City dump stations can be found at the Wastewater Treatment Plant or Gila Hot Springs.
Flagstaff, Arizona, can be a fun stop on a Dallas to Los Angeles RV road trip. Outdoor activities abound here throughout the year, especially during the snowy winters. You have the option of several tremendous Flagstaff campgrounds, including Fort Tuthill County Park and Bonito Campground, which both have beautiful natural settings. Dump stations in the area include Black Bart's RV Park and Flagstaff KOA Campground.
It is a good thing that there are good camping choices in Kingman, like the Sunrise RV Park and Kingman KOA Journey, because you can find a lot to do in and around this city. Consider visiting the Arizona Route 66 Museum and the Mohave Museum of Arts and History. Kingman dump stations are available at Kingman Commercial Transfer Station and Flying J Travel Center.