Going on a Houston to San Diego road trip can be a great way to see America’s Southwest. As you travel through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California, there are many national parks to explore, like Big Bend and Joshua Tree. There are also awesome state parks to visit along the way, including Big Bend Ranch State Park, Rockhound State Park, and Fort Verde State Historic Park. Fascinating points of interest lay all along the route, including the Fort Davis National Historic Site, the El Paso Zoo, and the Desert Botanical Garden. Tell your family you are going on a Houston to San Diego RV road trip, and watch their faces light up.
Big Bend National Park
You can use many different modes of transportation to explore Big Bend National Park in far West Texas. Drive through the Chisos Basin, and watch the desert transform into a mountain habitat right in front of your eyes. The Ross Maxwell Drive offers chances to see three historic farms and some of the park’s most stunning views. Drive from Panther Junction to Rio Grande Village while making a pit stop to soak in the historic hot springs. Bike along the Dagger Flat Auto Trail to see some of the park’s most unusual plants. If you can convince someone else to do the driving, then bike from north to south along the Old Ore Road to see amazing views of the Chisos Mountains. Short hikes to multiday journeys are available at this park.
Saguaro National Park
The largest cactus in the world is the saguaro, and they are protected at Saguaro National Park located near Tucson, Arizona. You can see some of the biggest ones by driving through this park, but to truly understand their size, consider hiking on some of the trails. The 1-mile-long Freeman Homestead Trail offers interpretative signage along its route to help you understand more about plants that live in this part of Arizona. If you are looking for a challenge, consider hiking along the Garwood Dam and Wildhorse Tank Trail, where you will see some of the highest concentration of saguaros in this park. The trail ends at the Little Wildhorse Tank, one of the only water bodies found in this park. During the last part of this 6.3-mile-long hike, you will be treated to beautiful views of the Santa Catalina Mountains. Right before sunset, head to the parking lot near Gates Pass to see an unbelievable sunset on a clear day.
Joshua Tree National Park
The Mojave and the Colorado deserts meet at Joshua Tree National Park near Twentynine Palms, California. This park’s isolated location makes it a great place to go stargazing, especially along one of the backcountry roads, like the Old Dale Road or Covington Flat. You will need a four-wheel-drive vehicle to access these roads. Many of these roads also make great places to ride your bike. If you like to ride and hike, consider taking Queen Valley Road that runs by some of the prettiest Joshua trees in the park. Then, stop at Hidden Valley and start your hiking adventure among the boulders located near the interpretative trail.
Big Bend Ranch State Park
Big Bend Ranch State Park, located near Marfa, Texas, covers more than 486 square miles. This park’s location is so remote that it has its airplane landing strip for easier access. There are over 286 miles of multi-use trails. The slot canyon is a great place to go hiking, and you can get rewarded by a pool of water to splash in at its end. You may also want to hike along the Balanced Rocks Trail that ends at the Rio Grande River. Take a guided tour of Fort Leaton, which started being used in the 15th century. Stop at the Barton Warnock Visitor Center to see the historical and nature displays, and stroll through the 2-acre garden.
Rockhound State Park
Located near Deming, New Mexico, Rockhound State Park is the perfect location to go rock collecting if it is for your personal use. This park on the Little Florida Mountains' rugged slopes is also a great place to go hiking along its 3 miles of trails, or you can follow the shorter interpretative trails to learn more about the wildlife, plants, and birds that live here. This state park is a fantastic spot to stop in the springtime when you can see baby birds and many flowers.
Picacho Peak State Park
If you are ready for a hiking challenge, stop at Picacho Peak State Park near Eloy, Arizona, to climb the Hunter Trail. This trail is reminiscent of many early pioneer trails through the desert with its twists and turns. When you finally reach the top of the 2-mile trail, you will be rewarded with stunning views of the entire area. Consider doing this or other trails early in the morning or late in the day, and you may be rewarded with a glimpse of the park’s elusive desert mule deer. When you go hiking, watch for badgers scurrying into their dens. Laugh at the antics of the desert cottontail rabbits as they hop near the trails.
Fort Verde State Historic Park
Head to Camp Verde, Arizona, to visit Fort Verde State Historic Park. Start your visit at the camp store to learn more about Indian scouts who roamed this area a long time ago. Then, stroll to the military headquarters to see how soldiers, Native American scouts, settlers, doctors, and other native peoples lived in the fort and surrounding areas. This part of the state park is divided into three areas. One focuses on officers' quarters, another on bachelors' quarters, and the final one on the doctors' quarters. Each is set up to resemble how it would have looked in the 1880s.
Fort Davis National Historic Site
Learn more about a military fort during the Indian Wars by stopping at the Fort Davis National Historic Site. You can see several buildings used by the military from 1854 to 1891 at this site, which is considered the best-preserved Indian Wars fort in the United States. While the path is steep, you may also want to climb the path heading up the Sleeping Lions Mountain for stunning views of the area.
El Paso Zoo
The El Paso Zoo is divided into three sections. The Africa section includes savannah animals, like giraffes and zebras, and wetland birds like cape teals. The Americas section includes animals from the U.S., like the American alligator, and birds, like the macaw, from South America. See leopards, lions, siamangs, and more in the Asia section.
Desert Botanical Garden
The Desert Botanical Garden is a 140-acre garden located within Papago Park in Phoenix, Arizona. Explore the beautiful gardens by strolling along several trails. The Sonoran Desert Trail includes a relatively steep hike, but you will love the mountain view when you reach the top. Hike along the Center for Desert Living Trail to see xeriscape gardening techniques used to produce beautiful results. Other trails take you deeper into the gardens and let you see plants blooming in their native desert environment.
San Antonio, Texas
SeaWorld San Antonio, the San Antonio Zoo, and the Alamo are just a few of the sights you may want to see in San Antonio, Texas. If you are looking for a low-key campground, consider Greenlake RV Resort. On the other hand, if SeaWorld tops your list, consider Admiralty RV Resort as they offer a free shuttle. There are many other great San Antonio campground choices to consider. San Antonio RV dump station options include Greentree Village Travel Park, Hidden Valley RV Park, and other San Antonio dump station choices.
Consider wandering through the Presidio District of Tucson to see the partially restored Spanish fort from 1775, the Tucson Art Museum, and several historic homes. Old Town Artisans, located just a block from the museum, features over 100 artists displaying their works. Campground options in Tucson include Gilbert Ray Campground, where you can see some of the largest cacti in Arizona, and Voyager RV Resort and Hotel, where you can exercise at the health club, run, and play with your dog. Tucson RV dump stations include Pima County Fairgrounds and Speedway Gas Station.
If you have always loved music, then do not pass up the opportunity to see the Musical Instrument Museum on your road trip from Houston to San Diego. This city is also an awesome place to go on a train ride to see some of Arizona’s old mining towns. Think about staying in Phoenix campgrounds like the Covered Wagon RV Park that is close to many attractions and shopping or the North Phoenix Campground that has a more natural setting. RV dump station locations in Phoenix include Bell Road RV Center and Flying J Travel Plaza.
Once you reach the Pacific Ocean in San Diego, you will have a much better understanding of America’s Southwest. Why not finish your planning and take some time off to go on this RV trip very soon? If you do not have an RV, you can rent one in Houston or San Diego on RVshare. You will enjoy visiting the sites on this road trip itinerary from Houston to San Diego.