A road trip from Los Angeles to Albuquerque goes through a variety of unique regions in California, Arizona, and New Mexico. While you can breeze between the two cities in about 11 hours, you would miss the Native American reservations, dinosaur tracks, and beautiful mountain and desert scenery accessible only on foot. If you have the time, you will want to enjoy this trip at a much more leisurely pace.
Joshua Tree National Park
The Mojave and the Colorado deserts meet at Joshua Tree National Park. While at this iconic national park, you can go hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing. Be sure to bring your camera to take awesome wildlife pictures. Try capturing images of some of the 250 bird species that have been seen in this park.
Tumacácori National Historical Park
Tumacacori National Historical Park contains three historical missions built during the 1800s. To get a better understanding of the role the missions played in everyday life, consider starting your visit here with a tour of the Tumacácori Museum. The Scofield Delong-designed museum building constructed in 1937 is considered one of the finest examples of Mission Revival architecture. This park will be near your road trip route if you take Interstate 10 through Tucson.
Petrified Forest National Park
No Los Angeles to Albuquerque RV road trip would be complete without a stop at Petrified Forest National Park. There are nine historic buildings to visit at this park. Learn more about the unique local geology by taking the guided tours and watching the film in the visitors center.
Saguaro National Park
Saguaro National Park is divided into two sections, which are on either side of Tucson. Try to visit the western portion at around sunset so you can see the saguaro cactus forest silhouetted against the sunset. There are over 165 miles of hiking trails in this national park, and you can see Hohokam petroglyphs along some of them. Like Tumacacori, Saguaro is accessible if you take I-10 on your way from Los Angeles.
Crystal Cove State Park
Before getting out of Southern California on your road trip from Los Angeles to Albuquerque, consider going south a short distance to visit Crystal Cove State Park. This park consists of 3.2 miles of beach, 2,400 acres of backcountry wilderness, and an offshore underground area. Do not leave without visiting the historical district, which consists of 46 rustic cottages built in the 1930s and 1940s near the mouth of Los Trancos Creek.
Colorado River State Historic Park
Tour five historic buildings at this park in Yuma, which was formerly used by the United States Army between 1864 and 1883. The government stored six months of supplies here for all the forts within the Arizona Territory and a few outside of it. You can also see exhibits about the Yuma Proving Ground and Laguna Dam, the Yuma Main Canal, and the Colorado River Siphon. View old cars, a steamboat, and farm machinery. This state park is more accessible if you take I-10 from LA.
Lost Dutchman State Park
Go on a hiking or biking adventure at Lost Dutchman State Park near Phoenix. Here, you can stand next to humongous saguaros and view wildlife, including mule deer, coyotes, and jackrabbits. Hikes are available for all ability levels.
Oracle State Park
Start your visit to Oracle State Park outside Tucson by touring the Kannally Ranch House, which was constructed between 1929 and 1933. You'll be amazed at the surprising Mediterranean and Moorish architectural details found in this home. If you're interested in art, check out the 30 oil paintings by self-taught cowboy artist Lee Kannally. Outside of the home are miles of high-desert hiking trails for you to explore. This park is also known for its exceptionally dark skies, making it an excellent spot to stargaze.
Kartchner Caverns State Park
Go on a cave tour at Kartchner Caverns State Park outside Tucson to see speleothems that have been developing for more than 50,000 years. These limestone caverns went undiscovered until 1974. You can see one of the world’s largest soda straw stalactites (a type of cave formation) as well as the world's most extensive formation of brushite moonmilk. You may want to stretch your legs on the 4.2-mile nature trail after touring the cave and having lunch at the café.
When mapping out your road trip itinerary from Los Angeles to Albuquerque, you may want to include several points of interest.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
You'll gasp in astonishment as you ride in a slowly rotating car up the Coachella Valley to the top of Mount San Jacinto. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway gains 8,516 feet in elevation. Once you finish your ride in the world’s largest rotating tramcar, you can choose between two restaurants to dine in, hike on miles of trails, or stand on the observation deck to observe the entire Chino Canyon.
The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures
This museum in Tucson contains over 500 dollhouses and room boxes, with each one containing hundreds of miniatures. Since the traveling displays are constantly changing, there is always something new to see.
Pima Air & Space Museum
Take a trip through aerospace history by viewing the 300 aircraft at the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson. This attraction, one of the world's largest non-government funded aerospace museums, is housed in four hangars. You can also view many planes outside.
For more than 800 years, Acoma Native Americans have lived in this community in New Mexico, making it the oldest continually inhabited community in the United States. Go on a tour of this community to hear the stories of how logs were carried up the mountain to use as rafters in the church and learn to speak some of the Acoma's language.
Ice Caves and Bandera Volcano
The bluish-green ice inside this cave near Grants, New Mexico, has been forming for over 1,000 years due to unique geophysical factors. You will need to climb about 70 stairs at your own pace to see this attraction. You'll then walk about 1 mile further to the Bandera Volcano, where you can see where lava flowed about 10,000 years ago.
While you can take Interstate 40 most of the way and never have to deal with city travel, consider taking alternative routes to make your road trip from Los Angeles to Albuquerque more interesting. For example, you can take Interstate 10 from Los Angeles and drive through Phoenix and Tucson before hitting Las Cruces. From here, you can take I-25 north to Albuquerque. Also consider non-highway travel, such as Route 66, parts of which still exist in Arizona and New Mexico.
This city is known for its beautiful midcentury modern architecture and its posh boutique shopping locales. You may also want to stop here to play golf, visit a spa, or soak in a hot spring. The local campgrounds are popular because many have upscale amenities, like swimming pools and hot tubs. You can find dump stations at Happy Traveler RV Park, Palm Springs Oasis RV Resort, and other campgrounds in the area.
Known for its winter vegetable crops, Yuma is a great place to stop if you want to see the Colorado River. Yuma was first incorporated as Arizona City in 1871, and it has many historical sites to visit. This city’s unique position along the California and Mexico borders also makes it a foodie's heaven. The terrific campgrounds of Yuma offer outstanding desert scenery. There are several dump stations around Military Lake and at major truck stops.
With its 350-plus days of sunshine every year, outdoor opportunities abound in Tucson. Home to Biosphere 2, this city has a high technology culture mixed with an Old West vibe that many find refreshing. You will want to explore many museums in this city. It is easy to find a campground near Tucson, and many have beautiful outside facilities where you can take advantage of the sunny weather to play games. There are several nearby dump stations, including at the Elks Lodge and Catalina State Park.
This New Mexico city is known for being where Billy the Kid was likely killed. So, as you can imagine, there are many unique Old West attractions to visit here. The only uranium-mining museum in the world is located here, and there are lots of other places to visit. This city is also on the historic Route 66. There are many campgrounds here, including some with a Billy the Kid or a Route 66 theme. Consider using the dump station at Bluewater Lake State Park or one of the other RV parks.