Whether you’re road tripping along historic Route 66 or taking the most direct path on Interstate 10, the drive from Texas to California covers major mileage. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: the drive can take 18-24 hours depending on your exact starting and ending destinations.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about making this iconic American road trip. We’ve got details on the optimal route options, what sights you can see along the way, where to stop for the night, and tips for saving time and money.
Route Options from Texas to California
Quickest Route via I-10
If you’re looking for the quickest way to get from Texas to California, the most direct route is via Interstate 10 (I-10). This major highway stretches across the southern United States, starting in Jacksonville, Florida and ending in Santa Monica, California.
When traveling from Texas to California, you’ll need to take I-10 West.
Driving from Texas to California along I-10 can be a long journey, depending on your starting point and destination. For example, if you’re driving from Houston, Texas to Los Angeles, California, the total distance is approximately 1,520 miles.
This could take around 22 hours of driving time, depending on traffic conditions and the number of stops you make along the way.
It’s worth noting that I-10 is a major interstate highway, so you can expect well-maintained roads and plenty of amenities along the way. Gas stations, rest areas, and food options are readily available, making it a convenient choice for those who prioritize efficiency and convenience.
Scenic Route along Historic Route 66
If you’re in the mood for a more scenic and nostalgic road trip experience, consider taking the historic Route 66 from Texas to California. This iconic highway, also known as the “Main Street of America,” stretches from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California.
While Route 66 no longer exists as an official highway, you can still follow its path and explore the charming towns and landmarks along the way. Starting in Amarillo, Texas, you can drive through New Mexico, Arizona, and finally reach California.
The drive along Route 66 offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in American history and culture. You’ll come across quirky roadside attractions, vintage diners, and stunning natural landscapes. It’s a great option for those who want to take their time and enjoy the journey.
It’s important to note that the drive along Route 66 will take longer than the direct route on I-10. The total distance from Amarillo, Texas to Santa Monica, California is approximately 1,370 miles. This could take around 25 hours of driving time, depending on the stops you make along the way.
Whether you choose the quickest route via I-10 or the scenic route along Route 66, both options offer their own unique experiences. Consider your preferences, time constraints, and what you hope to get out of your road trip to decide which route is best for you.
Major Destinations and Attractions to See Along the Way
Cities Like El Paso, Tucson, and Phoenix
While embarking on the drive from Texas to California, there are several major cities that you’ll encounter along the way. One of the first stops is El Paso, located on the western tip of Texas. This vibrant city offers a unique blend of cultures, with influences from both Mexico and the United States.
Don’t miss a chance to explore its rich history, indulge in delicious Tex-Mex cuisine, and visit attractions like the El Paso Museum of Art.
Continuing westward, you’ll enter Arizona and come across the captivating city of Tucson. Known for its stunning desert landscapes and vibrant arts scene, Tucson offers a variety of attractions for visitors.
From exploring the historic Mission San Xavier del Bac to hiking in the picturesque Saguaro National Park, there is something for everyone in Tucson.
Another must-visit city along the route is Phoenix, the capital of Arizona. This bustling metropolis boasts a thriving culinary scene, world-class museums, and stunning desert vistas. Take a hike up Camelback Mountain, explore the Desert Botanical Garden, or catch a baseball game at Chase Field.
Phoenix has something to offer every traveler.
Natural Wonders Like Carlsbad Caverns and the Mojave Desert
As you make your way from Texas to California, be sure to make stops at some of the incredible natural wonders along the route. One such wonder is Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico. Descend into the depths of these breathtaking caves and marvel at the stunning stalactite formations.
The park also offers opportunities for hiking, wildlife spotting, and stargazing.
Once you reach California, don’t miss the chance to explore the majestic Mojave Desert. This vast desert spans over 25,000 square miles and is home to unique flora and fauna. Visit Joshua Tree National Park, known for its iconic Joshua trees and stunning rock formations.
Take a scenic drive through the Mojave National Preserve and witness the beauty of this arid landscape.
These are just a few of the incredible destinations and attractions you can experience during your drive from Texas to California. Whether you’re interested in exploring vibrant cities or immersing yourself in the wonders of nature, this road trip offers something for everyone.
So buckle up, hit the open road, and prepare for an unforgettable journey!
Where to Stop for the Night Crossing the Southwest
When embarking on a road trip from Texas to California, it’s important to plan your stops along the way. Crossing the vast expanse of the Southwest can be a long journey, so taking breaks and spending the night in strategic locations can make the trip more enjoyable and less tiring.
1. El Paso, Texas
As you begin your journey from Texas, the city of El Paso makes for a convenient first stop. Located right on the border with Mexico, El Paso offers a unique blend of cultures, delicious cuisine, and a vibrant nightlife.
Take a stroll along the San Jacinto Plaza or visit the El Paso Museum of Art to immerse yourself in the local arts scene.
2. Tucson, Arizona
Continuing west, Tucson is an excellent place to spend a night. Known for its stunning natural landscapes, including Saguaro National Park, Tucson is also home to a thriving arts and culinary scene. Explore the historic downtown area, visit the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, or indulge in some mouthwatering Mexican cuisine.
3. Phoenix, Arizona
If you’re looking for a larger city experience, Phoenix is a great stopover. As the capital of Arizona, Phoenix offers a wide range of attractions and activities. From world-class golf courses to luxurious resorts, there’s something for everyone.
Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Desert Botanical Garden or catch a game at the Chase Field.
4. Palm Springs, California
As you approach California, a stop in Palm Springs is highly recommended. This desert oasis is famous for its mid-century modern architecture, hot springs, and stunning mountain views. Take a ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, explore the Palm Springs Art Museum, or simply relax by the pool at one of the many stylish resorts.
5. Joshua Tree National Park
Just a short drive from Palm Springs, Joshua Tree National Park is a must-see destination. This unique park is named after the iconic Joshua trees that dot the landscape. Explore the rugged terrain, go hiking or rock climbing, and marvel at the breathtaking sunsets.
Camping options are available for those who want to spend the night in the park.
Remember, these are just a few suggestions for where to stop for the night while crossing the Southwest. The actual length of your drive from Texas to California will depend on your starting point, route, and driving speed.
It’s always a good idea to plan your stops in advance and make reservations if necessary. Safe travels!
Tips for Saving Time and Money on the Texas to California Drive
When to Make the Drive to Avoid Traffic
Timing is everything when it comes to a road trip from Texas to California. To avoid heavy traffic and long delays, it is recommended to plan your drive during off-peak hours. Rush hours typically occur between 7 am to 9 am and 4 pm to 6 pm, so try to plan your departure accordingly.
Additionally, weekdays tend to have less traffic compared to weekends, so if possible, plan your drive on a weekday to minimize congestion on the roads.
Another factor to consider is the time of year. During popular vacation seasons such as spring break or summer holidays, highways tend to be busier with tourists and families traveling. If you have the flexibility, consider making the drive during less crowded months to save time and avoid the frustration of heavy traffic.
Booking Hotels in Advance for the Best Rates
When embarking on a long road trip, it’s important to plan your accommodations in advance to ensure a comfortable stay along the way. By booking hotels in advance, you can often secure better rates and have a wider selection of options to choose from.
Using online hotel booking platforms like Booking.com or Hotels.com can be a great way to compare prices and find the best deals. These websites often offer discounts for early bookings and provide reviews from previous guests, helping you make an informed decision.
Consider breaking up your journey by strategically choosing hotels along the route. This not only allows you to rest and recharge, but it also gives you the opportunity to explore different cities and attractions along the way.
Just be sure to check the cancellation policies, as there may be some flexibility required in case of unexpected delays or changes in your travel plans.
Whether you take the fastest route sticking to the interstates or go off the beaten path along Route 66, the legendary drive from Texas to California traverses some of the most incredible scenery in the American Southwest. Give yourself plenty of time to soak in the sights along your road trip!
We’ve covered everything you need to know to plan your Lone Star State-to-Golden State drive. With optimal routes, can’t-miss attractions, lodging tips, and more, you’re ready to hit the wide open road.