If you are planning a trip from Joshua Tree to Durango, this exciting adventure is expected to take around four days and it includes a diverse variety of stops and attractions along the way.
To drive directly, the journey would take around 12 hours at 669 miles. However, this trip will take you to some of the most impressive spots of wilderness the country has to offer. Enjoy truly breathtaking scenery at Lake Havasu State Park and Kaibab Lake, experience the immense awe that the Grand Canyon has to offer, and finish it off exploring the cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Puebloans at Mesa Verde. With RV camping in remote locations, lots of outdoor recreation and wildlife galore, this would be the ideal trip for any outdoorsy couples or groups of friends. If you are traveling with your family, this would be better suited to older kids and teens.
Whether you are looking to travel in an RV, motorhome, or trailer, we have highlighted camping options along the route. You may need to book these in advance, but we have included all the necessary information. The driving conditions along this route are usually quite good, but we advise that you check before you head out. It might also be wise to look at the weather forecast, and let someone know your itinerary- just to be on the safe side.
With its beautiful beaches and stunning scenery, your first stop on our RV adventure is Lake Havasu State Park. This beach oasis amongst the desert landscape is located in western Arizona and the park enjoys great weather year-round. There is a wide array of outdoor recreation available, including camping, boating, and fishing. You should also check out the Arroyo-Camino Interpretive Garden which houses a fabulous array of desert flora.
Relax and catch a tan on the white sandy beaches, check out the local wildlife such as reptiles and desert cottontails, or just enjoy a picnic in one of the many dedicated areas. Group picnic areas are also available, but these will need to be reserved in advance. Birdwatchers might want to keep their binoculars at the ready, with the chance to spot Anna’s Hummingbird or even a Great Horned Owl. There are 47 campsites within the park and these are relatively private and secluded, with beautiful views of the lake and mountains.
Located on the Colorado Plateau, around five miles from Williams AZ, the Kaibab Lake is set amongst the dense foliage of the Kaibab National Forest. This area is ideal for exploring, with over 300 miles of developed trails for hiking, biking and horse riding.
Swimming is not allowed in the lake as this is a public water source, but you can still enjoy an array of water sports. There is also excellent fishing to be had, including popular spots along the shore, an accessible fishing pier and boat ramps for deep water angling. If you are hoping to catch a big one when you are here, it is important that you check out the local laws regarding licenses and permits.
There are individual, double and group campsites available and drinking water is provided. Plus, pets are allowed but should be kept on a leash at all times. This is a great place to spend the night, and as the evening draws close, you will enjoy a spectacular view of the stars- especially on a clear summer’s night.
From the Kaibab Lake Campground, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is around a one hour drive, and this part of the park is open throughout the year. Located in northwestern Arizona, this gorge of the Colorado River is considered one of the wonders of the natural world, and it welcomes more than six million visitors on an annual basis.
Teddy Roosevelt once said that all Americans should see the Grand Canyon at some point in their lives and it would be a shame not to witness the majestic gorges, deep caverns and exposed layers of colorful rock while you are in the area. The Grand Canyon is 277 river miles long, up to 189 miles wide and a mile deep. The driving tours are definitely recommended, and you should check out Mather and Yaki Point, particularly at sunset when the views are truly phenomenal. If you want to visit Hermits Rest, this is via a free shuttle bus between March to December.
The Moenkopi tracks are actual dinosaur tracks, which are believed to be around two million years old and were formed during the early Jurassic period. Several different types of dinosaurs made these tracks and they have been verified by the paleontology department at the Northern Arizona University.
The site is maintained by the Navajo Nation, and the guided tour is advised. It is a fairly easy hike to the tracks, taking around 15 minutes on a relatively flat trail. This also provides an excellent opportunity to learn more about the Hopi and Navajo tribes that once lived in the area, discover the Coal Mine and canyons, or find out about the historic Tuba City Trading Post. There is no fee to park or view the tracks but donations are welcome and advised. The tracks here are not protected, and it is imperative that you leave everything as you find it.
If you are looking to spend the night in the area, there are public and private campgrounds nearby. As well as the opportunity to walk in the footprints of dinosaurs, Tuba City AZ is a great place to explore for the day. With shopping, galleries, museums, and restaurants, there is a lot to see and do here.
Comprising an array of towers, buttes and colossal mesas, the out-of-this-world landscape at Monument Valley makes it an ideal stop to stretch your legs. One of the most iconic landmarks in the country, Monument Valley is also one of the most famous places in America’s south-west. Located in the Navajo reserves, Native people have been living here for thousands of years. This area definitely has a familiar feel, and this may be due to it being featured in so many Hollywood classics; providing part of the set for movies such as Forest Gump, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Mission Impossible II, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. As well as a wide array of country and western movies and HBO’s globally renowned TV show Westworld.
There is an array of Guided and OHV tours in the region but if you are looking to hike without a guide, the Wildcat Trail is the only option. This is a 3.2-mile loop that circles Mitten Buttes and Merrick Butte. Alternately check out the maps available at the Visitor Centre for the other trails in the area, as well as any relevant hiking permits.
Located just 33 miles south from Cortez, the Four Corners Monument marks the quadripoint of four States, including Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona. It is also in four sovereign nations, with the Navajo, Hopi, Ute and Zuni reserves overlapping here.
This remote location is just a small bronze disk in granite, but it makes for an interesting stop on your journey. It is a rare geographical occurrence, which is one of the stopping points along the Trails of the Ancients National Scenic Byway. The monument is maintained by the Navajo Nation and there is also a small demonstration Center with Native American artisans and vendors selling jewelry, crafts and traditional foods.
US National Park Passes are not accepted here, but children aged between 0 and 6 enter for free. There is also a small fee to view the monument and take a selfie. If you are looking for a scenic drive in this region, the San Juan Skyway is recommended. This epic 236-mile loop offers outstanding views of the spectacular scenery.
Famed for its cliff dwellings, the Mesa Verde National Park was originally designated its status in 1906 by Teddy Roosevelt, who highlighted the need to ‘preserve the works of men’.There are different cliff tours available here, to suit various levels and abilities. The Cliff Palace is a particularly popular option, with tours of this available from mid-May to mid-September.
For those looking for a one-of-a-kind Mesa Verde experience, the Balcony Sunrise tour is truly spectacular. Providing the opportunity to see the caves before the park opens, this is only available a few times in the year. There is some climbing and crawling on this tour and it has a particularly early start, but the effort is certainly worth it- as the sun rising over the park is a phenomenal sight. You should definitely check out the Mesa Verde Visitor and Research Centre to discover exhibits, book tickets, and learn more about the Ancestral Pueblo people that used to live here.
Camping for tents, trailers and RVs is available at Morefield Campground and Village, which is maintained by the National Park Service. This campground has 15 full-hookup RV sites, and these will require a reservation in advance.
Durango’s motto is ‘Open Spaces and Familiar Faces’ and this picture-perfect municipality is one of the friendliest towns in Colorado. Climb aboard for a locomotive experience at the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, explore the Canyons, or enjoy secluded camping in the beautiful San Juan National Forest. There is a great choice in both public and private campgrounds nearby. Hope you enjoy your stay!