Joshua Tree to Santa Fe Road Trip Guide


Joshua Tree is a small town in San Bernadino, County in California. It has a population of fewer than 10,000 people, yet it is one of the most visited places in the United States. The weather in this town is usually sunny and hot, with little to no humidity. There are vast deserts, unique greenery, and plenty of cool architecture in the area. Joshua Tree, California is a great place for those who own a motorhome or like to go camping.

There are several paid and free campgrounds all around the area. If camping isn’t for you, you can check out the World Famous Crochet Museum as you pass through town. It’s a great place to call home but also is the perfect spot to start a road trip. Think all of the amazing fun to be had from Joshua Tree to Santa Fe on a road trip!

It’s the perfect weekend trip for a group of friends to explore a bit of the country that you haven’t seen before. The road trip is about 700 miles long and would take 11 hours without stopping. Let’s take a look at some of the must-see stops along the way.

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Max RV length
Max trailer Length
Road trip length: 3-5 days
Recommend rig: van
audience: friends

Point of Interest

Alburquerque BioPark Zoo

You’ve almost reached the end, but what’s a road trip without seeing some amazing animals? Albuquerque is just over an hour from Santa Fe. The BioPark Zoo is a fun place to explore and see new animals. This zoo has been open for nearly a century and there are plenty of unique plants, animals, and even a museum to see.

If you like water animals, you’ll have to check out the ocean water tank that has plenty of different ocean friends that call it home. All 250,000 gallons of water in the ocean tank is from the Gulf of Mexico. You also have to stop by the botanical gardens that are filled with a plethora of beautiful plants, flowers, and waterfalls. You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy a day at the zoo! If you get hungry during your stay, grab a bite to eat at the Cottonwood Cafe.

Petrified Forest National Park

Located in northeastern Arizona, the Petrified Forest National Park is a great place to stop before you cross over into New Mexico. You’re almost to your final destination so it’s about time you immerse yourself in the great outdoors. There is a Rainbow Forest in this national park that is full of different colors of petrified wood. There are also exhibits all around the national forest that will teach you about the rich history that’s behind the area.

If you enjoy hiking, stretch your legs and explore one of the many hiking trails in the Petrified National Forest. If you plan your trip accordingly, sunrise and sunset are both breathtaking to see set over the hills and mountains in the distance. It’s a unique and unusual place to take photos and disconnect from social media. You can park the van there overnight if you need a quick nap before you reach New Mexico.

Musical Instrument Museum

Located in Phoenix, Arizona, the Musical Instrument Museum is a unique place to stop and see. It’s not every day that you get to see over 15,000 musical instruments in one place. You could easily lose yourself in this place for hours on end learning more and more new information about all the different items on display. If you’re traveling with someone who plays music, this place is a must-see. There are instruments from all over the world, including 200 countries and territories.

You’ll have the opportunity to take a guided tour or show yourself around. Each instrument has a small description of it so that you can learn more about where it was used and if any famous musicians play it. The Musical Instrument Museum also holds concerts in the auditorium. Thanks to the location of this museum, you’ll also be close to amazing restaurants and bars.

Colorado River

Right on the border of California and Arizona is the Colorado River. This is a great spot that is around 80 miles from Joshua Tree National Park. Whether you need a spot to stretch your legs or if you want to cool off by taking a dip in the river, it’s a nice place to stop for a mid-trip adventure. If you’re an angler or you’re traveling with one, consider stopping at the Colorado River to catch some lunch!

There is plenty of trout in the river that you can roast over the fire or right on a grill. Many people tube down the river to relax and get a break from the scorching Arizona heat. If you didn’t stop last night to rest up, you can park your van at one of the many Bureau of Land Management campgrounds in the area, including Oxbow Recreation Area.

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is what beckons so many people to this small town in California. It’s the perfect place to start off your road trip with a bang and you’ll be able to see the outdoors like you never have before! There are plenty of different things to do and you’re sure to find something that everyone enjoys. You can explore a coal mine, climb the Pinto Mountains, or kick back and relax at the Oasis of Mara.

End the night by looking at all the stars and constellations from Sky’s the Limit Observatory. You can’t stop at Joshua Tree National Park without taking a few pictures to remember your trip by. The best part? You can park the van and get some much need rest and relaxation before hitting the road to continue your way to New Mexico!


Sante Fe is a bustling city that is best known for being filled with amazing art. Check out one of the many museums or even one of the famous churches. There’s a ton to see during your stay and you can park the RV in one of the many parks in town!

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