If you prefer to travel directly, the quickest route from Los Angeles to Albuquerque is 800 miles, and you can probably do this within a day or two. However, if you are planning on turning your travels into a holiday, this journey is more likely to take around 4-5 days. Did someone say road trip?
This route is slightly longer at 1,131 miles, but there are many points of interest along the way. Plus, opting for this road will take you through one of America’s largest concentration of national parks, monuments, and attractions. It will provide you with an excellent array of things to stop and see and a wealth of places to stay. If you follow the trip directly, your journey will take you through some lonely stretches and isolated pockets of wilderness. It is important to remember, safety first. Be aware that the weather can be scorching hot in this region, so AC is likely to be required. Always pack extra drinking supplies, let someone know your itinerary and have a plan in case of an emergency.
This trip would be particularly well suited to couples or single people who enjoy spending time in the great outdoors, with an excellent choice of recreation available as well as RV camping spots along the way. It also includes several historical monuments and national parks, as well as tips on where to lay your head for the night.
From here, you can either drive directly to Albuquerque or check out the Mesa Verde National Park. Step into the past, and explore the cave dwellings of the Ancestral Puebloans or Anasazi, with ranger-guided tours available from the Visitor Center. If you are looking for something more adventurous, Balcony House has some jaw-dropping climbs and tight spaces, or you could opt for a tour around Cliff Palace or Long House. The Mesa Top Loop Road provides an excellent six-mile driving trail.
If you would like to stay the night here, the Morefield Campground is run by the National Park Service and it is open from April to October. There are 267 campsites here, most of which are first-come, first-served. However, if you are looking for full RV hook-up, there are only fifteen sites and you still need to book in advance.
Located around 33 miles south from Cortez, the Four Corners Monument is the only point in the country shared by four States- Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. The monument was first erected in 1899, but recent developments in technology have suggested that it is actually around 100ft away from the juxtaposition.
Despite its slightly inaccurate, remote and secluded location, this is quite a popular road trip stop. Other than the chance to be in four states at once, there is a small visitor center, and vendors sell souvenirs, crafts, and foods nearby. A fee is required to view and take a photograph with the monument. There is not much else nearby, so you may want to make this a flying stop before spending the night at one of the campsites at the Mesa Verde National Park.
With towers and buttes standing at heights of 400 to 1000 feet, Monument Valley is a unique geological formation and one of the most photographed places in the world. With the feel of a classic Hollywood western, it is undoubtedly a landscape like nowhere else on the planet.
The Wild Cat Trail offers an up-close view of the monuments, and there are also guided and OHV tours in the region. If you are looking for a scenic drive through the area, check out the Valley Drive route. This is a 17-mile dirt road, which is usually accessible to vehicles and it takes you around all the highlights. However, this is weather dependent and it may not be well suited to larger RVs and trailers.
This unique and breath-taking meander in the river has become one of the Instagrammable landscapes in the region. However, Horseshoe Bend is an unusual stop and it is kind of out of your way. If you are in a hurry or don’t want to go that extra mile, you might want to miss this one. However, if you are doing the road trip in the winter and want the Grands Canyon experience without having to drive over five hours to the South Rim, this intimate stop provides that opportunity. Located just outside of Page, Arizona, off US HWY 89, the Horseshoe Bend is accessible via a 1.5-mile round hike from the parking area. This used to be a hidden gem, but the viral scenery has meant that the bend now welcomes more than two million visitors each year- so try to avoid peak times! There is a fee at this parking area and a fee for the shuttle bus which is in use when the parking lot is full.
A road trip along this route would have to include a flying visit to the Grand Canyon National Park. At 446km long, 29km wide and 1.6km deep, this is one of the most-visited attractions in the country. This road provides access to the North Rim, which is the less popular side. It is only visited by 10% of tourists, but it still provides the full-on Grand Canyon experience.
You can find out more about this unique landmark at the North Rim Visitor Centre, where you can discover park information, maps, bookstore, and exhibits. The Bright Angel point is at the end of a short easy paved trail from this parking lot, and this lookout spot offers phenomenal views of the Roaring Springs and Bright Angel Canyons.
If you are planning on overnight dispersed camping at the Grand Canyon park, you will require a permit from the Backcountry Office. Alternatively, the North Rim Campground is open from May to August, and sites are offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
Known as the ‘thread of life’ to its inhabitants, the Parker Strip Recreation Area provides a glimmer of an oasis in the dry desert. This area is one of outstanding natural beauty, and it is the perfect place to stop for the night and reconnect with Mother Nature. This is a popular place to visit for rockhounding fans, anglers, climbers and hikers.
If you are driving in the summer, the chance to cool off and dive into the crystal clear waters of the river is available at the Bullfrog Day Use Area. There are two campgrounds within the Recreation Area’s boundaries, including Empire Landing and the Crossroads Campground. Both of these have RV and tent sites, and they are offered on a first-come, first-served basis.
This epic park is over 790,000 square acres, and it is located in the California High Desert. Aptly named after the Joshua trees that cover it, this park is where two desert ecosystems join together, resulting in an ideal habitat for a fascinating variety of plants and animals
Must-see spots in this national park include Skull Rock, Arch Rock, and Keys, which is a lookout spot that offers phenomenal views of the landscape. There are nine developed campgrounds here with over 300 campsites; most of which are open from May through to September.
The nearest campground to the road is the Indian Cove Campground, which is reservation only. Alternately, the Belle Campground has 18 sites for RVs, but there is a maximum length of 35 feet. This is primitive camping with just the basics, but sites are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. There is no running water or electricity at the sites, so make sure you have everything you need.
As you arrive in Albuquerque after your cross country adventure, you will certainly feel like this trip has been a full one. The city has a population of just over half a million, and there is so much to see and do here. A trip on the Sandia Peak Aerial Tramway is advised, with the chance to the city from the 10,378-foot peak of the Sandia Mountain.
If you are driving into the city from near Tijeras, keep your eyes peeled for the musical highway. Passing this sign at exactly the right speed will treat you to a rendition of the patriotic classic ‘America the Beautiful.’ Breaking Bad fans might want to visit the grave of Walter White who has been memorialized nearby. If you need to drive back, you may wish to take the more direct route on US HWY 40, with the chance to stop at the Petrified Forest National Park, the Lava River Cave and the Seven Magic Mountains in Nevada.