Phoenix to Chicago Road Trip Guide


If you're an RV lover who is coupled up and looking for your next road trip adventure, there are so many great options for you to consider. Phoenix is the Valley of the Rising Sun and the capital of Arizona, but did you know that it is also a fantastic place to start a road trip in the spring? You have the option to go to the west coast, head to the south, or even go straight north to the mountains of Montana.

It can be hard to choose where to explore since there are so many great things to see and do in the United States, but one of the best is to drive through the midwest. A trip from Phoenix to Chicago is the perfect way for a couple to experience a range of different landscapes, activities, and adventures. Chicago is an awesome city for sports fans, museums, and of course, the deep-dish pizza, so it is a wonderful final stop.

Traveling across seven states, a road trip like this will mean you can take your time to enjoy what middle America has to offer, which is a lot! State Parks, forests, cute towns, and big cities are awaiting you, so be sure to pack your RV full of supplies and get ready to hit the road!

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Max RV length
Max trailer Length
Road trip length: 7+ days
Recommend rig: motorhome
audience: couple

Point of Interest

Desert Botanical Garden

Fancy a romantic afternoon or a cute date spot? The Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix is a 140-acre paradise on the east side of town that contains over 50,000 plants! Open from 8:AM to 8:PM, the garden is a very relaxing place to spend the day and there are often tours by the staff where you can learn more about the history of the garden. Desert Botanical Garden also hosts various events throughout the year along with exhibits about nature so you can learn more about how these sturdy plants can survive the desert conditions.

Starting your road trip during the spring is ideal so you can enjoy Phoenix without roasting in the sun. There are plenty of RV-friendly private campgrounds in the city, or you can head 34 miles east to the Lost Dutchman State Park, where there are 134 sites to choose from.

Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest

No RV road trip through Phoenix towards New Mexico would be complete without paying a visit to the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. Featuring over two million acres of mountainous terrain, visiting Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest will feel like you are a world away from Phoenix, even though it is only a 145-mile drive.

Most of the visitors to Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest will be interested in some sort of recreation, and for couples, there are plenty of things for you to enjoy. There are hundreds of miles of trails you can walk together, plenty of cute picnic areas, and both motorized and non-motorized boating in over a dozen bodies of water. Since the forest is so large, there is no way that you will get bored, so remember to pack your RV with everything you'll need for an outdoor adventure.

There are 11 RV campgrounds within the forest so you won't need to travel far to find a place to stay, which is a bonus!

Bluewater Lake State Park

When you are on the way out of Arizona there are plenty of beautiful places you could stop into, but if you are interested in spending some time near the water, consider Bluewater Lake State Park. Located within New Mexico around a three-hour drive from Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, the main attraction to the park is the gorgeous Bluewater Lake.

You and your partner can kick back for another day of relaxation by fishing or hanging out by the shoreline, or you could get some exercise done by going paddling out on the lake. If you are wanting to go fishing or paddling during your RV trip consider bringing your own equipment since there are no guarantees that rentals will be available.

Another benefit of visiting Bluewater Lake State Park is that there are full hookup sites available. If you miss out on one of these, don't fret. There are also three other campgrounds to choose from within the park, including some with electric and water hookups.

Santa Fe

After a few days out in the sticks, you have the opportunity to head to the capital of New Mexico for the next stop on your unforgettable RV road trip. With a history dating back to the early 1600s, Santa Fe is also the oldest state capital after it was granted this title in 1610.

Santa Fe is known for being one of the great art cities in the United States and has around 300 different galleries or art dealers for you to check out. One of the most popular museums in the city is the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum that pays homage to the artist known as "the Mother of American modernism". Downtown is full of bars and restaurants, so if you are craving something a little more luxurious than the meals you've been eating on the road consider splurging in Santa Fe.

Rita Blanca National Grasslands

The surrounding environment has changed a lot since leaving Phoenix, but just over the border in Oklahoma and Texas is a place that seems a million miles away from the desert. The Rita Blanca National Grasslands consists of over 230,000 acres that primarily feature short grass and gorgeous rolling hills. The grasslands are very quiet since it is a desolate area and has a real sense of beauty that is special to this prairie area.

The Rita Blanca National Grasslands is a great place to visit all year round, but if you are lucky enough to stop by after a decent rainfall you could have the chance to see the grasslands transform into gorgeous flower fields. This can be a perfect opportunity to take some cute photos of your significant other or go for a picnic surrounded by them.

Operated and maintained by the Cibola National Forest, the Thompson Grove Campground is a free dry-camping only campground that should have sites available whenever you visit.

Sedgwick County Zoo

Wichita is the largest city in Kansas, and after a day behind the wheel driving through the flat plains of Oklahoma and Kansas, it is an ideal place to spend a day outside of the RV. The city is a hidden gem with many activities and experiences suited for couples, including the opportunity to visit the Sedgwick County Zoo.

The zoo has over 3,000 animals and around 400 species that live in environments replicating their natural habitat. There are several geographical regions in the zoo including many areas where you can walk in the environments. The South America and Australian section of the zoo is a must-see since the aviary is one of the largest of the walk-through variety in the whole country.

When you are finished at the Zoo you can head downtown for some great food at Ziggys Pizza East or Sabor Latin Bar and Grill if you are looking for something a little fancier.

Des Moines

This part of your RV road trip is limited to what natural landmarks you can see and activities you can do, but that doesn't mean you can't have some fun. Des Moines isn't exactly on the direct way to Chicago from Wichita, but that's the beauty of an RV road trip, you don't have to follow any rules!

You and your partner will be very pleased you stopped in Iowa's largest city since there are so many exciting experiences to be had. There are over 800 miles of biking trails around the city, fantastic food to be eaten at the Downtown Farmers' Market, and the incredible High Trestle Trail. This nature walk will give you the chance to venture over one of the largest trail bridges throughout the world that is 13 stories high!

The Des Moines West KOA Holiday is one of the best in the city to spend the night at and has all of the amenities that you could ask for during a quick stay.

World's Steepest Cable Car

Dubuque, Iowa might not spring to mind if asked about one of the best-hidden gems in the country. However, this city on the Mississippi River should absolutely be in the conversation. The cute town has many things going for it, and it is also home to one of the most unique attractions that you will see throughout your Phoenix to Chicago road trip: the Fenelon Place Elevator.

Claiming to be the steepest and shortest railroad in the entire world, this short cable car was built in the late 1880s for bankers and politicians to make their way up from Fourth Street to Fenelon Place. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and is open from April until the end of November to use.

Waiting for you at the top are two observation areas that will give you a gorgeous view of the city, so remember to pack your camera! You can also stay on the banks of the Mississippi River when visiting Dubuque thanks to the city-operated Miller Riverview Park.


One of the best places to end an awesome road trip with your partner is in "Windy City", Chicago, and that is exactly what is waiting for you once you depart from Dubuque. The drive will be a little over three hours, and as soon as you arrive in Chicago you will realize why it is one of the most popular cities in the country.

It is a right of passage to eat some deep dish pizza during your visit, but the city also has a very diverse range of restaurants and plenty of cool museums to check out. The Art Institute of Chicago is 100 percent a must-see if you love art, while sports fans have the chance to go and see one of the two professional baseball teams, basketball, football, and ice hockey teams that call the city home.

It's understandable if you and your partner want to unwind upon your arrival, and the large sites at Chicago Northwest KOA will be the perfect place to do so. Your midwest trip is now complete!

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