San Jose to Santa Fe Road Trip Guide


San Jose is a global city that is located on the west coast of California. It is known for having sunny days most of the year with the occasional breeze. One thing that stands out about San Jose is the high cost of living, making it a great place to stop and visit, instead of live. San Jose is also considered the capital of Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley is home to the headquarters of companies including Apple, Facebook, Wells Fargo, Chevron, Netflix, and more.

Many locals and visitors enjoy drinking wine from vineyards in the area or feasting on seafood caught off the shore. Using San Jose as a starting destination for a road trip is a great idea for a weekend getaway. You could rent a trailer with your partner and explore the country with a short trip to Santa Fe. It’s less than 1200 miles away and 18 hours without stops. Road trips are no fun without pitstops, which is why you should consider checking out the destinations below.

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

Point of Interest

Petroglyph National Museum

As one of the largest petroglyphs in the country, the Petroglyph National Museum in Albuquerque, New Mexico. There are pictures and words carved into stone all over the museum from Native American and Spanish settlers. These pictures and symbols are between 400 and 700 years old. You won’t see anything else like this, which is why it’s worth the stop.

There are plenty of trails in the area to hike and see the different petroglyphs. You can bring your pets and even attend a tour where they teach you the history of the famous area. There is also a canyon where you can walk just over two miles and see hundreds of petroglyphs. Whatever you do, make sure to bring plenty of water as the area can get quite hot no matter what time of year it is.

Lowell Observatory

Speaking of the stars, once you’ve made your way towards Phoenix, Arizona, making a stop of the Lowell Observatory in the evening is a must. It was established all the way back in 1894 and was designated as a National Historic Landmark in the mid-1960s. There are guided tours throughout the day that allow you to view the sun through a telescope, weather permitting.

There is also an open-deck observatory that you’ll be able to use to view the millions and millions of stars that show up if the sky is clear. This is a great place to stop for your anniversary or for a romantic date night. You’ll even get the chance to see the Milky Way, thanks to the lack of light in the area. No matter who you’re traveling with, this is a unique and wonderful stop on the way to Santa Fe.

Mojave National Preserve

Located in Kelso, California, the Mojave National Preserve is a great place to stretch your legs and unplug from the cell phone you’ve been glued to lately. The Mojave National Preserve offers plenty for visitors to do. You can explore caves, hike through canyons, and even check out a crater that is an extinct volcano that’s over 6,000 years old. Mojave National Preserve is a beautiful place to enjoy wildlife watching, especially when you bring a pair of binoculars.

You might see snakes, lizards, bighorn sheep, or foxes during your stay. This is an amazing place to enjoy a romantic picnic under the stars! It’s important that you clean up after yourself to help preserve the area for future guests and wildlife. If you are in a motorhome or pulling a trailer, you can stay parked at the Mojave National Preserve or check out one of the local campgrounds that offer free camping.

California Living Museum

Located in Bakersfield, California, the California Living Museum is another great place to stop. During the holiday season, the entire area is filled with a variety of different sparkling lights and displays. The California Living Museum, or CALM for short, is a museum and a zoo combined. Don’t worry, even if you stopped at the previous zoo, CALM is worth checking out.

There is a reptile room where you can see unique lizards and snakes that you can’t find anywhere else. The California Coast Room is filled with amazing jellyfish and other cool sea creatures. There are fun and creative events throughout the year that really make this museum a place worth stopping. This place will tire you out after an afternoon of exploring the zoo and museum, making it a great place to catch some zzz’s before the next stop. You can stay at Kern River Campground or Bakersfield River RV Park to enjoy the night.

Happy Hollow Park and Zoo

What better way to start off a vacation than seeing cute animals? The Happy Hollow Park and Zoo has been open since the early 1960s and takes up around 16 acres. There are constantly events and happenings at the zoo, so be sure to check out the calendar to see if there’s anything fun going on there on the day of your trip. You’ll be able to see a variety of different animals including many species of birds, lemurs, an American alligator and more.

If you need to take a break from the animals, consider checking out the park where you can find rides, food stands, and a handful of entertaining interactive exhibits. If you had an exhausting day at the zoo, consider parking the trailer at the Garden City RV park to get plenty of rest before heading out on the road trip to Santa Fe.


Once you’ve made it to Santa Fe, you can fill up on some authentic Mexican food at one of the many restaurants in the city. There are museums, art exhibits, theaters, and many other places to visit. Don’t worry, there are also plenty of places where you can enjoy the night in your RV, including Black Canyon Campground!

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