Planning a Southwest Road Trip?
Planning a Southwest Road Trip?
Get the most out of your southwest road trip by camping out along your route. From California to New Mexico and Utah down to Arizona, the highways of the American southwest are loaded with unique, affordable Hipcamps imbedded in the desert landscape. From tent sites and glamping sites to RV sites, tipis, yurts, cabins, and Airstream trailers, staying at a Hipcamp will ensure you won’t just drive through the desert, but rather experience it immersively and completely as you sleep underneath the stars.
One thing visitors to the southwest desert ponder in the planning stage is how to see and do it all in a 5-day, 10-day, or 2-week road trip. We get it — there are so many green zones on the map! Our advice is: don’t stress, because you can’t go wrong out here. Every National and State Park in the American southwest, big or small, is uniquely amazing, so stitch together a handful of parks or places on a route that matches your timeline, at a pace you can enjoy, and go for it.
By staying at Hipcamps along the way, you’ll maximize the time you can spend immersed in nature. Many Hipcamps are located on wide-open desert, working farms, or preserved land on homesteads. While the experience of staying in a budget motel or commercial RV lot may not be anything special or memorable, you will always remember that romantic glamping cabin or the nights spent slumbering in your tent beneath the starry desert sky. Choosing to stay at a Hipcamp also connects you to local Hosts who live in the southwest year-round and can steer you to some of the best local food, hiking trails, and activities in their area.
Here’s how Hipcamp can help you get the most out of this bucket-list road trip region:
From Los Angeles, your first stop is likely is Joshua Tree National Park, and for good reason. Its boulder mounds make a natural playground, it looks like you’ve stepped onto another planet entirely, and its dark night sky is incredible for stargazers. On top of that, the Mojave Desert surrounding the park are famous for the artistic and spiritual communities that gather here. Get the best of both worlds by staying at a Hipcamp near close to the park in the town of Joshua Tree or Twentynine Palms.
Headed north towards Las Vegas, the next park you’ll reach is the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. Here, the iron-oxidized rock produces some of the deepest reds in the southwest desert. There’s also hiking, world-class rock climbing, and plenty of all-you-can-eat buffets back in Vegas to refuel.
The Grand Canyon National Park looms east. It is perhaps one of the most iconic feature of the American southwest. Between the staggering views along the North and South Rim, the hiking trails, and the potential to raft through the canyon on the Colorado River, you can stay busy here for days. It also has over 6 million visitors per year, which is why we prefer to stay in the peace and solitude of the Hipcamps south of the park off the U.S. 180.
Winding north into southern Utah, you enter a dense concentration of incredible parks. Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park are adjacent to one another, and just below lies Antelope Canyon, a mesmerizing slot canyon on Navajo land. Push a bit further east and you’re in Moab, the desert sports and mountain biking mecca. The Hipcamps in this zone make welcoming alternatives to competitive park campgrounds or centralized home-bases from which to visit them all! There are also several Native American-owned Hipcamps here that allow guests to stay on the Navajo Nation.
From Utah, many desert wanderers push south through Arizona, where Hipcamps provide a local’s glimpse of Flagstaff, Phoenix and Tucson. If you aren’t ready for the respite of a city, Arizona’s wilderness will keep you busy, from skiing on the San Francisco Peaks to the Sonoran Desert’s Saguaro National Park.
The trip only gets more rewarding the further east you go, especially when it comes to exciting food options. New Mexico may be the Land of Enchantment, but it’s also the land of sopapillas and chili rellenos. When you’re done mopping up the red chili sauce, there are volcanic craters, sand dunes and Native American adobes to explore. Camping near Santa Fe and Albuquerque is easy with our large selection of Hipcamps that put striking distance to the Rocky Mountains and the Rio Grande. Driving south on your way out stop in Hatch and stock up on dried chilis, and then make a strip to the otherworldly dunes of White Sands National Monument.
At last you’ll reach the Lone Star State, and make sure you have Marty Robbins’ “El Paso” playing as you enter the titular West Texas town. El Paso is a fascinating border city in the Chihuahuan Desert, with nearby Hueco Tanks State Park drawing rock climbers country-wide. It’s also your first opportunity to dig-in to mesquite Texas barbecue.
Follow the Rio Grande southeast for the last stop on this route, Big Bend National Park. This 801,000-acre park has spectacular canyon views of the Rio Grande’s meandering path. It’s also home to a concentration of excellent Hipcamps just northwest of the park, where — by now — you will feel right at home beneath the desert stars.