Texas is the second largest state in the United States, bordering Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico as well as sharing an international border with Mexico to the south. We love a good road trip through Texas but there may be times when you wonder how long it would take to drive right across the state.
It takes approximately 12 hours to drive across Texas between Louisiana and New Mexico along the I-10 with normal traffic. With stops for food and fuel, it will take 14 hours. Driving across north Texas along the I-40 takes 8 hours 30 minutes.
To help you figure out how long it will take you to drive across Texas, we've put together a handy guide with details about the distances involved, time it takes to drive them and things you should know.
Time to drive across the width of Texas
The state of Texas has an irregular shape so there are a few ways of crossing Texas and they take a different amount of time depending on the route.
The two most common ways of crossing Texas are along the I-10 through the southern part of the state or through the north, crossing through the Texas Panhandle along the I-40.
Crossing southern Texas from Louisiana to New Mexico
There is one major route through the south of Texas that is also the most common way to cross the state. The route runs from the border with Louisiana at Orange along the I-10 all the way past Houston and San Antonio to the crossing into New Mexico at El Paso.
This is the route trucks and cross-country drivers take when driving between most southern states and Arizona or California.
This route usually takes about 12 hours' worth of driving before you account for stops and breaks although traffic around the major cities can increase that to 14 hours on the road.
With 870 miles to cover border to border, you're likely to stop twice to fill up and grab lunch as well as stopping a couple more times for comfort breaks. If you conservatively allow yourself 2 hours all in for the different stops to stretch your legs, expect to spend 14 to 16 hours on the road to drive across Texas.
Unless you're driving through the day and swapping drivers, you'll need to stop somewhere overnight so add the time you need to sleep onto the length of the journey.
Driving across northern Texas through the Texas Panhandle
There are a few different ways that people cross Texas through the north. There are three common entrance points - along the I-20 from Shreveport in northern Louisiana, through Texarkana from Arkansas or along the I-40 from Oklahoma.
The two exit points from Texas into New Mexico are usually along the I-10 from El Paso or through I-40 from Amarillo.
To help you understand how long your drive across Texas will take, check the table below to find your route time. Remember these times do not include stops or breaks so add in a couple of hours on the longer drives.
|Shreveport (LA)||El Paso (NM)||11h (816 miles)|
|Shreveport (LA)||San Jon (NM)||8h 30m (600 miles)|
|Texarkana (AR)||El Paso (NM)||11h 20m (826 miles)|
|Texarkana (AR)||San Jon (NM)||8h 30m (564 miles)|
|Erick (OK)||San Jon (NM)||2h 30m (177 miles)|
Time to drive through Texas from the Mexican border
If you're driving through a border between Mexico and the United States and crossing through Texas from the south, you have a number of different route options. There are some 29 different border crossings from Mexico into Texas and depending on where in the United States you are headed, there are a huge number of different ways of crossing the state.
We'll cover the most common routes and the amount of time they take to drive. A lot of people driving from Mexico will enter Texas at Laredo or along the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge.
The two most common exit points for those not staying in Texas are into Louisiana along the I-10 for southern U.S. states or the I-30 into Arkansas for the Northeast and Midwest.
Starting from Laredo, it will take 6 hours 30 minutes to drive into Louisiana or 8 hours 30 minutes to cross into Arkansas. The times from the Pharr crossing are 7 hours and 10 hours for the same routes. Take note that these times don't include the time taken to cross the border which can vary a lot depending on time of day and the date you are crossing on.
Things to know that can impact your driving time
Traffic is the biggest factor that can affect the time it takes you to drive across Texas. While most of the state is relatively free, if you are driving along one of the busier routes (e.g. I-10 between major cities) or passing a major city, you can easily get stuck in traffic, particularly if you're hitting rush hour.
The section of I-10 to the west of Houston is the widest road section in the world carrying 26 lanes of traffic and there is a good reason for it being that wide - it can get very busy. I've spent the odd hour in a queue along this stretch, but I've also flown through it late at night.
The number of times you'll need to stop along the way is also going to be a major factor in how long it actually takes you to complete the journey. If your car is particularly thirsty for gas or you have a baby that needs stops at least every 2 hours, you'll need to allow plenty of extra time to make the drive. With distances across Texas being in the hundreds of miles, you won't be able to just keep going without a rest stop.
The speed limits vary a lot even along major roads. The interstates will have speed limits between 55 and 80 miles per hour. While some of the long 80 mph stretches are great and allow you to cover a lot of distance quickly, some cities are beginning to reduce speed limits as you approach and drive around them. El Paso reduced the speed limit along the I-10 to 60 in 2018 citing roadworks but did not increase it after they were complete.
Tips to drive across Texas in the shortest possible time
If you really have to drive across Texas as quickly as possible, here are a few tips on reducing the time on the road to the lowest possible.
First, it's a good idea to drive with at least 2 drivers who can swap during the journey to minimize the amount of time you need for breaks and relaxation.
Next, if you have a choice or are renting a car, give the giant gas guzzler a miss and pick something sensible. Routes across the south are over 800 miles long. In a fuel efficient car, you will only need one stop at a gas station rather than 2 or 3.
The optimal time to make the drive is not to go through the night. Some speed limits in Texas are reduced during the night and progress can be slow with lower visibility. The quickest way to drive across Texas is to cross the border at around 7:30am, making the most of the daytime and crossing back out before it gets dark. If you have a choice of day, Sundays are usually about 30 minutes quicker due to lower traffic volumes, but the difference is not as great as you'd think on a 12 hour journey along the I-10.