View of the city from above, with mountains rising in the background during sunset

Road trip from Dallas to Phoenix

Updated by Dianne Titos on February 27 2024

Are you looking to leave the cityscape behind and trade the Texan views for the saguaro-laden desert landscapes of Arizona? This road trip from Dallas to Phoenix will take you through stunning national parks, beautiful cities with rich histories, red rock landscapes and quirky roadside attractions.

The 1,160-mile road trip from Dallas to Phoenix will take 17 hours and 40 minutes to drive. Highlights are Marfa, El Paso, Las Cruces, Tucson, Amarillo, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Flagstaff, Sedona, White Sands National Park, and Saguaro National Park.

This wonderful drive from Dallas to Phoenix will be full of desert adventures and long-lasting memories through one of the most stunning regions. Read on to learn more about our recommended routes, top highlights, the best places to stay, and the best seasons to travel.

How to drive from Dallas to Phoenix

The map below shows two great route options for your Dallas to Phoenix road trip. Click on the star icons for headline details, and scroll down for more information below.

* Always remember that drive times can be impacted by traffic, closures, weather and other conditions. It's best to double-check while planning and before starting out on your trip.

Comparison of road trip routes between Dallas and Phoenix
RouteDistanceDriving Time
El Paso Route1,160 miles17 hours 40 minutes
Albuquerque Route1,180 miles18 hours 15 minutes

How far is Phoenix from Dallas, and how long will the road trip take?

If you were to drive directly from Dallas to Phoenix, the drive would take you about 15 hours, covering 1,060 miles. However, with so many places to visit between the two cities, we recommend extending your journey and taking a more scenic route.

The El Paso Route from Dallas to Phoenix offers a beautiful journey that covers nearly 1,160 miles and takes around 17 hours and 40 minutes to complete.

Sunset in the Sonoran Desert near Phoenix, Arizona
Phoenix is a stunning destination to visit from Dallas, located in the vast deserts of Arizona that are known for some of the most gorgeous sunsets in the world.
Brent Coulter/

Alternatively, the Albuquerque Route is about 1,180 miles, with an estimated driving time of 18 hours and 15 minutes without accounting for any detours we strongly recommend making.

Because of all the rich historical and cultural sights and natural wonders along the way, you'll want to take your time on the road. That's why, we recommend 5-6 days for your journey.

Best road trip route from Dallas to Phoenix

Both the El Paso and Albuquerque Routes from Dallas to Phoenix offer distinct experiences shaped by the landscapes, culture, and attractions they pass through. Which route you choose depends on what you want to see and do the most.

The El Paso Route takes you through the heart of the Southwest's art scene and desert beauty. Starting from Texas, you'll see towns rich in art galleries, leading up to Marfa—a city famous for its contemporary art installations and galleries.

Beyond Marfa, the route will take you through the Chihuahuan Desert's stark landscapes of mesas and cacti. You will also get to visit El Paso and the breathtaking White Sands National Park nearby.

This route is a feast for art lovers and those who want to explore the serene, untouched beauty of the desert.

The Albuquerque Route takes you through the rolling plains around Amarillo and to the red rocks of Sedona. You'll also see the pine forests of Flagstaff and have the chance to take a detour to the Grand Canyon National Park.

The route allows you to cruise along parts of the historic Route 66 in Albuquerque, Flagstaff, and Winslow, offering a nostalgic look back with its iconic signs and quirky stops.

It also passes through areas rich in a blend of Native American and Spanish heritage, particularly in cities like Albuquerque and Santa Fe, known for their adobe architecture and world-famous art scenes.

El Paso Route

Start from Dallas, heading west on Interstate 20 (I-20), and pass through Fort Worth, where you can explore the Fort Worth Botanic Garden. Continue towards Abilene, home to the Abilene Zoo and Frontier Texas Museum. Then, your journey will take you into Texas' heartlands where it veers south to Fort Stockton.

Afterwards, drive southwest through the open spaces of West Texas. As you head towards Alpine, consider a detour to the Museum of The Big Bend to learn about the region's rich history.

The adventure continues towards Marfa, known for its enigmatic Marfa Lights Viewing Area and the Prada Marfa art installation.

Continue on route until you reach El Paso, where the El Paso Museum of Art as well as Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens await.

Crossing into New Mexico, you'll reach Las Cruces. Here you can make a detour to visit White Sands National Park. The route then takes a southwestern turn on I-10 towards Deming, home to the Deming Luna Mimbres Museum.

As you approach Arizona, a stop at Bowlin's The Thing in Benson provides an eccentric roadside attraction before reaching Tucson. Here, the Pima Air & Space Museum marks your final waypoint before you reach Phoenix.

Beautiful expansive white sand dunes under the blue sky
There is something magical about White Sands National Park, which you can visit on the El Paso Route.

Albuquerque Route

Starting your journey from Dallas, head northwest on US-287 towards Wichita Falls. After Wichita Falls, you'll drive towards the desert landscapes of Amarillo.

Here, you can see the iconic Cadillac Ranch, a unique art installation of half-buried Cadillacs. Continuing west on I-40, you enter New Mexico and enter the city of Santa Fe, famous for its cuisine, museums, and rich Native American heritage.

From Santa Fe, proceed south towards Albuquerque, a city rich in Native American and Spanish culture. Head west to Laguna Pueblo. Then, weave through the mesmerizing landscapes of the Petrified Forest National Park.

The route then leads you to Flagstaff, a city known for its natural attractions, including a detour to the Grand Canyon National Park.

Descending from the high elevations of Flagstaff, your journey takes you through the red rock country of Sedona. This scenic drive through Oak Creek Canyon is a highlight, with stops like Slide Rock State Park.

The final leg of your trip includes driving along the Red Rock Scenic Byway before arriving in Phoenix.

Amarillo, Texas, USA with a view of the Cadillac Ranch along the US Route 66, taken on a sunny day.
Leave your own mark at the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, where visitors are encouraged to write and paint on the cars, installed upside down in sand.
TLF Images/

Best places to stop between Dallas and Phoenix

The drive between Dallas and Phoenix is full of wonders and must-visit landmarks. To see it all, you'll want to break your trip up and stay in one of the amazing destinations below.

Arts installations and mysterious lights in Marfa

Marfa is the perfect break on the El Paso Route, about 8 hours into the journey. This artistic enclave, nestled in the vast Texas desert, has a unique blend of creative spirit and mystical allure.

Famous for its art scene, Marfa is a magnet for those drawn to contemporary art and culture. The town is also famous for the Marfa Lights, a display of nocturnal lights that have captivated visitors and scientists alike.

Plywood cowboy and cowgirl in tribute to film Giant,  in Marfa, Texas
'Giant,' starring Elizabeth Taylor and James Dean, was filmed in Marfa and you can still see quirky references to this movie during your stay in Marfa.

Beyond its artistic offerings, Marfa holds a quirky piece of cinema history as the filming location for the iconic movie ‘Giant', starring James Dean and Elizabeth Taylor.

For your stay, we recommend the Hotel Saint George, a beacon of modern luxury amid Marfa's desert landscape. First established in 1886 and later re-envisioned by Carlos Jimenez Studio, the hotel combines historical charm with contemporary elegance.

Here, you can explore local artistry at the on-site shop and gallery, savor regional dishes at Bar Saint George, or unwind with a signature margarita at LaVenture bar. The outdoor swimming pool, surrounded by loungers, offers a refreshing oasis in the heart of Marfa.

Within walking distance from Hotel Saint George is the Marfa and Presidio County Museum. You're also just a short walk away from the Marfa Visitor Center.

Beautiful architecture and Southwest charm in Santa Fe

Santa Fe is a great stopover on the Albuquerque Route from Dallas to Phoenix, positioned about 650 miles and a 9-hour 40-minute drive into your journey. As a city famous for its Pueblo-style architecture and art scene, Santa Fe enriches the road trip experience like nowhere else.

The city's thriving art culture, with an array of galleries, is like nowhere else in the county. Don't miss the renowned Georgia O'Keeffe Museum and Museum Hill.

International Folk Art Market's sign with colorful lanterns hanging from the ceiling
While in Santa Fe, you can visit the International Folk Art Market and pick a handmade souvenir for your loved ones.

Santa Fe Plaza and Meow Wolf also add to the city's charm, with their fusion of historic charm and contemporary art innovation. Santa Fe's unique Southwest character has also made it a popular backdrop for films such as "Crazy Heart," "No Country for Old Men," and "The Missing.”

For your accommodation, The Hacienda & Spa represents Santa Fe's unique charm. With rooms that recreate the Pueblo spirit through architecture and decor, you will feel truly immersed in your surroundings during your stay.

Amaya restaurant serves up regional cuisine, where you can savor traditional Pueblo and Northern New Mexico flavors. The hotel's secluded outdoor pool and hot tub offer a serene retreat, while the fitness center and Saturday yoga sessions provide wellness opportunities.

The spa's extensive service menu, including skin care treatments and massage therapies, promises relaxation and rejuvenation.

Just a short walk from The Hacienda & Spa, the Santa Fe Railyard and International Folk Art Market are accessible cultural landmarks. Located only 0.2 miles away, these sites offer you a glimpse into Santa Fe's world-renowned arts scene.

Where to stay when you reach Phoenix

Phoenix, the vibrant capital of Arizona, is celebrated for its sunny skies and city attractions set against the backdrop of the Sonoran Desert. It has a dynamic blend of outdoor recreation and a burgeoning technology sector.

For those keen to explore, the Desert Botanical Garden and Camelback Mountain offer natural experiences right within the city limits. Here, you'll get to explore the mountain preserves and hiking trails without ever leaving the city.

A scenic view of the cars driving along the intersecting highway with palm trees and bushes planted along the road with a picture of the skyscrapers of Phoenix in a fine day with a thin sheet of clouds covering the blue sky
Spare a few days to explore Phoenix at the end of your road trip, there is simply so much to see in this amazing city!
Brandon Burris/

One of the best places to stay in Phoenix is the Hermosa Inn, a boutique retreat that once served as the private sanctuary of artist Lon Megargee. This inn sits at the base of Camelback Mountain, providing you with a quintessentially Arizonian backdrop alongside top-tier amenities.

After your long drive, you can relax by the outdoor swimming pool and hot tub, set amidst cabanas and sun loungers, or indulge in soothing massage services at the spa suite.

Art enthusiasts will appreciate the opportunity to view works by Lon Megargee himself, while the inn's gardens, bursting with colorful flora, offer a peaceful setting for a leisurely stroll.

Make sure to book a table at the upscale restaurant on-site, where each meal from breakfast to dinner is made using the freshest local ingredients. Special events, including winemaker evenings, can add a unique flavor to your dining experience.

Things to see on a road trip from Dallas to Phoenix

There's an endless amount of highlights to experience from Dallas to Phoenix. To help you plan your ultimate adventure, we've included our top highlights below.

El Paso Route

  1. Fort Worth Botanic Garden - Nestled in the heart of Fort Worth, this expansive botanic garden is a lush oasis featuring over 2,500 species of plants in its 23 specialty gardens, offering a tranquil escape into nature.
  2. Abilene Zoo - Home to hundreds of animals from around the globe, the Abilene Zoo is a family-friendly destination that offers an intimate experience with wildlife and engaging educational programs.
  3. Frontier Texas - This interactive museum in Abilene brings the Old West to life through state-of-the-art technology, giving visitors a firsthand look at the life of early settlers and the challenges they faced.
  4. Paisano Pete, Fort Stockton - Standing proudly in Fort Stockton, Paisano Pete, one of the world's largest roadrunners, welcomes visitors to this quaint town with its quirky charm and photo-worthy presence.
  5. Museum of The Big Bend - Located in Alpine, this museum is dedicated to preserving the rich cultural and natural history of the Big Bend region, featuring artifacts, photographs, and exhibits that tell the story of this unique area.
  6. Marfa Lights Viewing Area - A mysterious phenomenon in the Texas desert, the Marfa Lights Viewing Area offers visitors a chance to witness the unexplained and mesmerizing light displays that have puzzled people for generations.
  7. Prada Marfa - An iconic art installation resembling a Prada store, situated in the desert near Marfa, Texas, it challenges the concepts of consumerism, culture, and art in a remote landscape.
  8. El Paso Museum of Art - Located in downtown El Paso, this museum boasts a significant collection of European, Mexican, and American art, spanning from the 12th century to the present.
  9. Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens - Situated on the UTEP campus in El Paso, this museum and its desert gardens showcase the natural and cultural history of the Chihuahuan Desert region.
  10. New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum - This interactive museum in Las Cruces celebrates New Mexico's farming and ranching history, offering live demonstrations, exhibits, and educational programs.
  11. White Sands National Park - White Sands National Park is a stunning expanse of glistening white gypsum sand dunes, creating one of the world's most unique natural landscapes in the heart of New Mexico's Tularosa Basin.
  12. Deming Luna Mimbres Museum - Located in Deming, New Mexico, this museum features an extensive collection of Mimbres pottery and artifacts, offering insights into the rich cultural heritage of the region.
  13. Shakespeare Ghost Town - A preserved ghost town near Lordsburg, New Mexico, offering a glimpse into the Wild West era through guided tours and reenactments.
  14. Pima Air & Space Museum - One of the world's largest aerospace museums, located in Tucson, Arizona, featuring over 300 aircraft and spacecraft exhibits, including a glimpse into aviation history.
  15. Saguaro National Park - Saguaro National Park, split between the east and west sides of Tucson, Arizona, is famed for its towering saguaro cacti that dominate the landscape, offering a quintessential image of the American Southwest.
Retired vintage aircrafts inside a hangar on display
Any aviation fan should visit the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson to see some well-preserved retired aircrafts.

Albuquerque Route

  1. Grapevine Lake - A recreational gem in Texas, Grapevine Lake offers a variety of outdoor activities, including boating, fishing, and hiking trails around its picturesque shores.
  2. Cadillac Ranch - An iconic public art installation featuring a row of graffiti-covered Cadillac cars buried nose-first in the ground, symbolizing the evolution of the car tailfin.
  3. New Mexico Route 66 Museum - This museum in Tucumcari celebrates the history and culture of the historic Route 66, featuring memorabilia, photographs, and artifacts from the legendary highway.
  4. Loretto Chapel - Famous for its miraculous staircase, the Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe is a stunning example of Gothic Revival architecture, attracting visitors with its beauty and mystery.
  5. Georgia O'Keeffe Museum - Dedicated to the life and work of artist Georgia O'Keeffe, this museum in Santa Fe showcases the largest collection of her paintings, drawings, and sculptures.
  6. Albuquerque Museum - This premier museum of history and art in Albuquerque offers a deep dive into the rich heritage of the Southwest, with exhibits spanning from early history to contemporary art.
  7. Laguna Pueblo - A Native American tribe located west of Albuquerque, known for its rich cultural traditions, beautiful pottery, and the historic San José Mission Church.
  8. Petrified Forest National Park - A vast landscape in Arizona, known for its colorful petrified wood, historic petroglyphs, and the Painted Desert's stunning hues.
  9. Wigwam Hotel, Holbrook - Part of the unique charm of Route 66, the Wigwam Hotel in Holbrook offers a nostalgic stay in teepee-shaped motel rooms, a throwback to a bygone era.
  10. Standin' on the Corner Park - Celebrating the famous Eagles' song, this Winslow attraction features a statue and mural commemorating the line "Standin' on the corner in Winslow, Arizona."
  11. Grand Canyon National Park - Even though this is a detour of the route, we recommend visiting this natural wonder, offering breathtaking vistas, hiking trails, and rafting opportunities through its majestic landscape.
  12. Lowell Observatory - A historic observatory where Pluto was discovered, offering educational programs, telescope viewing, and exhibits on the universe's wonders.
  13. Slide Rock State Park - A natural water park in Oak Creek Canyon, Sedona, famous for its natural rock slides and beautiful, scenic swimming spots.
  14. Oak Creek Canyon - A stunningly beautiful gorge located in northern Arizona, renowned for its spectacular scenery, outdoor activities, and colorful displays of fall foliage.
  15. Pink Jeep Tours, Sedona - Offers off-road adventures in Sedona's red rock landscape, providing guided tours that explore the area's natural beauty and geological formations.
  16. Red Rock Scenic Byway - A picturesque route in Sedona that offers panoramic views of the iconic red rock formations, with numerous overlooks and trailheads along the way.
Famous staircase in the chapel
Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe is famous for its spiral staircase, which has two 360-degree turns with no visible means of support!
Kit Leong/

Best time to go on a road trip from Dallas to Phoenix

Phoenix, nestled within the Sonoran Desert, is a year-round sun-soaked destination. Whether embarking on the El Paso Route or the Albuquerque Route, your road trip from Dallas to Phoenix experience will be shaped by the seasons, each offering unique experiences.

Spring in Phoenix is a delight, with temperatures ranging from 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit. You'll have warm and sunny days perfect for exploring the Desert Botanical Garden or hiking Camelback Mountain without the intense heat of summer.

This season is ideal for road trippers on either route, with minimal rain and perfect driving conditions. You will also get to enjoy Cinco de Mayo Celebration in Alpine if you are traveling on the El Paso Route in May, and Palo Duro Canyon Jeep Jamboree on the Albuquerque Route in April.

Summer sees Phoenix temperatures soar between 90-110 degrees Fahrenheit. While the city thrives under clear, sunny skies, you should prepare for the desert heat, especially when venturing outdoors.

If you're taking the El Paso Route, you'll encounter similar conditions, so bring plenty of water and sun protection. Meanwhile, on the Albuquerque Route, you might experience afternoon thunderstorms around Santa Fe.

Fall in Phoenix, with temperatures cooling to 75-95 degrees Fahrenheit, remains warm and inviting. The season is marked by significant events such as the Arizona State Fair and offers pleasant evenings perfect for dining outside.

If you're traveling on the Albuquerque Route, you can enjoy the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in October, a spectacle not to be missed.

Winter transforms the landscape along both routes, with Phoenix offering mild and sunny weather, averaging 55-70 degrees Fahrenheit, attracting visitors taking a break from the cold weather back home.

However, on the El Paso Route, be wary of higher elevations, where snow and ice are possibilities, especially around the Franklin and Davis Mountains.

If you're traveling on the Albuquerque Route, watch for winter snowfall in Flagstaff, with potential road closures on high-elevation routes like I-40 and Route 66.