Wide Panoramic Scenic Landscape of Cathedral Mountain and Red Rock State Park under dramatic winter sky in Sedona Arizona
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Road Trips

Road Trip from Los Angeles to Houston

By Pat Dorri | Published on 29 April 2022

A road trip from Los Angeles to Houston takes you from the coast of the Pacific Ocean to the swampy shores of the Gulf Of Mexico.

The 1,545-mile road trip from Los Angeles to Houston takes 22 hours 30 mins. Route-dependent, you can see Phoenix, El Paso, Albuquerque, Amarillo and San Antonio, plus San Bernardino and Coconino National Forests, Joshua Tree National Park, and Grand Canyon.

Spanning 4 states and 3 time zones, this amazing journey takes you through vast deserts and tiny towns that are worlds apart from the major cities you're travelling between. Read on to discover what awaits you on the long road to the capital of the sunbelt.

Los Angeles skyline in hazy yellow light with silhouetted palm trees in the foreground
Wave goodbye to LA as you set off on this most epic of road trips.
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How far is Houston from Los Angeles and how long will the road trip take?

Comparison of routes between Los Angeles and Houston
RouteDistanceDriving Time
Southern Route1,545 miles22 hours 30 minutes
Northern Route1,800 miles27 hours

The route from Los Angeles to Houston covers 1,545-miles across some of the most sparsely populated areas in the entire country. From start to finish it will take at least 22 and a half hours to complete.

With almost a full day's worth of driving ahead of us, it makes sense to split the journey up to make it a really enjoyable journey.

Breaking it into four days, with three overnight stops, gives us a little under 6-hours driving per day - a perfect amount to let us make the most of the attractions along the way, without stretching it out too much.

Of course, with so many interesting stop off points on the way you can easily fill ten days on this trip if you choose to spend a little more time in some places.

Following major roads almost all the way, the trip from Los Angeles to Houston is a relatively simple journey. But with such long distances to cover you'll want to make sure you have some great stops along the way to break up the drive. We've picked out some of the best to help you get the most out of this epic overland trip.

An empty highway of Interstate 40 on Mojave National Preserve first light
Take to the open road as you travel through Mojave National Preserve.
William Silver/Shutterstock.com

Best road trip route from Los Angeles to Houston

The route from Los Angeles to Houston is likely to be one of the longest, yet most straightforward, journeys you ever take. Even so, you have a couple of different options to choose from.

There's the slightly shorter southern route, which takes you at 22 hours 30 minutes and covers 1,545 miles. Or if you have a couple more days to make the trip you could take the northern route via the Grand Canyon. This route will take around 27 hours of driving and covers nearly 1,800 miles.

Southern Route

Possibly one of the simplest long distance drives you can take, from LA you simply get on the I-10 and take it east, the entire 1545-miles to Houston.

With a route like that you certainly won't be needing to pack the maps or GPS, however some food and drink might be a good idea.

Leaving Los Angeles you'll pass San Bernardino National Forest and Joshua Tree National Park before crossing the state border into Arizona and driving through Phoenix and Tucson.

Once you reach Texas the main waypoints are El Paso and San Antonio, before the final stretch along the I-10 into Houston.

The longer, northern route also starts off on the I-10, but before you leave the Los Angeles area you'll take exit 58A to join the I-15 northwards. At Barstow join the I-40 which will take you past Mojave National Preserve and on into Arizona.

Just after Williams, change to Route 64 which leads you to the Grand Canyon.

Vibrant pink sunset over deep rocky canyon at Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon is a highlight of this route in every sense of the word.
Andrew S/Shutterstock.com

Return back along the same road then continue westward on the I-40 in the direction of Flagstaff. On this stretch of road you'll pass Coconino National Forest and Petrified Forest National Park, which are both fantastic places to stop if you want to explore the great outdoors.

Keep on the I-40 through Albuquerque and Amarillo, before joining and following the road as far as Forth Worth.

At Alma, just south of Dallas, merge with the I-45 which takes you through Corsicana and Madisonville on the final stretch into Houston.

Best places to stop between Los Angeles and Houston

With at least three overnight stops on our trip, you want to make sure you pick locations that break up your trip in the right places while also providing plenty of exciting experiences and attractions to enjoy while you are there.

With that in mind, here are our three top picks for places to stay on a road trip from Hollywood to H-Town.

Stock up on supplies in a desert metropolis

As you are already travelling between two of the biggest cities in America, why not make it 3 of the top 5, by scheduling your first stop in Phoenix, Arizona. The state capital, Phoenix is a beautiful city and one of the hottest major metropolitan areas on earth.

With national parks, mountains and deserts surrounding the city on every side, this is an incredibly rare case of being able to feel out in the open all while being in an incredibly built up area. Perhaps never has the phrase “concrete jungle” been more apt.

View of desert through rocky arch with sunrise casting a bright ray of light
Soak in the views in the deserts surrounding Phoenix.
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If you would rather stay within the city limits, there are an incredible amount of stunning attractions, such as the State Capitol, St Mary's Basilica and a botanical garden where you can see and learn all about the desert plant life.

A city like this in the middle of the desert would have been thought a mirage in years past, so where better to stay than your own personal oasis, at the Royal Palms Resort and Spa. Designed like a traditional Spanish villa, this lavish hotel features stunning gardens, fountains and pools, to make your stay here truly feel like something out of a desert dream.

A Grande City at the western point of the Lone Star

When you think of Texas, its relationship with Mexico, both past and present, is usually one of the first things that comes to mind. Covering a distance of 1254-miles, it is the second longest border between a US state and a foreign country, behind only the Alaska-Canada border.

Despite that incredible distance, El Paso is the only major city located directly on the border, with the Ciudad Juarez just the other side of the Rio Grande. To learn more about the history of this border region you could visit El Paso Museum of History or go even further back in time at the Museum of Archaeology.

If you need to stretch your legs, Franklin Mountains State Park is on the outskirts of the city and has plenty of hiking, biking and driving routes. Or take the Wyler Aerial Tramway for some stunning views.

To really experience life right on the border, why not stay at the Hotel Indigo El Paso Downtown - An IHG Hotel. This beautiful hotel is located in El Paso's downtown area, close to the Interstate so it's easily accessed. Featuring stunning views and with its own great bar and pool, this is the perfect place to stay to start your Texan adventure.

Last stand at The Alamo

No trip to Texas would be complete without a visit to its most legendary location, which brings us to our final stop.

Once located on the wild frontier, The Alamo, site of one of the most important battles in the Texan struggle for independence from Mexico, now lies at the heart of downtown San Antonio.

This incredible location gives you the opportunity to come and see the remains of the fort and learn about the events that occurred in the run-up to the fabled last stand, all while enjoying a stay in an incredible city.

Sample some of San Antonio's magnificent Hispanic cuisine, follow the beautiful trail of the Riverwalk and explore one of the most southern major cities in the entire US.

If you want the ultimate San Antonio experience, make sure to stay at the stylish Hotel Valencia Riverwalk. Located just 650 yards from the Alamo, take the opportunity to wake up to the same (albeit more built up), views that those brave warriors did on that fateful day. Being located just minutes from the Riverwalk and a number of other downtown attractions also makes this one of the most convenient options in the entire city

San Antonio, Texas, River Walk at night with colourful umbrellas beside the river and lights shining
San Antonio's Riverwalk is a great place to visit whatever the time of day.
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Experience the many histories of Albuquerque

One of the best places to break your journey if you're taking the northern route to Houston is Albuquerque. Situated right on the I-40 it's well located for this drive, and the picturesque historic quarter is a huge contrast to the vast desert landscapes you'll have been traveling through.

The Museum of Art and History is well worth a visit, focusing on the last 400 years of history in the South West, while the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center tells the stories of the Pueblo people who have called the area their home for thousands of years.

Alternatively, you could take the Sandia Peak Tramway up the mountain which overlooks the city, and get a meal with a view at the excellent 10|3 restaurant located at the top.

After a long, hot drive you'll want somewhere comfortable and relaxing to stay while you're in town, and the luxurious Hotel Chaco fits the bill perfectly. Enjoy its beautiful outdoor pool and enjoy tasting local wines before getting a good night's sleep in one of this hotel's extremely spacious rooms, ready to hit the road again the next day.

Things to see on a road trip from Los Angeles to Houston

A road trip isn't a road trip without plenty to keep you occupied along the way, and luckily there's plenty to choose from on this route.

Read on for some of the best things to do on a trip from Los Angeles to Houston.

Pink sunset behind Joshua tree with slim trunk and little foliage
Soak in the contrasts of Joshua Tree National Park.
Aneta Waberska/Shutterstock.com

Southern Route:

  1. Joshua Tree National Park - Located in south-western California, this incredible wilderness features blazing temperatures, stunning rock formations and an incredible concentration of Joshua Trees. It is also the inspiration for the U2 album of the same name.
  2. Colorado River Indian Reservation - If you have never experienced an Indian Reservation in person before, this is a fantastic place to start, as it is home to not one but 4 different tribes: the Navajo, Mojave, Hopi and Chemehuevi.
  3. Phoenix, Arizona - The capital and most populous city in the state of Arizona, as well as the 5th most populous in the entire United States.
  4. Saguaro National Park - Located just west of the city of Tucson, it is famed for its incredible collection of the cactus from which it takes its name. It is also home to a number of different species of animal that you will not find outside of the desert.
  5. Tucson, Arizona - The second largest city in Arizona and the capital of the old Arizona territory from 1868-1878.
  6. White Sands National Park - The newest addition to the American register of national parks, it is famed for its sprawling white sand dunes and desert wildlife.
  7. Las Cruces, New Mexico - The second most populous city in the state of New Mexico.
  8. El Paso, Texas - The 6th most populous city in the state of Texas, located on the banks of the Rio Grande and bordering both Mexico and New Mexico.
  9. Fort Stockton - A town built around the remains of the important 19th century Texan fort. Museums and monuments are scattered throughout to tell its story.
  10. San Antonio - The second most populous city in the state of Texas.
  11. The Alamo - Remains of the legendary mission where Davy Crockett and the Texan rebels made their final stand against the Mexican army.
  12. Schlitterbahn, New Braunfels - Legendary waterpark that has received Amusement Today's “Golden Ticket Award” for 22 years straight and in 39 of its 41 years in operation.
  13. Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge - a protected reserve that is home to one of the last known populations of the severely endangered Attwater Prairie Chicken.

Northern Route:

  1. Grand Canyon - This majestic natural monument really needs no introduction - take a tour while you're here to see it from a new perspective.
  2. Coconino National Forest - A beautiful wilderness area which is perfect for hiking, the striking red rocks here are best viewed as the sun sets for really unique views.
  3. Petrified Forest National Park - The Interstate passes right by this national park, which is known for its wide, rocky landscapes and for the many fossils found in the area.
  4. Ennis Bluebonnet Trail - Situated just outside Dallas, visit in the spring to see roads and fields lined with Texas's iconic Bluebonnets in flower.
  5. Lake Conroe - A beautiful lakeside area not far from Houston.
A wide meadow of blue and pink wildflowers lit up in golden evening sunlight
Travel in spring to see the beautiful Bluebonnets on the last leg of this trip.
Brent Coulter/Shutterstock.com

Best time to go on a road trip from Los Angeles to Houston

With a beautiful destination and so many outdoor attractions both in Houston and along the way, you want to be sure to go at a time when the weather lets you fully appreciate them.

As you might expect, temperatures across this desert route can soar in the summer months, regularly reaching 120 degrees. If you do have to travel in the summer, make sure you restock with water and fuel before setting out on long sections of your drive.

Also be aware of the risk of hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico in late summer - keep an eye on local advice if you're traveling in August or September.

Aside from the weather, some of the star attractions on this route can get crowded in holiday seasons, so avoid these times if you prefer to travel at quieter times.

For these reasons we'd suggest that spring or fall would be the best times to take this trip. They're also the best times to catch some of the big local events which add even more colour to the places you'll see.

Brightly coloured hot air balloons take off over pink wild flowers
Look to the skies in Albuquerque.
newroadboy/Shutterstock.com

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, usually held in early March, offers several days of unique entertainment and spectacle. But it does mean accommodation and transport in the city will be busy.

Alternatively, look to the skies of Albuquerque in October, when the International Balloon Fiesta takes to the air.