Scottsdale, Arizona, USA with a saguaro at sunset in the Sonoran desert and dramatic cloudscape in the distance.
Tim Murphy/

Road Trip from Los Angeles to Scottsdale Arizona

Updated by Pat Dorri on March 6 2024

Whether you'd like to admire the Pacific Coast or take in the incredible endless sights of the stunning Arizona deserts, this road trip from Los Angeles to Scottsdale is perfect for anyone looking to get a bit of sun and explore the unique landscapes of California and Arizona.

The road trip from Los Angeles to Scottsdale covers 440 miles and will take you 7 hours and 40 minutes to drive. The notable stops include Joshua Tree National Park, Palm Springs, San Diego, El Dorado Hot Springs and Kofa National Wildlife Refuge.

Whichever way you end up in sunny Scottsdale, where you'll find dozens of resorts, golf courses, and swimming pools, perfect for an active but relaxing vacation. If you want to learn more about the road trip from Los Angeles to Scottsdale, Arizona, keep reading.

How far is Scottsdale, Arizona, from Los Angeles, and how long will the road trip take?

Comparison of road trip routes between Los Angeles and Scottsdale, Arizona
RouteDistanceDriving Time
The Joshua Tree Route440 miles7 hours 40 minutes
The San Diego Route500 miles7 hours 50 minutes

Whichever route you choose to take, the road trip to Scottsdale from Los Angeles covers a lot of miles with lots of attractions to see along the way. Our Joshua Tree Route spans 440 miles and will take you 7 hours and 40 minutes.

The second option is the Sand Diego Route. This route is only slightly longer, spanning a total distance of 500 miles. This route will only take around 10 minutes longer, you can complete it in 7 hours and 50 minutes.

There are many stops on both routes, so we recommend taking 2 to 3 days to complete this trip. Having a night stop will allow you to take in the many attractions along the road trip from Scottsdale, Arizona to Los Angeles.

Joshua Tree National Park, California, USA taken at sunset on the Jumbo Rocks.
One of the many highlights of this epic road trip is a visit to Joshua Tree National Park where you'll get to see its stunning landscape firsthand.
Stephen Moehle/

Best road trip route from Los Angeles to Scottsdale, Arizona

Which route is right for you depends on your road trip priorities. Both routes take you through a variety of sceneries, cities and national parks. The Joshua Tree Route is a shorter and more direct route, but it still has plenty to see along the way.

This route takes you through sunny San Bernadino and upscale Palm Springs. It also takes you through the amazing Joshua Tree National Park, which is known for boasting a unique desert ecosystem.

The San Diego Route, however, has fewer stops but is more scenic. It follows the Pacific Coast through Anaheim and Carlsbad, before passing through San Diego and Coronado.

It also passes through the Cleveland National Forest, with views of Palomar Mountain. This route also passes along the Mexican/US border before continuing through to Scottsdale.

Whether you're flying into Los Angeles or you simply don't have your own transport in the city, renting a car for your road trip is something you'll want to take care of ASAP.

For an easy-to-compare view of rental options for your road trip from Los Angeles to Scottsdale, Arizona, take a look at our partner site,

How to drive from Los Angeles to Scottsdale Arizona

The map above shows our suggestions for the best road trip routes between Los Angeles and Scottsdale Arizona. Keep reading for detailed descriptions of both routes, where to stay on either, and the best things to do on the way.

The Joshua Tree Route

To start out on the Joshua Tree Route, follow Interstate 10 (I-10) to the beautiful city of San Bernardino. Located on the famous Route 66, San Bernardino is known for being the home of the original McDonald's Restaurant.

After this, continue on I-10 until you reach CA-111 in Whitewater. You can then continue on this highway until you reach the vacation city of Palm Springs. This wonderful desert resort city is the perfect place to stop for a spot of relaxation.

From Palm Springs, head east towards the beautiful Joshua Tree National Park. To get there, you will drive on the CA-62. At Joshua Tree National Park you can see the Cyclops and Pee Wee Formations which are surrounded by many Joshua Trees that give the park its name.

From Joshua Tree National Park, you will follow the interstate. This will take you to the end destination of Scottsdale. Scottsdale is a vibrant city which is filled with luxury resorts and fine dining.

San Bernadino National Forest, California, USA with a private beach view of beautiful Pyramid Lake with stones in the foreground and the blue turquoise water with green mountain and blue skies.
Enjoy a peaceful moment by Pyramid Lake, part of San Bernadino National Forest.

The San Diego Route

For the more scenic San Diego Route, take I-5 out of Los Angeles. You will follow this interstate until you reach the exciting city of Carlsbad. Situated on the Californian coast, Carlsbad is known for its beautiful sandy beaches and unique lagoons.

After your stay in Carlsbad, continue on the interstate until you reach the wonderful city of Coronado. Known for its stunning beaches, visit Coronado Island on this wonderful road trip.

From Coronado, you are going to head towards Scottsdale, Arizona. To get there, follow 1-8 and I-10 east. This section of the drive will take you along the Mexican border before heading north towards Scottsdale.

Coronado Island, California, USA with a view of California Palm Trees and City of San Diego in the distance taken at sunset.
Great photo opportunities can be found when visiting Coronado Island of San Diego.

Best places to stop between Los Angeles and Scottsdale Arizona

Whether you choose the direct route past Joshua Tree National Park or the scenic San Diego Route, you will want to make the time to stop and appreciate your surroundings. Below you can find some of our favorite places to stay on this epic road trip.

A luxurious overnight stop in Palm Springs

About a third of the way to Scottsdale, Palm Springs is the ideal place to stop for the night if you choose the Joshua Tree Route. This fabulous city offers shopping and dining opportunities and is the perfect spot to indulge before a long stretch through desert landscapes in the morning.

Palm Springs, California, USA with the Palm Springs sign, desert background and backdrop of San Jacinto Mountain on a clear sunny day.
You'll find great shops, golf courses and world-class spars in Palm Springs.

Palm Springs is known for its many golf courses, world-class spas, hotels, and natural hot springs. This city is also known for its cultural offerings, including several museums such as the Palm Springs Art Museum, and for being the perfect gateway to the nearby Coachella Festival in spring.

While staying in Palm Springs, we recommend staying at the iconic L'Horizon Resort and Spa. This adult-only hotel offers stylishly decorated rooms and suites, as well as a full-service spa center and hot tub for the perfect opportunity to unwind after driving.

There are many nearby attractions near the property, including Moorten Botanical Garden, Baristo Park, and the Palm Springs Desert Museum. If you'd like to venture out, the hotel is also situated just outside of Oswit and Tahquitz Canyons for a great day outdoors.

If you'd like to take advantage of the sun that Palm Springs is famous for instead, the hotel's beautiful outdoor pool is surrounded by a stunning desert landscape and fire pits which you can relax in until it is time to visit the amazing on-site restaurant.

READ MORE - Click here for more great hotel options

A city break in San Diego

While taking the scenic San Diego Route, it is only right to do an overnight stop in San Diego. This beautiful city is located 2 hours and 10 minutes into the drive and is the perfect spot for an overnight stop after a day driving along the Pacific Coast.

San Diego, California, USA skyline at the Embarcadero Marina at early evening.
Enjoy a waterside stroll in San Diego at its stunning Embarcadero Marina.
Sean Pavone/

San Diego is known for its sunny weather, the iconic San Diego Zoo, and over 70 miles of pristine beaches. It's a Californian cultural hub which boasts a booming craft beer industry, many all-ages attractions, and an active nightlife scene.

While visiting San Diego, we recommend staying in the luxurious Pacific Terrace Hotel. Located on the beautiful Pacific Beach Park, this hotel features island-inspired rooms, some with stunning ocean views, and a fabulous beachfront pool and hot tub for the ultimate relaxation.

While visiting San Diego you must visit the world-famous San Diego Zoo, which is located a short distance from the property. This inspirational zoo houses over 4000 animals within the 100-acre Balboa Park, this iconic animal sanctuary and zoo is a San Diego must-see.

After a day exploring the city, you will be happy to learn that the hotel has a beautiful outdoor firepit to relax by. You can also enjoy your favorite drink by the poolside for a stylish way to end your day.

READ MORE - Click here for great hotel options

Where to stay when you reach Scottsdale Arizona

Once you reach Scottsdale, a luxurious hotel to stay at is the decadent Scottsdale Plaza Resort & Villas. Here, you can soak up the bright Arizona sun on the 40 landscaped acres of the property with the beautiful backdrop of the famous Camelback Mountain.

Scottsdale Arizona, USA with an urban sunset over downtown Scottsdale Arizona and the mountains in the distance.
Scottsdale has it all - stunning mountains, desert landscapes and a great town to explore.

After checking in, you can visit the OdySea Aquarium and then the Desert Botanical Gardens, both short drives from the resort, for the perfect day out in Scottsdale.

Once you are ready to slow down and unwind, you can take a dip in one of the 5 fantastic swimming pools located on the property. We highly recommend booking a massage therapy to pamper yourself at the spa.

Things to see on a road trip from Los Angeles to Scottsdale Arizona

The great thing about the road trip from Los Angeles to Scottsdale, Arizona is the amazing variety of attractions. Road trippers can experience stunning beaches and unique national parks on the same trip.

To make your planning easier, we have compiled some of the best attractions and landmarks on both of the routes:

Skull Rock, Joshua Tree National Park, California, USA taken on a sunny day.
Skull Rock, in Joshua Tree National Park, makes a superb place to stop and take a quick picture.
Corey Strassberg/

The Joshua Tree Route

  1. Cabazon Dinosaurs - World's Biggest Dinosaurs. Discover Cabazon Dinosaurs, a tv-famous vintage roadside attraction that boasts giant dinosaur sculptures. Tickets are only available at the door so plan ahead to ensure you arrive with enough time!
  2. Palm Springs Windmill Tours - Take an educational tour of this modern wind turbine farm and discover the wonders of renewable energy.
  3. Robolights - On the outskirts of Los Angeles, you'll find this whimsical garden open year-round and boasting unique sculptures and light displays.
  4. Rice Desert Signpost - Located in the middle of Rice Desert and about thirty minutes off-route, this quirky signpost is the perfect pit-stop photo-op.
  5. Skull Rock - This eerie natural rock formation that resembles a skull is just a quick hike away. It is a favorite stop to visit amongst tourists and locals alike.
  6. Keys View - The highest viewpoint at Joshua Tree, Keys View offers a breathtaking view of the mesas, mountains and valleys for which California is best known.
  7. Lost Horse and Desert Queen Mines - These two historic mining structures are a quick drive from each other and are remnants of the 19th-century California Gold Rush.
  8. International Banana Museum - Add an extra 20 minutes to your drive and discover this curious roadside attraction, boasting over 25,000 banana-related items and snacks.
Keys View Overlook, California, USA with a panorama view of the mesas, mountains and valleys at sunset.
For incredible views of mesas, mountains and valleys, take a hike to Keys View Overlook at Joshua Tree National Park.
Mike Ver Sprill/

The San Diego Route

  1. Niguel Botanical Preserve - This free and family-friendly attraction boasts over 2000 plant species and four miles of walking trails across 18 acres of land.
  2. San Clemente Pier - Located in Carlsbad, CA, this unique museum features galleries of instruments as well as special exhibits and live events.
  3. Museum of Making Music - Also located in Carlsbad, CA, this interesting museum features galleries of instruments as well as special exhibits and live events.
  4. The Flower Fields - Open for the spring and summer seasons, the Flower Fields are a popular attraction that boasts almost 50 acres of ranunculi as well as a milkshake and pizza shack.
  5. LEGOLAND California - Just 30 minutes outside of San Diego, the LEGOLAND California Resort offers more than 60 rides as well as a water park and tons of food options!
  6. Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park - This secluded ranch is free to visit and is the home to dozens of peacocks, a gift shop, and a theatre. Either take a guided tour or explore the property.
  7. Imperial Valley Desert Museum - Located in the heart of the Yuha Desert, this newly opened museum is home to many Indigenous and historic artefacts found within the Imperial Valley.
  8. Z Fun Factory and Waylon's Water World - Offering fun for all ages, this amusement park boasts mini golf, go-karts, arcades as well as a water park during the hotter months.
San Clemente Pier, Carlsbad, CA, USA Drone Shot of San Clemente Pier taken on a sunny day with the city in the distance.
Carlsbad is a great city to visit, be sure to take a walk along the San Clemente Pier for beautiful ocean views.
Rob LaColla/

Both routes

  1. El Dorado Hot Springs - This spa is located just outside of Phoenix and is the perfect opportunity to relax before heading into the city. Make sure to book in advance!
  2. Kofa National Wildlife Refuge - Complete with statuesque saguaro cacti and Gila monsters, this massive nature preserve is the ideal spot for a hike.
  3. Estrella Star Tower - Look out at the Arizona night sky atop this 50-foot astronomy-themed tower, located on the outskirts of Phoenix.
  4. Skyline Regional Park - Enjoy a walk or drive through Skyline Regional Park, boasting 8,700 acres of mountains, campsites, and hiking trails.
Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona, USA with cactus on the rocks in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona at sunrise.
Find local wildlife and plants, such saguaro cacti at Kofa National Wildlife Refuge.

Best time to go on a road trip from Los Angeles to Scottsdale Arizona

Scottsdale enjoys more than 330 sunny days per year, which means that this city's many attractions are open year-round. For those who are sensitive to heat, Scottsdale might be best to visit in the early spring and late fall when scorching Arizona temperatures tend to fall.

Summers in Scottsdale tend towards quite hot, with average daily temperatures ranging between 85 and 103 degrees Fahrenheit. This weather might make it difficult to enjoy the many outdoor activities for which Scottsdale is celebrated, including golfing and swimming.

Winter is a wonderful time to visit Scottsdale, especially for those who come from colder regions and who are looking for a bit of sun during the holiday season. This city will be sunny but cool in the winter, with high temperatures up to the mid-50s and 60s.

Spring and fall are both wonderful times to visit Scottsdale, as this is when visitors can enjoy warm temperatures that are less extreme than those of the summer months.

The average daily temperatures for spring range between 73 and 98 degrees, while fall temperatures range between 48 and 94 degrees.

In regard to tourism, spring tends to be a bit busier, with nearby Phoenix receiving an influx of vacationers. Meanwhile, fall will tend towards less busy and, as a result, somewhat less expensive so far as accommodations prices go.

Scottsdale is host to a handful of festivals throughout the year, most of which occur during the fall, spring and winter seasons. If you visit the city in fall, you can attend the Scottsdale International Film Festival, and the Scottsdale Culinary Festival takes place in the spring.