Aerial photo of the rising hot air balloons during Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
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Road trip from Phoenix to Albuquerque

Updated by Dianne Titos on January 16 2024

Not all drives are created equal, and this road trip from Phoenix to Albuquerque is one of the best ways to experience the dramatic beauty of the American Southwest. This journey is dotted with picturesque national parks, ancient Native American sites, endless desert skies and amazing cuisines.

The 700-mile road trip from Phoenix to Albuquerque will take 10 hours and 20 minutes to drive. On the way you can visit Tucson, El Paso, Sedona, Flagstaff, Gallup, Las Cruces, Grand Canyon National Park, Monument Valley and White Sands National Park.

This will be a road trip of a lifetime, full of amazing sights, experiences, and awe-inspiring destinations. Read on below to learn more about our recommended routes, top highlights along the way, places to stop, and the best seasons to travel.

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

Comparison of road trip routes between Phoenix and Albuquerque
RouteDistanceDriving Time
El Paso Route700 miles10 hours 20 minutes
Grand Canyon Route750 miles12 hours 30 minutes

The El Paso Route on a road trip from Phoenix to Albuquerque spans around 700 miles and takes about 10 hours and 20 minutes to drive without accounting for any detours.

Alternatively, the Grand Canyon Route offers a slightly longer journey of 750 miles, taking about 12 hours and 30 minutes.

Given that you will probably want to spend some time admiring the landscapes and enjoying attractions along these routes on this drive, we recommend taking 3-4 days for your drive.

Very popular in New Mexico chile peppers are dried in a private yard in the Old Town Albuquerque
Get ready to take in the vibrant colors and enjoy delicious New Mexico dishes in Albuquerque at the end of your road trip from Phoenix.
Victoria Ditkovsky/Shutterstock.com

Best road trip route from Phoenix to Albuquerque

While both the El Paso and Grand Canyon routes offer stunning natural scenery and endless fun, they both have their own unique charms.

The El Paso Route, cutting through Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico, is a drive full of desert terrains and historical places. You will also get the opportunity to make a detour to White Sands National Park past Las Cruces on this route.

This route not only takes you through diverse states but also past various reservations, including Fort Apache and San Carlos. Here, the desert stretches out before you, making this one of the most eye-catching drives in America.

The Grand Canyon Route, though slightly longer, takes you through a blend of forested areas and desert landscapes. First, you'll drive through the scenic Tonto National Forest and beautiful Sedona before arriving at the Grand Canyon, one of the great natural wonders of the world.

After the Grand Canyon, the route leads into the heart of Navajo reservation territory, stretching all the way to Albuquerque. Finally, the drive to Monument Valley is like nowhere else on earth, with its otherworldly natural monuments and rich Native American culture.

How to drive from Phoenix to Albuquerque

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

El Paso Route

Begin your journey on the El Paso Route by heading south from Phoenix, Arizona, on Interstate 10 (I-10). As you continue towards Tucson, you have the chance to visit Picacho Peak State Park, a natural landmark known for its stunning desert landscapes.

In Tucson, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and Old Tucson Studios await, offering a mix of nature and old Western film history. Not far from here, explore the Old Pueblo Archaeology Center for a dive into the region's ancient history.

Continuing east on the interstate, you'll reach the Texas Canyon Rest Area, a perfect spot for a scenic break. In Benson, a quirky experience awaits you at Bowlin's The Thing.

As you journey towards New Mexico, Shakespeare Ghost Town and the Deming Luna Mimbres Museum offer unique insights into the local history and culture.

When you arrive at Las Cruces, you will head south shortly to visit El Paso, a vibrant, multi-cultural city that sits on the Mexican border.

Before arriving in Albuquerque, you can make a detour to the otherworldly White Sands National Park before driving through Truth or Consequences and Socorro. You will soon reach your destination in Albuquerque.

Sand ripples in the dunes at White Sands National Park near Alamogordo, New Mexico
We highly recommend making a detour to the stunning White Sands National Park, where the landscape of white gypsum sand might make you think you are on another planet.
Nagel Photography/Shutterstock.com

Grand Canyon Route

Begin the Grand Canyon Route by heading north from Phoenix, Arizona, on I-17 North, making a stop at New River, Arizona. As you proceed, the Sunset Point Rest Area on the interstate provides a scenic spot to stretch your legs and enjoy the views.

Further north, near Camp Verde, is Cliff Castle Casino, a popular entertainment destination. Nearby, the historical treasure of Montezuma Castle National Monument will bring you face-to-face with well-preserved cliff dwellings.

Continuing towards Sedona via the Red Rock Scenic Byway, where the Red Rock Scenic Overlook and the stunning Red Rocks of Sedona offer breathtaking vistas and hiking opportunities.

As you leave Sedona and head towards Grand Canyon National Park, the landscape transforms, leading you to one of the world's natural wonders.

After exploring the Grand Canyon, drive northeast towards Monument Valley on US-160. Drive east through Window Rock, Gallup and Churtch Rock. This spectacular journey ends as you head towards beautiful Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA with a beautiful landscapes of the Grand Canyon, an amazing view of the sunset over the red-orange rocks that are millions of years old at sunset.
There aren't many sights as majestic as Grand Canyon National Park, where red cliffs meet the flowing waters of the Colorado River.
Lebid Volodymyr/Shutterstock.com

Best places to stop between Phoenix and Albuquerque

On a drive from Phoenix to Albuquerque, you'll want to stop and rest at one of the amazing destinations below. This way, you'll be well-rested for your drive and have time to explore this beautiful area of America.

An intersection of cultures in El Paso

El Paso is an ideal overnight stop on the El Paso Route, approximately 6 hours and 30 minutes from Phoenix. This historical city, nestled right by the Mexican border, offers a unique cultural experience, distinctly different from the rest of the country.

El Paso is known for its authentic and incredibly delicious Mexican cuisine. The city is also a hub for country and western dancing, and Mexican folk music is the only major city in Texas that operates on Mountain Standard Time!

Sunny weather and the exterior of the museum surrounded by trees
Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens are operated by the University of Texas, with the former being the oldest museum in El Paso.
Kit Leong/Shutterstock.com

A must-visit while in the city is the Centennial Museum and Chihuahuan Desert Gardens, showcasing the natural and cultural history of the Chihuahuan Desert. Another highlight is the El Paso Museum of Art, home to a significant collection of Southwestern art.

For your stay, The Plaza Hotel Pioneer Park is an exemplary choice. This 5-star hotel stands out with its chic art deco exterior, luxurious decor, and upscale rooms.

For a relaxing evening, the roof terrace offers an ideal spot for cocktails with stunning city views. Its central location in downtown El Paso places you in the heart of the city's vibrant atmosphere.

Nearby, the El Paso Museum of Art is just a 5-minute walk from the hotel. If you love history, the El Paso Museum of History is only a 10-minute walk away.

Majestic scenery in Monument Valley

Oljato-Monument Valley, a remote desert town situated 7 hours and 20 minutes into the Grand Canyon Route, is an extraordinary stopover destination. Known for its iconic landscape of towering sandstone buttes, this destination is like nowhere else.

As one of the world's natural wonders, Monument Valley's rock formations, sculpted over millennia, stand majestically above the valley floor, presenting a breathtaking and once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Horses at John Ford's Point Overlook as the sun sets, with a cowboy sitting on a horse in the distance
Monument Valley is home to some of the most dramatic sunsets in the nation, and you will get to enjoy the scenery alongside wild horses. It doesn't get more magical than that!
Edwin Verin/Shutterstock.com

The Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park and Double Arch Canyon are two must-see attractions in the area, offering awe-inspiring views and a chance to connect with nature's grandeur.

Oljato-Monument Valley is considered sacred ground by the Navajo People and is believed to be the heart of the earth. When you're here, you'll have plenty of opportunities to learn about the traditions, stories, and history of the local people.

For your overnight stay, Goulding's Lodge is the perfect choice. Seamlessly blending into the landscape as if it were a natural extension of the rock, this lodge is a desert oasis offering comfort and spectacular scenery.

The lodge boasts unbeatable views of the surrounding terrain, ensuring an immersive experience in this unique setting. The on-site restaurant is not only convenient, being one of the few dining options in the area, but also features delicious dishes.

Near Goulding's Lodge, the Rock Door Mesa Mountain Peak is a nearby attraction, just a 2-minute drive or a 20-minute walk away.

Where to stay when you reach Albuquerque

Albuquerque, a city where unique culturally blended architecture meets majestic mountainous landscapes, offers a rich history and connections to the Rio Grande River. This diverse and exciting city is full of architectural marvels and natural beauty.

For an intriguing and educational experience, don't miss the Rattlesnake Museum. Also, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is a must-visit to explore the rich heritage and art of the local Pueblo people.

Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA downtown cityscape at twilight.
Urban cityscapes and charming New Mexico soul come together to make Albuquerque the charming city it is.
Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com

On top of its historical sights and cultural landmarks is its cuisine. Albuquerque is home to some of the best Southwest cuisine in America.

When it comes to accommodation, Hotel Chaco is a serene sanctuary in the heart of the city. This sophisticated hotel is designed with your relaxation and comfort in mind.

Its outdoor swimming pool is perfect for relaxing before or after exploring the city. Other amenities include a fitness center, bar, and a wonderful breakfast to start your day.

The rooftop terrace offers a chic and modern ambiance, complemented by stunning mountain views and memorable sunsets. The on-site restaurant is a culinary delight, and we highly recommend making a reservation to avoid disappointment.

Things to see on a road trip from Phoenix to Albuquerque

On this road trip from Phoenix to Albuquerque, you'll drive through some of the most amazing landscapes and culturally rich destinations in America. To help you plan what you want to see the most, we've included our top highlights below.

El Paso Route

  1. South Mountain Park and Preserve - This large municipal park in Phoenix, Arizona, is known for its extensive trail system, scenic city views, and diverse desert flora and fauna.
  2. Picacho Peak State Park - Located between Phoenix and Tucson, this state park is famous for its distinctive peak, offering hiking trails and a rich Civil War history.
  3. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum - A unique fusion of zoo, botanical garden, art gallery, and natural history museum, this Tucson attraction showcases the native plant and animal life of the Sonoran Desert.
  4. Old Tucson Studios - A historic movie studio and theme park near Tucson, it's renowned for its roles in many classic western films and television shows.
  5. Old Pueblo Archaeology Center - Located in Tucson, this center focuses on the preservation and interpretation of the archaeology and cultural heritage of the Southwest's native peoples.
  6. Pima Air and Space Museum - One of the world's largest aerospace museums, located in Tucson, it displays a vast collection of aircraft and space artifacts.
  7. Texas Canyon Rest Area - A picturesque rest stop on Interstate 10 in Arizona, known for its unusual rock formations and scenic desert landscape.
  8. Bowlin's The Thing, Benson - A mysterious roadside attraction and museum located off I-10 near Benson, Arizona, famed for its eclectic and quirky exhibits.
  9. Shakespeare Ghost Town - Near Lordsburg, New Mexico, this preserved ghost town offers a glimpse into the Wild West's history and legends.
  10. Deming Luna Mimbres Museum - Located in Deming, New Mexico, this museum showcases local history, Native American artifacts, and an extensive collection of Mimbres pottery.
  11. Recycled Roadrunner Sculpture - A large sculpture made of recycled materials, located in Las Cruces, New Mexico, symbolizing environmental consciousness and creativity.
  12. Fort Selden State Monument - Near Las Cruces, New Mexico, this historic site features the ruins of a 19th-century fort and offers insights into frontier military life.
  13. Caballo Reservoir - A man-made lake in southern New Mexico, popular for boating, fishing, and enjoying the serene desert landscape.
  14. Elephant Butte Reservoir - New Mexico's largest reservoir, it offers a variety of water sports, camping, and fishing amidst scenic desert surroundings.
Historic military helicopter with a painted mouth in the museum
Pima Air and Space Museum is a must-visit for any aviation fan and history buff on the El Paso Route.
Mia2you/Shutterstock.com

Grand Canyon Route

  1. New River, Arizona - A peaceful community north of Phoenix, offering a serene desert environment and outdoor recreational opportunities.
  2. Sunset Point Rest Area - A scenic stop on I-17 north of Phoenix, providing breathtaking views of the Arizona landscape and a perfect spot for a break.
  3. Montezuma Castle National Monument - Near Camp Verde, this well-preserved cliff dwelling provides a fascinating look into the lives of the Sinagua people who lived here over 800 years ago.
  4. Red Rock Scenic Overlook - A viewpoint along the Red Rock Scenic Byway near Sedona, offering stunning views of the area's famous red rock formations.
  5. Red Rocks of Sedona - Iconic sandstone formations surrounding Sedona, Arizona, known for their vibrant colors and energy vortexes, attracting visitors from around the world.
  6. Grasshopper Point Swimming and Picnic Area - A popular spot near Sedona for swimming, picnicking, and enjoying the natural beauty of Oak Creek Canyon.
  7. Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Drive - A picturesque route north of Sedona, winding through lush forest and red rock cliffs, with stunning views and hiking opportunities.
  8. Oak Creek Canyon Overlook - A viewpoint offering panoramic vistas of the striking Oak Creek Canyon, known for its colorful rock formations and verdant forestry.
  9. Navajo Point - One of the highest overlooks at the Grand Canyon, offering expansive and breathtaking views of the canyon and the Colorado River.
  10. Little Colorado River Gorge Overlook - A viewpoint providing dramatic vistas of the Little Colorado River's deep gorge, located near the east entrance of the Grand Canyon.
  11. Navajo Moenave Dinosaur Tracks - Near Tuba City, Arizona, this site features well-preserved dinosaur tracks and fossilized remains, offering a glimpse into the prehistoric past.
  12. Monument Valley - Known for its towering red sandstone buttes, this landscape epitomizes the rugged and majestic landscape of the American Southwest and is featured as the backdrop of many movies including Thelma and Louise.
  13. Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site - A historic site in Ganado, Arizona, it's the oldest continuously operating trading post on the Navajo Nation, showcasing Native American arts and crafts.
  14. Rex Museum - Located in Gallup, New Mexico, this museum presents the history and culture of the region, including its railroad and Native American heritage.
  15. Laguna Pueblo - A Native American tribe in New Mexico, known for its historic mission church, cultural heritage, and picturesque setting.
Old carts and red brick building in the background on a cloudy day
Hubbel Trading Port National Historic Site is the oldest operating post that is still in business today.
Traveller70/Shutterstock.com

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

Albuquerque, a city famous for its culturally blended architecture and majestic mountainous landscapes, is a delightful year-round destination. However, each season has its own highlights.

In the spring, temperatures in Albuquerque range from 50 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, offering mild and dry conditions that are ideal for exploring the city's rich history and the Rio Grande River.

This season is also perfect for taking either the El Paso or Grand Canyon routes, where you'll see stunning wildflower blooms. If you're on the road in March-May, you might want to plan to visit the New Mexico State Fair in Albuquerque.

Turquoise Trail covered under snow, with cacti sticking out and mountains in the back
Cacti covered in snow? Even though rarely, it does snow near Albuquerque; you might be lucky enough to enjoy the shimmering white scenery if you travel during the colder months.
Anne Richard/Shutterstock.com

Summer in Albuquerque sees temperatures soaring to 70-95 degrees Fahrenheit. Notable events during this season include the Elephant Butte Balloon Regatta in August and the Grand Canyon Star Party in June. Throughout both routes, the annual 4th of July celebrations are not to be missed.

Fall, with temperatures between 40 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, is another ideal time for this road trip. The cooler weather is comfortable for driving, and the landscape is stunning.

Both the El Paso and Grand Canyon Routes are at their best in this season, with September-November being the most favorable months. Travelers can enjoy events like the Whole Enchilada Fiesta in Las Cruces and the Sedona Winefest.

The highlight in Albuquerque is the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in October, an event that transforms the sky into a kaleidoscope of color. This is one of the largest and most famous hot air balloon festivals in the world and something you shouldn't miss.

Winter brings colder weather to Albuquerque, with temperatures ranging from 20 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. There's occasional snowfall, especially in higher elevations, making it a wonderful destination for the winter holidays.

If you are traveling during this time, keep in mind that while the South Rim of the Grand Canyon remains open year-round, the North Rim closes down for winter.