View Full Version : New Orleans to Vegas - 14 Day Road Trip

03-30-2011, 09:10 AM
Hi all,

I am planning on flying to New Orleans from London in September with 2 friends.

We want to do a road trip from NO to Vegas over a 14 day Period, with stop overs in the following. (I know car rental one way fees are expensive, but this is all sorted, all that is left is the places to visit and stop over at)

New Orleans, LA
Houston, TX
Dallas, TX
Roswell, NM
Santa Fe, NM
Albuquerque, NM
Flagstaff, AZ
Grand Canyan
Las Vegas, NV

Never been to South West US before, so we really have no idea, and just picked random cities we have heard of that fit along the way to make it a adventure, but wanted to post here to get peoples advise on what is best to see, cities to stay over night. NO, Houston and Vegas are are our main reason for this trip and everything in between is a bonus.

Plan to stay 2 or 3 nights in each of NO, Houston, Dallas and Vegas, and then devide the remaining time between the others.

Advice (positive or negative) is more the welcome.

Cheers all


Southwest Dave
03-30-2011, 09:39 AM
Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

Your trip is certainly doable and at quite a relaxed pace, although with a couple of days in each City and plus you will need 4 days of drive time it leaves you couple of days to 'play with'. We don't do 'best' really as it is up to the individual to decide what best suits their tastes and you will find no shortage of info to help you decide by searching around the RTA site. It would seem you have based your trip mainly around Cities and to 'mix things up' a bit, I would consider heading to the Four corners area from Santa Fe and enter the Grand canyon from the East via Monument Valley, perhaps stopping there the night. That would give you a feel of the desert Southwest and some 2 lane highways away from Interstate. Other places of interest could include Carlsbad Caverns, Taos Pueblo, Mesa Verde and Canyon De Chelley.

Have a look around and if you have any specific questions, please ask.

03-31-2011, 12:15 AM

thankyou for your quick reply. Your suggestions are great, and your absolutely right that we should mix it up to really experience all aspects of the states rather then just the big cities.

I will do some research on the four corners area as you mentioned. and the rest.

Will get back to you if any other question.

Many thanks again

04-04-2011, 06:27 AM
Hi, I have drawn up a rough route. Let me know what you guys think and if its do-able in 14 days?

I know the longest drive between Austin and Carlsbad Caverns, so would look to probably stop over night between them.

Plan to stay 2 or 3 nights in each of NO, Houston, Austin and Vegas, and then devide the remaining time between the others.

Distance/Time based off googlemaps

Planned Route 2,280miles 1day 19hours
A) New Orleans, LA 349 mi about 5 hours 41 mins
B) Houston, TX 161 mi about 2 hours 55 mins
C) Austin, TX 515 mi about 9 hours 35 mins
D) Carlsbad Caverns 111 mi about 2 hours 44 mins
E) Roswell, NM 193 mi about 3 hours 46 mins
F) Santa Fe, NM 73.9 mi about 1 hour 35 mins
G) Taos Pueblo, NM 263 mi about 5 hours 19 mins
H) Mesa Verde Park 161 mi about 3 hours 14 mins
Four Corners (AZ, NM, UT, CL) (QUICK STOPOVER)
I) Monument Valley 176 mi about 3 hours 26 mins
J) Grand Canyon 276 mi about 4 hours 49 mins
K) Las Vegas, NV

Thanks in advanced

04-04-2011, 07:32 AM
You should add about 20% to the computer generated drive times to reflect reality. Once you do that, make your own decision as to whether the trip is realistic!

However, if you are planning on spending "2 or 3 days" in each of 4 different cities, I don't think 14 days will be enough, you may want to cut your time in each city back. Attractions such as (and especially) the Grand Canyon can't be seen in just a couple hours.

Southwest Dave
04-04-2011, 08:09 AM
All your drive times are optimistic as said above, but each individual journey is doable. You will need all of 4 full days for the driving alone so you will mainly be limited to the "2 nights" option and at least a full day [depending on arrival and departure times] in the Cities to have time to enjoy other spots on your list.

04-05-2011, 08:38 AM
Yes, we may have to look at cutting some of those places out to allow us more time to see other things. I think the 2 night option is the way to go
A Few question if you dont mind

1) 2 or 3 days in each of Houston or Austin?

2) Carlsbad Caverns or White Sands National Monument. And How many hours roughly is needed at either?

3) Best place to stopover for a night between Austin and Roswell. Looking for some country town to show us the real texas.

4) Would it be better to go Roswell - Albuquerque - Mesa Verde Park rather then via Santa Fe and then Taos Pueblo. This would save some time and a day sleep over.

Thanks again!

04-05-2011, 12:46 PM
1) Either, Or, or More or Less. It's entirely up to you.

2) The shortest Ranger-led tours at Carlsbad are about 2 hours long and go up to 4. You will need to arrive early and make sure that you have a reservation. Similarly, there is a three hour Ranger-led tour of the White Sands Playa, but there are also shorter 20 minute interpretive talks. Otherwise, what holds true of all National Parks holds true at these two. You can spend as little as two minutes at the entrance to get your picture with the sign, or spend days in the park really exploring. See (1) - It's entirely up to you.

3) Your choices are somewhat limited. fort Stockton would be the best choice, considering dividing your time (assuming you're going to stop at Carlsbad on Day 2) and best choice of accommodations, Your only other real choice is Pecos.

4) See (1) - This is entirely up to you. Really, no one can tell you the best way to apportion your time among your interests except you.


04-05-2011, 01:02 PM
Just wondering what the draw is for Houston as I don't think of it as much of a tourist destination. Personally, I'd much prefer time in Austin vs Houston, but I'm sure there are interesting places that Houston locals can point you to if you've got friends or family there. You might want to take a trip to Galveston while you're down that way or get to the coast at some point.

That drive across West Texas was long and flat and broken up by K-Bob's steakhouses and gas stations and oil derricks and mesas and buttes and not much else the last time I drove it which, admittedly, was a long time ago. It's interesting country, though, and very different from my native soil so while I wouldn't call it scenic necessarily (in a "purple mountain's majesty" sense) it was different and captured my interest for as long as it took to drive across it. I can't really think of anywhere to stop. I think I just drove until I needed to eat or use the bathroom. I did White Sands and I think a couple of hours was about what I spent there. Maybe 3? Never been to Carlsbad, but I might do that one if I had a choice between the two next time. Watch what you wish for on the country town in Texas thing. I thought, 'Oh, I'll stop in Pecos to have something to eat' and I had two choices a steakhouse (maybe a K-Bob's) and Pizza Hut. Those West Texas towns are teeny and I doubt seriously if every one has a hotel or place for you to stay.

I think I would consider spending the night in Sante Fe rather than Albuquerque, skipping Taos, and on to Durango (spending the night there, or in Cortez) to Mesa Verde then to the Grand Canyon. Durango is amazing, especially after that West Texas scenery. It will be very different from all the other SW landscapes. Google for pictures. Sante Fe is beautiful and I think you will have the opportunity to see more American Indian/Native American towns. I believe there may be other opportunities for seeing pueblos and I know you will be going through the Navajo Nation and/or Hopi Nations on your way to the Grand Canyon. I think the Taos Pueblo is very interesting, but you're going to be seeing a lot of similar stuff, so I think I'd make a little time for Durango if you can since it will be different from the rest of the SW sites.

I think the rest sounds do-able.

04-06-2011, 12:31 AM
Durango is one of my favorite towns in the area. I think it's a lot nicer place to stay than Cortez.

04-06-2011, 02:48 AM
As always, thanks for the information provided by all. After doing lots of reserach and taking in all the great suggestions, I think I have a good itinary which has a good mix of cities, and smaller towns, plus some amazing landscapes, and parks.

A) New Orleans, LA (3 night stopover)
College Football – LSU Tigers Sat 10th Sept @ Baton Rouge Stadium
B) Austin, TX (3 night stopover)
C) Fort Stockton, TX or Carlsbad, NM depending on how long drive takes (1 night stopover)
D) White Sands National Monument (1/2 day)
E) Roswell, NM (1 night stopover)
F) Santa Fe, NM (1 night stopover)
G) Durango, CO (1 night stopover)
H) Mesa Verde Park (Day Trip – Opened till 6pm)
I) Four Corners - AZ, NM, UT, CL (Drive Thru)
J) Monument Valley (1 night stopover)
Guided Jeep Tour of Monument Valley
K) Grand Canyon Village (1 night stopover)
L) Las Vegas, NV (3 night)


Question - Any trusted websites to buy LSU Collage Football tickets?
We are interested in perhaps seeing a bull riding event in Austin. Can anyone suggest some sites which has schedules of events? or any tips on this.

I am sure more question will spring to mind.

04-17-2011, 01:19 PM
Hi all,

I have posted in the Summer trip forum, and received some fantastic advice back, which I have taken into consideration and ammended my plans.

I am after some more advice on hotels in some of the cities we will be visiting, and also some activities along the way. We will be travelling early september for 17 days.

Anyone have some good sites or information, dates

1) Bull Riding Event - Texas
2) College Football - louisiana or texas
3) Jeep tours of Monument Valley

And then also some hotels in the following towns

Austin, TX (3 nights stopover)
Carlsbad, NM (1 night stopover)
Roswell, NM (1 night stopover)
Santa Fe, NM (1 night stopover)
Durango, CO (1 night stopover)
Monument Valley (1 night stopover)
Grand Canyon Village (1 night stopover)

Appreciate all advice.

Thanks in advanced

Moderator Note: Don't Create Multiple Threads about the Same Trip

05-02-2011, 02:30 PM
Hi all,

Ok i have made some slight changes to the planned route, so was hoping for some final advice on this, especially on hotels in Lake Charles, Fredericksburg, Carlsbad, Sante Fe and Mexican Hat... We wanted to stay in Kayenta, but all is full and MV is full also.

A) New Orleans, LA (Stay 9, 10 & 11th)
Take I-90 to Lafayette, then To Lake Charles
B) Lake Charles, LA (Stay 12th)
C) Austin, TX (Stay 13 & 14th)
Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort New Braunfels
D) Fredericksburg, TX (Stay 15th)
E) Carlsbad, NM (Stay 16th)
White Sands National Monument
F) Santa Fe, NM (Stay 17th)
G) Durango, CO (Stay 18th)
Mesa Verde NP
Four Corners - AZ, NM, UT, CL ( Quick Drive Thru)
H) Mexican Hat, AZ (Stay 19th)
2hr Sunrise Jeep Tour of Monument Valley
If have time, visit Horseshoe Bend in afternoon
I) Grand Canyon, Tusayan, AZ (Stay 20th)
J) Las Vegas, NV (Stay 21, 22 & 23rd)

The hotels I have looked at which are quite decent prices are

Lake Charles - Microtel Inns & Suites
Fredericksburg - Comfort Inn & Suites
Carlsbad - Motel 6
Sante Fe - Garretts Desert Inn
Mexican Hat - Mexican Hat Lodge


Southwest Dave
05-03-2011, 12:53 AM
Hi Matty,

There is never any harm in asking, but truth be told there are only a few regular contributors to the the forums and just far too many lodging options which doesn't make this the ideal place for lodging recommendations. The other problem is that any recommendation made from someone who may have stayed there a year ago could mean that they had a totally different experience to those who might visit in the future, ie different owners/staff, chef, lack of a refurb and so on. You really are better off using up to date info from sites like Tripadvisor and Expedia for such info, but you never know ! When doing so I go with my gut instinct about a place as well, people are usually quicker to write a complaint than they are a about a good stay and there are those that want a Champagne lifestyle on Lemonade money.

Beyond Kayenta there is the Cameron trading post, but that is probably to far West for your tour in Monument valley and would involve back tracking. Could be a good place to spend a little time on the way to GC though. Bluff UT is the only other place I can think of in that area with lodging options and I have heard good things about the 'Desert Rose Inn' although I haven't stayed there. [RV traveller] Bluff is also home to the 'Twin rocks' Cafe and trading post.

05-03-2011, 09:49 AM
Half an hour north of Bluff is Blanding, which has a considerably larger selection of hotels and motels.

08-24-2011, 01:42 AM

Need some travel advice on whether this route would be possible in a day. We arrive in Santa Fe on the 17th September after visiting White Sands NP that morning. We plan to depart Santa Fe the following morning of the 18th, and head to Mexican Hat (Monument Valley). However on the way we would like to deteor via Petrified National Park & Painted Desert. I have read that the drive through Petrified valley can be done in 1 hour without stopping, so maybe we can factor in 2 hours for this?? Is that true or am I dreaming on that one???

Would a drive like this be possible to achieve within 1 day of driving?

Route would be:
I25 back via Albauquerque, then the I40 to Petrified NP, then loop back and go north on the 191 to bluff, then onto Mexican Hat for the night, then a 2 hour jeep tour the next morning of MV, then onto Grand Canyon for 2 nights..

Or would it be worth stopping via Canyon de Chelly's instead of Petrified NP to make it more realistic trip?

We want to try and get a mixture of sites on the trip.

Any advice would be appreciated if we are trying to do to much on that one day.


Moderator Note: This is the 3rd time you've created a new thread about this trip. Please keep all of your questions about this trip together here or you may lose your ability to post.

Midwest Michael
08-24-2011, 04:37 AM
First, please take note of the above message regarding the repeated merging of your threads.

If you are not actually going to visit MV until the following day, you could include Painted/Petrified as part of your trip. However, it will be a long day, as it means also traveling at least 500 miles.

Doing Canyon de Chile would have the distinct advantage of saving you a full 100 miles of driving, so that's a lot more available time to explore. Another potential option would be to stick with your original plan and go to Mesa Verde, which is also much closer to the direct path from Santa Fe to Monument Valley (about 420 miles). Mesa Verde can take a bit more time to explore though, as some of the park's most interesting features, like the highly recommended Cliff Palace, require ranger led tours which you have to sign up for specific times and buy $3 tickets.

Mexican Hat really has few choices for services, you'd probably be better off looking at Kayenta, AZ, which still isn't big, but it more of a hub for Monument Valley tourists. If you do visit Mesa Verde, you could also stay in Cortez and drive to Mon. Valley in the morning in under 2 hours.

Mark Sedenquist
08-24-2011, 06:51 AM
If you want to stay at Monument Valley, two other places that you ought to think about. Gouldings Lodge is just outside of the park and a very scenic location. Also the Navajo Nation has a motel on the edge of the park. It's a nice place.


08-24-2011, 07:58 AM
Gouldings is totally full. Mexican Hat Inn has some rooms left which will try and book.

Do you have any contact details for the Navajo Nation motel? Where is it located exactly, and how far drive from MV?

Many thanks for your reply

08-24-2011, 08:47 AM
It's called the View (http://www.monumentvalleyview.com/), and it is IN Monument Valley.

I show more lodging choices in Mexican Hat.

08-24-2011, 09:59 AM
Sorry, i called Gouldings, and was able to secure in a reservation for that night. So that is sorted.

Cheers again all.

08-25-2011, 02:12 PM
Some mroe advice needed on car rentals..

We are 4 guys doing a theday road trip from New Orleans to Vegas.

Currently we have paid for a Dodge Imparla or similar according to National Car, but we requested a Dodge Charger or Mustang which they have noted down and will give us base on availability on the day.

However do you recommend either of them for such a journey. 3 of us are about 5'10, and 1 is 6'1 tall, all all kind of in good shape..

Or we can change to a Saturn Vue (Midsize?? I think)... Can i get your advice on what would be more comfortable for the long journey?

Saturn Vue is actually $50 cheaper over all.

We will be travelling i guess off road for some places. nothing to major tho.

Any advice much appreciated, as we dont have a Saturn Vue over in the UK.


Midwest Michael
08-25-2011, 02:32 PM
A Mustang would be a very poor choice for 4 adult males, and I kind of doubt a Charger would be much better. The Mustang is a sports car with a very small back seat.

An Impala should be just fine and be quite comfortable for 4 adults. An SUV like a vue would give you a little more cargo room, and if its cheaper would make sense to look at.

Keep in mind, no matter what you rent, you can't take any rental vehicle off road without invalidating your rental contract - which means you have no insurance or breakdown coverage and are basically driving a stolen car. You could be looking at hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in extra costs for doing so.

08-31-2011, 03:21 PM

The rental vehicle you will want for four adult males for a long road trip in the US is an SUV or midsize to large sedan. You will not have adequate storage or room for comfort in an American sports car like a Mustang or Charger at all. I would get that changed now if you can.

Also, not knowing exactly how much you've traveled, but even in September, it will likely be very hot by your standards at many of your destinations - especially this summer, which has seen record heat across the southern US. Not trying to scare you off, just be aware. Most areas of texas, for example, have seen high temps of 40C for nearly all of the summer. Bring appropriate dress and stay hydrated!

09-01-2011, 01:43 AM
Minor point - today's Dodge Charger is a 4 door sport sedan, it should have plenty of room.