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  1. #1

    Default From Los Angeles to Tucson

    Iīm planning a 3 weeks trip with a RV for next May (start around May 10) from LA to San Francisco making a tour to most of the National Parks ( Grand Canyon, Bryce, Arches, Mesa verde, ...).

    We plan to stay 1 or 2 days in LA, then drive to Joshua Tree NP on our first day with the RV (we have never been driving a RV before) to keep it a short trip.
    My question to the forum is: whatīs the best way to get from Joshua Tree NP to Tucson. Iītīs a long drive and I wonder if we (2 drivers) should drive it in one day or have a stop in between. If we stop somewhere on our way - where should we do that and what are interesting sites along this route?

    thanks in advance for your help


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default One is Enough

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Joshua Tree to Tucson is 400-450 miles depending on where in the park you start out from, so that's a relatively easy driving day, leaving time for a couple of short breaks. I'd suggest that you head down along the Salton Sea and join I-8 just east of El Centro via either CA-111 or CA-115. This avoids having to navigate Phoenix and doesn't add many miles at all. A good first stop is Yuma Territorial Prison State Park in Yuma where there is a nice little museum and picnic tables overlooking the Colorado River. For a second stop, try the stand in Dateland and their date-flavored milkshakes, the convenience store/gas station at the eastern junction of Bus-8 and I-8 at Gila Bend which has all the amenities plus crafts for sale, or - a bit of the way - the ruins at Casa Grande National Monument between Casa Grande and Coolidge.

    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 06-02-2010 at 02:25 PM. Reason: Corrected Highway Number

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    I'd go out the south entrance of Joshua Tree, and go under I-10 onto Box Canyon Rd. Take that into the town of Mecca and get on CA-86 south to Brawley, El Centro, and I-8. 86 is almost freeway quality with a 65 mph speed limit for a good portion of the way.

    Have your documentation readily available, you will have to go through at least one Border Patrol checkpoint on I-8, and they use drug dogs.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Tell us more !

    Hi there,

    It's a great area to explore, you won't be dissapointed !

    If you would care to share your plans, we might even be able to make suggestions and help to "fine tune" your trip. The National parks have some great campgrounds to stay in as you travel around. Keep in mind that the RV will be slower going on some of the highways and to allow that extra time for travel.

  5. #5

    Default southwest route plan

    Quote Originally Posted by Southwest Dave View Post
    Hi there,

    It's a great area to explore, you won't be dissapointed !

    If you would care to share your plans, we might even be able to make suggestions and help to "fine tune" your trip. The National parks have some great campgrounds to stay in as you travel around. Keep in mind that the RV will be slower going on some of the highways and to allow that extra time for travel.
    Hi Dave,
    here is our plan:
    we possibly change our route to start in SF, this depends on which RV rental company we will choose and if we can manage to get 3 extra vacation days.

    Start of our tour is May 10 2011 (+/- some days depending on availability of flights)

    1 - Vienna - San Francisco
    2 - SF - LA 1 or 2 days??
    3 - LA city tour + Studios
    4 - LA - Joshua Tree NP
    5 - Joshua Tree NP - Tucson
    6 - Tucson (Arizona Desert Museum, Saguaro East)
    7 - Tucson - Petrified Forest NP
    8 - Petrified Forest - Mesa Verde NP (via Canyon de Chelly)
    9 - Mesa Verde - Moab (via Canyonlands Needles)
    10 - Arches NP
    11 - Guided Jeep Tour to Horseshoe Canyon
    12 - Moab - Bryce Canyon ( Canyonlands Island in the Sky in the morning, then via Capitol Reef NP)
    13 - Bryce Canyon - Page via Grand Canyon Nort Rim
    14 - Page going to Antelope Canyon and Monument valley with a rented Jeep
    15 - Page - Grand Canyon
    16 - Grand Canyon Las Vegas
    17 - Las Vegas - Death Valley
    18 - Death Valley - Yosemite (Route depends on opening of Tioga Pass)
    19 - Yosemite - SF
    20, 21 SF
    22 - SF - Vienna

    Thanks so far for the help of everybody.
    I have been to the southwest several times before, but never for 3 weeks and never with a RV.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Nice !

    Hi Pete,

    Between SF and LA you will need the 2 days if you are to explore some of the coastal route, which would be a shame to miss. As you have been to the Southwest a few times, I am sure you are aware that you have quite a busy schedule. For instance the "Islands in the sky" section of Canyonlands is [I think] about a 35 mile drive to "Grandview point" with a great walk at the end. This will leave you short on time trying to get to Bryce via Capitol reef. You could of course fit it in on day 11, depending on the amount time of the jeep tour takes, or day 10 and explore a little more of Arches early before departing for Bryce, especially if you are staying at the Devils campground, it is right at the top of the park, great place!

    If you can add 3 days more I think it will make for a much more relaxed trip, giving you the time to relax in a couple of places.

    Check out the large RV Co's for special deals to compare prices and make sure you check out all the extra costs to get a true cost, such as mileage charges, bedding and kitchen kits, prep fees etc. I have used this family run firm and was pleased with the service they offered and it's always worth shopping around for Internet deals.

  7. #7


    after discussing my route with our friends we came up with the idea to include New Mexico in our trip plan.
    So we would start in Phoenix, go to Tucson and proceed then to Mesa Verde via New Mexico.

    From Tucson I see two main routes there:
    a) going up to Petrified Forest and then East to Gallup, Albuquerque and Santa Fe. from there to Taos and finally to mesa Verde.
    b) Going East on I-10 and the up de Rio grande Valley to Albuquerque.

    As this is a complete new area for me, I really donīt know which route is best and what is most interesting to see along the route.
    travel time is mid of May, planned duration from Tucson to Mesa Verde 3 days travellng with an RV.
    Interests are nature, indian culture, taking fotos.
    Iīm counting on the forum to give me some help, my South West travel guide doesnīt.

    Thanks for your previous tips and recommendations, we reworked our schedule, giving more time for some places and skipping some others.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default If Tucson is in Your Plans

    First Consider visiting the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (more zoo than museum), and the adjacent Saguaro National Park in Tucson, and Kartchner Caverns south of Benson. Then a great scenic drive (if your RV is small - I wouldn't recommend it with a 30 footer) is the Coronado Trail (US-191) north up through Springerville/Eager. Take the detour through Petrified Forest National Park and visit Canyon de Chelly from Chinle on the Navajo Reservation. Continue north and east through Four Corners to Cortez, CO and Mesa Verde. But if, on the other hand, your RV is on the large side and/or Taos and Santa Fe are priorities, then take I-10 east out of Tucson all the way to Deming and use NM-26 to cut across to Hatch (chili pepper capitol of the world) on I-25. There are a couple of nice state parks on the Rio Grande north and south of Truth or Consequences, and the Very Large Array (you've seen it in several SciFi movies) is just west of Socorro off US-60). Also worth a stop, Petroglyph National Monument outside Albuquerque. At Taos, be sure to take the tour of the Taos Pueblo, and do some crafts shopping downtown then head east on US-64. Or from Santa Fe, US-84 will take you past Georgia O'Keefe's Ghost Ranch on the way to the junction with US-64. Follow US-84 once these two roads split and at Pagosa Springs head west on US-160 to Durango and Mesa Verde. Three days is barely enough to take either of those routes and enjoy a good slice of what they have to offer. But if you keep moving and enjoy what you can, you'll have a great time.


  9. #9


    thanks for your informations.
    Yes - Tucson is in our plans and we will spend 2 days there, going to Arizona Desert Nuseum and Saguaro East for a hike. So we have 3 days for the trip from Tucson to Mesa Verde, addtional to the time spent in Tucson.
    Unfortunately our RV is 29ft, so we canīt take small and winding roads.

  10. #10


    the weeks since my last post brought some changes to our plans, so iīll post my new route and some questions.

    here is our new route:

    start May 10, 2011
    day 1 Vienna – Phoenix
    2 take over RV, drive on to Tucson
    (Catalina State park Campground ) 183km
    3 in Tucson: Arizona Desert Museum, San Xavier de Bac, hiking in
    Saguaro East or West
    4 Tucson - Petrified Forest NP 400 bzw 500km
    5 Petrified Forest to Albuquerque and on to Santa Fe 400km
    6 Santa Fe visit, afternoon visit Taos 113km
    7 Taos - Mesa Verde NP 378km
    8 Mesa Verde
    9 Mesa Verde - Moab (Arches, Devils Garden CG) via Canyonlands NP, Needles
    10 Arches NP !full moon!
    11 exploring a little bit of Canyonlands with 4WD
    12 Moab - Bryce Canyon (North Campground) 470km
    13 Bryce Canyon short hike, in the afternoon on to Grand Canyon, North Rim 220km
    14 North Rim - Page (either spend the morning on North Rim and reach Page in the evening,
    or leave North Rim earlier to visit Upper Antelope Canyon on late afternoon)
    campground still undecided. 160km
    15 Page, rent SUV, visit Horseshoe Bend, then lower Antelope Canyon
    going on to Monument Valley in the afternoon, after sunset back to Page) 2 x 200km
    16 Page 1/2 day Glen Canyon Float Trip or visit other Slotcanyons or other scenic sites(Wave would be great, but we donīt know if we get a permit)
    17 Page - Grand Canyon South Rim (Mather CG) 220km
    18 Grand Canyon, Sunrise, visit of the soth rim – afternoon starting to Las Vegas 450km
    19 Return RV, fly Las Vegas - San Francisco
    20 San Francisco
    21 San Francisco
    22 S.F. - Highway 1 (Pismo Beach)
    23 Highway 1 – LA
    24 LA (Universal Studios??)
    25 LA – Vienna
    26 arriving in Vienna

    I know we have some demanding days regarding the distances to drive, but as we are at least 2 drivers we should be able to manage that.

    Besides the request for comments to our route plan I have 2 specific questions:

    car rental in Page:
    does anyone in the forum know if there is a car rental company in Page, where we can rent an SUV (or any car which can get us through the roads in monument valley) which has a pickup service from one of the campgrounds in page? I really donīt want to drive around in page with my 29ft RV.
    The only car rental company I found via internet is Avis, located on the airport.

    Jeep car rental in Moab:
    Does anyone have experience with car rental companies in Moab (there are a lot of them) or recommendations for 1 or 1/2 day routes in Canyonlands NP with a 4WD?
    also here a pickup service from campground (Devils Garden campground in Arches NP) would be great

    many thanks for your help

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