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Southwest Parks Tour

A to B: Joshua Tree to Carlsbad Caverns
Distance: 900 Miles
Suggested Length: 4 Days

This quick road trip offers an awesome tour of five different National Parks across four states: Joshua Tree in California, Saguaro in Arizona, White Sands and Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, and Guadalupe Mountains in Texas.

This trip has some beautiful landscapes and sights you can't find anywhere else... in the country or the world. First is a massive desert with the iconic Joshua Tree, which grows only in this region. Next, Saguaro National Park has incredible stories-tall cacti that are only native to a very small area. A quick detour to White Sands National Park gives you a taste of this unearthly landscape. Finally, head down to Texas for a walk in one of the coolest cave systems in the country.

If you want to add an extra day, you can head back to Interstate 10 after White Sands and spend some time in El Paso. You can get up close and personal with the U.S.-Mexico border and enjoy the amazing sights and tastes of this culture-packed city.


Joshua Tree National Park is about an hour's drive north of Palm Springs, and it's got a lot to offer. You could spend all day wandering the desert and taking pictures of these charming, iconic trees. The main loop drive, from Park Blvd in Joshua Tree to Utah Trail in Twentynine Palms, takes about an hour without stops and will get you close to some of the most popular hikes and sights in the park.



Five hours from Joshua Tree, Saguaro National Park straddles either side of Tucson, Arizona. Tucson is a great place to spend a day, or at least a good place to sleep for the night. Saguaro has an east and a west area of the park, and both are well-worth a visit. Both sides have a "scenic drive" loop, offering gorgeous views of the iconic Saguaro cactus for miles and miles into the distance.



Five more hours will get you to White Sands National Park in New Mexico. It's just past the city of Las Cruces, which is a great place to spend the night and recharge. Once you get to the park, you're going to need your sunglasses. You can drive in a couple of miles and then park and head out on foot to trek over the dunes or along the boardwalk. You'll be amazed that this landscape just pops up out of nowhere. Just don't forget your sunscreen!



Three hours from White Sands National Park, just across the border into Texas, Guadalupe Mountains National Park is an underrated stop. It's directly next to Carlsbad Caverns, part of the same mountains, and it's right on your way. Stop off for a beautiful hike and enjoy the mountains from below before you drive to the summit for the entrance to Carlsbad.



Half an hour northeast of Guadalupe Mountains National Park - and back across the border in New Mexico - is the entrance to Carlsbad Caverns. You'll turn off Route 62 into the incredibly tiny White City. There's one gas station, one cafe, one inn, and one RV park. From here, you just wind your way up the mountain for seven miles (seriously, fuel up) until you reach the summit. The parking lot has some amazing views of the surrounding area, and then some intense elevators bring you down from the park gift shop into the caves. Plan ahead and buy tickets for your time slot so they don't sell out for the day before you get there. And don't forget a sweatshirt - the caves are chilly!


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