19 Things To See On An Epic Road Trip From Houston to Grand Canyon
Welcome to your epic road trip from Houston to Grand Canyon!
You will experience some of America’s most incredible wonders on this journey. From longhorn cattle drives in Texas to the breathtaking beauty of the Grand Canyon itself, this is a truly unique journey that you won’t soon forget.
We have put together three different routes for you to choose from, each of which will take you through various sights and attractions.
Whether it’s the natural wonders or the historical sites that draw your attention, each route has something unique to offer.
How Long Is A Road Trip From Houston To Grand Canyon
If you take the most direct route on a road trip from Houston to Grand Canyon, the drive will take you around 19 hours.
How Many Days Do You Need To Drive From Houston To Grand Canyon
If you head directly there, with no pit stops, no passing go, then you could feasibly make it to the Grand Canyon in two days.
Two long days, but driving 9-10 hours per day is doable.
But that isn’t much of a road trip, is it? You want to be able to stop and visit things along the way, or you could have just taken a plane.
If we were planning this trip for ourselves, we would try to drive about 5 hours per day, giving us time to make a couple of daily stops to visit things along the way. That would make this a four-day road trip.
Of course, if you have more or less time, you can certainly adjust how many hours each day in the car works for you.
📖 Wondering if the Grand Canyon is worth it? Is it too crowded to even enjoy?
Optional Routes For Your Road Trip From Houston To Grand Canyon
We are suggesting three different route options for your road trip. There are other options as well, but they are mainly combinations of the ones discussed below.
If you choose another route we didn’t discuss, you will need to mix and match stops.
US-287 N/I-40 W – 19 Hrs (Fastest Route)
Option one is the fastest route, though not the shortest in miles.
Us-380 W – 19.5 Hrs
Option two isn’t much longer, only 30 minutes. Which, when you are talking about 19 hours, is nothing.
I-10 W – 19.5 Hrs
Option three takes about the same time as option two and is still only 30 minutes longer than the shortest option.
Because all three routes basically take the same amount of time, we suggest you pick your driving route based on which stops along the way sound most appealing to you.
📖 Did you know that you can actually drive to the bottom of the Grand Canyon? Click over to find out how to do it.
Best Stops To Make From Houston To Grand Canyon
Here are some of the excellent stops you can make on your road trip from Houston to Grand Canyon National Park.
Along The 1-40 W Route
1. Fort Worth Stockyards – Fort Worth, TX
The Fort Worth Stockyards is a vibrant and historic city center with plenty to see and do.
Located in the heart of downtown Fort Worth, it is home to dozens of restaurants, shops, art galleries, museums, and other attractions.
At the Stockyards, you can see two iconic attractions, the Fort Worth herd of Longhorn Cattle and the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame. The twice-daily cattle drive pushes the herd of longhorn cattle through the area, accompanied by a team of announcers calling out to all those who watch. It is a unique experience you won’t soon forget.
At the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame, you can learn about the history of cowboys, cattle, and Texas culture.
The stockyard’s vibrant atmosphere, historical attractions, and exciting events make it the perfect place to spend time in Texas.
If you want to spend a bit of extra time in Forth Worth, check out this incredible PRIVATE tour. Not only do you get to see the stockyards and cattle drive, but you get to enjoy some other area attractions like Sundance Square.
Book the Fort Worth Highlights Tour
Address: 131 E Exchange Ave, Fort Worth, TX 76164
📖 Make sure to check out our photography tips so you can come away with some great shots of the Grand Canyon.
2. River Bend Nature Center – Wichita Falls, TX
The River Bend Nature Center is an excellent place to get out of the car and get closer to nature.
The center offers trails that meander through the park’s tall grasses, wildflowers, and wetlands. You can take a leisurely self-guided stroll or embark on a guided tour.
Stop by Peyton’s Place from March to October to see hundreds of butterflies.
The Nature Center also has two year-round indoor exhibit halls that feature live wildlife ranging from spiders to prairie dogs and plenty of different plants to explore.
The River Bend Nature Center is a great place to take in the beauty of nature while learning more about Wichita Falls’ unique environment.
Whether you’re looking for an educational experience or just some time outdoors, the River Bend Nature Center has something for everyone.
Address: 2200 3rd St, Wichita Falls, TX 76301
📖 Look for other Arizona road trip ideas? We also have a suggested itinerary between Saguaro NP and Petrified Forest NP.
3. Cadillac Ranch – Amarillo, TX
Cadillac Ranch is a public art installation located in Amarillo.
Here, you can experience the unique artwork of ten vintage Cadillac automobiles that have been partially buried nose-down into the ground since 1974.
The story is that a billionaire named Stanley Marsh wanted to create an art installation that would bewilder everyone. He enlisted a ground of artists, and the result is what you see today.
The cars are supposedly buried at the same angle as the Great Pyramid of Giza, but we don’t know if that has been proven.
You can take in the site from a distance and also get up close to spray paint the cars with your own custom designs if you wish.
Even if you have been here before, it is worth another stop because it is constantly changing since defacing the cars is encouraged.
Address: 13651 I-40 Frontage Rd, Amarillo, TX 79124
📖 If you have a bit of extra time, we suggest hitting up a few Arizona national monuments, there are actually several on the way to the Grand Canyon.
4. Route 66 In Tucumcari – Tucumcari, NM
If you want to spend some time learning about Route 66, Tucumcari is the perfect place to stop.
The New Mexico Route 66 Museum is a great place to learn more about the legendary highway. The museum features exhibits that provide an overview of the route’s history, from its early days as an iconic American road trip destination to its eventual demise and subsequent restoration.
You can also view vintage artifacts, photographs, and other memorabilia related to the highway. There are even a ton of classic cars to drool over.
Swing by the Route 66 Monument, which was created in 1997 as a tribute to the historic highway, for some photos.
And don’t forget about Teepee Curios, which is one of Tucumcari’s most iconic roadside attractions. This unique shop has been around since the early 1940s, selling vintage souvenirs, antiques, and more.
You can browse the eclectic collections of items and take home a bit of Route 66 memorabilia.
Address: various sites around Tucumcari
📖 If you have some extra time in Arizona, we suggest spending some time in Saguaro National Park.
5. Blue Hole – Santa Rosa, NM
The Blue Hole in New Mexico is a true natural wonder. It is an 80-foot-deep pool of crystal-clear water surrounded by striking limestone cliffs.
Take some time to enjoy one of the activities offered at the Blue Hole, such as swimming, snorkeling, or scuba diving.
Swimming in the beautiful waters is a great way to take in the breathtaking scenery of the cliffs and surrounding desert landscapes. And the water is always a cool 62°F.
The Blue Hole is home to a variety of wildlife, including several species of fish and turtles. There’s also an abundance of vibrant birds, reptiles, amphibians, and even some small mammals living in the nearby desert areas.
☘️ Fun Fact: You used to be able to scuba dive in the cave system at the bottom of the hole. Due to hazards like low visibility and the risk of cave-ins, you can no longer go inside the caves and the entrances are blocked.
Address: Santa Rosa, NM 88435
6. Sandia Peak Tramway – Albuquerque, NM
Visiting the Sandia Peak Tramway is a great way to get an unparalleled view of the New Mexico landscape.
The tramway takes riders on a journey from the base of the Sandia Mountains to its summit at 10,378 feet in about 15 minutes.
From the top, you can see panoramic views of the Rio Grande Valley, including Albuquerque, the Petroglyph National Monument, and colorful sandstone formations.
Once at the top of the mountain, you can explore various trails that traverse through different terrains or grab a quick bite to eat at the summit restaurant.
Address: 30 Tramway Rd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87122
Along The 380-W Route
7. Temple Railroad & Heritage Museum – Temple, TX
The Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum in Texas is a must-see for train enthusiasts and history buffs.
Located in a former Santa Fe Railway complex, visitors are given a unique look at railway history with an extensive collection of locomotives, artifacts, photographs, and more.
The museum showcases steam locomotives, diesel locomotives, sleeper cars, and cabooses. The museum also contains artifacts from the railway age, like lunch pails, uniforms, and old tools.
You can also find photographs of the locomotives and trains that used to pass through Temple in the heyday of railroading.
The museum has several temporary exhibits that frequently change, so you never know exactly what you might see during a visit.
Address: 315 W Avenue B, Temple, TX 76501
8. Waco Mammoth National Monument – Waco, TX
A visit to the Waco Mammoth National Monument allows you to see some prehistoric remains. It is here you will find the world’s only known herd remains of “Columbian Mammoths.”
The remains were found in 1978 by two local men and were later declared a national monument in 2015.
Fossils of 24 mammoths have been discovered, including what is considered a nursery herd with young and adolescents.
The mammoths appear to have died when unexpected rising water (flash-flooding) led to them drowning, though they all did not die in the same incident. It seems as if this happened on three separate occasions.
You can explore the site on a self-guided tour or join a guided tour led by park rangers. The site also has exhibits that provide more information about the mammoths and other Pleistocene animals.
Address: 6220 Steinbeck Bend Dr, Waco, TX 76708
9. Historic Fort Phantom Hill – Abilene, TX
Fort Phantom Hill is an amazing historical site with plenty to explore.
Take a walk around the ruins of the fort, which the US Army established in 1852 to protect migrants heading west to California during the gold rush.
It was later used as a Confederate post during the Civil War.
The area has been preserved quite well and contains multiple structural remains, including a warehouse, guard house, and chimney stacks.
The site also provides plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife such as deer, coyotes, rabbits, and various birds.
Address: 10818 FM600, Abilene, TX 79601
10. Aliens In Roswell – Roswell, NM
Roswell is known for its alien-related attractions and activities.
While in the city, you can explore the International UFO Museum and Research Center to learn more about the 1947 Roswell Incident and other UFO sightings worldwide. The museum features interactive exhibits, lectures from experts, and a gift shop with souvenirs related to aliens.
Those looking for a more interactive experience can take a guided tour of the city with stops at important UFO-related sites. Or you can visit the Roswell UFO Spacewalk to explore an alien-themed miniature golf course.
If those don’t suit your needs, you can also partake in a variety of other activities, such as stargazing through telescopes, camping out near known UFO hot spots, and visiting the alien-themed restaurants in the city.
📎 Tip: Have some fun and see how many aliens you can find in Roswell. You will be surprised at how many places partake in having an alien or two.
Address: various sites around Roswell
11. Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge – San Antonio, NM
Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge visitors can experience a unique blend of wildlife, culture, and natural history.
With miles of hiking trails and more than 30,000 acres of dedicated wilderness for diverse bird habitats, the refuge is a haven for exploring nature’s beauty.
The area is well known for its wintering sandhill cranes and snow geese population.
But don’t worry if you aren’t passing through in the winter. The refuge is home to a wide variety of bird species year-round. Look for great blue herons, bald eagles, ospreys, and various waterfowl.
Otters and beavers can also be seen in the many ponds that dot the landscape.
This is the perfect stop if you are interested in birdwatching or just being out in nature.
Address: 1001 NM-1, San Antonio, NM 87832
12. National Radio Astronomy Observation – Magdalena, NM
This might be one of the most unique stops on our list. If you have seen the movie Contact from the late 90s with Jodie Foster, this is the place for you.
You will begin your journey at the visitor center, where you can learn about radio astronomy and how it works. There is even a documentary film narrated by Jodie Foster herself to help you understand.
Afterward, you can head to the base of one of the 230-ton antennas. After seeing one up close, you will have the opportunity to see them from an observation deck.
You will learn why they are configured the way they are, learn about the control center, plus much more.
Address: Magdalena, NM 87825
Along The I-10 W Route
13. The Alamo – San Antonio, TX
Visiting the Alamo is an experience like no other, where you can take in the sights and sounds of Texas’ most famous landmark.
Step inside the walls of this iconic fort and learn about its significance to Texas’ fight for independence from Mexico. Stand in the center courtyard and imagine what it must have been like on March 6th, 1836, when only about 200 Texan defenders made their final stand for freedom against Mexican troops.
Wander through the church and barracks. And see the numerous cannons still on site.
Take a guided tour or explore the artifacts, art, and stories that tell the story of the Alamo on your own.
If you would like to experience the Alamo plus a few other highlights from San Antonio, like a river cruise and history tour, this half-day tour will be perfect.
Book the Best of San Antonio Tour
📎 Tip: The Alamo Church, which is what we picture when we think of the Alamo, has a timed ticket for entry. Get your reservation in advance.
Address: 300 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, TX 78205
14. Caverns Of Sonora – Sonora, TX
The Caverns of Sonora are an underground wonderland located in west-central Texas and offer some of North America’s most spectacular cave formations.
The caverns stretch for over 7 miles beneath the earth, creating a unique environment filled with stalactites and stalagmites. In particular, it is best known for its helictites, which are densely packed in certain areas of the cavern.
Tours are through approximately 2 miles of the caverns.
While on tour you can explore these breathtaking caves, which allow you to view the remarkable rock formations while learning about the history and geology of the area.
The tour requires taking about 360 steps, so you need to be in decent physical condition for this one.
Address: 1711 Private Rd 4468, Sonora, TX 76950
15. Fort Stockton, TX
Fort Stockton is an ideal stop for travelers looking for a couple of unique attractions that don’t take much time.
First, you can experience the Giant Roadrunner, fondly named Paisano Pete. Standing at 11 ft tall, he was the world’s largest roadrunner for years until one was erected in Las Cruces, NM.
A fixture since 1980, this bird is the most photographed resident in the city and even wears a Santa suit around the holidays. He is perfect for a quick photo stop.
Secondly, in addition to the Giant Roadrunner, you can also explore the Dinosaur Footprints in a Cage.
This attraction allows visitors to view actual dinosaur footprints embedded in the ground from millions of years ago. The fossils are housed inside a cage structure, so you can view them up close while still protecting the fragile fossils.
We recommend googling this attraction if you want to find it, as there are no signs or markers, but it does show up in google maps.
Address: various sites around Fort Stockton
16. City Of Rocks State Park – Faywood, NM
The City of Rocks State Park is a truly unique geological gem. Located near the Mexico border, it is an area with stunningly beautiful granite formations and spectacular views.
The park’s name comes from its rows of monolithic formations and giant boulders that jut up from the desert landscape and create a surreal cityscape.
The City of Rocks is home to a variety of wildlife and plant life, making it an ideal place for birdwatchers and nature lovers. And there are plenty of hikes to enjoy for a couple of hours.
The area is also perfect for stargazing as it has some of the darkest skies in the US. You may not have time to stay after dark, but you should see some incredible constellations if you do.
Address: 327 NM-61, Faywood, NM 88034
17. Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest – Border of NM & AZ
Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest is a beautiful, pristine wilderness located on the border of New Mexico and Arizona.
With more than 2.7 million acres, there is plenty of nature to enjoy here in this mountainous region.
The park features stunning views of the majestic White Mountains and lush, green forests filled with pine and juniper trees. The area is also home to various wildlife, including bighorn sheep and elk.
During a pit stop, there are numerous outdoor activities for you to enjoy, including hiking and mountain biking. There are hundreds of miles of trails to explore and plenty of places to enjoy the area’s natural beauty.
Address: 30 South Chiricahua Drive, Springerville, AZ 85938
On All Routes After Merging
18. Standin’ On The Corner Park – Winslow, AZ
Winslow is home to the Standin’ on the Corner Park, which pays tribute to The Eagles’ classic song “Take it Easy.”
The park features a life-sized bronze statue of a musician holding a guitar standing on a street corner. You will also find a mural with the town’s name and an iconic route 66 emblem on the brick street out front. And to top it off, a ford flatbed truck.
This iconic monument has become an essential stop for travelers passing through Winslow and along route 66.
Address: Corner of Kinsley &, E 2nd St, Winslow, AZ 86047
19. Meteor Crater National Landmark – Outside Winslow, AZ
A visit to Meteor Crater National Landmark will be an unforgettable experience and is also our last suggestion for your road trip from Houston to Grand Canyon National Park.
The crater is from a meteorite impact that happened as many as 50,000 years ago. It is a whopping 3,900 feet across and 560 feet deep, with a rim standing 148 feet above the surrounding landscape.
Starting at the visitor center, you will find exhibits about space and asteroids, and you will be able to touch some of the meteorite fragments. You will also get a breathtaking view of the crater and its surroundings.
From there, you can take the stairs down to an observation deck inside the rim to get a closer look.
If you would prefer, they have guided tours of the rim available.
Address: Interstate 40, Exit 233, Winslow, AZ 86047
FAQs For Your Roadtrip From Houston To Grand Canyon
We Only Have A Week Off, How Do We Make This Work
If you have a week off work, technically you have nine days, right? The five-day workweek plus a weekend at the front and the back.
We suggest taking the leisurely road trip in one direction, then making an effort to drive directly through going the other way.
Saturday – Sunday
- Drive long hours to get to the Grand Canyon; we would rather do it at the beginning rather than feel rushed at the end of what is supposed to be a vacation.
Monday – Tuesday
- Spend two full days at the Grand Canyon. This will give you time to do the scenic drive, enjoy all the viewpoints, and do an activity or hike on the second day.
Wednesday – Saturday (or Sunday)
- Take four to five days to drive back, stopping at a bunch of exciting places you want to see. This makes you feel more relaxed as you head back to work because you aren’t rushing at the tail-end of your vacation.
When Is The Best Time To Make This Road Trip
In our opinion, the best time to make a road trip from Houston to Grand Canyon will be in the spring or the fall.
If you are familiar with the South and Southwest during the summer, you know the temperatures can get quite hot and uncomfortable.
The Grand Canyon in the summer will be more comfortable than Texas, with daytime temperatures reaching around 82°F (while Houston is 91°F). But if you want to hike down into the inner rim, temperatures can be 20°F warmer and long hikes are not recommended.
Plus, the Grand Canyon is the fourth most visited national park, and summer crowds (when families often visit) can be outrageous.
We suggest you plan your road trip during the shoulder season. May or September would be excellent choices. The weather will be cooler for activities, but you likely won’t experience any snow.
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To Finish – Epic Road Trip From Houston To Grand Canyon
Your epic road trip from Houston to Grand Canyon can now commence!
You are in store to take in breathtaking views from overlooks, enjoy hikes, drive part of route 66, and explore landmarks that might surprise you on these routes.
Whether you take the quicker northern route or one of our two longer routes, we hope this trip will be exciting as you venture out on the open road.
No matter which route you take, each one is full of fascinating sights and experiences that you won’t soon forget.