On your Austin to Anaheim road trip, you’ll leave the live music capital of the world to travel to the home of the happiest place on earth, Disneyland. Along the way, you’ll see longhorn cattle, remnants of the Old West, underground caverns, mountain peaks, rivers and lakes, architectural gems, and modern cities. Get set to also appreciate the wide-open spaces and beauty of the Southwestern deserts you’ll traverse as you travel through the states of New Mexico and Arizona.
Big Bend National Park
One of two national parks in the state of Texas, Big Bend National Park encompasses 801,163 acres in West Texas and is flanked on the south by the Rio Grande River, which also marks the U.S. border with Mexico. In addition to the interpretive pull-outs, make sure you don’t miss the Old Sam Nail Ranch, Tuff Canyon, and the Chimneys Trailhead on the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, the park’s principal paved sightseeing route. At the end of the route is the Santa Elena Canyon Trail, which leads to the Rio Grande, where you can canoe or kayak. There are miles of trails, and they shift in elevation from 1,800 feet to almost 8,000 feet. Big Bend is also an excellent spot to stargaze; its remote location means there’s almost no light pollution here.
White Sands National Park
If you’re bringing kids on your Austin to Anaheim road trip, they are sure to have a blast at White Sands National Park. In this park, which is located off Highway 70 about an hour from Las Cruces, New Mexico, you can go hiking, have a picnic, go biking, or take a scenic drive, but the highlight of a visit for most people is sledding down the beautiful white sand dunes. An experience like no other, you can make it as adrenaline-charged or as gentle as you like — just pick a sand dune according to age and skill level.
Saguaro National Park
Saguaro National Park was established to protect the giant saguaro, an iconic sight for the city of Tucson, where the park is located. If you visit during the months of May, June, and July, you’ll get to see these giant cacti bloom with lovely white flowers as you hike the park’s trails to take in panoramic desert views and possibly spot great horned owls.
Joshua Tree National Park
After crossing the border between Arizona and California, as you drive through the desert, you’ll pass right by Joshua Tree National Park. The must-see attraction at this park is the Joshua tree, which is actually a succulent from the agave family. It came by its name because its shape reminded Mormon settlers of Joshua from the Bible stretching his arms up to the heavens. Joshua trees give an otherworldly air to the park’s desert landscape, but you’ll also see other unusual sights here, including the cholla cactus, which has its own garden of sorts, and a giant stone that looks like a skull and is aptly named Skull Rock. The park’s enormous boulder formations are popular with both climbers and photographers. You can enjoy hiking, birding, and horseback riding during the day and admire the Milky Way at night; Joshua Tree is an International Dark Sky Park.
Lyndon B. Johnson State Park
Smack dab in the middle of Texas Hill Country, in Stonewall, Texas, is Lyndon B. Johnson State Park. Adjacent to the LBJ Ranch, the lifelong home of the 36th U.S. president, Lyndon B. Johnson State Park is a day-use park located on the Pedernales River. Here, you can play baseball or tennis, swim in the park’s swimming pool, or go fishing. A stroll along the park’s trails will take you by historic buildings, wildflowers, and herds of bison and longhorn cattle.
Elephant Butte Lake State Park
Water sports are the big draw at Elephant Butte Lake State Park, located in Elephant Butte, New Mexico. The state park features a large man-made lake with marinas that make it an excellent option for anyone who wants to go fishing, boating, water skiing, swimming, canoeing, or kayaking. There are also beaches to stroll on, as well as picnic areas and playgrounds.
Kartchner Caverns State Park
The caverns at Kartchner Caverns State Park in Benson, Arizona, were only discovered in 1974, but they date back tens of thousands of years and are filled with continuously growing formations. Cave sightseeing tours include specialized options, such as helmet and headlamp tours and photo tours. Once you’re done marveling at the fascinating shapes of the formations or speleothems in the caverns, hike one of the park trails in the Whetstone Mountains.
Mount San Jacinto State Park
Rather than driving, the most efficient way to get to Mount San Jacinto State Park in Idyllwild, California, is to take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Filled with forests and meadows, the park sits at an elevation of 6,000 feet, but there are several visible peaks that reach over 10,000 feet. Picnicking, taking in the magnificent views of the desert floor down below, and hiking the park’s numerous trails are the main reasons visitors go up to the park. Entering Mount San Jacinto State Wilderness requires a permit.
Luckily, a road trip from Austin to Anaheim passes through Texas Hill Country, which is famous for its gorgeous wildflowers. From March through October, you can see fields of these flowers in bloom at Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg. Walking trails allow visitors to explore the farm and the Butterfly Garden. You’ll want to pick up a few packets of seeds to take home with you.
West of the Pecos Museum
Relive the days of shoot-em-ups in the Wild West by visiting the West of the Pecos Museum in Pecos, Texas. Comprised of two restored 19th-century buildings, a hotel, and a saloon, the museum features three floors of exhibits complete with bullet-riddled walls. Artifacts on display include 1890s train memorabilia and items relating to the folklore figure “Pecos Bill.”
Titan Missile Museum
Visit a relic of a thankfully bygone era at the Titan Missile Museum. Located in Green Valley, Arizona, the site is a former top-secret silo from the Cold War Era where visitors can see what it was like to man the launch controls of a megaton nuclear missile. The museum tour includes a look at the crew’s living quarters and an up-close view of the Titan missile itself, which is, of course, now disarmed.
Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch
It doesn’t get more family-friendly than the Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch. Located in Picacho, Arizona, this working ostrich ranch also has a petting zoo with an eclectic mix of animal inhabitants. There’s a tank with stingrays; a greenhouse with lorikeets; and pens with bunnies, miniature goats, ducks, deer, sheep, miniature donkeys, and, of course, ostriches. Guests are invited to feed the animals and take plenty of pictures.
Mission Inn Museum
You won’t be sorry if you put this beautiful historic inn in Riverside, California, on your road trip itinerary from Austin to Anaheim. It dates back to 1902 and is a National Historic Landmark. Tours let you see the hotel and gardens, with their mix of Spanish Colonial, Mediterranean, and Gothic architectural styles. The inn was quite popular with 20th-century Hollywood stars and politicians. Notable guests included Clark Gable, Theodore Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Albert Einstein. Richard Nixon was married at the inn, and Ronald and Nancy Reagan chose it as the site for their honeymoon.
El Paso, Texas
Located in the Chihuahuan Desert, this border city boasts museums, a historic downtown, a zoo, and three Spanish missions. You can get around by riding the city’s restored vintage streetcars. Many El Paso campgrounds offer a convenient central location in the city although some are situated in more scenic settings. You can also find some convenient dump stations in the area.
On your Austin to Anaheim RV road trip, you’ll find campgrounds that offer easy access to all that Tucson offers, including some pet-friendly ones like the South Forty RV Ranch. You can enjoy outdoor activities, like hiking Sabino Canyon or Madera Canyon, or more urban ones, like visiting an art exhibit or a microbrewery. Before you leave, make a stop at one of the Tucson dump stations to clean your RV's tanks.
You won’t want for amenities at campgrounds in Phoenix; it’s common for these facilities to feature pools, tennis courts, and golf courses. Many also offer dump stations. That’s not surprising because this state capital is known for its upscale resorts. It also has a botanical garden, a zoo, a symphony, and several great museums.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Austin to Anaheim, you will enjoy historic locations and beautiful scenery along the way. If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider an RV rental from RVshare. From large motorhomes to compact campervans, there is a rig that will meet your travel and budget needs. Once you hit the road, you are protected by our renter guarantee and 24/7 roadside assistance. Find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs in Austin or Anaheim.