Driving from Joshua Tree, CA, to Wichita, KS, will take at least two days, and if you break it up with multiple stops, it will take longer. The trip will pass through the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Whether your tastes lean toward nature, historic and cultural venues, or both, you will have ample chances to see many of the most interesting and iconic sites in the western and midwestern regions of the U.S. There are many parks, monuments, and other types of national and state preserves near your route, and driving an RV is an optimal way to stop and see all the sights.
Joshua Tree National Park
California has the most national parks of any state in the U.S. You will embark on your road trip from one of the most distinct parks in the system, Joshua Tree National Park. The name "Joshua Tree" is derived from the resident Joshua tree, a member of the yucca subspecies of agave trees. These twisted trees were a source of food and utility for the native peoples of the area for centuries, and today, they are preserved as a valuable heritage of California's diverse ecology. While inside the park, visitors may encounter bighorn sheep, jackrabbits, coyotes, and kangaroo rats, and it is one of the migratory stops on the Pacific migratory bird flyway. Besides viewing the wildlife, visitors can see cacti gardens, rock formations, natural oases, and portions of the Sonoran and Mojave deserts as they hike along one of the numerous hiking trails. The park also has a former working ranch you can tour for a fee.
White Sands National Park
White Sands National Park is located in the Chihuahuan Desert and is the largest gypsum dune field in the world. The dune field has a total of 275 acres, 115 of which lie in White Sands National Park. The remaining portion of the dunes is on military land. The gypsum that comprises the dunes comes from a nearby ephemeral lake. When the waters evaporate and disappear, the gypsum that is left is blown over the dunes. The dunes are active and not static, and the fastest can move up to 30 feet annually. There is much to do inside the park, like riding bicycles, hiking, or driving on Dunes Drive, which is an eight-mile scenic drive from the visitor center to the interior of the dunes. You can access hiking trails, picnic areas, vault toilets, outside exhibits, and parking areas from the road. There are five hiking trails that afford exceptional views of the dunes and the surrounding mountains, and there is a designated sledding area in the loop section of Dunes Drive.
Mount San Jacinto State Park
Mount San Jacinto State Park is home to Mount San Jacinto, which, at 10,834 feet above sea level, is the highest peak of the San Jacinto mountains and the second highest peak in Southern California. Most of the park lies within the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument and is near the San Diego and Los Angeles metropolitan areas. The park has a varied landscape of granite mountain peaks, subalpine woods, and mountain meadows. There are two campgrounds near Idyllwild, and many hikers and backpackers visit the park each year. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway takes visitors to the summit of Mount San Jacinto, where there are shops and conveniences next to the tram station and access to the hiking trail system. A portion of the 2,653-mile Pacific Crest Trail, which runs from the Canada and Washington border to the California and Mexico border, passes through the park.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park
Second only to the Grand Canyon in size, Palo Duro Canyon is located inside Palo Duro Canyon State Park. The canyon is 25 miles south of the city of Amarillo, which is located directly on your Joshua Tree to Wichita RV road trip. The canyon is 120 miles long, 20 miles wide at its greatest width, and up to 800 feet deep. There are 30 miles of hiking trails that afford visitors the opportunity to explore the canyon and other areas of the park. You can see many types of rock formations of red sandstone, including "hoodoos," which are stacked rocks that feature a large rock perched on top of a smaller rock. The Canyon Gallery at the Visitor Center was built with native stone by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933 and has wide windows with great views of the canyon.
Bluewater Lake State Park
Bluewater Lake State Park is an angler's dream with plentiful stocks of tiger muskie, rainbow and cutthroat trout, and catfish. More than 70 species of both resident and migratory birds have been seen inside the park, and many visitors come to the park to birdwatch. There are miles of multi-use trails, and you can ride horses on the equestrian trails beside the lake. The park is next to the beautiful Yuni Mountains and has numerous stands of pinion and juniper trees.
Desert Botanical Garden
The Desert Botanical Garden is located in Phoenix, AZ, and is home to several thousand species of native and non-native trees, cacti, and flowers. The plants are presented beautifully against the backdrop of the Sonoran Desert's red sandstone rocks. You can hike along several nature trails, including the Harriet K. Maxwell Desert Wildflower Loop trail and the Plants and People of the Sonoran Desert trail. The center hosts events throughout the year, and there are often special exhibits on a rotating schedule. The evening is a fun time to visit due to the illumination of the gardens.
Crystal Bridge Conservatory, Myriad Botanical Gardens
Not only does the Crystal Bridge Conservatory in Oklahoma City feature a wonderful collection of desert and tropical plants, but its unique design is equally as interesting to see. The conservatory is 70 feet wide and 224 feet long and is encased by 3,028 sections of translucent acrylic panels. This design has earned much praise from the architectural community. There are thousands of desert and tropical plants that are housed in two separate zones: the Tropical Dry Zone, which is watered from April through September, and the Tropical Wet Zone, which is watered every day. You can walk on the elevated sky bridge to see the displays and waterfalls below.
The Old Cowtown Museum
The Old Cowtown Museum uses live actors and interactive exhibits to recreate 19th-century life as experienced in Wichita. The museum is near the Chisholm Trail and offers a different type of visit each time. You may meet hunters, trappers, fur traders, cowboys, farmers, and ranchers, all of whom are passionate about their portrayals.
Oklahoma City is the capital of Oklahoma and provides a worthwhile place to stop along your route. You will enjoy walking around the city and seeing all the historic buildings in the capital district, and the Myriad Botanical Gardens and Crystal Bridge Conservatory should be added to your road trip itinerary from Joshua Tree to Wichita. There are two amusement parks and a zoo, and the Oklahoma River runs through the city. The city is also home to Tinker Air Force Base. Roadrunner RV Park is conveniently close to Oklahoma City, and there are many options for using a dump station in the surrounding areas.
Albuquerque was founded as a Spanish settlement in 1706. Today, it is the largest city in New Mexico and has much to offer. You can view historic buildings in Old Town Albuquerque and explore the modern amenities and conveniences of the modern downtown area. Some of the sites you will want to visit are the San Felipe de Neri Church, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, and the various museums in the city. There are also numerous shops that display and sell Native American artworks and crafts. Balloon View RV Park offers great views of the Sandia Mountains, and you will have no problem locating a convenient dump station while in the area on your road trip from Joshua Tree to Wichita.
Amarillo is about two-thirds of the way along your Joshua Tree to Wichita road trip. The city is located on historic Route 66, which runs through the downtown area, and there are several other interesting sites to visit. You will enjoy seeing the partly buried, decorated cars at Cadillac Ranch, and the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame is both educational and fun. Palo Duro Canyon State Park is very close, and you can stay at the Amarillo KOA while visiting all these sites from a central location. Finding a dump station nearby is very easy.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Joshua Tree to Wichita, 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 Joshua Tree or Wichita.