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Roadtrip with RVshare Riverside to Santa Fe National Forest

You'll pass through the states of California, Arizona, and New Mexico when you embark on a road trip from Riverside to Santa Fe National Forest. The Western U.S. is dominated by mountains and deserts, and preserves like Yosemite, Death Valley, and Grand Canyon national parks present ample opportunities to explore while you travel. There's also plenty of history to discover in the cities you'll traverse, allowing for the opportunity to learn a little more about this fascinating region of the country as you make your way toward your destination.

Riverside to Santa Fe National Forest Road Trip Itinerary

  • Trip Length: 12 hours
  • Mileage: 800 miles
  • Fun Fact: At 7,199 feet above sea level, Santa Fe is the highest capital in the U.S.

Nearby National Parks

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is named for the Joshua tree, which is found in the Sonoran and Mojave deserts of Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and California, as well as those in northwestern Mexico. The Joshua tree is not actually a tree; it's a yucca plant of the agave species. Joshua Tree National Park is a large park that contains 790,636 acres of mostly desert, and visitors come to hike among the trees, view the rock walls, and camp under the stars. Popular sites in the park include Hidden Valley, with its plenteous Joshua trees and rock formations, and the scenic point of Keys View, which provides spectacular views of the San Andreas fault line, the Salton Sea, Palm Springs, and Coachella Valley. 

Grand Canyon National Park

There is no other natural wonder quite like the Grand Canyon. The largest canyon in the U.S., the Grand Canyon is 277 feet long and 18 miles wide at its greatest width, and it's known for its colorful hues, rock formations, and vegetation throughout the gorge. The Colorado River, which flows through the canyon, changes colors from blue to emerald green to brown for each season. The Grand Canyon National Park contains both the South Rim and the North Rim portions of the canyon. The West Rim is managed by the Hualapai Nation, and the Havasupai Canyon area of the Grand Canyon is managed by the Havasupai Nation. The South Rim is the more visited area of the canyon. There, you'll find plentiful lodging and amenities. You can walk along the rim trail and utilize the hop-on, hop-off shuttles that run beside the rim, and there are numerous trails that descend into the interior of the canyon. The North Rim is higher in elevation and less crowded, but it also has numerous trails. There are three campgrounds in the Grand Canyon: Indian Garden Campground, which is on the Bright Angel Trail; Cottonwood Campground, which is on the North Kaibab Trail; and Bright Angel Campground, which is at the bottom of the canyon. The Phantom Ranch, which has a dormitory, restaurant, and store, is also at the bottom of the canyon. 

Nearby State Parks

Mount San Jacinto State Park

Mount San Jacinto State Park is located in the San Jacinto Mountains of Southern California. The summit of Mount San Jacinto rises 10,804 feet in elevation and is the highest peak in the San Jacinto range and the second highest in Southern California. The park is only a few hours from Los Angeles and San Diego, and it offers a beautiful respite among meadows, subalpine forests, and peaks of granite. You can easily access the summit via the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, a fully rotating tram that ascends over two miles to Mountain Station at the top. From here, you can enjoy amenities like restaurants, a museum, observation decks, documentary theaters, and an extensive system of hiking trails. The Pacific Coast Trail, which stretches from the Canadian and Oregon border to the California and Mexican border, runs through the park. 

Homolovi State Park

When you visit Homolovi State Park on your Riverside to Santa Fe National Forest road trip, you'll be able to go back in time to a significant era in the Hopi people's history. The park is a combination of an archeological dig and a natural preserve. There are more than 300 archaeological sites within the park, including four that are considered major 14th-century pueblos. There are several walking and hiking trails that lead to the dig sites, a visitor center, a museum, several scenic pullouts, and a campground. 

Bluewater Lake State Park

Bluewater Lake State Park is a prime destination for anglers who cast their lines for tiger muskie, cutthroat and rainbow trout, and catfish in Bluewater Lake. There are around 70 species of resident and migratory birds within the park, and bird-watching is a popular activity. Visitors can hike, bike, and ride horses and enjoy viewing the beautiful landscapes afforded by the pinion and juniper trees against the backdrop of the Yuni Mountains. 

Along the Way

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park has the distinction of being the park with the most "-est" to its name: the largest, driest, hottest, and lowest of the national parks in the contiguous U.S. Death Valley National Park has an altitude of -228.2 feet below sea level, as measured inside Badwater Basin, and routinely has temperatures above 113 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. The landscape inside the park is varied and includes valleys, canyons, sand dunes, salt flats, wildflowers, and saltwater oases that are home to the pupfish fish. Visitors can hike along the Telescope Peak Trail, view the hundreds of rattlesnakes at Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, and walk around the salt mounds of Devil's Gold Course.

Desert Botanical Garden

The Desert Botanical Garden is located in Papago Park in Phoenix, AZ, and is a great place to take a break from your Riverside to Santa Fe National Forest RV road trip. The garden has a large repository of approximately 50,000 plants that are representative of more than 4,000 species, including numerous agave and cacti. The desert plants originate both locally and internationally, and the center features collections from the U.S., South America, Australia, and other countries. Not only can visitors enjoy the beauty of the gardens, but they can also learn about the plants while taking one of the five themed walks. You can view displays and partake of lectures and workshops on nature art, cooking, desert landscaping, wellness, and more.

Sandia Peak Tramway

The Sandia Peak Tramway is an aerial tramway that is the longest in the U.S. and the third-longest in the world. It stretches from northeast Albuquerque to Sandia Peak on the Sandia Mountains. It climbs the highest side of the western slopes of the Sandia Mountains up to an elevation of 10,368 feet above sea level in 15 minutes. Passengers are treated to an 11,000 square-mile panoramic view of Albuquerque and the greater Rio Grande Valley.

Main Cities You Will Pass Through

Quartzite, Arizona

Quartzsite is best known as a prime RV destination and is especially popular in the winter. The RVers who frequent the city are a mix of people who are taking a break from seasonal work and people who are traveling the countryside for fun. There are nine major gem shows that take place each year, and the highlight of the year is the two-month-long gem show and swap meet that takes place every January and February. Quartzsite is the home of the Arizona Peace Trail, a series of off-road loop trails that extends for 750 miles. The La Paz County Park offers riverfront and river-view RV sites, and you can easily utilize dump stations in the local area.

Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix is often named the Valley of the Sun. The city is home to a great number of historical, recreational, and cultural centers and venues, and everyone can find something to do in Papago Park. The Desert Botanical Garden and the Phoenix Zoo are both inside this huge recreational park, which includes 7 acres of fishing ponds, golf courses, sports facilities, hills, trails, and rock formations. The Covered Wagon RV Park is close to shopping centers, and it offers plenty of amenities. Phoenix is at a midpoint on your road trip itinerary from Riverside to Santa Fe National Forest, and it may be time to find a dump station before you reach your destination.

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Albuquerque is the largest city in New Mexico. It was founded as a Spanish settlement, and its Old Town district features narrow streets, historic adobe buildings, and plenty of eateries that serve sopaipilla pastries and enchiladas. Some interesting attractions include the 18th-century San Felipe de Neri Church, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, and the Albuquerque Museum. There are many options for using a dump station if you need one. Balloon View RV Park has a pool and other amenities and is close to both downtown Albuquerque and the Sandia Mountains.

Find Adventure from Riverside to Santa Fe National Forest

Rent an RV

When you follow this road trip itinerary from Riverside to Santa Fe National Forest, 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 Riverside or Santa Fe National Forest.

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