Roadtrip with RVshare Tucson to San Diego

Tucson is only 60 miles north from the Mexican border, and it's also home to the University of Arizona. While you're there, you should check out the Pima Air and Space Museum or Mission San Xavier del Bac. As you travel out of town, the route will take you past the capital city of Arizona, Phoenix, which has plenty of opportunities to improve your golf game or relax in one of the spas. You can then enjoy the Arizona and California landscapes as you head to San Diego. In San Diego, you might want to check out the world-famous San Diego Zoo. While on your road trip from Tucson to San Diego, you can find several spots to make for an amazing Southwestern adventure.

Tucson to San Diego Road Trip Itinerary

  • Trip Length: 7 hours
  • Mileage: 480 miles
  • Fun Fact: Interstate 8 connects the southwestern parts of the United States. This interstate runs from San Diego, California, to Casa Grande, Arizona.

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Nearby National Parks

With this road trip itinerary from Tucson to San Diego, there's plenty of time to kick back and enjoy some natural wonders. If you want to find a spot near you, make sure to check out RVshare's national parks guide.

Grand Canyon National Park

One of the most iconic parks of the country is the Grand Canyon National Park. Over 6 million visitors head to this park to explore the grounds or take in spectacular canyon views. In its 1.2 million acres, you can see where the Colorado River carved out the rocks to form the canyon. Hiking, mountain biking, rafting and backpacking are some of the most popular activities at this park. Since it's a national park, there are several informative talks, guided hikes and geological lectures that you will not want to miss on your trip. 

Petrified Forest National Park

Another fascinating location in Arizona is the Petrified Forest National Park. At this spot, you can explore over 200 square miles of the Arizona desert. As the name states, this park is home to some impressive fossilized wood specimens. Along with that, the Petrified Forest is known for its ancient petroglyphs and native wildlife. While here, make sure to keep an eye out for the coyotes, bobcats and pronghorns roaming the park. You can check out evidence of human inhabitation at its 600 archaeological sites.

Joshua Tree National Park

Clocking in at over 1,200 square miles, Joshua Tree National Park is located between the Colorado and Mojave deserts. The park takes its name from the unique species of yucca that dot the landscape. Along with the desert environment, Joshua Tree National Park also has interesting rock formations and beautiful mountain views. Since the park is near the San Andreas fault line, you can see evidence of how the land has changed throughout the years. Mountain biking, backcountry camping and hiking are some of the most popular activities in the park. The nearby area is a great place to bird-watch or gaze at the night's sky. 

Nearby State Parks

While on your Tucson to San Diego road trip, you might want to take a break and explore the nearby area. If you're looking to stop by these beautiful parks, take a moment to visit RVshare's state park guide for more information.

Lost Dutchman State Park

About 40 miles outside of Phoenix, you'll find the Lost Dutchman State Park. This state park is located in the Superstition Mountains, and it has a mysterious legend connected to the area. According to locals, the Lost Dutchman's Gold Mine is hidden within the mountains. The park is also known for its magnificent mountain views and native wildlife. If you want to enjoy the natural landscape, you should hike around the park or backcountry camp for the night. 

Lake Havasu State Park

You might not think that there are lakes in Arizona, but you can enjoy water recreational opportunities at Lake Havasu State Park. This Arizona state park is located on Lake Havasu's shores, and it's a great place to explore the nature trails and beautiful beaches. If you're looking to camp overnight, the park also has a few campsites available to set up your rig. For those who want to see the local desert flora, the Arroyo-Camino Interpretive Garden displays these exotic plants. 

Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

The Cuyamaca Rancho State Park is located 47 miles from San Diego, and it's nestled between the Laguna and Cuyamaca Mountains. This state park has 24,000 acres of oak and pine tree forests. If you want to see the local wildlife, the park is home to mountain lions, badgers, foxes, bobcats and amphibians. Bird-watchers come to this location to see over 100 species of birds, such as red-tailed hawks, northern flickers and sparrows. There are also 100 miles of trails that are perfect for hiking, horseback riding and bike riding. 

Along the Way

On this Tucson to San Diego RV road trip, you will pass by some impressive points of interest from Arizona to California. 

Mission San Xavier del Bac

This historical Spanish mission is about 10 miles from downtown Tucson. It was founded in 1692 by Padre Eusebio Kino, and it's located in the Tohono O'odham Nation San Xavier Indian Reservation. This mission was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1960. Today, you can still visit the mission and explore the architecture that has a distinctively European appearance. 

Phoenix Art Museum

Art fans won't want to miss the opportunity to visit the largest visual arts museum in the southwestern United States. There are over 18,000 works from Asian, European, American and Latin American artists. Throughout the year, the museum also hosts live musical performances and art festivals. 

San Diego Zoo

This world-class zoo is located in Balboa Park, and it's home to over 3,500 animals. The zoo pioneered the concept of cageless, open-air exhibits that recreate the animals' natural habitats. It's also one of the few zoos that have successfully bred the giant panda. This zoo welcomes over 4 million visitors per year, and it's one of the most visited zoos in the country. 

Coronado Beach

San Diego's Coronado Beach is often called the best beach in the United States. The white sand beaches are some of the best-looking sandy shores in this part of the state. You can spend the day catching some rays or enjoying water sports. As you stroll along Orange Avenue, take time to enjoy the charming restaurants and shops. At the southern end of the beach, you'll want to view the beautiful homes, mansions and the Hotel del Coronado. There's even a dog-friendly park located on the north end of the beach. 

Main Cities You Will Pass Through

As you travel on your Tucson to San Diego road trip, there are some interesting cities that you may want to visit. On this trip, you'll find some fantastic campgrounds to check out and plenty of dump stations to keep your vehicle clean and sanitary 


Phoenix is often called the "Valley of the Sun" as it is known for year-round warm temperatures and sunshine. While you're there, make sure to relax at the high-end spas or explore the vibrant nightclubs. Phoenix is also home to the Desert Botanical Garden, which has displays of native plants and cacti. As you're ready to settle down for the night, you can find a campground for your vehicle. 


Carlsbad is located near San Diego. This seaside town is known for the Tamarack Surf Beach and South Carlsbad State Beach. You can have a day of fun at the LEGOLAND California theme park or the SEA LIFE Aquarium in the town. If you want to see beautiful flowers, the Flower Fields is a seasonal attraction. For those who want to enjoy another local attraction, the Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park is home to free-roaming peacocks. Carlsbad also has many campgrounds that will allow you to kick back and relax at the end of your busy day. 

Chula Vista

This California town is near San Diego, and it's known for its shopping, dining and golf courses. The Nature Center is home to interactive exhibits that explore the historical and geological aspects of the San Diego Bay and Sweetwater Marsh area. You can also learn about the local native animals, including sharks and waterbirds. If you want to stay outside of the San Diego area, then you can find several comfortable campgrounds throughout Chula Vista. 

Find Adventure from Tucson to San Diego

Find your One-Way Rental

With this Tucson to San Diego road trip itinerary, you can find plenty of things to see and do throughout Arizona and California. For those who want to have a unique adventure, you should consider renting an RV from RVshare. There's a wide selection of RV rentals from Tucson to San Diego. With these exciting places and attractions, you can create a vacation that will make a lifetime of memories. For the way back, see San Diego to Tucson!