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(Last Updated On: October 6, 2021)

Every Winter it’s inevitable that I head on a desert road trip to escape the cold and overcast days of the Pacific Northwest. I have gone on multiple desert road trips now over the years and this was a favorite with my girlfriends. Read on for a guide for an adventurous 5 day southwest road trip!

This 5 Day Southwest Road Trip is one you don't want to miss. From off-the-radar spots to desert road trip classics, this guide has it all.

Best Southwest Road Trip

This desert road trip was a car camping trip that started in South. We slept in our cars for the entire duration of the trip. Each destination will be linked to a blog post breaking down all the details of the trip including camping and lodging options! If you would like additional information on finding free camping check out my blog below.

1. Remington Hot Springs in California

This hot spring took me by surprise. I had never heard of Remington Hot Springs, but I am still relatively new to California. The Children of the Earth or Remington Hot Springs are a pleasant spot to stop at if you’re passing through. Here is everything you need to know to reach these springs and have a good time!

2. Red Rock Canyon in California

Ultimate Girls Trip Guide for the Best Southwest Road Trip

Red Rock Canyon State Park is seriously one of the most underrated State Parks in Southern California. Scenic desert cliffs, stunning red hues, buttes, I had no idea it existed until last year and have gone twice now! It is the perfect add on or stand alone destination to have one of the best road trip in the Southwest.

3. Trona Pinnacles in California

You don't want to miss this guide to the Best 5 Day Southwest Road Trip.

This place felt like I had landed in a different country or honestly a different planet. Camping at Trona Pinnacles was a top highlight of my 5 day Southwest road trip. Free camping, 140 foot spires, and a ridiculous amount of stars, camping at Trona Pinnacles should definitely be on your list.

4. Death Valley National Park

Desert Road Trip USA

I’ve been to Death Valley twice in one year now. If you’ve never thought about Death Valley as a destination, PLEASE let me convince you. This park really took me by surprise and has incredible variety of landscapes from dunes, to salt flats, to mountain viewpoints. You seriously don’t want to miss this California gem.

5. Tecopa Hot Springs

Shot on Film. Check out my Guide to Getting Started with Film!

If you can’t tell, I’m mildly obsessed with hot springs. Delight’s Hot Springs is a “rustic” resort in Tecopa, California. And it was by far one of the most eccentric experiences I have had traveling. Going for one night on your way in or way out of Death Valley would be the perfect way to experience this area and the healing mineral waters of Tecopa and a delightful add on to your southwest road trip.

6. Mojave Desert Lava Tube

Mojave Desert Lava Tube in California is something really special. The road to get here is a bit rough, but if you’re up for an adventure – this is for you! If you browse the Instagram tag for this place, you’ll see LOADS of photos showing off incredible light beams here. I mean come on, a desert lava tube is the perfect stop on a desert road trip.

7. Grand Canyon South Rim

Desert Road Trip in the Southwest USA

Grand Canyon National Park is wonderful in that you don’t have to put in much effort to see incredible views. Enjoy incredible views from Mather Point and Ooh Ahh Point at the South Rim. Road trips in the southwest are never complete without the Grand Canyon!!

8. Sedona, Arizona

Sedona is known for its red rocks of course, but also some rather interesting sacred history and talk of an energy vortex – if you’re into that. The views here are incredible even if you are just driving through. I promise, it’s worth any detour you need to take on your road trips in the southwest.

Desert Road Trip Route : 5 Day Southwest Road Trip

If you are flying in and renting a vehicle, it would make sense to start at one end and fly back home from the other! I personally looped back around after to make my way back home to Northern California.

Best Time of Year for a Desert Road Trip

I completed this road trip in December and then again in March. Both times the weather was pretty mild, but noticeably warmer in March. The nights were chilly for almost all destinations, so bring extra clothing and layers for sleeping!

Death Valley was the warmest destination and the Grand Canyon was the coldest on this Southwest road trip. Check the weather of those two locations before deciding on dates for your trip!


I hope this inspires you to get out on your own 5 Day Southwest Road Trip this Winter season. All of these locations are lovely in different ways. If you can’t do them all in one go, think about splitting up the destinations in two separate trips!

Leave a comment if you are adding any of these places to your itinerary!

This 5 Day Southwest Road Trip is one you don't want to miss. From off-the-radar spots to desert road trip classics, this guide has it all.

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Interested in itineraries similar to road trips in the southwest? Check out my other California Road Trip with more Southwest locations!

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  1. Joanna on October 13, 2021 at 10:27 am

    Such beautiful views thanks for sharing.

  2. Kate on October 13, 2021 at 10:30 am

    Tecopa Hot Springs sounds like such a cool spot! I love unique finds like this, definitely adding it to my list for my next Southwest trip.

  3. Anna on October 13, 2021 at 10:41 am

    Wow all these places look like they don’t belong on Earth! Definitely putting this on my bucket list

  4. Linda (LD Holland) on October 13, 2021 at 6:05 pm

    So many great spots to add to our next road trip in southwest USA. I love the idea of a hot springs stop on a road trip to work out the kinks of long driving days. With all of these great stops we might need weeks.

  5. shelley on October 13, 2021 at 7:54 pm

    what an epic road trip! i am absolutely obsessed with Remington Hot Springs now, i had never heard of them, but i will 100% be adding them to my SW road trip as well.

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