Driving From Austin To El Paso: 5 Sights To See Along the Way

Taking a Texas road trip can open doors to many amazing sights that you might not see when traveling by plane. From the stark beauty of the state’s deserts to historic landmarks, there is much to see. The drive from Austin to El Paso can be especially enjoyable, particularly in early or mid-fall when the sizzling summer temperatures in the area begin to taper off. If you are ready to plan your drive, there are a few cannot-miss stops along the way.

Fredericksburg, Texas
Welcome to Fredericksburg, Texas

1.    Fredericksburg

One of the first stops you can make during your road trip from Austin is historical Fredericksburg. This city, which was first established by German immigrants in 1846, has kept its rich history alive for anyone who visits. Art and museum events, along with wineries, parks, and over 150 places to shop make a stop here more than worth your time. You can expect to spend anywhere from one to six hours in Fredericksburg before continuing on.

Enchanted Rock State Park in Fredericksburg, Texas
Enchanted Rock State Park in Fredericksburg, Texas

2.    Sonora

If you love to visit natural wonders, then consider stopping off in Sonora. Ranch museums, nature trails and museums, and plenty of outdoor recreation offer plenty of sights to see for everyone. The main attraction in Sonora is its caverns, where you can explore its wonders with a knowledgeable tour guide who will take you more than 100 feet underground to view the cavern’s limestone deposits and other formations. There are also several authentic Mexican and barbecue restaurants in the city to enjoy.

When driving from Austin to El Paso, don't miss the Paisano Pete Roadrunner in Fort Stockton, Texas
When driving from Austin to El Paso, don’t miss the Paisano Pete Roadrunner in Fort Stockton 😉

3.    Fort Stockton

This historic city grew around military occupation of Comanche Springs, which was one of the major water sources for those occupying the area in the mid-1800s. Today, it is a thriving area with over two dozen restaurants and entertaining saloon-style watering holes to enjoy. If you are interested in Texas history, you can tour Old Fort Stockton, the historic Old Pecos County Jail, and most notably, the Old Fort Cemetery, which has graves dating back to the days of the Buffalo Soldiers.

The oldest house in Fort Stockton, Texas
Fort Stockton Cemetery has graves dating back to the days of the Buffalo Soldiers in the 1860’s

Once you get to Fort Stockton, you are little over halfway through your road trip. There are quite a few hotels in the area, which makes it a good place to stop and get some overnight rest and a little exploring.

The oldest house in Fort Stockton, Texas
The oldest house in Fort Stockton

4.    Van Horn

If you are a movie buff who enjoys visiting places where popular films or TV shows were created, then a stop in Van Horn may be worth your time. While this is a smaller city with limited attractions, it does feature a few unique sights. Established in 1881, the city’s natural stark desert beauty has been used as a backdrop to such films as “The Three Burials,” “Dead Man’s Walk,” and “Blue Skies.” Private ranch and hiking tours are also available if you want to indulge in a bit of outdoor adventure.

5.    Hueco Tanks

Driving west from Van Horn will take you to the outskirts of El Paso within about two hours. It is important to gas up before you leave, replenish snacks and water, and double check your car insurance information via its app to ensure you have some type of roadside assistance just in case. As you drive into El Paso, stop at Hueco Tanks State Park, where you can see Indian cave paintings, hike, picnic, and even camp.

Panoramic view from North Mountain at Hueco Tanks State Park
Hueco Tanks State Park features breathtakingly gorgeous views from North Mountain, however only 70 permits are issued per day

You can explore the park and rock climb with a guide. However, since access to the park is limited to 70 people at a time, you may want to call ahead to ensure you can get in.

Trans Mountain Road, El Paso, Texas
Trans Mountain Road in El Paso, Texas

The drive from Austin to El Paso is rich with history, adventure, and natural beauty. Whether you are looking for a unique food to sample or discover a new favorite nature trail, this road trip has something to offer for everyone.

Further Reading & Useful Resources

Ever taken a Texas road trip from Austin to El Paso?

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About Derek Freal

"Some people eat, others try therapy. I travel."   Cultural enthusiast. Adrenaline junkie. Eater of strange foods. Chasing unique and offbeat adventures around the world since 2008. Derek loves going to new destinations where he does not speak a word of the local language and must communicate with hand gestures, or places where he is forced to squat awkwardly to poo -- supposedly its healthier and more efficient. For more information (about Derek, not squat pooing) including popular posts and videos, check out his bio.

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