The American Southwest is a fascinating place full of open spaces, quirky people, and landmarks that border on the bizarre. If you’ve never had a chance to explore it, you’re missing out. There are dozens of destinations to behold, but you can take in some of our favorites during a three-day, slightly-less-than-direct road trip from the Rooster Teeth studios in Austin, Texas to Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Start your engines.
Google Maps Itinerary
Day One: Austin > Marfa
This day is a doozie, so you’re going to want to get an early start. Texas is huge. This leg will take you from Austin to Marfa, with several fun stops in between.
Stop 1: Stonehenge II in Ingram, Texas
Image source: Stonehenge II on Facebook
This unexpected roadside attraction is located just over 100 miles west of Austin, on the grounds of the Hill Country Arts Foundation. It’s the perfect place to stop once your morning coffee kicks in.
Stonehenge II was created by Al Shepperd and Doug Hill more than 20 years ago. It took nine months to build and is 90% the height and 60% the width of the original Stonehenge. Shepperd eventually added two 13-foot Easter Island head replicas to add to the mystique.
This site is free and open to the public from dawn until nightfall.
120 Point Theatre Road, Ingram, Texas 78025
Stop 2: Caverns of Sonora in Sonora, Texas
Image source: Caverns of Sonora
From Stonehenge II, your next landmark is a quick 100-mile jaunt away.
The Caverns of Sonora were once described as, "This is the most indescribably beautiful cave in the world, its beauty cannot be exaggerated, not even by a Texan." The cave was formed between 1.5 to 5 million years ago and is known for its incredible calcite crystal formations, especially helictites.
Two-hour-long guided tours are available through almost two miles of visually stunning cave passages. You can buy tickets on-site for $20 or online at a slightly discounted rate. Their hours of operation are 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. from March 1 through Labor Day, and 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. from the Tuesday after Labor Day through the end of February.
1711 PR 4468, Sonora, Texas 76950
Stop 3: Marfa Lights Viewing Area near Marfa, Texas
Image source: Visit Marfa
Your final attraction of the day sits a little over three hours from Sonora. No visit to West Texas is complete without a stop to see the famous Marfa Lights. If you timed your trip just right, you should be rolling into this destination at sunset – the perfect time to see the lights.
The Marfa Lights are strange, glowing orbs that appear over a vast stretch of desert land. They’re said to have been witnessed as early as 1883, though the first published account only traces back to 1957. There’s a lot of debate over the source of the phenomena; some say they’re caused by paranormal entities or aliens, while pragmatists say they’re simply headlights from cars traveling along U.S. Highway 67. Whatever your beliefs, this is a cool destination with super creepy public toilets that appear to drain directly into the core of the earth.
This destination is free to the public and open 24 hours.
US-90, Marfa, Texas 79843
Stop 4: Spend the Night in Marfa, Texas
Image source: El Cosmico
You’re now deep in the middle of nowhere, so we advise stopping to spend the night in Marfa. It’s a very cool little town with a surprisingly active art and culinary scene. El Cosmico is an awesome place to stay. They have accommodations for any budget: you can bring your own tent and sleep on their grounds for $20 per person per night, you can glamp in their tepees or safari tents for a bit more, or you can go all out and stay in one of their restored trailers.
Day Two: Marfa > Santa Fe
If you thought yesterday was a doozie, prepare yourself for a double doozie. You aren’t even out of Texas yet. This leg will take you from Marfa to Santa Fe, with several fun stops in between.
Stop 1: Prada Marfa near Valentine, Texas
Image source: Carol M. Highsmith, Library of Congress
About 30 miles northwest of Marfa resides arguably the most famous roadside attraction in all of Texas, visited by Beyoncé and parodied on The Simpsons.
Though it looks like a store in the middle of nowhere, Prada Marfa is actually a permanently installed sculpture by artists Elmgreen and Dragset. Its juxtaposition against the sprawling Texas desert is an incredible sight.
US-90, Valentine, Texas 79854
Stop 2: Carlsbad Caverns near Carlsbad, New Mexico
Image source: NPS
Roughly two hours from Prada Marfa sits Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico’s only national park. You could spend several days exploring all of its caves, but there’s also an option for a quick, 1-2 hour visit. If that’s your plan, you can enter and exit the cave via an elevator in the visitor center and walk the Big Room self-guided tour. The visitor center also has restrooms and concessions if that’s what you seek.
A general admission ticket is required for anyone entering Carlsbad Caverns. Adults 16 years and older are $12, while children 15 and younger are free. The caverns are open from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 or 5:00 p.m. depending upon the time of year, so it’s best to check the hours before you stop.
3225 National Parks Highway, Carlsbad, New Mexico 88220
Stop 3: International UFO Museum and Research Center in Roswell, New Mexico
You simply cannot drive through New Mexico without engaging in some classic alien tourism. Lucky for you, the ultimate destination is only an hour and a half away.
The International UFO Museum and Research Center is dedicated to the collection and preservation of materials and information related to the infamous UFO crash in Roswell in 1947, as well as other unexplained phenomena related to UFO research.
The museum is open from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. every day. Admission is $5 for adults, $2 for children ages 5 to 15, and $3 for seniors, military, and first responders.
114 N. Main Street, Roswell, New Mexico 88203
Stop 4: Cowboy Ruckus near Vaughn, New Mexico
About 73 miles north of Roswell, between mileposts 184 and 183 on US Hwy 285, sits an unexpected sight. An 18-foot-tall cowboy points accusingly across the highway at another towering cowpoke, who shrugs it off. Created by artist John Cerney, the giant full-color wooden cutouts are modeled after the two cowboy brothers who own the land. It’s a fun, quick photo opportunity to break up the final leg of your trip.
Between Mileposts 184 and 183 on US Hwy 285
Stop 5: Spend the Night in Santa Fe, New Mexico
You’re going to want to spend as much time as possible at Meow Wolf, so we recommend taking it easy for the night once you arrive in Santa Fe. There are plenty of lodging options for all tastes and budgets, so do your thing.
Day Three: Meow Wolf!
Image source: Meow Wolf on Facebook
Experience The Weird Place for yourself! Meow Wolf’s House of Eternal Return in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is an explorable, immersive art installation filled with technology and fantastic environments to inspire visitors of all ages. The wildly imaginative art space is a collaboration of over 100 local artists and is a unique combination of children’s museum, art gallery, jungle gym, and fantasy novel.
Admission is $29 for adults, $21 for children 13 and under, and $25 for seniors and military, with additional discounts available for New Mexico residents. Tickets can be purchased online ahead of time for extra convenience.
Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays: 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Fridays and Saturdays: 10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
1352 Rufina Circle, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87507