If you have some free time and want to try your luck in the entertainment capital of the world, consider a trip from San Diego to Las Vegas. Even if you don’t win big, a trip there will take you to some of the most amazing landscapes in the United States.

A desert trip from San Diego to Las Vegas can be made in 5 hours. Consider expanding it by exploring Palm Springs and the Mojave National Conservation Area, then visit the famous Death Valley and the beautiful Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

On this route you have to be careful, so read all the way through to make sure you are ready for your journey from San Diego to Las Vegas.

How far is it from Las Vegas to San Diego and how long does it take to get to?

The car trip from San Diego to Las Vegas is about 330 miles and can be done in 5 hours using the shortest route. Even with breaks it is possible to make a daytrip, but it is better to take longer breaks to see what the Mojave Desert has to offer.

Route Distance Driving time
Fastest route
(via I-15)
330 miles Five o’clock.
(via the SR 60 through the Moreno Valley)
463 miles 8 hours and 40 minutes

With the extra time of just one hour you can make your trip much more beautiful by driving along the Yeshua Tree National Park and through Mojave National Park.

This tour is a particularly good choice if you want to spread your trip over several days as it takes place directly in Palm Springs. The I-15 route is faster, but in the big cities it is quite rare, so your accommodation options are much more limited.

Interstate Road 15 extended with cars on the road on a blue, cloudy and sunny day
The I-15 has its own view for those who are going to drive on this road.


Keep the San Diego rush hour in mind when planning your trip. Between this time and the inevitable traffic from Los Angeles further north, a flight at the wrong time can add a few hours to your trip. Worse, coming to Vegas on Friday or Saturday can be a catch phrase, because then most people come here to relax.

Best routes for car trips from San Diego to Las Vegas

There are many intersections between the two routes, one slightly shorter and the other slightly more visible along the way – one thing they have in common is the convenience of both. For a change, it’s best to take one in Vegas and one on the way back.

Vegas Highway

With the exception of the short section I-215, about 50 miles between Murietta and San Bernardino, you will never have to walk from the I-15 to Vegas, unless you want to leave Los Angeles or take state route 127 at Baker towards Death Valley.

Illustrative version

For a little shaking take state road 60 through the Moreno Valley and follow it to the I-10. Follow the highway through Yeshua Tree National Park and Mojave National Park before reaching I-15 again. From there a straight road leads north until you pass Sloan Canyon and reach Sin City.

Best ports of call between San Diego and Las Vegas

Regardless of the quality of the car, there are only a few luxury stops between San Diego and Las Vegas, and in between there are fortunately some resorts that really shine. These are some of the best places to stay during your trip:

Relaxing in Palm Springs

Palm Springs is about 2 hours from San Diego, making it an ideal stopover if you split your trip into three or more days. Since there is so much to do in the city, you will want to complement it all with the best hotel you can find.

Picturesque view of the roadside palm tree on a beautiful day in Palm Spring, California
Enjoy the picturesque view of the roadside palm tree in Palm Spring, California

Inga Lokmele/Shutterstock.de

This city certainly has the highest concentration of quality resorts along the whole route, but few come close to the Avalon hotel and bungalows.

Avalon will fascinate you from the first minute. With a fireplace, trendy design and an immense elegant white surface on all walls and furniture, the Middle Avalon Bungalow is a small five-star building in itself.

When the brown and yellow desert gets bigger, go outside and enjoy the sun between the shady trees and the pink flowers. After a long walk in the desert you can cool off in one of the three outdoor pools or enjoy a full body massage at the Estrella Spa. If you are visiting in winter, you can also choose one of the hotel’s two whirlpools.

If you get tired of the gym, golf courses and table tennis, rent one of Avalon’s bicycles and go hiking or exploring – all the hiking trails in the area are within a kilometre of the resort and Joshua Three National Park is about an hour’s drive away.

Don’t be discouraged by the etiquette of the bungalow – even though it’s not a cheap place, the service is much better than most expensive Vegas hotels you’ll find.

Overnight stay in Death Valley

Despite its often hospitable terrain, Death Valley is known as one of the few high-quality resorts in the region. Unlike staying in small towns on the way to Las Vegas, the best option is to book the Inn at Death Valley, the undisputed king of all Mojave desert resorts.

Simply put: Death Valley Hostel offers the best rooms, facilities and services you can buy. Just a minute from your comfortable room you will find a large outdoor swimming pool next to a romantic fireplace, small private cafes overlooking the vast desert areas and a huge green garden where you will surely get lost once or twice.

The great restaurant and bar on site will quickly become your favourite spots throughout the property, as will the lounge with panoramic views of the outside world. If you’re not on tour, you can play tennis or walk a few kilometres to a nearby golf course – the hostel has it all.

Your stay will be expensive, but it’s not hard to understand why. Many famous people visit this special resort often (you could even meet a few of them!), and you can expect a celebrity treatment here too.

Things to see on the road from San Diego to Las Vegas

Red-orange sunset illuminating the Fire Rock in the Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada
The Valley of Fire is one of the must-see places to visit when visiting Las Vegas from San Diego.

Filip Fuxa/Shutterstock.com

Don’t be fooled by the desert: on the road from San Diego to Las Vegas you have enough for a few days. If you can, try to spend about a week on this route to make sure you’ve seen it all. These are some of the places you can’t miss along the way:

  1. Cabazon Dinosaur – chances are you’ll recognise this iconic duo of Bronstosaur and T. rex by their cameo in several classic films.
  2. San Jacinto National Park – beautiful park and home of Mount San Jacinto, one of the tallest in California.
  3. Palm Springs – This unique city offers beautiful MCM design, numerous museums and the Palm Springs air tram to the San Jacinto Mountains.
  4. Yeshua Tree National Park – In addition to the titled Yeshua trees, this park is known for its incredible views of the starry sky and many local bird species.
  5. Mojave National Park – in the park is the ghost town of Kelso and the world’s largest forest, Joshua.
  6. Death Valley National Park, feared and revered for its scorching temperatures, this huge park is home to countless sand dunes and unique rock formations.
  7. Seven Magical Mountains – Piles of colourful rocks at the edge of desert roads to break the monotony of Mojave’s earth tones.
  8. Sloan Canyon National Park – Along the hiking and biking trails, this historic park is best known for its native rock paintings.
  9. Red Rock Canyon National Park – An incredibly beautiful place with rock carvings, red rock formations and countless great hiking trails is one of Nevada’s top attractions for good reason.
  10. Lac Mead – This vast nature reserve is a popular boating, swimming and fishing area for tourists and visitors.
  11. Fire Valley – This protected area takes its name from its rock formations, and if you look at it at right angles at sunset, it seems to be completely hot.
  12. Los Angeles – California’s largest city needs no introduction – this metropolis is a leader in economic development, entertainment and nightclubs.
  13. The Angeles and San Bernardino National Forests – offer varied terrain and breathtaking views of the San Gabriel Mountains. These forests are the northern gateway to Los Angeles.
  14. Motel and Café Roy – A time capsule from the time of Highway 66 The largely preserved atomic design of these historic sites still attracts thousands of people today.
  15. The ghost town of Calico – was once an excellent mining town during the era of silver fever The fall in the silver price has made Calico a great attraction and curiosity on the side of the road.

Best time to drive from San Diego to Las Vegas

Overview of the 8 Hectare skyscraper and dance fountain along the Las Vegas Strip in Nevada Las Vegas
Discover the beauty of the 8 Hectare dance fountain along the Las Vegas Strip during your visit to Las Vegas, Nevada

From San Diego to Las Vegas you can take a road trip at any time of the year, but don’t forget that driving through the Mojave Desert in summer can’t be very pleasant, especially if you take the longest route through the Mojave National Park.

Because of the heat in mid-summer, it is probably closest to Las Vegas in low season – summer temperatures are guaranteed at least in the 1990s, but often exceed 100 degrees. Because you are constantly on a voyage of discovery, wandering from one casino or restaurant to another, a summer visit can take you to the extreme, not in the right direction.

Although there is not much snow in the Mojave Desert and the south of Nevada (at least not in large quantities), it is not uncommon for the roads to be covered with black ice. In liquidation, spring and autumn would be the best time to travel from San Diego to Las Vegas.

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