Houston to Colorado Road Trip

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Cowboy country, anyone? This road trip will take you through the lively streets of Houston, the quiet desert beauty of New Mexico—all the way to the lush state of Colorado.
Extra points if you spot a tumbleweed.
No one wants to spend hours on end planning a laid-back road trip through the U.S., which is why Jerry has put together everything you need to plan a road trip from Houston to Colorado.
Jerry is an app that generates car insurance quotes from over 40 insurers, doing all the comparison shopping for you—so that you can find the best deals in the least amount of time.
Better yet, Jerry’s roadside assistance program keeps you safe while on the road—so you don’t have to do any worrying while on your trip. Membership includes towing, lockout services, and even Uber credits.
Ready to hit the road? We start in Houston!
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Key trip details

Houston, TX to Denver, CO trip.
Houston, TX to Denver, CO
Distance: 1,582 miles
Driving time: 26 hours
Suggested length of trip: 5 to 7 days

Itinerary

  • Houston, TX —Half a day
  • San Antonio, TX —1 day
  • Austin, TX —1 day
  • San Angelo, TX —1 day
  • Tularosa, NM—Half a day
  • Albuquerque, NM—1 day
  • Santa Fe, NM —1 day
  • Pagosa Springs, CO —Half a day
  • Denver, CO—1 day

Houston

Did you know that the average Houston resident eats out more times a week than anywhere else in the U.S.? Maybe it’s because restaurants are a bit more affordable—or maybe it’s because the food in Houston is fire.
Either way, you’ll be eating to your heart’s delight in Houston, and that’s only before you enjoy the entertainment this city has to offer. As one of the most populous cities in the United States, Houston, Texas is full of entertainment opportunities for all alike!

Where to eat in Houston

  • Roost ($$) — This cozy and unassuming contemporary Southwestern eatery has all your favorite classic American offerings, seafood included. Head chef Kevin Naderi takes inspiration from his cooking experience in Napa and NYC and centers farm-fresh ingredients inspired from countries all over the world.
  • Batanga ($$) — Batanga has one of the largest outdoor patios in Houston, making a great spot for warm summer nights—or for those who want to eat socially distanced. This restaurant offers a range of tapas—small plates—from Latin American countries including Brazil, Spain, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Cuba.

What to do in Houston

The mint green control panel room of The Space Center.
The Space Center
  • The Space Center: Space lovers will love the Space Center Houston, which includes a display of a flown SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that is over 156 feet long.
  • The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston: Houston is home to one of the largest museums in the United States. Spanning over 6,000 years of history and featuring about 70,000 works, its permanent exhibition will be sure to have something to awaken your inner art historian.
  • Minute Maid Park: You can catch an Astros game at the Minute Maid Stadium with the right trip planning. Here, you can also enjoy some of the most exciting stadium food in the country (tortilla-wrapped hotdog with Hot Cheetos, anyone?)
  • Buffalo Bayou Partnership: Looking for a more laid-back activity? Try out the Buffalo Bayou Partnership where you’ll have access to hundreds of acres of running trails and parkland. This non-profit organization also offers boat tours of the bayou.

Day 2 —Houston to San Antonio, TX

197 miles, 3 hours 8 minutes
Ah, San Antonio, where the sun shines 300 days a year and the average temperature is in the 70s. This city, centered nearly equidistant between Texas’s east and west coasts, is a perfect stop on any southern road trip.
Take I-10 W out of Houston for the quickest and most direct route to San Antonio.

Where to eat in San Antonio

  • Whiskey Cake Kitchen and Bar ($$): With an extensive cocktail menu, weekend brunch, and mouth-watering appetizers, this stop will give you all the southern food offerings you’re craving—without sacrificing culinary innovation. Think Thai barbeque duck wings, steamed black mussels, chicken & waffles, and pork brisket steak. Yum.
  • Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery ($$): Run by chef Jeff Balfour, this restaurant modernizes classic cross-cultural Texan cuisine—plus, with a seasonal shifting menu, you’re always guaranteed to be getting the best menu with the freshest ingredients.

What to do in San Antonio

San Antonio River Walk lined with people dining outdoors at sunset.
San Antonio River Walk
  • The River Walk: This walking route, also known as Paseo del Rio, is a 15-mile urban waterway. Walk along the waterway or hop in a boat for a guided tour through the city. On the south end of the waterway, you can catch a glimpse of the San Antonio Missions.
  • Enchanted Rock State Natural Area: Outdoors lovers should check out Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, which gives you a view of the Texas Hill Country—amidst breathtaking rock formations and scenery. Or, go to San Antonio’s Natural Bridge Caverns to see some of Texas’s natural underground wonder.

San Antonio to Austin, TX

78 miles, 1 hour 32 minutes
Need to see a little more of Texas? We’ve got you covered. Austin is a thriving and vibrant city, becoming one of the tech hubbubs of the nation. See if you can spot a Barton Springs salamander, which is native exclusively to Austin!
Take I-35 N out of San Antonio to arrive at Austin.

Where to eat in Austin

  • Emmer and Rye ($$$): This carbon-neutral restaurant is so focused on seasonal and fresh ingredients that it features a menu that changes daily—and animal butchery is done on-site! As an entirely farm-to-table restaurant, you’re sure to feel good after eating here.
  • Uchi ($$$$): After training in New York, Tokyo, and Austin for over 10 years, chef and sushi master James Beard opened Uchi, bringing innovation to traditional Japanese. His love for experimentation coupled with his expertise is sure to delight any sushi-lover!

What to do in Austin

A red fluorescent sign for the Broken Spoke dance hall in Austin.
Broken Spoke Dance Hall
  • Zilker Park: This recreational area gives travelers entertainment and a place to cool off—swim in Barton Springs Pool or take a stroll through the sculpture garden and botanical gardens.
  • Mount Bonnell: Hike Mount Bonnell to catch views of the city and Lake Austin—or, if you want a less strenuous outdoor activity, check out Laguna Gloria’s woodlands.
  • Dance at Broken Spoke: For a truly Texan experience, spend a night at Broken Spoke, the dive bar, and Texan dance hall.
Pro Tip If bats are your thing, you’re lucky to be in Austin. The city is home to the largest bat colony in North America—over one million bats emerge from under the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge before sunset every day from March to October. If you’re not so into bats, now you know to stay away.

Austin to San Angelo, TX

205 miles, 3 hours 32 minutes
Alright—last stop in Texas. (What can we say? It’s a really big state). Near the northern coast, San Angelo will let you relax and stay occupied on your way through the states.
Follow State Hwy 71 W followed by US-87 N to get to San Angelo.

Where to eat in San Angelo

  • Zero One Ale House ($$): House brewed beers, Monday thru Friday 4-7 pm Happy Hour, brewery tours, loads of meat and seafood dishes—Zero One Ale House definitely won’t disappoint any food-loving traveler.
  • The Wharf ($$): Classic steakhouse and fresh seafood? Yes, please. The Wharf will satisfy a wide array of cravings—nothing too surprising, and nothing disappointing.

What to do in San Angelo

  • Fort Concho: Got a history buff in the car? Take a self-guided tour of this historic U.S. Army base and National Historic Landmark District along the banks of the Concho River.
  • San Angelo State Park: It’s been a long day of driving! Take a hike through San Angelo State Park to see some wildlife or just loosen up.
  • Railway and Heritage Museum of San Angelo: This relatively small museum houses seven full-sized railroad engines and is committed to preserving the extensive railroad history of San Angelo. Stop by to learn a thing or two about railways and support the museum’s efforts.
  • San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts: Check out the San Angelo MFA’s ever-growing permanent collection, as well as its traveling exhibitions passing through. The museum’s research library and rooftop sculpture collection set it apart from other museums you’ll come across.

San Angelo to Tularosa, NM

612 miles, 6 hours 24 minutes
Tularosa is a small but up-and-coming town in the south of New Mexico sure to please any lover of the outdoors. Follow US-87 N and US-380 W for the best route to Tularosa.

Where to eat in Tularosa

  • Casa de Suenos ($$): This family-owned and operated restaurant has been serving New Mexican cuisine since 2002, and meals are always made-to-order. Casa de Suenos is also a great budget-friendly option to offset some of the costs of your trip!

Things to do in Tularosa

A petroglyph of a cow at the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site on a clear day.
Three Rivers Petroglyph Site
  • Lincoln National Forest: This national forest spans over parts of four counties and is a great spot to picnic or take a hike. If you have camping gear, the area is also open to housing you for the night.
  • Three Rivers Petroglyph Site: You don’t have to necessarily be a history geek to find this site incredibly cool. Here, you can find prehistoric Jornada Mogollon rock art (there are over 21,000 petroglyphs!).

Tularosa to Albuquerque, NM

196 miles, 2 hours 53 minutes
And with that, we’re back to a big city! We hope you’re not too tired from all your driving yet—we’re just getting started. Packed with history to see and great cuisine to try, Albuquerque might just be your next favorite city.
Your best bet for getting there is US-380 W and I-25 N.

Where to eat in Albuquerque

  • Farina ($$): This downtown pizzeria serves artisanal pizzas, salads, and housemade pasta, and the menu also features an eclectic beer and wine list, so you’ll always be able to grab a great drink to go with your food. Locally sourced ingredients and house-cured meats are a couple of reasons this pizzeria is ranked among the top 20 in the country!
  • Indian Pueblo Kitchen ($$): This is a great pick for anyone who wants to experience the rich cultural history of New Mexico through its cuisine. Headed by Chef Ray Naranjo (Santa Clara Pueblo, Odawa), Indian Pueblo Kitchen features traditional indigenous cuisine and Native American culinary artistry to give you a full exploration of Native American culture. Get a glimpse of the Sandia mountains while dining outside or enjoy dining indoors in the restaurant.

What to do in Albuquerque

A wooden sign at the base of a trail signals the Petroglyph National Monument.
Petroglyph National Monument
  • Petroglyph National Monument: At 17 miles long, this national monument is hard to miss. Stop here to see volcanic rock drawings that were carved 400 to 700 years ago by Spanish settlers and Native Americans.
  • Old Town Ghost Tours: If you’re staying the night in Albuquerque, get your scares on a ghost tour of the old town. Tours are available year-round, and you can choose a public or private tour to make sure you don’t miss a thing in Albuquerque.
  • La Luz Trail: If you want to go from the flat highways to the top of the world, take advantage of the hiking and rock climbing in the surrounding area. La Luz Trail is a great option.

Albuquerque to Santa Fe, NM

63 miles, 1 hour 4 minutes
For some more enjoyment of the American southwest, head to Santa Fe established back in 1607.
The route for this one is easy. Just follow I-25 N.

Where to eat in Santa Fe

  • Jambo Cafe ($$): For African homestyle cuisine, look no further than Jambo Cafe, headed by Chef Ahmed Obo. Everything from Kenyan-style beef kebabs to Moroccan lamb stew to coconut chicken curry, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone who wouldn’t enjoy Jambo’s colorful menu.
  • Paper Dosa ($$): Paper Dosa, per its name, focuses on dosa dishes, like paneer and peas dosa, white truffle masala dosa, and egg dosa. They even offer a take-home kit to make your own dosa if that’s your jam (and if you’re staying somewhere with a kitchen)!

What to do in Santa Fe

A colorful sign for the Santa Fe folk art market surrounded by red lanterns.
A Santa Fe folk art market
  • Canyon Road: This unique road hosts a variety of galleries with local artwork and artisan craftwork, including Navajo rugs and Southwestern wood carvings.
  • Santa Fe Opera: Catch an opera at the Santa Fe Opera House, an open-air venue surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges.
  • Museum of International Folk Art: View some precious artifacts that represent a range of diverse cultures. This is one of the largest collections of international folk art in the world!
  • New Mexico History Museum: While you’re in town, stop by this museum to learn about New Mexico’s historical background. Its three and a half floors will tell you the rich story of the state.

Santa Fe to Pagosa Springs, CO

153 miles, 2 hours 47 minutes
Pagosa Springs, in southwestern Colorado, is named after the city’s natural hot springs, and is sure to give you a proper taste of beautiful Colorado!
To get to Pagosa Springs from Santa Fe, take US-84 W.

Where to eat in Pagosa Springs

  • Alley House Grille ($$$): Voted in the top 10% of restaurants worldwide through Traveller’s Choice, Alley House Grille offers meat- and seafood-centered dishes, salads, and pizzas. It’s an easy-to-order-at restaurant with top-of-the-line ingredients and curations.
  • Rosie’s Pizzeria ($): This highly-rated pizzeria makes all their pizzas from scratch and in-house, making it some of the tastiest comfort food around. With gluten-free and vegetarian options, Rosie’s is a great destination for health-conscious eaters.

What to do in Pagosa Springs

A colorful hot air balloon rises above a small lake in Pagosa Springs on a clear day.
Pagosa Springs
  • Carson National Forest: On your drive from Santa Fe to Pagosa Springs, make sure to stop off at Carson National Forest for some hiking and nature-viewing!
  • Wolf Creek Pass: Go to the top of the Continental Divide on Wolf Creek Pass for a view of Treasure Falls, a 100-ft waterfall.
  • Pagosa Springs Hot Air Balloons: Tired of hiking for great views? Let a hot air balloon do the work for you! This is easily one of the best ways to take in all of Pagosa Springs.
  • Pagosa Hot Springs: As the city name suggests, you’re in the right place to soak up some relaxation. Go to one of the three hot springs facilities for the mineral-rich pools.
Pro tip The driving on Wolf Creek Pass can be dicey if conditions aren’t right. Opt to visit this spot if it’s a clear day, and always be sure to drive cautiously.

Pagosa Springs to Denver

277 miles, 4 hours 49 minutes
And finally, you’ve made it! End your trip in Denver, Colorado for a welcome back into bigger-city life, packed full of great eateries, rich entertainment, and breathtaking natural beauty.
Hop onto US Hwy 285 N to arrive in Denver.

Where to eat in Denver

  • Tables ($$$): Chefs Amy and Dustin Barrett have cultivated this restaurant with a keen focus on having a relaxed, eclectic, cozy ambiance—from the mismatched salvaged decor to the simple but sophisticated menu.
  • Snooze, an A.M. Eatery ($$): And for your breakfast and brunch needs, get a Bloody Mary or an eggs benedict at Snooze. All your favorite brunch entrees and drinks with no sacrifice of quality.

What to do in Denver

The geometric main building of the Denver Art Museum at night.
Denver Art Museum
  • Denver Art Museum: Art lovers can check out the Denver Art Museum, which takes inspiration from the surrounding Rocky Mountains.
  • Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre: Catch a show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, a magnificent outdoor amphitheater that can bring you entertainment while getting to bask in Colorado’s natural topography.
  • South Broadway: Stroll through South Broadway—otherwise known as So Bo—for some antique furniture shopping.
  • Hike: Most importantly, don’t end off your trip without enjoying some more of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains: you can take an easier walk to Lookout Mountain or do a more arduous climb in Eldorado Canyon State Park.
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Prepare for your trip: Get roadside assistance through Jerry

Now that you’re researched and ready for your extensive road trip, it’s essential to make sure that you—and your car—are ready for the long drive.
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