You live in Texas, but considering the state is 268,597 square miles, there are many, many cities, towns, and neighborhoods you’ve never seen before. Lately, you’ve gotten the itch to do some traveling with your family. How many hours does it take to drive across all of Texas?
Driving across Texas requires driving 870 miles, so it’s going to take you between 14 and 16 hours to reach one side of Texas from the other. When you add in other factors such as the need to take a break and traffic, your drivetime could be even longer!
In this article, I’ll talk further about the logistics of driving through Texas and even provide some activities and entertainment that can make the drive more bearable if you’re thinking of planning a road trip within state lines!
How Long Does It Take to Drive Across Texas?
Although many think Texas is the biggest state in the United States, it’s technically not. That’s Alaska at 665,400 square miles. Texas is more than 268k square miles, as I mentioned in the intro, so crossing it is no small feat!
The route that most drivers take is north along the Texas Panhandle down I-40. Another option is to drive the I-10 south.
Either way, expect it to take you upwards of 16 hours to drive across Texas.
Depending on your route, driving through Texas is going mean crossing a distance of anywhere from 600 to 870 miles. That should explain your drivetime a little bit better.
Keep in mind that the above timeframe does not accommodate any time you’ll spend outside of the car.
Even if you’re not interested in doing any sightseeing on your route, you still need to get out and stretch your legs.
If you’re traveling with children especially, they’re going to get cranky if they’re trapped in the car for too long.
Kids also have a way of forcing you to make stops. You’ll have to find convenience stores and truck stops for bathroom breaks and snack breaks, possibly quite frequently.
Then there’s traffic.
According to a 2021 article from Culture Map Dallas, Dallas was the seventh most congested state in the United States of a possible 15.
Not all parts of Texas have as much bumper-to-bumper traffic as Dallas, of course, but traffic is a frequent occurrence you should be ready for.
How long you’ll spend in traffic is anyone’s guess. It all depends on if you’re stuck in rush hour (if so, then good luck!) or if there was an accident, construction, or another interruption.
No matter the source of the traffic, it will slow down your overall progress, adding on several extra hours of time spent in the car.
Can You Drive Across Texas in One Straight Shot?
Road trips are oodles of fun but spending too long in the car is enough to make anyone feel zany. The kids can begin bickering and even fighting so the faster a road trip goes, the better.
Well, driving across Texas, no matter how you do it–be that north to south or west to east–is not going to be one of those fast road trips.
As I talked about above, there’s no way to avoid traffic or breaks, so you’re going to be on the road for longer than 16 hours.
If it was only you in the car, then maybe you could drive for possibly 18 or 20 hours straight, but that would mean sacrificing sleep and other aspects of your health, which I don’t recommend.
With kids in the car, it just won’t work.
Once you drive for too long, you’ll begin to experience driver’s fatigue. That’s why professional freight drivers aren’t allowed to be on the road for more than eight consecutive hours.
When you’re fatigued, you might begin nodding off, moving out of your lane, seeing tunnel vision, and not reacting as quickly or as smartly as you should.
Driver’s fatigue is serious, as you’re a huge accident risk when you’re not focused. You’re also putting your family at risk as well as other motorists.
You can drive through a small state all at once with no problem, but not Texas. Don’t risk it!
What’s There to Do When Driving Through Texas?
A drive through the great state of Texas might not be the quickest trip on the block, which is why I recommend concerning yourself far less with time.
Rather, focus on creating an atmosphere of enjoyment for the whole family along the way. Here are some stops that will help you do just that.
Big Bend National Park
In Brewster County, Big Bend National Park is a southwestern wonder.
You’ll see Texas like never before as you immerse yourself in nature and enjoy isolation in a way that’s never felt so good.
The canyons that surround you are carved of ancient limestone while the rivers that stretch are clear and serene.
Cacti bloom, the southwestern sun is hot, and the diversity of plants and creatures that call the area home is divine.
If you and your family are more athletic types, you can tie on your hiking boots and hit the many trails throughout Big Bend. Scenic driving routes are also available.
Ms. Pearl the Giant Squirrel
On State Highway 71 in Cedar Creek is Mrs. Pearl the Giant Squirrel, a Texas curiosity that goes to show that everything is indeed bigger in Texas!
Erected in 2011, Ms. Pearl stands at 14 feet. There are no bigger squirrel statues than her!
You can take photos in front of her or even give Ms. Pearl a giant hug if you wish.
If you’re feeling hungry, the Berdoll Pecan Candy and Gift Shop nearby features a pecan pie vending machine.
You can also venture inside and buy your pies the traditional way as well as homemade fudge and other yummy treats.
You’ll certainly remember the Alamo when you visit this historic fortress and mission with its Spanish architectural stylings.
Built in the 18th century in what has since become San Antonio, the Alamo offers guided tours so you can learn about its storied history while exploring the grounds of this amazing landmark.
Cathedral of Junk
If you’re passing by Austin on your road trip through Texas, don’t miss the Cathedral of Junk!
Constructed in the backyard of Vince Hannemann, a known yardist, the pile of stuff was made just to look cool, and cool, it does look.
Be sure to snap a few photos to show your friends in your Texas hometown.
In Galveston is Pleasure Pier, a historic pier that invokes the feelings of summertime all the time!
You and the kids can ride such thrillers as the Texas Star Flyer, Iron Shark Roller Coaster, Pirate’s Plunge, or the Galaxy Wheel. There are also children’s rides such as a carousel and teacups.
Dining on the pier is such an incredibly varied experience. You can shop for sweets like fudge and candy apples, eat pizza by the slice, or enjoy well-known restaurant fare from Chick-Fil-A, Rainforest Café, and Willie G’s.
In the mood to shop? Of course you are! From Bubba Gump Retail to Pelican’s Bag, Lolli & Pop’s Candy Shoppe, and so much more, there’s a shop here for every person’s taste and budget.
Fort Worth Zoo
The kids will be delighted with a trip to the Fort Worth Zoo, and you’ll welcome the educational experience.
The zoo has 172 ectotherm species, 148 bird species, 72 mammal species, and over 400 more animal species to discover.
In the African Savanna, the kids can feel the sandpapery blue tongue of a giraffe during a paid giraffe feeding.
Stingray Cove past the Museum of Living Art lets guests touch and pet small sharks and stingrays.
The Safari Splash is a summertime attraction that’s 14,000 square feet. The water play area for kiddos features a toddler zone, water cannons shaped like animals, a water dump tower, and four slides.
Kids can also ride the Yellow Rose Express Train (and act as a junior conductor) and the Country Carousel, practice their aim at the Wild West Shooting Gallery, or ascend the 25-foot Tasmanian Tower, an outdoor rock climbing wall.
Driving across Texas is going to take you at least 14 hours but probably longer because of traffic and having to make stops.
Since you don’t want to risk driver’s fatigue, make your trip more fun by visiting roadside attractions and thrilling sights like those I recommended!