Want to drive your car from Phoenix to Chicago? A road trip from Phoenix to the Windy City can be an epic adventure across the American Southwest and Midwest. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide everything you need to plan your Phoenix to Chicago drive.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick overview: The most direct Phoenix to Chicago drive covers about 1,740 miles over 25-30 hours of driving time. The optimal route is to take I-17 north to I-40 east, continuing on I-40 through Albuquerque, Amarillo, Oklahoma City, Little Rock, Memphis, and Nashville. Highlights along the drive include the Grand Canyon, Route 66 history, the Great Plains, and more.

Phoenix to Chicago Road Trip Route and Mileage

Most Direct Interstate Route

The most direct route from Phoenix to Chicago is via Interstate 40 and Interstate 55. This route covers a total distance of approximately 1,750 miles and can be completed in around 25 hours of driving time, depending on traffic conditions and the number of stops you make along the way.

This route takes you through several states, including Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Illinois.

Alternate Scenic Routes

If you’re looking to add some scenic beauty to your road trip, there are a couple of alternate routes you can consider. One option is to take Interstate 17 north from Phoenix to Flagstaff, and then head east on Interstate 40.

This route will take you through the stunning landscapes of northern Arizona and parts of New Mexico.

Another scenic option is to take the famous Route 66, also known as the “Mother Road.” This historic highway will take you through small towns, quirky roadside attractions, and nostalgic Americana. While it may add some extra miles to your trip, the experience and sights along the way are well worth it.

Major Cities and Stops Along the Way

As you make your way from Phoenix to Chicago, there are several major cities and interesting stops that you can explore. Some notable cities along the route include Albuquerque, New Mexico; Amarillo, Texas; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; St. Louis, Missouri; and Springfield, Illinois.

In Albuquerque, you can visit the historic Old Town, explore the vibrant art scene, and indulge in delicious Southwestern cuisine. In Amarillo, don’t miss the opportunity to see the famous Cadillac Ranch and enjoy a juicy Texas steak.

Oklahoma City offers attractions such as the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum and the Bricktown Entertainment District.

As you approach St. Louis, make sure to visit the iconic Gateway Arch and take a stroll along the lively Delmar Loop. Finally, in Springfield, Illinois, you can explore the historic sites associated with Abraham Lincoln, including his former home and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

By planning your trip with these major cities and stops in mind, you can make the most of your road trip and create lasting memories along the way.

For more information on the Phoenix to Chicago road trip route and recommended stops, you can visit the official websites of each city or consult reliable travel websites such as Lonely Planet and TripAdvisor.

How Long Does it Take to Drive from Phoenix to Chicago?

Total Drive Time

The total drive time from Phoenix to Chicago can vary depending on various factors such as traffic, weather conditions, and the route you choose to take. On average, the distance between Phoenix, Arizona, and Chicago, Illinois, is approximately 1,760 miles.

Under normal driving conditions with minimal traffic and regular stops for rest and meals, the estimated drive time is around 24 to 26 hours. However, it’s important to note that this can be longer or shorter depending on individual driving habits and preferences.

Suggested Daily Mileage and Stopovers

While some travelers may prefer to drive straight through without any overnight stops, it is generally recommended to break up the journey into multiple days to ensure a more enjoyable and safe road trip experience. Here are some suggested daily mileage and stopovers along the way:

  • Day 1: Phoenix, AZ to Albuquerque, NM – Approximately 450 miles, with a driving time of around 6 to 7 hours. Albuquerque offers a variety of attractions, including the historic Old Town, the Sandia Peak Tramway, and the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.
  • Day 2: Albuquerque, NM to Amarillo, TX – Approximately 285 miles, with a driving time of around 4 to 5 hours. Amarillo is known for its famous Cadillac Ranch and the iconic Big Texan Steak Ranch.
  • Day 3: Amarillo, TX to Oklahoma City, OK – Approximately 260 miles, with a driving time of around 4 hours. Oklahoma City offers attractions such as the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum and the Bricktown entertainment district.
  • Day 4: Oklahoma City, OK to Kansas City, MO – Approximately 355 miles, with a driving time of around 5 to 6 hours. Kansas City is renowned for its barbecue, jazz music, and attractions like the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Country Club Plaza.
  • Day 5: Kansas City, MO to Chicago, IL – Approximately 410 miles, with a driving time of around 6 to 7 hours. Finally, you’ll reach Chicago, where you can explore iconic landmarks like Millennium Park, Navy Pier, and the Art Institute of Chicago.

Remember that these suggested daily mileage and stopovers are just a guide, and you can always adjust them based on your preferences and travel style. It’s important to plan ahead, make hotel reservations in advance, and check for any road closures or construction updates along the route for a smooth and enjoyable road trip experience.

Finding Places to Stop and Rest Along the Route

When embarking on a road trip from Phoenix to Chicago, it’s important to plan your stops and rest breaks along the way. Driving for long periods can be tiring, so taking breaks to rest, refuel, and rejuvenate is essential for a safe and enjoyable journey.

Here are some tips for finding places to stop and rest along the route.

Hotels, Motels, and Lodging

One of the most important considerations when planning your road trip is finding suitable accommodations for overnight stays. Along the route from Phoenix to Chicago, there are numerous hotels, motels, and lodging options available.

It’s a good idea to book your accommodations in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to secure the best rates and availability.

There are several popular hotel chains that you can find along the way, including Holiday Inn, Marriott, and Best Western. These chains offer comfortable rooms, convenient amenities, and reliable customer service.

Additionally, there are also smaller, independent motels and bed and breakfasts that provide a more unique and personalized experience.

When choosing your accommodations, consider factors such as location, price, amenities, and reviews. Websites like Booking.com and Hotels.com can provide valuable information and user reviews to help you make an informed decision.

Food, Gas Stations, and Rest Stops

Another important aspect of your road trip is finding places to eat, refuel your vehicle, and take breaks from driving. Along the route, you’ll come across a variety of options, including fast food joints, restaurants, gas stations, and rest stops.

Fast food chains such as McDonald’s, Burger King, and Subway can be found in almost every town along the way, offering quick and convenient meals. If you prefer a sit-down dining experience, there are also plenty of restaurants serving a range of cuisines to satisfy your taste buds.

When it comes to refueling your vehicle, you’ll find gas stations along the entire route. Major gas station chains like Shell, Exxon, and Chevron provide a reliable source of fuel and often have convenience stores where you can grab snacks, drinks, and other essentials.

Rest stops are also important for stretching your legs, using restroom facilities, and taking a break from driving. These stops are typically located along major highways and offer amenities such as picnic areas, restrooms, and vending machines.

They are an excellent opportunity to recharge and enjoy the scenic views along your journey.

Remember to plan your stops in advance by checking the distance between each destination and estimating how long you can comfortably drive before needing a break. By incorporating regular rest stops into your road trip itinerary, you’ll ensure a more relaxed and enjoyable travel experience.

Road Trip Tips and Planning Checklist

Packing List Essentials

When embarking on a road trip from Phoenix to Chicago, it’s important to pack the essentials to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable journey. Here are some must-have items for your packing list:

  • Comfortable clothing and shoes for long hours of driving
  • Snacks and drinks to keep you energized and hydrated
  • Entertainment options such as books, magazines, or portable devices
  • Navigation tools like a GPS or a good old-fashioned map
  • Emergency supplies such as a first aid kit, flashlight, and extra batteries
  • Travel documents including identification, insurance cards, and any necessary permits

By making sure you have these essentials packed, you’ll be well-prepared for any situation that may arise during your road trip.

Car Maintenance Tips

Before hitting the open road, it’s crucial to ensure that your car is in good condition. Here are some car maintenance tips to keep in mind:

  • Check your fluid levels, including oil, coolant, and windshield washer fluid
  • Inspect your tires for proper inflation and tread wear
  • Test your brakes to ensure they are functioning correctly
  • Replace any worn-out windshield wipers for optimal visibility
  • Have your car serviced by a professional mechanic if needed

Regular car maintenance will not only help prevent any unexpected breakdowns during your road trip, but it will also contribute to a safer and smoother journey.

Road Trip Safety

While road trips can be exciting adventures, it’s important to prioritize safety along the way. Here are some road trip safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Observe speed limits and other traffic regulations
  • Take regular breaks to rest and stretch your legs
  • Avoid distractions while driving, such as texting or using a cellphone
  • Always wear your seatbelt and ensure all passengers do the same
  • Keep a safe following distance from the vehicle ahead
  • Be aware of your surroundings and watch out for any potential hazards

By following these safety tips, you can have peace of mind knowing that you’re taking the necessary precautions to protect yourself and your fellow travelers.

For more detailed tips and information on road trip planning, you can visit https://www.nhtsa.gov/summer-driving-tips which provides valuable resources on road trip safety and preparedness.

Highlights and Attractions to See on a Phoenix to Chicago Drive

Natural Landmarks like the Grand Canyon

One of the major highlights of driving from Phoenix to Chicago is the opportunity to visit the spectacular Grand Canyon. Located in northern Arizona, the Grand Canyon is a natural wonder that attracts millions of visitors each year.

With its breathtaking views, vast expanses, and vibrant colors, the Grand Canyon is a must-see destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. Don’t miss the chance to hike along the rim, go rafting in the Colorado River, or simply enjoy the panoramic views from one of the many lookout points.

Historic Route 66

Driving from Phoenix to Chicago gives you the perfect opportunity to explore a part of America’s iconic highway, Route 66. This historic route offers a nostalgic journey through small towns, quirky roadside attractions, and scenic landscapes.

Experience the charm of vintage motels, classic diners, and souvenir shops that have been preserved along the route. Traveling on Route 66 allows you to step back in time and immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of the American Southwest.

Major Cities like Albuquerque, OKC, Memphis

As you make your way from Phoenix to Chicago, you’ll pass through several major cities that are worth exploring. Albuquerque, New Mexico, is known for its vibrant art scene, unique architecture, and delicious Southwestern cuisine.

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, offers a mix of urban attractions and Western heritage, with its thriving downtown area and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. Memphis, Tennessee, is famous for its rich musical history, including being the birthplace of blues, rock ‘n’ roll, and soul.

Don’t miss the chance to visit Graceland, the former home of Elvis Presley, and experience the lively music scene on Beale Street.

State Parks and Monuments

Along the route from Phoenix to Chicago, you’ll encounter various state parks and monuments that showcase the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the region. One such example is Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, where you can marvel at the ancient petrified logs and vibrant badlands.

In New Mexico, visit White Sands National Park, known for its stunning white sand dunes that create a unique desert landscape. As you continue your journey, make a stop at Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis, Missouri, and take a tram ride to the top of the iconic Gateway Arch for breathtaking views of the city and the Mississippi River.

For more information on the attractions mentioned above, you can visit the official websites:


With careful planning and preparation, the drive from Phoenix to Chicago can be an unforgettable multi-day Southwest and Midwest road trip adventure. Follow our guide to choose your route, find fun stops along the way, and make the most of everything there is to see between Phoenix and the Windy City.

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