There’s no place quite like West Texas. Most people don’t realize just the expansiveness of this part of the country – or the Great Plains. Wide-open spaces stretch as far as the eye can see, with fields and sky seemingly stretching forever. After my first visit to West Texas, I knew it was a special place and wanted to explore more; what better way than by car, on the great American pastime of road tripping?
If you’re facing a drive across West Texas – say you’re making the drive between El Paso and Dallas – you might be wondering what it will be like. In this post, you’ll learn all about it.
While most people prefer to fly between Dallas and El Paso, the drive is nice (and cheaper, despite being slower!). There are plenty of sights along the route between these two Texas cities and stops worth making if you have the time. As you plan your drive between Dallas and El Paso, let this post guide you to turn it from a potentially boring experience into a fascinating road trip.
TL;DR: How long is the drive between El Paso and Dallas? The direct drive from Dallas and El Paso (or vice versa) is 632 miles (1,017 km) and should have a drive time of 9 hours, 30 minutes in normal traffic.
Distance Between El Paso & Dallas
As the crow flies, it’s around 571 miles between El Paso and Dallas.
However, if you’re reading this article, you must be thinking of driving to Dallas and not flying, which changes things a bit.
By land, the distance you’ll have to cover on a drive between El Paso and Dallas is roughly 635 miles. As we always say, these numbers are an estimate – your final driving time will depend on where you start and finish within each city. Remember that the driving distance will also vary if you do pit stops or take little detours to visit interesting spots along the way.
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Drive Time Between Dallas & El Paso
A nonstop drive between Dallas and El Paso takes 9 hours, 6 minutes. Yes, it is a pretty long one. Notice this is the time estimate if you were to drive nonstop. However, a nonstop drive between these two cities is highly unrealistic. In fact, it’s impossible since you’ll need at least one stop to fill up the gas tank.
So, unless you have a friend to take driving turns, you’ll likely make a few stops along the drive.
Having said this, you might be planning to make a road trip out of your Dallas to El Paso drive. Including meals, gas, and touristy spots, it would take you roughly 10 hours to complete the journey. It’s also worth considering an overnight stop as well especially in the winter months when you have fewer hours of daylight
9 Stops to Make on Your Drive Between El Paso & Dallas
Whether you decide to make it a two-day trip or not, the drive from Dallas to El Paso has lovely places to stop off and stretch your legs. Below you can find nine places well worth stopping by on your journey.
1. Barstow, Texas
Texas is a mine of ghost towns, and one of them sits along the El Paso to Dallas drive. Barstow is a small town right in the heart of West Texas, near Pecos. George E. Barstow, a world’s leading expert on irrigation, organized Barstow in 1892. He decided to devise an irrigation system that would make Barstow a thriving agricultural land. His system successfully won Barstow a silver medal for grapes at the 1904 World’s Fair.
However, it wouldn’t last long. That same year, the Pecos River dam broke and a fatal drought destroyed the town’s fruits and vegetables. George’s knowledge wasn’t enough to turn the situation around, and building a thriving town became a distant dream.
Today, Barstow is an eerie ghost town where nature has taken over what humans left behind, full of run-down buildings and empty family houses.
2. Rattlesnake Bomber Base Museum
Drop by Rattlesnake Bomber Base Museum for a quick view of American history. Originally named Pyote Army AirField, the base museum was a WWII training airbase. It received its nickname after the many rattlesnake dens workers found during its construction. The base was home to the squadrons who trained B-17 and B-29 crews during WWII. It was also home to the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the first atomic bomb.
It’s been a long time since the base had some action. Today, all that remains are the concrete walls of the main hanger. You can also see concrete vaults with armored doors that store top-secret Norden bombsights and runways and taxiways.
3. Monahans Sandhills State Park
Monahans Sandhills State Park is a top stop when your legs are asking for a nice stretch. Located in West Texas, you can do everything in Monahans Sandhills State Park: picnics, stargazing, animal tracking, hiking, bird watching, and sand sledding! The visitor’s center has small sand discs (snow sled) you can rent to go sliding down the dunes.
If you’re visiting during the summer, it’s better to arrive as early as possible to avoid the Texas blazing sun. It’s also a great spot to stay overnight in your drive between El Paso and Dallas. You can pitch a tent in one of their campsites, which feature excellent facilities. Staying overnight is also the perfect opportunity to stargaze. The stars look amazing in these dark skies!
4. Odessa Meteor Crater
Those interested in science can stop by the Odessa Meteor Crater located in the southwestern part of Ector County. As the name suggests, Odessa Meteor Crater is a meteorite crater resulting from the impact of thousands of octahedrite that fell in prehistoric times. It’s the third-largest meteor crater in the United States, and specialists estimate it to be 63,500 years old! Three craters make up the depression, with the largest one covering ten acres. The two smaller craters are now full to the brim with West Texas dust and silt, and the third crater isn’t as pronounced as it used to be.
It might not be as impressive as in its beginning (it’s been almost 64,000 years, after all.) Still, the crater is worth stopping by along the drive between Dallas and El Paso. It is easily accessible, approximately 3 miles south of Interstate 20 at Exit 108.
5. Stonehenge Replica
Odessa is not exactly a tourist destination, but they have a pleasant surprise: the Stonehenge Replica! Located at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, two stoneworkers, Connie and Brenda Edwards built the Stonehenge Replica in 2004. They are almost identical to the English ones, except these 20 stone blocks are 14% shorter than the ancient monument. You’ll find signs on the campus explaining how the stoneworkers designed and built the Stonehenge and how they compare to the original ones in England.
It’s a great little stop to stretch your legs, especially if you’ve been in the car for a while.
6. National Wasp WWII Museum
The National Wasp WWII Museum is an excellent –and eye-opening– stop on the drive between El Paso and Dallas. This museum pays tribute to the overlooked group of women who first flew America’s military aircraft. The crew has done a great job showing how these women changed the role of women in military and civilian aviation. You can learn all about the lives and legacy of the Women Airforce Service Pilots. Their stories of both triumphs and tragedies are fascinating. You can also explore unique artifacts and aircrafts these women used during wartime.
7. Jacob’s Dream Sculpture
Break up your long drive from El Paso to Dallas and stop by Jacob’s Dream Sculpture.
The Jacob’s Dream sculpture is a 40-foot-tall bronze sculpture on the campus of Abilene Christian University. This majestic statue is an artistic representation of the biblical account of Jacob’s dream from Genesis 28. The sculpture features four 8-feet-tall angels ascending and descending a ladder reaching heaven and an arrangement of limestone blocks inscribed with scriptures and a limestone pool. Jack Maxwell, a professor of art and design at the university, was in charge of the design. The surrounding gardens, beautifully manicured, are a lovely place for a walk.
8. Log Cabin Village
Visiting Log Cabin Village is like traveling in time to the mid-1800s. Located in Fort Worth, the site is a living history museum devoted to preserving Texas heritage. Each log house dates to the middle of the 1800s and displays different aspects of pioneer life, featuring artifacts, representative structures, and other social and cultural significance items to Texas’ pioneer era (1840-1890). You can also see an authentic blacksmith shop, schoolhouse, and water-powered gristmill. The Log Cabin Village is an excellent stop if you have children who enjoy history. Guides in 19th-century style clothing show each log house while depicting the pioneers’ lifestyle.
9. Fort Worth Aviation Museum
If you love aviation, planes, and fighter jets, you can’t miss the Fort Worth Aviation Museum. Since 1911, North Texas has become an aviation center with one of the largest aviation industries in the world. This aviation museum located in Fort Worth invites guests to explore Texas’ aviation heritage. It houses 28 airplanes and the Forward Air Controllers, and the B-36 Peacemaker Museums.
They offer a highly realistic experience. You can get on planes and explore the inside, where you can feel like a pilot yourself. They even have flight simulators and an actual cockpit to sit in and explore.
Note: Fort Worth Aviation Museum is only open on Saturdays and Sundays.
Other Tips for Your Drive Between El Paso & Dallas
Here are some final tips to help you plan your drive between Dallas and El Paso:
- The route between Dallas and El Paso is entirely in big ol’ Texas.
- Some of the major cities between El Paso and Dallas are Abeliene, Midland, and Odessa. As you might guess, Midland is roughly halfway and a great spot to stop overnight.
- There are several rest stops along the route between Dallas and El Paso, in Eastland County, Callahan County, Howard County, and Ward County – as well as a few other unnamed reststops.
- There are plenty of gas stations and truck stops along the entire route if you need fuel, toilets, snacks, or other services.
Don’t forget: join our Great Plains Travel Tips group for even more travel inspiration!
Should You Fly Between Dallas & El Paso Instead?
It’s never easy to pick a winner when it comes to driving or flying to a place. Most of the time, it all comes down to cost and time.
As we said before, a drive between Dallas and El Paso takes roughly 9 hours, 6 minutes and covers 635 miles. When flying, the distance shortens to 571 miles, and it takes around 1 hour, 24 minutes to cover that distance. Add the time to get to the airport and then arrive at your destination in Dallas, and you have a total travel time of 3 hours, 48 minutes by plane.
Cost-wise, an El Paso to Dallas road trip costs about $75 one-way and $150 for a round trip, whereas the cheapest airfare costs $215.00 round trip.
Considering both variables, flying is a better option. However, if you have no time constraints and don’t mind splurging a bit on gas, we still recommend you make a road trip between these two cities. You’ll have a wonderful time exploring historic sites, ghost towns, and doing sandboarding.
Continuing on your drive to Kansas City? Check out my guide for driving between Dallas and Kansas City.
Have any other questions about driving between El Paso and Dallas? Let me know in the comments!