Driving from Phoenix to Mexico Border

Phoenix is a short drive to the Mexico border and Arizona in general is a gateway to some exciting destinations in Mexico. The state has several popular border crossings, many of which are highly regarded as being safe and reasonable in terms of traffic and wait times. Overall, reaching any of the major Arizona Border crossings from Phoenix is easy with major highways and some very direct routes connecting the city to the border zone.

When it comes to destinations, the Sea of Cortez is very popular and it puts Phoenix geographically close to saltwater seas and beaches. Nogales is also a gateway to the mainland. You can quickly hit toll roads and drive to Mazatlan and continue southbound or inland towards Mexico City. It has great stopping points along that route too.

Route Options from Phoenix to Mexico

#1 – Phoenix to Yuma for Los Algodones or Mexicali Crossings

If you want to visit Baja via Phoenix, it makes sense to drive west and cross at Los Algodones. You could also hit Mexicali if desired. In fact, Mexicali East is the best option for crossing in RVs and other bigger rigs. 

Time to Destination: 3 hours or less

Miles: 184 miles to Yuma

Route: From Phoenix, drive east on I-10 then turn south on Highway 85 south. Stay on this for 32 miles then turn west on I-8 at Gila Bend. From here, it’s another 36 miles to Yuma which you can use as a staging point for the border crossing at Los Algodones. 

#2 – Phoenix to Lukeville

This is a very popular destination for many Arizona residents. It’s an easy border crossing and the most direct route to for driving to Rocky Point (Puerto Penasco). It takes roughly a half day to reach the beach from Phoenix which is surprising to most folks who haven’t made the trip.

Time to Destination: 2.5 hours

Miles: 177 miles

Route: From Phoenix, drive east on I-10 and just like the last one, turn south on AZ-85 to Gila Bend. This time, continue south through the small communities of Ajo and Why until you reach Lukeville. It’s a super easy drive once you get out of Phoenix city traffic. 

#3 – Phoenix to Nogales

Nogales serves as a primary entry point for mainland travel throughout Mexico. It’s a direct drive to Hermosillo which serves as a junction between the west coast and the north-central mountains. Read our Nogales border crossing guide to handle your entry paperwork. Unlike the crossings to the west in Sonora and Baja, this one requires a temporary import permit for your vehicle.  

Time to Destination: 2 hours 45 minutes

Miles: 179

Route: Very simple route here. Drive I-10 from Phoenix to Tucson where you can catch I-19 straight south to Nogales. It doesn’t get much easier than this drive.   

#4 – Phoenix to Naco

This crossing is a little farther from the latter options and it’s less popular because it’s not linked to a major highway route. You can travel east or west for larger connects or stay near the border to enjoy the small town culture.

Time to Destination: 4 hours

Miles: 237

Route: Follow I-10 south and continue through Tucson until you reach the town of Benson. Drive south on highway 90 until you veer east on 92 to the border crossing.  

#5 – Phoenix to Douglas (Agua Prieta)

The Douglas to Agua Prieta border crossing is the farthest east in Arizona. It’s an interesting place to cross because you can essentially fan out in any direction. Explore the west, central or eastern regions by utilizing this crossing point which is typically quick and laid back.

Time to Destination: Just over 4 hours

Miles: 232 miles

Route: Drive I-10 southbound, continue through Tucson and turn to highway 80 at Benson. This leads through Tombstone (a nice stop) to McNeal. Take junction 191 south to Douglas and the border crossing.

Planning Your Arizona Border Crossing to Mexico

The Arizona border crossings offer some of the smoothest options along the entire border. Many are smaller communities and places like Nogales link to quota roads for easy driving. Overall, it’s one of the easier borders to plan around. The difficulty comes with choosing your end destination. Exploring Sonora and Baja are very popular but it’s not difficult to venture much farther into the mainland from Arizona. 

Before crossing the border, make sure to buy Mexican car insurance to stay legal while traveling. We offer a number of affordable policy options from the major insurance carriers in Mexico.