No matter how many times I visited Arizona, there is always room for another epic Arizona road trip.
Arizona Road Trip that You Can Do in a Few Trips
There are a few states in the U.S. that surprise and puzzle you tremendously, and Arizona is certainly one of them. The place is vast, deserted, and scorching hot in summer. The 6th largest state in the country tests you in all possible ways. Crossed by endless, isolated roads, Arizona teaches you how to get comfortable with the roads and avoid all possible road trip mistakes.
On the other hand, there is no better place for an epic road trip than Arizona. Home to the Grand Canyon, the state slowly but surely unveils its natural wonders one place at a time. As soon as you think that you saw all of them, this southwestern region of the U.S. surprises you with new discoveries, giving enough reasons for another perfect Arizona road trip.
How Much Time do You Need for an Arizona Road Trip
Due to long distances between your points of interest, you should plan for at least a week-long road trip in Arizona. Some travelers, including us, can never have this time. Thus, a few shorter 2-3-day trips enable you to cross the state and see all it has to offer without a big time commitment.
Planning Your Arizona Road Trip
After a few trips to the state, I’m certain in one thing: you can’t underestimate the place and should plan your Arizona road trip thoroughly. The state is enormous. Its cities and local communities sit far from each other. On top of that, due to a myriad of one-of-a-kind destinations in Arizona, it’s easy to get distracted and lose track of time.
You should blame all those astounding landscapes that seduce you every time you are about to get back on course with your Arizona road trip. The easiest way to avoid these pleasant surprises is to have a detail itinerary. However, be sure to leave enough room for a few unexpected stops along the way.
Another important thing to consider is where to start your journey. Phoenix is the capital of the state where many travelers start their Arizona road trip. Eager to see the dramatic beauty of the Sonoran Desert, others fly into Tucson. During our first Arizona road trip, we considered flying into Flagstaff. Located just 1 hour and 30 minutes away from Grand Canyon National Park, it looked like the best place to hit the road.
And yet, the majority of the visitors prefer to start their Arizona road trip in Las Vegas, Nevada. The city accept plenty of domestic and international flights that can suit any budgets. Las Vegas is also one of your primary road trip destinations if you start your trip to Arizona from Los Angeles.
Where to Rent Vehicle for Your Trip in Arizona
A good, reliable car is essential for a successful Arizona road trip. Whether you drive your own or rented car, be sure to check its condition and pack a spare tire. The best place to rent a car for us is always the airport we fly into. Over the years, we used services of Budget, Thrifty, Alamo, Economy, and sometimes Avis. They are more affordable compared to other companies. Make sure to book the car for your Arizona road trip in advance though. You might not get the vehicle you want without a prior reservation.
The Best Time for Arizona Road Trip
There is no bad time for your Arizona road trip. The weather is favorable for the road adventures all year round. The best times to go on an Arizona road trip though are March through May and September through October. The temperatures in spring and early fall are never too high or too low.
Summer is the hottest and busiest time of the year. Apart from dealing with the scorching heat, you will have to share Arizona’s roads with many other visitors enjoying their own trips. The summer season is also not the best time for those who travel on a shoestring. With the ever-growing flow of the tourists, the prices for everything, including accommodations, rise.
The Ultimate Arizona Road Trip Itinerary
- Day 1: Start Your Arizona Road Trip by Driving from Las Vegas to Page
- Day 2: Spend a Day in Page in Flagstaff
- Flagstaff to Sedona
- Day 3: Explore Sedona and Camp Verde
- Camp Verde
- Camp Verde to Phoenix
- Day 4: Continue on with Your Arizona Road Trip in Phoenix
- Phoenix to Kingman
- Day 5: Enjoy a Day in Kingman, the Last Destination on Your Arizona Road Trip
- Day 6: Conclude Your Arizona Road Trip by Driving back to Las Vegas
DAY 1: START YOUR ARIZONA ROAD TRIP BY DRIVING FROM LAS VEGAS TO PAGE
Drive 4 hours 20 minutes
It is a long drive that covers a big chunk of your Arizona road trip. You will hardly have time for anything to do in Page on your first day. If you do though, go for a walk near Lake Powell to stretch your legs after a long drive. The place is located about 5 minutes outside of Page and offers astounding views of Glen Canyon Dam and Glen Canyon Dam Bridge.
DAY 2: SPEND A DAY IN PAGE AND FLAGSTAFF
Page is a small town in northern Arizona. It is so isolated that you have probably never heard about it. Its astounding natural attractions though have surely been on your bucket list for a while. So start the second day of your Arizona road trip by checking out everything Page has to offer.
Things to Do in Page
Upper Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon a few minutes away from Page. While each turn and bend of the canyon leaves you in awe, the incredible light beams multiple this experience tenfold. The best time to see the sun extending its transparent arms into the depth of the slot is from late March until early October.
Lower Antelope Canyon, the closest sibling of Upper Antelope Canyon, is another place you should put on your Arizona road trip itinerary. There are many similarities between these two slot canyon. The major difference though hides in their walls. While the walls of Upper Antelope Canyon are wide at the bottom, Lower Antelope Canyon keeps its walls very close to each other. In some places they are so close that you need to climb ladders to move forward.
If you didn’t have time to visit Lake Powell on the first day of your Arizona road trip, do it now. The second largest man-made reservoir in the U.S. is ought to be seen at least once. The place astounds with its size and pristine deserted surrounding. You can walk near the lake or rent a boat and explore some of its least frequented parts.
You can surely spend the entire day exploring other highlights of Page. However, if you want to fit other beautiful places in your Arizona road trip, it is time to hit the road again. The next stop is Flagstaff.
- The Ultimate Itinerary for One Day in Page, Arizona
- How to Visit Horseshoe Bend, Arizona
- Practical Tips for Visiting Antelope Canyon
- What to Do in Page, Arizona
Drive 2 hours 10 minutes
Arizona’s scenery changes dramatically as you approach Flagstaff. The deserted roads and never-ending reddish fields and hills retreat. Lush forest takes their place. For a second you don’t even feel like you are in Arizona any longer.
The city doesn’t disappoint either. Thanks to four contrasting seasons, Flagstaff promises all kinds of entertainment. It also offers a welcoming relief from the merciless heat of Arizona during your summer trip.
Things to do in Flagstaff
When in Flagstaff, be sure to check out the historic downtown. Dotted with shops, restaurants, and bars, the place is ready to occupy you for the next hour or two.
The San Francisco Peaks with 6 highest peaks in Arizona offer dozens of hiking trails to explore. If you visit Flagstaff as part of your Arizona winter road trip, get your skis ready for unforgettable fun activities at the Arizona Snowballs.
Walnut Canyon National Monument, located about 10 miles southeast of downtown, preserves some of the ancient ruins. These remains date back to the 12th and 13th centuries and let you dive deeper into spectacular history of Flagstaff. .
Flagstaff to Sedona
A less than an hour drive from Flagstaff to Sedona concludes the second day of your Arizona road trip.
- Drive from Flagstaff to Sedona: 45 minutes
- Where to Stay in Sedona: Sedona Village Lodge ($), Arroyo Pinion Hotel ($$), Amara Resort & Spa ($$$)
DAY 3: EXPLORE SEDONA AND CAMP VERDE
Sedona is arguably one of the most famous desert towns in Arizona. The place entices with red-rock buttes, steep canyon walls, and a myriad of scenic hiking trails on the outskirts. Uptown Sedona changes the scenery and brings the abundance of New Age shops, galleries, and spa to enjoy during your visit.
Things to Do in Sedona
Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village allures all the visitors of the city with traditional Mexican vibes. It is a great place to shop for art, jewelry, and textiles. Even if shopping is the last thing you want to do on your Arizona road trip, the vibrant Village promises to show you “the best of everything”.
Sedona is every hiker’s dream destination. There is no better place to see Arizona’s deserted lands, rocky hills, and natural landmarks.
Speaking about the natural wonders, Devil’s Bridge, a large sandstone arch, is a remarkable sight you can’t miss. The short, but tedious Cathedral Rock Trail promises the best views of the area. If you still have time and energy, check out the stunning Chapel of the Holy Cross, a Roman Catholic chapel built into the buttes.
Drive 40 minutes
Before heading to Phoenix, stop at Camp Verde to see Montezuma Castle National Monument. The place is home to well-preserved ancient dwellings built in the pre-Columbian era.
Camp Verde to Phoenix
From Camp Verde continue on to Phoenix where you will spend one night.
- Drive from Camp Verde to Phoenix: 1 hour 25 minutes
- Where to stay in Phoenix: SureStay Hotel by Best Western Phoenix Airport ($), Hyatt Place Phoenix-North ($$), Arizona Grand Resort ($$$)
DAY 4: CONTINUE ON WITH YOUR ARIZONA ROAD TRIP IN PHOENIX
The capital of Arizona is known for year-round warm temperatures and high-end spa resorts. Phoenix food is another reason to include the city in your itinerary. With the abundance of restaurant serving all kinds of cuisine, Phoenix is often referred to as a foodie oasis in the desert of Arizona.
Things to Do in Phoenix
Desert Botanic Garden draws all nature loving travelers to the capital of Arizona. Located at the north end of Papago Park, it presents 50,000 desert plant nestled amid the red rocks.
Unique shape of Camelback Mountain rising over the Phoenix Metropolitan Area have been long one of the highlight of the city. The mountain reminds of the hump and head of a kneeling camel. While you can get the best view of this landmark from afar, experienced hikers like to traverse through its steep trails.
Numerous museums and galleries allow you to learn more about historic and cultural heritage of Phoenix. So the Heard Museum takes on the responsibility of educating its visitors about indigenous tribes native to Arizona. The Phoenix Art Museum impresses with an art collection that can be traced back to 1912.
Phoenix to Kingman
Phoenix is entertaining, no doubts about it. However, be sure to leave it before sunset as a long road trip to Kingman in northwestern Arizona awaits you.
- Drive from Phoenix to Kingman: 3 hours 10 minutes
- Where to Stay in Kingman: Knights Inn Kingman ($), La Quinta by Wyndham Kingman ($$), SpringHill Suites Kingman Route 66 ($$$)
DAY 5: ENJOY A DAY IN KINGMAN, THE LAST DESTINATION ON YOUR ARIZONA ROAD TRIP
The main reason you want to put Kingman on your road trip itinerary is its close proximity to Grand Canyon West. One of the Seven Wonders of the World is located about 70 miles away from the city and attracts fewer visitors compared to Grand Canyon South.
Although you can visit Grand Canyon National Park on a day-trip from Flagstaff or Phoenix, only a route from Kingman takes you to the Skywalk, a horseshoe-shaped glass bridge, located 4,000 feet about the bottom of the great abyss. You should plan for a full day at the Grand Canyon.
- 20 Pictures to Inspire You to Visit Grand Canyon National Park
- How to Experience Grand Canyon Skywalk
DAY 6: CONCLUDE YOUR ARIZONA ROAD TRIP BY DRIVING BACK TO LAS VEGAS
Drive 1 hour 45 minutes
Before you leave Kingman, be sure to stop at Hualapai Mountain Park. Better known as the Sky Island, this isolated mountain range in the middle of the desert is the best place to escape summer heat in Arizona. In winter, the area transforms by adding white snowy blanket underneath its tall ever-green trees.
Now it is time for the last leg of your Arizona road trip. Hit the road again and drive back to Las Vegas, which is less than two hours away.
Alternative Itineraries for Your Arizona Road Trip
For some people, six days off is more than they can afford at a time. Unfortunately, vacations in the U.S. are short. We found a solution by dividing this week-long trip into two shorter Arizona road trips. Here are the alternative itineraries for those who are short on time. Both of these Arizona road trips also start in Las Vegas.
Arizona Road Trip #1
- Day 1: Kingman
- Day 2: Phoenix
Arizona Road Trip #2
- Day 1: Page and Flagstaff
- Day 2: Sedona and Camp Verde
What to Pack for Your Arizona Road Trip
- Sunscreen. If you can bring only one item on your Arizona road trip, let it be sunscreen. Arizona can get extremely hot at times. So think about the health of your skin before you even get on the road.
- Reusable water bottle. Arizona is known for its high temperatures. To enjoy your trip and all the hikes, be sure to grab your reusable water bottle and drink a lot of water.
- Trail running shoes. Good trail running shoes are essential to enjoy all of the incredible hikes in Arizona.
- Camera and tripod. You simply can’t go to Arizona without being able to capture its cities and natural wonders. Thus, the camera and tripod are as important as hydration. And since you will be hiking a lot, make sure your tripod is lightweight and doesn’t weight you down.