The perfect Arizona road trip itinerary

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Get ready to experience some of the most epic spots in the American Southwest. When driving through the beautiful desert landscape in Arizona, you find one stunning sight after another. Impressive nature, pleasant urban experiences and even the iconic Route 66 await on this carefully perfected Arizona road trip itinerary.

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  • Total distance: 1031 mi / 1659 km
  • Total driving time: 19 h

1. Phoenix, AZ

Phoenix is a paradise for sun lovers who like to enjoy the outdoors. It’s also a big city that offers all the comfort you want on your Arizona trip — the perfect gateway to the Arizona road trip adventure.

Logistically, if you fly in from another region, Phoenix has a large airport with both national and international flights. And you find an array of car rental companies here too.

But no matter from where or how you travel to Phoenix, the area also offers some high-class resorts and spas to take advantage of. Some lazy time by the pool in its mountainous desert setting is certainly a great way to start a journey.

If you want a taste of the outdoors before taking off, visit Camelback Mountain. The landmark, resembling a camel’s back, offers panoramic views and spectacular hiking.

View over Camelback Mountain as you begin the Arizona road trip in Phoenix
View over Camelback Mountain from Phoenix.

Additional stop: On the way from Phoenix to Saguaro National Park you pass by Picacho Peak State Park. The highlight in the park is the eye-catching Picacho Peak. You can see the peak from the interstate, but the park is the perfect stop to break up the first drive on the itinerary.

The Picacho Peak in Picacho Peak State Park, AZ
The Picacho Peak at night.

2. Saguaro National Park, AZ

  • Driving distance: 104 mi / 167 km
  • Driving time: 2 h

The destination on the itinerary that is located furthest south is Saguaro National Park. Saguaro received its national park status in 1994, and the environment in the park that surrounds the city Tucson is nothing less than stunning.

Most visitors come to Saguaro National Park to see the towering saguaro cactus in its native environment. Some of the cacti become more than 50 feet (15 m) tall, and biologists claim that they can reach as much as 200 years of age.

Saguaro National Park is divided into two separate park districts. You find Rincon Mountain District to the east of Tucson and Tucson Mountain District to the west. Both districts contain the majestic saguaro cactus.

To really make the most of a visit a good idea is to also stop by at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. The creative museum is mostly outdoors, and a visit is a great way to learn more about the desert.

Where to stay

In Tucson you find many great places to stay near Saguaro National Park. The city with a good selection of lodging is literally surrounded by the saguaro rich desert.

Cactus pointing towards the sky in Saguaro National Park
Saguaro National Park, AZ.

3. Petrified Forest National Park, AZ

  • Driving distance: 249 mi / 401 km
  • Driving time: 5 h

It’s a five hour drive from Saguaro National Park to Petrified Forest National Park. But it would be a shame to let that scare you off as Petrified Forest is one of the most interesting Arizona road trip stops.

Petrified Forest is a mind-blowing destination that contains one of the largest concentrations of petrified wood in the entire world.

The petrified logs in the park are fossils that are more than 200 million years old. Some of them look so real that it’s easy to believe that it’s actual wood. To see and inspect them is a special experience.

But the park is much more than just a place with renowned petrified logs. In the park in the Painted Desert area you also get the chance to enjoy badlands, buttes and ancient petroglyphs.

As a bonus, the park also prouds itself as the only national park encompassing a stretch of Historic Route 66. When you visit the park, you can see traces of the old Route 66 roadbed.

Where to stay

The small Route 66 town Holbrook offers places to stay near Petrified Forest National Park. From Holbrook you reach the national park in not more than 20 minutes.

Logs in Petrified Forest National Park under blue sky
Petrified Forest National Park, AZ.

Additional stop: In Winslow further west you find more fun and nostalgic Route 66 and Arizona attractions. Highlights in Winslow are Meteor Crater and the roadside attraction Standin’ on the Corner Park that’s a tribute to the Eagles. They are together with Petrified Forest some of the best things to do on Route 66 in Arizona.

Additional stop: Canyon de Chelly National Monument is the perfect stop to break up the drive from Petrified Forest to Monument Valley. People have lived in the canyon for around 5,000 years, and it’s considered one of North America’s oldest continously occupied sites. The canyon rewards travelers with both a wild landscape and rich Native American history. You find great Canyon de Chelly lodging in the park and the gateway town Chinle.

A cloudy day at Canyon de Chelly National Monument, AZ
Canyon de Chelly National Monument, AZ

4. Monument Valley, AZ/UT

  • Driving distance: 188 mi / 303 km
  • Driving time: 3 h

From Petrified Forest, your Arizona road trip continues north until you get to the Utah border. There, on the border between Arizona and Utah, you find the famous Monument Valley.

Monument Valley is like a different planet. Giant red rock formations, buttes, tower up towards the American sky. The breathtaking valley is located in Navajo Nation, and it’s easy to access the highlights of Monument Valley when you drive the extremely scenic Valley Drive.

Not in the tribal park but not far away you also find the Forrest Gump Point. The point where Forrest Gump ended his run across the US is certainly one of the best photo opportunities on the itinerary.

Monument Valley on Arizona road trip
Monument Valley, AZ/UT.

Where to stay

There are places to stay in Monument Valley if you look for that special location with valley views. But in nearby towns you also find great options if you don’t want to break the bank.

Arizona road trip to Monument Valley
Arizona road trip to Monument Valley.

Additional stop: Continue slightly further north from Monument Valley if you want to get more taste of Utah on the tinerary. Goosenecks State Park offers a more off the beaten path experience and is a fun addition to the road trip.

5. Antelope Canyon, AZ

  • Driving distance: 115 mi / 185 km
  • Driving time: 2 h

Also near the Utah border but further west Antelope Canyon is located in the Page area. It’s one of the most photogenic stops on the itinerary. The place is known as the photographer’s dream.

The slot canyon is characterized by its wavy walls and light beams that sometimes reach through the openings of the canyon. It’s a unique spot that’s often referred to as one of the prettiest places in the US.

To see the light beams, you need to go during the so called golden months. Because only if you visit from the second half of March to early October, you have the chance of seeing them. And even then the beams only appear around midday when the sun is high on the sky.

But with or without the light beams Antelope Canyon is a very special road trip attraction. Just remember that you need to book a tour in advance if you plan to visit. No visitors are allowed to enter the slot canyon without a tour guide.

Where to stay

Page is the perfect base with places to stay near Antelope Canyon. From Page you’re just a short drive away from the photogenic Arizona slot canyon.

Wavy Canyon walls in Antelope Canyon, AZ
Wavy Canyon walls in Antelope Canyon.

6. Horseshoe Bend, AZ

  • Driving distance: 10 mi / 16 km
  • Driving time: 0.5 h

The shortest drive on the itinerary is the one from Antelope to Horseshoe Bend. It’s just 10 miles (16 km) between these two beautiful sights.

Horseshoe Bend is a spectacular meander carved out by the Colorado River. From the overlook with its 1,000 feet (300 m) drop you get some of the best views in the American Southwest.

It’s often believed that the breathtaking meander is part of Grand Canyon National Park. That’s not the case even though it’s very close. Grand Canyon National Park begins just a little over 5 miles (8 km away).

To visit Horseshoe Bend is a great experience at any time of the day. But if you’re planning a romantic Arizona road trip, a sunset at the spectacular bend is extremely hard to beat.

Where to stay

You certainly don’t need to get a new base when you visit Horseshoe Bend. The best places to stay near Horseshoe Bend are the same as for Antelope Canyon. From lodging in Page you have great access to both attractions.

Sunset at Horseshoe bend on road trip in Arizona
Sunset at Horseshoe Bend.

7. Grand Canyon National Park, AZ

  • Driving distance: 135 mi / 217 km
  • Driving time: 2.5 h

The Arizona drive itinerary is just packed with goodies to explore. But if you have to pick one that’s the icing on the cake, it probably has to be the mighty Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is not only the most famous of all the sights in Arizona but also one of the most celebrated natural wonders in the entire world. It’s a canyon so big that its size is hard to grasp.

With a length of 277 miles (446 km), width of up to 18 miles (29 km) and depth of more than a mile (1847 m) it’s hard not to admire the canyon. Still its size is just one of the reasons to rank Grand Canyon as you favorite Arizona destination.

Other reasons to love Grand Canyon are its calming silence, fresh air and iconic hikes. In short, Grand Canyon is a place that holds enormous natural beauty and needs to be visited to be fully understood.

When you visit Grand Canyon, you can choose between the North Rim and the South Rim. The South Rim is the most visited, and the one that’s open year-round. But both rims of the mighty canyon are certainly spectacular to explore.

Where to stay

There are many more places to stay near Grand Canyon at the South Rim than at the North Rim. At the South Rim of the Arizona wonder the best locations are Grand Canyon Village and the border town Tusayan.

The sun rises at Grand Canyon South Rim, AZ
Sunrise at Grand Canyon South Rim.

Additional stop: It’s a slight detour but Walnut Canyon National Monument is an appreciated addition to the itinerary. In Walnut Canyon you find fascinating cliff dwellings from the ancient times when it was inhabited. Along the popular Island Trail, you can explore 25 of the park’s cliff dwelling rooms.

8. Sedona, AZ

  • Driving distance: 113 mi / 182 km
  • Driving time: 2 h

On the way back to Phoenix from Grand Canyon the city Sedona is located. It’s about 2 hours from Grand Canyon to Sedona and 2 more hours from Sedona to Phoenix. But the convenience is certainly not the only good reason to include Sedona on your perfect tour of Arizona.

Everywhere your eyes go in Sedona, you are met by a beautiful red rock backdrop. The landscape is gorgeous, and it’s easy to unplug and find inspiration in such a setting. Sedona is the perfect place to unwind before you round off the road trip.

Just like the state Arizona, the city Sedona is packed with fun natural road trip attractions to explore. The city even has two jaw-dropping state parks in Red Rock State Park and Slide Rock State Park.

But you don’t need to go to the state parks to enjoy some great Sedona hikes. Cathedral Rock Trail, Bell Rock Trail and Devil’s Bridge Trail are three of the most popular hikes in Sedona, and they all offer spectacular views. In Sedona you are always close to the magnificent Arizona nature.

Bridge made of rock in Sedona, Arizona
Devil’s Bridge in Sedona.

9. Phoenix, AZ

  • Driving distance: 117 mi / 188 km
  • Driving time: 2 h

After a perfect Arizona road trip, it’s time to round off the journey. The last 117 miles (188 km) on the road completes the loop and takes you back to where the journey started, Phoenix.

Sedona views on the Arizona road trip
Sedona views on the Arizona trip.

Arizona itineraries with days

For the ultimate Arizona road trip, we recommend setting aside 2 weeks or more. If you have less time, you can either do a pacier road trip or break up the itinerary to focus on your favorite parts.

Ultimate itinerary (2 weeks)

  • Day 1-2: Phoenix
  • Day 2-4: Saguaro NP
  • Day 4-6: Petrified Forest NP
  • Day 6-8: Monument Valley
  • Day 8-10: Horseshoe Bend & Antelope Canyon
  • Day 10-13: Grand Canyon NP
  • Day 13-14: Sedona

Pacy itinerary (1 week)

  • Day 1: Phoenix
  • Day 1-2: Saguaro NP
  • Day 2-3: Petrified Forest NP
  • Day 3-4: Monument Valley
  • Day 4-5: Horseshoe Bend & Antelope Canyon
  • Day 5-7: Grand Canyon NP
  • Day 7: Sedona
Red rock formations in Sedona on the perfect Arizona road trip itinerary.
The perfect road trip in Arizona.

Use the booking tool below to find the perfect places to stay for your Arizona road trip. Browse the map for options in various areas, or click on the search button to start with hotels in Phoenix.

Road trip in Arizona FAQ

How long does it take to drive the Arizona road trip?

This ultimate Arizona road trip is 1031 miles (1659 km) long, taking about 19 hours not including any stops along the way.

Where should I go on a road trip in Arizona?

The main stops included on the ultimate Arizona road trip are Phoenix, Saguaro NP, Petrified Forest NP, Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Grand Canyon NP and Sedona.

What is there to do on a road trip in Arizona?

Arizona offers some of the best natural attractions in the American Southwest, including the one and only Grand Canyon. In addition cities such as Phoenix and Sedona add pleasant urban experiences to the itinerary.

How many days do you need in Arizona?

For the ultimate Arizona road trip, we recommend allowing 2 weeks or more. But if you have less time, you can do a pacier road trip or break it up to focus on certain parts.

How can I spend 7 days in Arizona?

If you have 7 days in Arizona and look for a less stuffed road trip, it’s a good idea to narrow down the road trip. For example, you save many miles and several hours if you don’t include Saguaro National Park on the itinerary.

When is the best time to do the Arizona road trip?

This Arizona road trip can be done at any time of the year. But the best times of the year for the drive are generally spring and fall. Then the temperatures are more pleasant than during the extremely hot summer months. In the summer, the temperature in Arizona frequently goes above 100°F (38°C).

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