A 10-Day Arizona Road Trip Itinerary for Adventurers
Get ready to explore a diverse array of natural wonders, from ancient forests turned to stone to iconic red rock landscapes. This comprehensive itinerary will guide you through the most breathtaking destinations Arizona has to offer. Buckle up and let's embark on an unforgettable road trip!
Our private tours typically range from $500 - $1000 per person/per night depending on chosen hotels and room categories, vehicles used, types of tours, flight cost, time of year and other factors. Make an inquiry for a customized trip quote.
Begin your adventure by arriving in Phoenix, Arizona's vibrant capital city. Meet your private guide at the airport who will transfer you to your cozy hotel. After settling in, head to Saguaro National Park, located just outside the city (1 a half-hour drive from Pheonix to Tuscan). Marvel at the towering saguaro cacti, hike scenic trails and immerse yourself in the desert beauty.
Best Things To Do in Phoenix
Visit Desert Botanical Garden: Discover the beauty of the desert flora at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix. Explore the extensive collection of cacti, succulents, and other desert plants while learning about their adaptations and importance in the ecosystem.
Explore Phoenix Art Museum: Immerse yourself in the world of art at the Phoenix Art Museum. Admire a diverse collection of art spanning different periods and cultures, including contemporary art, American art, European masterpieces, and more.
Hike Camelback Mountain: Challenge yourself with a hike up Camelback Mountain, an iconic natural landmark in Phoenix. Enjoy panoramic views of the city and the surrounding desert as you conquer the summit.
Visit Heard Museum: Learn about Native American art, culture, and history at the Heard Museum. Explore exhibits featuring traditional and contemporary Native American artwork, pottery, textiles, and jewelry.
Explore Old Town Scottsdale: Experience the charm of Old Town Scottsdale, a historic district known for its Western architecture, art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants. Enjoy a leisurely stroll, browse unique shops, and dine at local eateries.
Phoenix Zoo: Spend a day at the Phoenix Zoo, home to various animal species from around the world. Explore themed exhibits, attend animal encounters, and learn about conservation efforts.
Visit Papago Park: Discover the natural beauty of Papago Park, which features unique geological formations, hiking trails, picnic areas, and the Desert Botanical Garden. Don't miss the popular Hole-in-the-Rock landmark, offering panoramic views of the surrounding area.
Day 2: Exploring Saguaro National Park
Spend a full day immersing yourself in the wonders of Saguaro National Park, a stunning desert oasis divided into two districts: the Rincon Mountain District and the Tucson Mountain District. Each district offers its own unique experiences and landscapes to explore. In the eastern section of the park, known as the Rincon Mountain District, you'll discover a lower concentration of cacti but be treated to the picturesque backdrop of the Rincon Mountains, making it an ideal spot for avid photographers. If you arrive in the early to mid-afternoon, you'll have ample time to delve into the beauty of this district.
On the other hand, the western section of Saguaro National Park, the Tucson Mountain District, is known for its denser population of cacti and serves as the more popular area due to its accessibility and breathtaking desert scenery. Have lunch and then, embark on a scenic drive through the Rincon Mountain District, allowing yourself to be captivated by the awe-inspiring vistas and the striking contrast between the desert landscape and the majestic Rincon Mountains. Keep your eyes peeled for glimpses of wildlife, such as javelinas and desert birds that call this area home. Check into a premium hotel in Tucson for the night.
Best Things To Do in Tucson
Explore Saguaro National Park: Immerse yourself in the beauty of the Sonoran Desert by exploring Saguaro National Park. Take a scenic drive or hike the trails to admire the iconic saguaro cacti and enjoy stunning desert vistas.
Visit Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum: Discover the diverse flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. This outdoor museum combines a zoo, botanical garden, and natural history museum, offering interactive exhibits and animal encounters.
Explore Tucson's Historic Downtown: Wander through Tucson's historic downtown area, filled with vibrant street art, unique shops, and delicious eateries. Visit the historic Presidio San Agustn del Tucson Museum and explore the lively atmosphere of the Mercado San Agustn.
Visit Mission San Xavier del Bac: Marvel at the beauty of Mission San Xavier del Bac, a stunning Spanish colonial mission located just outside Tucson. Admire the intricate architecture and learn about the history and cultural significance of this 18th-century church.
Pima Air & Space Museum: Aviation enthusiasts will enjoy a visit to the Pima Air & Space Museum, one of the largest air and space museums in the world. Explore the vast collection of aircraft and learn about the history of flight.
Tucson Botanical Gardens: Take a leisurely stroll through the Tucson Botanical Gardens and enjoy the tranquil atmosphere surrounded by lush greenery, vibrant flowers, and themed gardens. Don't miss the butterfly exhibit and the seasonal events and exhibitions.
Explore Mount Lemmon: Escape the desert heat by driving up to Mount Lemmon in the Santa Catalina Mountains. Enjoy cooler temperatures, scenic views, and outdoor activities such as hiking, picnicking, and wildlife spotting.
Day 3: Drive to Petrified National Park
Hit the road towards Petrified Forest National Park (a four-hour private drive), a captivating site where ancient trees have transformed into magnificent petrified wood. Take your time exploring the park's otherworldly landscapes and discovering the remnants of a prehistoric era. Tonight, sleep in Holbrook, the closest town to Petrified Forest National Park.
Best Things To Do In Petrified National Park
Visit the Painted Desert: Experience the awe-inspiring beauty of the Painted Desert, a vast and colorful landscape that stretches across the park. Explore viewpoints and overlooks to witness the striking hues and layers of sedimentary rock formations.
Discover the Ruins: Delve into the park's rich history by exploring the ancient ruins and petroglyphs found within its boundaries. The Puerco Pueblo and Newspaper Rock are notable sites that provide glimpses into the lives of early inhabitants.
Stop by the Visitor Center: Start your visit at the park's visitor center, where you can learn about the park's geology, history, and wildlife through informative exhibits and displays. Park rangers are also available to answer any questions and provide guidance for your exploration.
Scenic Drives: Take a leisurely drive along the park's scenic roads to soak in the breathtaking vistas. The 28-mile Petrified Forest Road and the 28-mile Painted Desert Rim Road offer panoramic views and opportunities to spot wildlife along the way.
Photography Opportunities: Petrified Forest National Park provides a stunning backdrop for photography enthusiasts. Capture the vibrant colors, unique rock formations, and the play of light and shadow across the landscape.
Ranger-led Programs: Check the park's schedule for ranger-led programs and guided hikes. These programs offer insights into the park's natural and cultural history, providing a deeper understanding of its wonders.
Day 4: Monument Valley
The journey towards Monument Valley, which will take approx. 3.5 hours, an iconic landscape featured in numerous films and photographs, including the Forest Gump Point. On the way, stop by the Valley of the Gods in Utah. On arrival, Marvel at the towering red sandstone buttes and mesas, take a guided tour, then drive the 17-mile Valley Drive Loop and immerse yourself in the rich Native American culture that permeates the area. Have lunch at one of the premium restaurants and watch the sunset over the Mittens. Tonight check into a hotel at Monument Valley for dinner and overnight rest.
Best Things To Do In Monument Valley
Scenic Drive: Embark on a scenic drive through Monument Valley to immerse yourself in its stunning beauty. The 17-mile loop road takes you through the heart of the valley, offering panoramic views of the towering buttes, mesas, and vast open spaces. Be sure to stop at designated viewpoints along the way to capture memorable photographs.
Navajo Guided Tour: Enhance your experience by taking a guided tour led by Navajo guides who share their deep knowledge and connection to the land. These tours provide cultural insights, historical information, and stories about the Navajo people and their relationship with Monument Valley. Learn about the significance of the landmarks and gain a deeper appreciation for the area's cultural heritage.
Visit John Ford Point: Make a stop at John Ford Point, named after the renowned film director who showcased Monument Valley in many of his Western movies. Enjoy breathtaking views of the valley from this iconic viewpoint and imagine yourself in the midst of classic Western films.
Hike the Wildcat Trail: Lace up your hiking boots and embark on the Wildcat Trail, the only self-guided trail in Monument Valley. This 3.2-mile loop trail takes you close to the iconic West Mitten Butte, offering a unique perspective and opportunities for incredible photographs. Remember to bring plenty of water and wear appropriate hiking gear.
Camping: Experience the serenity of Monument Valley by camping overnight. There are camping options available within the park, allowing you to immerse yourself in the peacefulness of the desert landscape. Fall asleep under a star-filled sky and wake up to the stunning sunrise over the red rock formations.
Day 5: Antelope Canyon
Continue your adventure to the enchanting Antelope Canyon (a two-hour drive), a surreal and magical slot canyon famous for its stunning light beams and sculpted sandstone walls. Take a guided tour of the upper antelope and the lower antelope canyon to capture the ethereal beauty with your camera. In the evening, visit Horseshoe Bend for a spectacular sunset view. This is another very popular spot so get here early if you want an unobstructed view from the rim. Return to your hotel.
Best Things To Do in Antelope Canyon
Explore Upper Antelope Canyon: Begin your Antelope Canyon adventure by exploring the Upper Antelope Canyon, known for its stunning light beams and smooth, flowing sandstone walls. Take a guided tour to navigate through the narrow passages and capture incredible photographs of the light filtering through the cracks and crevices above.
Discover Lower Antelope Canyon: Delve into the captivating beauty of Lower Antelope Canyon, characterized by its intricate patterns and narrow passageways. Descend into the canyon via ladders and staircases and witness the magical interplay of light and shadow on the swirling rock formations. Guided tours are also available for Lower Antelope Canyon.
Photography Tours: If you're passionate about photography, consider joining a specialized photography tour in Antelope Canyon. These tours provide dedicated time and guidance for capturing the perfect shots, ensuring you make the most of this unique photo opportunity.
Learn about Navajo Culture: Gain insight into the rich Navajo culture that surrounds Antelope Canyon. Engage with Navajo guides who share stories, legends, and historical information about the canyon, offering a deeper appreciation for the land and its significance to the Navajo people.
Capture the Light Beams: Witness the breathtaking phenomenon of light beams that occur in Antelope Canyon during certain times of the day. These ethereal rays of light pierce through the narrow openings above, creating a truly magical and surreal atmosphere. Be sure to check with your tour operator for the best times to witness this natural wonder.
Day 6: Grand Canyon National Park
Arrive at the crown jewel of ArizonaGrand Canyon National Park (a three-hour drive). Once on Desert View Drive, there are numerous viewpoints that you can visit as you make your way to the Grand Canyon Village. They are all spectacular, but our favorites are Desert View Point (along with the Desert View Watchtower), Moran Point, and Grand View Point. Spend the day hiking the South Kaibab trail to reach the South Rim, to marvel at the breathtaking vistas including the Ooh Aah Point on the trail. Check into your comfortable hotel for dinner and rest.
Best Things to do In Grand Canyon
Yavapai Museum of Geology: Visit the Yavapai Museum of Geology, located at Yavapai Point. Learn about the geology and formation of the Grand Canyon through informative exhibits and displays. The museum provides valuable insights into the canyon's fascinating geological history.
Hermit Road Bike Ride: Embark on a scenic bike ride along Hermit Road, a beautiful route that offers breathtaking views of the canyon. The road is closed to private vehicles for most of the year, making it an ideal opportunity to enjoy a peaceful and picturesque ride.
Grand Canyon IMAX Movie: Immerse yourself in the Grand Canyon's captivating stories and history by watching the Grand Canyon IMAX movie. The film provides a larger-than-life experience, taking you on a virtual journey through the canyon's rich natural and cultural heritage.
Ranger Programs and Talks: Attend ranger-led programs and talks to deepen your understanding of the Grand Canyon's natural wonders. From guided hikes to informative presentations, these programs offer unique insights into the park's geology, wildlife, and cultural significance.
Colorado River Rafting: For an adventurous experience, consider taking a rafting trip along the Colorado River. Explore the canyon from a different perspective as you navigate through thrilling rapids and soak in the awe-inspiring scenery.
Havasu Falls: If you have the opportunity for an extended visit, consider venturing to Havasu Falls, located within the Havasupai Indian Reservation. This enchanting waterfall cascades into turquoise pools, creating a picturesque oasis amidst the red rock canyons.
Take Scenic flights: Go on a helicopter tour to enjoy the bird's-eye view of this incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Stargazing: After sunset, take advantage of the Grand Canyon's dark skies and indulge in stargazing. The lack of light pollution allows for remarkable views of the night sky, revealing a myriad of stars, constellations, and the Milky Way.
Day 7: Another Day in Grand Canyon National Park
Dedicate another day to fully absorb the wonders of the Grand Canyon. Taking a helicopter or airplane tour for a unique perspective. In the evening venture below the rim on a challenging hike for an unforgettable experience. Enjoy a lavish dinner in a premium hotel before returning to your accommodation.
Day 8: Grand Canyon & Sedona
Savor your last moments at the Grand Canyon before embarking on a scenic two-and-a-half-hour drive to the captivating town of Sedona. Admire the red rock beauty, explore art galleries, and soak in the spiritual energy that emanates from the surrounding landscapes. Check into your hotel for rest and dinner.
Day 9: Sedona
Discover two must-visit hikes that showcase the natural beauty of the area. Begin your day with the essential Cathedral Rock hike, which offers a thrilling and rewarding experience. This short and sweet hike involves some rock scrambling, adding an element of excitement to your adventure. With jaw-dropping views throughout, it's a ton of fun from start to finish. After your Cathedral Rock adventure, head to Bell Rock for another mesmerizing hiking experience. The Courthouse Butte Loop is a 4-mile trail that surrounds Courthouse Butte and Bell Rock, offering easy terrain suitable for all ages and ability levels. Return to your hotel for dinner
Best Things To Do in Sedona
Visit Vortex Sites: Sedona is renowned for its vortex sites, believed to be places of spiritual energy. Take a guided tour or venture to these sites on your own to experience their unique atmosphere. Some well-known vortex sites include Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, and Airport Mesa.
Chapel of the Holy Cross: Marvel at the striking architecture of the Chapel of the Holy Cross, a church built into the red rocks. Enjoy panoramic views of Sedona from this serene and spiritual setting.
Red Rock State Park: Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Red Rock State Park. Enjoy hiking trails, picnic areas, and educational programs that showcase the diverse flora and fauna of the area. Don't miss the opportunity to take in the scenic views along Oak Creek.
Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village: Stroll through the Tlaquepaque Arts and Crafts Village, a charming outdoor shopping center inspired by traditional Mexican architecture. Browse galleries, boutique shops, and enjoy delicious cuisine at the village's restaurants and cafes.
Oak Creek Canyon: Take a scenic drive along Oak Creek Canyon, a breathtaking gorge known for its towering cliffs and lush greenery. Stop at viewpoints, picnic areas, and swimming holes along the way to fully appreciate the canyon's natural beauty.
Sedona Arts Center: Discover the vibrant arts scene in Sedona by visiting the Sedona Arts Center. Browse through galleries showcasing a variety of artwork, attend workshops or art classes, and learn about the rich artistic heritage of the region.
Sedona Golf Resort: Enjoy a round of golf at the picturesque Sedona Golf Resort, surrounded by the stunning red rock scenery. This championship course offers an unforgettable golfing experience for enthusiasts of all skill levels.
Oak Creek Vineyards & Wineries: Indulge in a wine-tasting experience at one of Sedona's wineries, such as Oak Creek Vineyards or Page Springs Cellars. Sample locally produced wines while enjoying the serene vineyard settings.
Spa and Wellness: Treat yourself to a rejuvenating spa experience in Sedona. With its tranquil setting and holistic approach to well-being, Sedona offers a wide range of spas and wellness centers that offer massages, healing therapies, and meditation sessions.
Day 10: Fly Home
As your unforgettable Southwest adventure comes to an end, drive back to Phoenix to catch your return flight home. Reflect on the incredible memories you've made and carry the spirit of the Southwest with you.
How many days should I stay in Arizona?
The number of days to stay in Arizona depends on your itinerary and the places you wish to visit. Ideally, a week to ten days or more would allow you to explore the diverse landscapes and attractions the state has to offer. However, even a shorter visit of 3-4 days can also provide a worthwhile experience.
How many days do you need for a Grand Circle road trip?
To fully experience the Grand Circle road trip, it is recommended to allocate at least 7-10 days. This will allow you to visit iconic destinations such as the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Monument Valley, and more, while also giving you time for scenic drives and outdoor activities.
What month is best to visit the Grand Canyon?
Spring is a popular time to visit the Grand Canyon. The weather is generally mild, with pleasant temperatures and blooming wildflowers. However, keep in mind that it can still be chilly in March and crowds start to increase as the season progresses.
What should I pack for a trip to Arizona in the summer?
For a week-long trip to Arizona in the summer, it's important to pack lightweight and breathable clothing, such as shorts, t-shirts, and summer dresses. Don't forget to include a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen for sun protection. Additionally, bring comfortable walking shoes, swimwear, a reusable water bottle, and a light jacket or sweater for cooler evenings or higher elevations.
What is awesome about the drive from Albuquerque to Flagstaff?
The drive from Albuquerque to Flagstaff is filled with breathtaking scenery. As you traverse this route, you'll encounter the stunning landscapes of northern New Mexico and northeastern Arizona. Highlights include the red rock formations of the Painted Desert, the volcanic fields of the El Malpais National Monument, the Museum of Northern Arizona, and the majestic San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff. It's a journey that showcases the beauty and diversity of the Southwest.
What's the prettiest city in Arizona?
Arizona is home to many picturesque cities, each with its own unique charm. Sedona is often considered one of the prettiest cities due to its stunning red rock formations, scenic hiking trails, and spiritual atmosphere. Other cities like Flagstaff, Prescott, and Tucson also boast natural beauty, historic architecture, and vibrant cultural scenes.
What cities are 3 hours from Phoenix?
Several cities are approximately a 3-hour drive from Phoenix. Some options include Sedona, Flagstaff, Prescott, and Tucson. Each of these cities offers distinct attractions and can be a great choice for day trips or short getaways from the bustling capital city.
What is the best month for an Arizona road trip?
The best month for an Arizona road trip depends on your preferences and the regions you plan to visit. As mentioned earlier, spring and fall generally offer pleasant temperatures for outdoor activities. However, if you're seeking warmer weather, summer can be suitable for areas at higher elevations. Consider the specific destinations and activities on your itinerary when deciding the best month for your road trip.
Where should I go on a road trip in Arizona?
Arizona offers numerous incredible road trip destinations. Some popular choices include the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Monument Valley, Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Route 66, Saguaro National Park, and the historic town of Bisbee. Each destination showcases the state's diverse landscapes, cultural heritage, and outdoor adventures. Choose based on your interests and create an itinerary that suits your preferences.