Arizona is a beautiful state with plenty to see—and its iconic scenery is some of the best in the west. However, it’s also a large state, so it’s virtually impossible to see all the top spots without having some sort of an itinerary.

A road trip through the state is a great way to scope many of the Grand Canyon State’s most famous scenery while offering an eclectic sampling of famous landmarks, state parks, and dazzling landscapes that are the perfect way to experience Arizona.

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*The following itinerary is meant to be a guide and can last anywhere from 5-7 days (depending on the stops). However, the beauty of a road trip is the ability to customize—and add (or remove) stops along the way. So gas up and get on the road to experience Arizona in all its glory.

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Get Going In Phoenix

Phoenix is the capital of Arizona and definitely worth checking out before getting on the road. It’s also a great place to start a road trip because there’s plenty to see and do in a relatively short period of time because it's such a large city. It’s also a great place to fly into and pick up some wheels for the road ahead.

Things To Do In Phoenix

  • Take a hike on Camelback Mountain. The best time to hike Camelback’s trails is early—before the crowds and summer heat really sets in
  • Visit the Desert Botanical Gardens in Papago Park. For those who don’t fancy an early morning hike, this beautiful park is a great spot for scoping Arizona flora
  • Take in the vibrant downtown area
  • Head to Old Town Scottsdale and visit the fun Musical Instrument Museum

On The Road To Tucson

It can take anywhere from 1 1/2 to 2 hours to get to Tucson from Phoenix. Aim to get there by mid to early afternoon to grab lunch and still have time to explore. One of the best things to do in Tucson is to visit Saguaro National Park and check out its famous cacti. There are two sections of the park (Rincon Mountain District and Tucson Mountain District), so plan accordingly.

Things To Do In Tucson

  • Learn more about the Sonoran Desert at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
  • Stop in at the Pima Air & Space Museum to see hundreds of impressive aircraft
  • Want something different? Check out The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures
  • Have a tasty lunch at The Little One—Mexican dining with a twist, and one of the most popular restaurants in the city. Be sure to try a made to order agua fresca

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Side Trip To Tombstone (Optional)

Tombstone is only 1 1/2 hours from Tucson, making it an ideal mini detour. This wild west town is full of history and even has a saloon where visitors can sidle up to the same bar once frequented by Wyatt Earp. Travelers can bunk down in either town before getting back on the road the following day.

Petrified Forest Adventure

The next part of the trip contains one of the longest drives, so be sure and get plenty of rest. The trip from Tombstone to Petrified Forest National Park is over 5 hours long—but it’s totally worth it to scope out some of the best desert scenery in the state. Because Holbrook is the closest town, this is most likely where travelers will spend the night. The road to Holbrook takes travelers through the Arizona White Mountains, the Fort Apache Reservation, and the San Carlos Reservation. Stop along the way in Show Low or Pinetop-Lakeside to stretch and grab a bite.

It’s easy to spend hours exploring Petrified Forest National Park; divided into two sections, there's plenty to see in both. Check out the colorful Painted Desert Hills, take a hike, grab some pics, and check out the petrified wood (dating back millions of years!)

The next stop, Monument Valley, is about 3 1/2 hours away, so travelers who get on the road by late afternoon will arrive just in time to spend the night and get up early the next day for maximum exploring.

Where To Stay In Monument Valley

  • Guilding’s Lodge and Campground: A nice resort that has rooms with a view. There’s also an on-site restaurant and indoor pool. Rates: $179 and up/night
  • The View Hotel: Choose from a hotel room or on-site cabin. Visitors say the view from the cabins is spectacular, with stunning views of the desert and surrounding buttes. Cabins start at $249/night

Things To Do In Monument Valley

  • Drive the scenic 17 miles Valley Drive Loop for some of the best scenery in the area
  • Explore Forrest Gump Point
  • Take a guided tour of Monument Valley (because it’s on Navajo land, some spots can only be accessed with a guide)

On The Road Again

Some visitors may want to spend an additional night in Monument Valley because there’s so much to see. However, the next stop is only 2 hours or so away; so travelers who have less time may want to proceed to Antelope Canyon.

Antelope Canyon is a popular tourist destination so it may be crowded by mid-afternoon. This is a great time to explore the surrounding area, including Horseshoe Bend, Buckskin Gulch, Lake Powell, and the Coyote Buttes. It’s best to save the Upper and Lower Canyons for the next day, to get an early start and see as much as possible.

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Where To Stay/Things To Do In Page

Page is the closest town to Antelope Canyon, so travelers will most likely spend at least one night here.

  • Head to Glen Canyon Recreation Area and the nearby Glen Canyon Dam Overlook
  • Have a bite at BirdHouse, known for their crispy fried chicken and ice-cold brews
  • Stay at the Courtyard by Marriott Lake Powell, located in downtown Page. Rates: $174 and up/night

The Last Leg

After watching a spectacular sunset over Horseshoe Bend, it’s time to get back on the road for the next stop: the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon is about 2 1/2-3 hours from Page; and an ideal place to wrap up this epic road trip. Check out some tips for Grand Canyon sightseeing here and learn all about park closures, attractions, lodgings, and more on the National Park Service website.

A road trip through Arizona is a great way to experience some of the best scenery in the state—from desert vistas to imposing buttes; epic canyons and colorful caverns, and everything in between.

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