I’m an Arizona local with thousands of miles of desert roads under my belt, and I’ve put together the ultimate Arizona road trip itinerary!
The Grand Canyon State has six major biomes from deserts to woodlands to tundra. This epic guide will take you to several of these stunning landscapes. It also covers urban attractions, cultural experiences, and more can’t-miss destinations — including several hidden gems. Plan your road trip effortlessly with my comprehensive itinerary for Arizona!
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7-Day Arizona Itinerary
Day 1 – Phoenix
Begin your Arizona road trip in the state capital of Phoenix. Fly into Sky Harbor International Airport, conveniently located near downtown Phoenix, Tempe, and Scottsdale.
Start with a hearty breakfast downtown at the locally renowned Lolo’s for chicken and waffles. Then head down the road to the Phoenix Art Museum and walk off your breakfast in an air-conditioned environment. Experience interactive exhibits and get an introduction to Native American influence in the Southwestern world of art.
Make your way to Papago Park for a midday hike and picnic among the red rocks. Grab your lunch fixings beforehand from nearby DeFalco’s Italian Deli. Hole in the Rock Trail is a popular, easy trek in Papago Park with spectacular views of the city and surrounding desert. Check out the Desert Botanical Garden and Phoenix Zoo just down the street if you have time.
Wrap up your day in Scottsdale. This happening area offers top-of-the-line shopping, dining, and drinking. I recommend the Fashion Square Mall for shopping. Take to Old Town Scottsdale for dinner and enjoy a 5-star meal paired with a handcrafted prickly pear margarita from any of the excellent establishments on Scottsdale Road.
End your night at a Scottsdale nightclub, some of which are the biggest attractors to this luxury area of Phoenix. Shoeman Lane is the spot for full-blown clubs with bottle service and the works. Coach House and Gilligan’s are great lowkey bars. Boondock’s is right in between the two personalities. Don’t go too crazy — you’ve got a bit of driving to do tomorrow!
🛎️ Where to Stay: Hyatt Regency Phoenix ($$$, rooftop pool in downtown Phoenix) • Arizona Biltmore A Waldorf Astoria Resort ($$$$, luxury to the max) • Scottsdale Marriott Old Town ($$, in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale)
Day 2 – Sedona
Rise and shine, you’re heading north to the dazzling red rocks of Sedona. Hit the road in the early morning to avoid Phoenix traffic. Drive just under two hours to this stunning mountain town and arrive by 10 AM. Grab some fuel at Coffee Pot Restaurant on the way into town. Do not miss out on its life-changing cinnamon rolls.
Time to burn off that breakfast. The iconic Devil’s Bridge hike is fit for most experience levels. You’ll also have an incredible photo op at the rock formation. Check out the Birthing Cave just northwest of town if you prefer a less popular hike. You might get the cave all to yourself if you arrive on a weekday. There are dozens of other hiking trails to explore in Sedona.
Relax your muscles post-hike with a soak in Oak Creek. There are tons of access points to the water alongside Oak Creek Canyon Road. Check out Slide Rock State Park for an unforgettable time shooting down natural rock slides. They’re best enjoyed after the monsoon rains, of course.
Food sounds really good after all that outdoor activity. Enjoy dinner at Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill, featuring the best dinner views in all of town. Select from an award-winning menu and indulge in a true fine dining experience. Best. Steak. Ever.
End your full day stargazing from one of many cozy places to stay in Sedona. The night sky glows brilliantly here. You won’t forget the awe of nighttime enchantment in this magical landscape any time soon.
Day 3 – Grand Canyon National Park & Flagstaff
Set out early from Sedona and take Oak Creek Canyon north to Flagstaff, one of the best towns in Arizona. Stop at Indian Gardens Cafe and Market along the way for the best chai latte you’ll ever have.
Continue on to Grand Canyon National Park. One of the seven natural wonders of the world is a must-see on your Arizona road trip. The south rim is less than 2 hours from Flagstaff, so it’s an easy day trip from the college town. Take I-40 W and drive 53 miles to AZ-64 N. It’s a straight shot to Grand Canyon Village once you take this exit.
Spend the day in awe of the unbelievable sights. The beauty of one of the best US national parks cannot be conveyed through words or photos. You simply must see it for yourself at least once in your lifetime. The north and south rim are very different, so think about extending your Grand Canyon adventure if you can.
Drive 1.5 hours back to Flagstaff via AZ-64 S and US 180-E. You should still have a full afternoon and evening to enjoy this charming mountain town. Check out Lowell Observatory to learn about the intriguing celestial history in Arizona. Pluto was discovered here!
End your time in Flagstaff with dinner and beers at Dark Sky Brewing. This is my favorite hangout spot in town. The atmosphere is warm and inviting, and the beers are second to none. Watch your hand-tossed pie cook before your eyes at Pizzicletta, the cozy pizza joint inside the brewery.
Day 4 – Page
Grab some caffeine at Late for the Train, a coffee shop in Flagstaff, then hit the road again. Head north via US-89 to the Arizona-Utah border. Some incredible surprises await you in the scenic town of Page, located about two hours away.
First, visit Antelope Canyon. This winding sandstone canyon is one of the most popular natural attractions in the state. The way the light catches the incredible rock formations will make you feel like you’re in a dreamland.
Alternatively, check out nearby Water Hose Canyon if you don’t want to pay for guided tours of Antelope Canyon. It’s not quite as extensive, but it’s still stunning. And free!
Lake Powell is my favorite Arizona lake to explore because so many of the waterways can only be accessed by tiny boats. Paddle your way through tight squeezes and watery caves. The hidden gems at Lake Powell are boundless!
End your day with the most spectacular sunset of your life at Horseshoe Bend. This breathtaking rock formation carved by the Colorado River is a must-see. The lookout is easy to walk to from the Horseshoe Bend parking lot. Watch the water and high canyon walls light up as the sun dips below the horizon.
🛎️ Where to Stay: Country Inn & Suites ($$, clean and comfy accommodations in town) • Lake Powell Motel ($$, humble stay close to Antelope Canyon) • Courtyard Page ($$, close to golf and other outdoor attractions)
Day 5 – Monument Valley and Greer
Alright, this is the longest day of driving on this Arizona road trip itinerary. However, you’ll stop at a few awesome spots along the way to the White Mountains like Monument Valley and Petrified Forest National Park. Take AZ-98 E for 66 miles until you reach US-160 E. Continue almost 100 miles before turning left to Monument Valley via US-163 N.
Explore some of the most iconic rock formations in the United States right on the border with Utah. Take a photo where Forrest Gump ran with his posse. The massive buttes in Monument Valley truly are a sight to behold. No Arizona road trip would be complete without a stop in this magical landscape.
Head south from Monument Valley to Winslow for a quick peek at this historic Route 66 town. You may recognize the name from the Eagles’ smash hit “Take It Easy.” You yourself can “stand on the corner in Winslow, Arizona.” Snap a pic with the famous bronze statue in Standin’ on the Corner Park for one of the most memorable photo-ops on your Arizona road trip.
Continue east on the old Mother Road to your next stop, Petrified Forest National Park. The painted desert is unlike any other landscape in the region. Drive through clusters of geologic masterpieces and ancient petroglyphs. Don’t skip this scenic drive through the high-desert badlands of Arizona in Petrified Forest National Park.
Only 2 hours to go to the mountains! Take US-191 south to Springerville, then head west on AZ-260 to the charming town of Greer. This woodland getaway is the site of many fond childhood memories for me.
Rent a cabin in the ponderosa pine forest close to town where you can get dinner at Molly Butler’s, the oldest lodge in Arizona. Check out the shops along the Little Colorado River which flows through the center of Greer. Most importantly, take the evening to gaze at a brilliant field of stars. The night sky is more dazzling here than any other spot in Arizona.
Day 6 – Bisbee
Prepare for a long day of driving, almost 6 hours today. You’ll even cut through a bit of New Mexico for a moment. However, the scenery changes like crazy, and there are some cool stops along the way. The drive will fly by in a flash!
Head east through Apache National Forest to some of the prettiest mountain scenes in the state. You’ll cross the New Mexico border pretty quickly. Drive US-180 E for 115 miles before heading back into Arizona via NM-78 W. You’ll be on this for over 200 miles. Luckily, it’s a gorgeous drive with desert, forest, and mountain sights stretching as far as the eye can see.
Stop for late lunch in Willcox shortly after merging onto I-10. This quaint town is home to some of the most prolific orchards in the state, which you can visit during the harvest season with the whole family. You can also enjoy some of the finest Arizona wines here. Remember to drive responsibly!
Just 75 miles to go! Wrap up your long day on the road by heading south to Bisbee via AZ-186 and US-191. Spend the evening exploring local art and stretching your legs through the town’s steep neighborhoods. Get dinner at the famous Copper Queen Hotel. Stay the night in one of the most haunted rooms in Arizona if you dare.
Check out Bisbee Social Club before calling it a night. This underground speakeasy is one of my favorite bars I’ve ever visited. It’s a great representation of the unique vibes Bisbee is so well known for.
🛎️ Where to Stay: Bisbee Brownstone Suites ($$$, remodeled hotel walking distance to everything) • Hotel La More ($, a family-owned, old-fashioned lodge) • Letson Loft Hotel ($$, Victorian rooms with a terrace overlooking downtown)
Day 7 – Tucson
Start the morning with a tour of the Queen Mine if you’re not prone to claustrophobia. This fascinating experience gives you an immersive look at the underground world of Bisbee back when it was an active mining town. Head to your final destination once you come back to the surface.
The last stop on your Arizona road trip is Tucson, the second largest city in the state. This sprawling metropolis is filled with incredible restaurants, fascinating museums, great bars and breweries, and tons of outdoor opportunities.
You can jam-pack your stay in Tucson with a myriad of eclectic activities. Check out my article on things to do in Tucson for a full list of the best this city has to offer. It all depends on what kind of adventure you crave at the end of your Arizona road trip!
Go on one of many beautiful hikes in Tucson if the weather is lovely (which it usually is). Saguaro National Park West and Sabino Canyon are my favorite spots. Then, I recommend treating yourself to a beer at MotoSonora Brewing or Borderlands Brewing to unwind after a week of driving.
Enjoy dinner on Fourth Avenue or in downtown Tucson. These areas are saturated with terrific cuisine and award-winning establishments. You’ll be sure to have a life-changing meal in Tucson, which is one of two UNESCO-recognized cities of gastronomy. I recommend Mexican food!
Make sure to visit Rooster Cogburn’s Ostrich Ranch on your way back to Phoenix. The whole family will delight in feeding goats, sheep, donkeys, stingrays (random, I know), and of course, ostriches! You can’t miss this quirky place right next to Picacho Peak State Park between the two big cities.
🍽️ Where to Eat: Tumerico ($$), Guiseppe’s ($$)
Arizona Road Trip Itinerary Map
Here is a Google Map with all the stops, attractions, and hotels mentioned in this post.
How to Get Around in Arizona
A car is your best friend in Arizona. Public transportation is unfortunately lacking, so invest in a rental car when you visit. I recommend booking with Discover Cars for the best rates and customer service!
There is just so much to see in this beautiful state. It’ll be worth it to be able to hop in the car and go at your own pace when you want to explore rather than relying on Ubers or buses.
Arizona Itinerary Planning Tips
Tip #1 – Rent a Versatile Vehicle
Arizona is known for its rugged landscapes. You could absolutely fare well with a normal car, but a sturdy SUV with hefty tires will allow many more opportunities to explore on your Arizona road trip. Give yourself some extra freedom on dirt roads and rough terrain so you can see more Sonoran Desert and mountain beauty off the beaten path, especially near the Grand Canyon.
Tip #2 – Don’t Go During the Summer
Arizona gets HOT. This comes as no surprise in the desert, but it’s sometimes shocking just how steamy it gets here, especially if you’re not used to the weather. Road tripping in 100+ degree heat will not be fun for you or the car.
I recommend planning this AZ adventure in the fall or spring when the weather is pleasant and fewer people are on the road. The Grand Canyon is especially pleasant during the fall.
Tip #3 – Get a National Park Pass
The Grand Canyon isn’t the only major park in the state. Arizona is home to 24 national park units and 3 major national parks.
The America the Beautiful National Park Pass may be a good investment if you intend to venture through these protected lands on your road trip. It’s $80 for this year-round pass, which will come in handy all over the United States. I highly recommend this pass if you’re a frequent road-tripper with an affinity for national parks!
📚 Related Reading: National Park Packing List (26 Things to Bring in 2023)
Tip #4 – Make a Killer Playlist
No road trip is complete without great music. Make a collaborative playlist with everyone in the car to jam out to your favorite tunes while you cruise the beautiful landscapes in Arizona. I guarantee this will make the long stretches of driving go by much faster.
FAQs About Planning an Itinerary for Arizona
Where should I go on a road trip in Arizona?
You should go to both urban settings and remote destinations on a road trip to Arizona. The big cities like Tucson and Phoenix have tons of culture and entertainment. But the natural beauty is what draws visitors from around the world to Arizona.
What is the best month for an Arizona road trip?
How many days are enough for Arizona?
You need at least 7 days in Arizona to see a decent amount of what the state offers. I recommend staying longer if you have the time so you can take your road trip at a slower pace. There are a lifetime of sights to see in this gorgeous state, but a week-long, jam-packed adventure is a good place to start.
You’re ready to hit the road! I’m confident that this week-long Arizona road trip itinerary will allow you to see the best of the Wild West. Further, prepare for your Grand Canyon State adventure by gifting yourself these road trip essentials.
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