Here is my complete Arizona road trip: Must sees, what’s worth it, and locations.
Why AZ? In 2015, I visited Arizona for the first time and it might sound crazy–but the energy I felt in that state was like nothing I’d ever felt before… I’ve been chasing it ever since. My boyfriend Clark, has never been to the southwest and knowing how amazing this state is, I planned our trip down to the hour!
Our 6 Day Road Trip Itinerary
F L I G H T S
We flew into Las Vegas since it was pretty cheap and I wanted to hit a quick hike in Zion before our 5 official days in Arizona.
9:30 am: Landed in Las Vegas
10:30am: Explore the vegas strip and make sure you wear or pack comfy shoes! We hit hotels like the Venetian, the Bellagio, and Caesars Palace.
12:30: Eat In-N-Out! Over hyped in my opinion, but if you’ve never had it or don’t get it often–get it!
Head to Springdale, Utah. (around 2.5hr drive from Vegas)
3:00pm: Checked into our hotel and changed into hiking shoes and clothes. We then drove to the east entrance as much of the park is only accessible by shuttle during season (in January it was drivable). We did roadside parking and then began our hike up Canyon Overlook Trail.
Canyon Overlook Trail is the best hike in Zion–im bias as it’s the only hike i’ve ever completed in the park, but it is so beautiful and great for all ages. The mile hike is so easy (aside from a few sandy/slippery spots), kids and older folks were making the trip.
This is a popular spot for elopements as it would be fairly easy to hike in dress clothes (each time I’ve been, there have been wedding photographs!)
Though do not confuse Canyon overlook with Observation point… I kept doing that and people were giving me weird looks when I’d say “we’re gonna hike observation point real fast”… 4-6 hour hike… Big difference, haha.
We stayed at the Holiday Inn in Springdale, UT which I stayed in the first time as well. The rates are affordable, the rooms were always clean and had large bottles of shampoo/bodywash/conditioner availble in the showers, there are fires to sit by, great breakfast each morning (essential for morning hikes) and THEY HAVE A HOT TUB (perfect after a long day of hiking).
Day 2: Monument Valley + Horseshoe Bend
6:30am: Wake up eat breakfasts at hotel: Holiday Inn, Springdale, UT
7:45am: Get gas and drive 4.5 hours to Monument Valley [I put “Forrest Gump Hill” in my GPS to get to the iconic road photo..
Get photos by the AZ state sign (photo below)
12:30pm: Take photos and enjoy Monument Valley FYI: be patient, there are tons of people trying to get the same photo, be courteous of drivers (is 30mph through the strip, but they are ruthless), and don’t be afraid to ask someone to get the shot for you–Ours came out pretty darn good after a nice man helped us!
Also, feel free to pull over at some of the scenic view sights, I ended up liking those photos more than the road pictures (and so much more process friendly–tripods are amazing)
1:30pm: Head back to Page, AZ its around a 2.5 hr drive (you pass through going towards MV)
4:00pm: Head straight to Horseshoe Bend, its about $10 to get in and around .3 mile to the actual overlook.
Horseshoe Bend is a MUST! Honestly on of the best sights we saw, photos will never do it justice.
Dinner: Enjoy a great meal at BirdHouse, AZ. A local restaurant and it is kid friendly and the staff was so friendly–We met someone who actually lived in Nashville for a bit!
Hotel: we stayed at the Holiday Inn, they were all so clean and we felt safe in each one!
Road Trip through Arizona
Day 3: Kayaking Lake Powell + Hiking Antelope Canyon
As of April 2021, the only way you can see Antelope canyon is by kayaking tour (we went with Lake Powell Adventure Co, they were fantastic) Our booked time was 7:30-11:30, it was plenty of time to kayak the nearly 3 mile round trip + 1 mile hike through the canyons. (they also take photos and send them in a link to everyone, so fun!)
Bring: Water shoes, clothing you can get wet (you WILL get wet and feet will be muddy), SPF is a must in AZ sun–I also wore a hat, water and snacks. They will provide you with a water resistant/proof bag, but it is limited in size, also a pelican case for phones and keys.
7:15am: Meet at loading dock for Kayaking
7:45am: start kayaking and enjoy the views and chatting with the guides and other visitors.
The hike is around a mile and while it’s still beautiful its honestly not as great as I’ve seen the regular Antelope canyon tours can be. You still get the dramatic landscapes and swirling walls, but the Navajo side is were it gets INTENSE and more like what you see online.
Nonetheless, it is still breath taking and worth the sore arms!
11:30am: finish the trip, GET FOOD… we stopped by taco bell and got our go-tos and it really hits different after an exhausting morning.
12:00pm: drive 2-2.5hrs down to Sedona, AZ
3:00pm: Enjoy the rest of your day exploring, eating, or like us–get food and then watch sunset at Airport Overlook.
Day 4: Exploring
Day 4 was considered an off day for us. We were able to do what ever we wanted, so I planned for us to drive out 3ish hours to the Wigwam motel (very close to Painted Desert and Petrified Forrest)
Things you can do along your Road Trip through Arizona:
Wigwam Motel: like a scene out of the movie Cars, except instead of traffic cones, it’s teepees but you still get those classic cars. It looked closed while we were there, but as far as I know it’s still a functioning motel so feel free to stay if you dare!
Painted Desert: I visited in 2015, and it didn’t make it to our list. I don’t remember it being exciting, but if you are into geology, it might be your thing!
Petrified forrest: Some love this, but like the Painted Desert, it felt like a “been-there-done-that” type of place. Nothing too exciting, it really just looked like scattered rocks.
Corner of Winslow, Arizona: We drove by in 2015, but I was never able to STAND on the corner–reference of the Eagles classic Take it Easy–so I knew I HAD to make a trip back so I could actually stand there. It is sorta anticlimactic, but its fun to say “I’ve done that” when you hear the song.
Don’t want to drive out? Here are some fun things to do in Sedona, AZ:
Sliding Rock: great for families and people who love a good creek hangout. It is very crowded during the warmer months, but I’d say it’s worth the visit–We went later just to get photos, but had to pay the $20 entry fee just to be there for 30 minutes before they ran us off.
Pink Jeep Tours: While I’ve never done one, I have seen friends say it’s a rough ride but a lot of fun! You’ll see tons of them driving around town too.
Helicopter Rides: I desperately wish I would have booked one, it would have been an experience of a lifetime. Check groupon for deals, it should save you around $100 depending on the coupon!
Tons of hiking and nature sight seeing available, check websites like trip advisor for some of the best trails and reviews!
Road Trip through Arizona Day 5: Grand Canyon South Rim
The earlier you go, the better.
The Grand canyon is a must if you are making your way to Arizona. It was named on of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World and it truly does not fall short. There are countless lookouts and each is unique. The guides/maps are your friend when it comes to the park, it will show you all of the points.
Our favorites were: Moran, Canyon View, Mathers Point
Some viewpoints are only accessible through shuttle bus, so make sure to allot time for this you are wanting to see them. We personally did not plan that much time, so we didn’t ride any of the shuttles.
The North Rim was apparently closed while we were in AZ, but if I ever return, I will make is a priority to visit the Northern Rim of the Canyon–it is apparently different and so beautiful.
I’d also love to hike one of the trails on day as well. So if you make time, look into getting a guide (and permit if you need it) to hike.
Day 6: Pheonix
We visited phoenix on our last full day of the trip–mainly because this is where we were flying out of, but still a cool place. I would NEVER recommend staying at the Doubletree in Pheonix, we checked out around 11pm and headed down the road to… you guessed it… a Holiday Inn.
Things we did:
Desert Botanical Garden: Hefty $59 entry fee and we were lucky they had a spot open, so make sure to reserve online! The gardens were beautiful and coming from the East, we saw a lot of plants we never have seen before and of course some amazing cacti. It quite the walk, so bring good shoes, SPF–that sun was brutal, and set aside 2-3 hours if you plan to stroll. If you can, sneak in some water because you have to wear your masks the entire time–it got really hot and some could easily overheat, so be prepared! It is great for photos and we didn’t have any trouble getting cool shots, however we did have to walk around and experiment with locations!
Fashion District Mall: We walked our 10K step goal in this place easily. It has so many amazing stores and I would move to Scottsdale just so I could shop at this mall, haha. Plenty of high end stores and stores you just love, like Zara, HM, Free People, Windsor, and SO many more. We legitimately spent the rest of our day here and ended with a movie at the theatre.