The moment you hear Arizona, the impressive Grand Canyon, and Sedona hike immediately come to mind. However, there is so much beauty and wonder to see from this 114,000 square-mile state—it has a healthy mix of nature and cities, of deserts and mountains. There’s always something new to learn and places to see in this state, and it’s also one of the most memorable driving tours you can hop on in your lifetime. So we have brought to you our sampling of top Arizona road trip destinations, check it out!
If you are ready to explore the Grand Canyon State, here are some of the key destinations you should not miss out on once you’re out and about Arizona. Whether you’re driving with friends or family, these spectacular attractions throughout the state should be included in your itinerary. So, make that Arizona vacation home rental reservation and set off to a new adventure!
- Grand Canyon – Top most Arizona Road Trip Destinations
- Old Town Scottsdale – Most Instagram-friendly Arizona Road Trip Spot
- Jerome – Arizona’s Almost Ghost Town
- Desert Botanical Garden – Arizona’s Famous Attraction
- Petrified Forest and Painted Desert – Geological Wonders
- Tombstone – Enjoy Being In a Western Movie
- Lake Powell – Second Largest Man-Made Lake In US
- Monument Valley – Arizona – Utah Border Attraction
- Sedona – Spectacular Hiking Opportunities
- Page – One of the Best World Class Arizona Destinations
- Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
- London Bridge – Lake Havasu Water Sports & More!
- Saguaro National Park – 45 ft. Tall Cacti & More!
- Before you drive around Arizona…
Grand Canyon – Top most Arizona Road Trip Destinations
When you’re in Arizona, paying respect to the most famous landmark in the area cannot be missed. It’s around three and a half hours up north from downtown Phoenix and will reward you with the most breathtaking sites that are definitely larger than life. Therefore, this place tops the charts of our Arizona road trip destinations.
Drive through the Rim Road eastward to the Watchtower, which will give you the most picturesque view of the Canyon. You can stay and witness the sunset to discover the glory and beauty of nature at its best then head to a nearby vacation home rental to rest your weary legs after a wonderful day of hiking.
While you’re near, you can also take a ride to some historical attractions such as the famous Route 66, Flagstaff, and Bearizona.
Old Town Scottsdale – Most Instagram-friendly Arizona Road Trip Spot
One of the most recommended stops for any Arizona itinerary is the Old Town Scottsdale. It was founded as Orangedale when the Scotts brothers planted citrus groves on a 640-acre farm. The street is now dotted with restaurants, art galleries, shops, bars, and nightclubs. There are plenty of things to do, including a cozy date night at the Bandera and the Instagram-friendly LOVE sculpture by Robert Indiana.
Scottsdale is the sixth-largest city in the state and offers views of the Sonoran Desert. It’s also a reasonable drive to the Tonto National Forest, where you can spend an outdoor adventure while you’re there.
Jerome – Arizona’s Almost Ghost Town
What used to be Arizona’s fourth-largest town, Jerome became an almost ghost town, with only 450 inhabitants. It was an old mining town but is now an artsy hilltop community. The area is home to many biker bars, saloons, and art studios, with its artistically inclined locale.
You’ll always remember the drive to Jerome, what with its steep and narrow ascent, but you will be rewarded with a
wonderful scene once you get to the top.
A two-hour drive from Jerome will take you to the C.C. Cragin Reservoir where you can have various adventurous thrills of Kayaking and Camping and more!
Desert Botanical Garden – Arizona’s Famous Attraction
Located in Central Phoenix, the Desert Botanical Garden is a famous attraction for the magnificent display of cacti blooming in the spring. These thorny plants can surprise you in full bloom, displaying the beauty that you won’t expect.
The garden is well-manicured and features tons of exhibits and landscape art, with many places to sit and take in the scenery that the Sonoran Desert brings. If you decide to touch the cacti, do it lightly! (We couldn’t resist either)
Petrified Forest and Painted Desert – Geological Wonders
With such unusual names, you’d wonder why they’re named the way they are. The Petrified Forest and Painted Desert are two geological wonders that will take you back in time. What used to be lush greeneries and conifers 200 feet tall became petrified after volcanic sediment, and ash covered the expanse of land. Erosion exposed the remnants years later, revealing large pieces of logs that once brought shade for ancient creatures.
You can also experience backcountry hikes like in the Devil’s Playground and Red Basin, iconic spots that will open your senses to the desert world and its long-standing history.
Tombstone – Enjoy Being In a Western Movie
The Tombstone is a famous Wild West town for the O.K. Corral shooting. You will be walking on the exact same road that Western legends like Doc Holliday, Johnny Ringo, Ike Clanton, and Wyatt Earp abmled upon.
It has an authentic vintage feel that you’ll experience as soon as you step foot on the grounds.
Lake Powell – Second Largest Man-Made Lake In US
See the second-largest human-made lake in the US up close when you take a drive up to Lake Powell, a renowned Colorado River reservoir. It’s one of the must-sees on your Arizona road trip, especially when you come close to Antelope Canyon and Page.
The lake shares boundaries with both Utah and Arizona. You can stay by the only lodging on the lake, the Lake Powell Resort, or go camping at Wahweap Campground, which is the closest to the lake or rent a nearby vacation rental home or condo.
Monument Valley – Arizona – Utah Border Attraction
Navajo Nation’s Monument Valley lies between the Arizona-Utah border and is within the Navajo Nation Reservation’s boundaries. What you see in this iconic spot—majestic sandstone rock formations that are a vibrant orange—is the depiction of the American Southwest in mind and movies.
The tribal park in the vicinity offers a self-guided drive for you when you take the main road to see the display of mesas and buttes. The unpaved road could get bumpy, but the natural wonder you will see is definitely worth it.
Sedona – Spectacular Hiking Opportunities
The resort town of Sedona has a lot to give, whether it be for couples, family, or friends who want to do a driving tour to one of teh Weekend’s Most Beautiful Place in America. It’s seated at the mouth of Oak Creek Canyon, which is a two-hour ride from the Tempe-Phoenix area and the Grand Canyon.
There are many spectacular hiking opportunities in Sedona, and you can also explore the geology and flora while basking in the uniqueness of the red rock canyon towering the town.
There’s also the Chapel of the Holy Cross—it’s perfect for travelers who want to say a prayer of thanks, healing, and meditation.
Page – One of the Best World Class Arizona Destinations
Page is a small city in Arizona that has several world-class destinations on its lineup, including the Horseshoe Bend and the Antelope Canyons. The Horseshoe bend is arguably one of the most photographed landmarks when visiting the state.
It is 984 feet or 300 meters tall and offers a grand view of the sunset. You can also experience the Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons by booking a guide, helping you be safe on the trail and take the best keepsake snaps.
Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
It’s easy to get lost in your thoughts when you see the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument for yourself. This lava-flow landscape shows the youngest volcano in the vicinity. You can do a self-guided tour as you discover the sights at the bottom of the crater, but if you’re one to take challenging hikes, go up to Lenox Crater to view the stunner up close.
London Bridge – Lake Havasu Water Sports & More!
Did you know that the original London Bridge found its home at the Lake Havasu City in Arizona? The iconic bridge was sold to the US in the 1960s and is now sitting prettily above the lake.
Aside from this attraction, you can also go for a swim or boat ride. Plus, there are also plenty of water activities to do like kayaking and jet skiing. There’s also the Lake Havasu Museum of History to get to know the city better!
Saguaro National Park – 45 ft. Tall Cacti & More!
Just outside, Tucson is the towering saguaro cacti of the Saguaro National Park. These desert floras can reach as much as 45 feet tall, which makes for a gorgeous backdrop on your photos. There’s a hiking trail for the braver road trip enthusiasts right at the Douglas Springs Trail Head, where you can witness a splendid sunset overlooking the vast desert. You can also stop by the famous Kitt Peak National Observatory while you’re near Tucson. Be sure to take plenty of water!
Before you drive around Arizona…
Like many other road trips, not all highways in Arizona offer the convenience and amenities you need. There are remote roads, spotty network and few services on the way, and miles and miles of uninhabited land. When you start your driving tour, you have first to make sure that the car you’re bringing or renting has enough fuel and tire air pressure to prevent hiccups on the road. Even if you feel like you don’t need a full tank, it’s always a good thing to be prepared.
Secondly, you should prepare for the sweltering heat that you’d most likely experience while on the road by bringing adequate water and snacks. That way, you don’t have to get frustrated with not having convenience shops every mile or so to buy your road trip essentials.
You also need to remember that phone signal can be sketchy in remote areas, which is why it’s ideal for bringing a paper map of Arizona with you during your tour. It might feel outdated, but it will give you extra confidence once your phone’s network drops out. A classic map can also be a great experience for the kids.
Lastly, make sure that you’ve booked your vacation rental with plenty of advance notice since the places with the best views and prices can fill up fast! Try out RentalTrader.com for a really fun experience.
Are you ready for Arizona? If you are, then start planning your road trip itinerary using this guide of Amazon road trip destinations right away! If you need any help, fill our web form or give us a call, we’ll be happy to help you.