How to Plan the Ultimate Arizona Road Trip

While I love living in Florida I jump at any chance to visit out west and an Arizona road trip was something that has been on my bucket list for several years. This trip was a few years in the making, but it was completely worth the wait. Keep reading to see why!

View of cactus with red rocks in sedona in the background

A Quick Look: Arizona road trip weeklong itinerary

  • Day 1: Fly into Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and drive to Flagstaff, Arizona
  • Day 2: Drive from Flagstaff Arizona to Page, Arizona and spend the day exploring Page, Arizona
  • Day 3: Drive from Page Arizona to Grand Canyon National Park
  • Day 4: Spend the day at Grand Canyon National Park
  • Day 5: Drive from Grand Canyon National Park to Sedona Arizona
  • Day 6: Spend the day in Sedona, Arizona
  • Day 7: Drive from Sedona, Arizona to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and fly home

Where should I visit on an Arizona road trip?

This is going to be completely up to you and what all you want to see. We chose 3 main destinations we really wanted to visit and booked our flights in and out of Phoenix. Our trip included Page, AZ, Sedona, AZ, and Grand Canyon National Park. However, I could’ve easily spent another week in Arizona if we would’ve had time. Other places I would still like to visit include Petrified Forest National Park, Saguaro National Park and Monument Valley. There are 18 national monument sites, 6 national forests, and 3 national parks. One monument I would like to check out next time I am in the area is the Four Corners Monument.

View of red rocks in the background and a sign of Munds Mountain Wilderness in Coconino National Forest

Where should I stay?

You have multiple options when looking for lodging including renting a camper van, camping, motels, hotels, or Airbnb. We chose to stay in hotels because several of them had breakfast included as well as other amenities like a fitness center that we wanted to use.

When is the best time to take an Arizona road trip?

This can vary, depending on where you are visiting and what type of weather you prefer. However, we planned our trip for September. We wanted to balance the heat of the summer (especially in Sedona) and the cold of the winter (particularly in northern Arizona). The weather was perfect for us, with temperatures varying from mid-50’s to mid-80’s depending on location and time of day. Ideal times to visit Arizona include March through May or September through November.

What airport should I use?

The largest airport in the state of Arizona is Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport which is where we chose to fly in and out of after comparing flight prices at other airports. We were also able to book a nonstop flight to and from Tampa which was a bonus. Below are a few airports you can consider using depending on the exact locations you chose to visit.

  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
  • Prescott Municipal Airport
  • Tucson International Airport
  • Yuma International Airport

Although it’s not located in Arizona if you are planning a trip in northern Arizona you may also want to look into Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Me and my fiance smiling on the bus to get our rental car in Phoenix

Arizona Road Trip Daily Recap

Listed below is a day by day recap of what we did on our trip.

Day 1: Travel Day

There really weren’t a lot of exciting highlights to day 1 of our trip. We were lucky enough to get a direct flight from Tampa to Phoenix, however we didn’t land in Phoenix until around 4:30 PM which limited how much we could do the first day.

  • Landed in Phoenix
  • Picked up rental car – a bus is available to take you from the airport to the rental car which is at an offsite location
  • Drove from Phoenix, Arizona to Flagstaff, Arizona (~2 hours)
  • Stayed at Green Tree Inn in Flagstaff, AZ

We chose to only drive about halfway from Phoenix to Page, AZ and spend the night in Flagstaff because we knew we would be tired after the flight and time change. This was a good move on our part because we were exhausted by the time we checked into the hotel. The drive from Phoenix to Flagstaff was straightforward and it was fun to see the change in the landscape as our elevation climbed to over 8000 feet!

VIew of the open road with one other car in front of us and the vast desert around us

Day 2: Page, Arizona

We woke up early thanks to the time change and had breakfast at the hotel before getting back on the road. and drove from Flagstaff, AZ to Page, AZ which was approximately 2 hours. It was an easy drive with minimal traffic.

  • Drive from Flagstaff to Page, AZ
  • Tour at Lower Antelope Canyon
  • Explore Horseshoe Bend
  • Lunch at Birdhouse
  • Explore Glen Canyon Dam
  • Dinner at Gone West Family Restaurant
  • Stay at Country Inn & Suites by Radisson in Page, AZ

One day was enough to explore a lot that Page, AZ offers, however we didn’t have time to check out all the activities at Lake Powell. We also would’ve liked to check out Grand Canyon Brewing & Distillery, but we weren’t able to on this trip.

Purple colors of antelope canyon walls

Day 3: Grand Canyon National Park

After a fun day exploring Page, AZ we once again grabbed breakfast at the hotel and hit the road for the next portion of our trip. The drive was again fairly easy with minimal traffic and took approximately 2 hours.

  • Drive from Page, AZ to Grand Canyon National Park East Entrance
  • Drive Desert View Drive to the south entrance
    • We stopped at the Watchman Tower and each overlook along the road
  • Lunch at Maswik Food Court
  • Hike part of Rim Trail and the Trail of Time
  • Dinner at Plaza Bonita Mexican Restaurant
  • Stay at Red Feather Lodge in Tusayan, AZ
View of Grand Canyon

Day 4: Grand Canyon National Park

After 3 days of travel and changing locations, we were excited to be able to stay put on day 4. This allowed us more time to explore Grand Canyon National Park.

  • Breakfast at the hotel with food we had brought with us
  • Hike Bright Angel Trail – we hiked to the 1.5-mile restroom
  • Lunch at Yippee-ei-o Steakhouse
  • Visit Grand Canyon Chocolate Factory
  • Relax at the hotel
  • Dinner at Canyon Star Steakhouse & Saloon
  • Stay at Red Feather Lodge in Tusayan, AZ
Bright Angel Trail hiking into the canyon

Day 5: Sedona, Arizona

We were back on the road for day 5 and had another 2-hour drive from Tusayan to Sedona, AZ for our last destination of the road trip!

  • Breakfast at Foodie Club
  • Drive from Tusayan, AZ to Sedona, AZ
  • Lunch on the road from food we had brought with us
  • Hike Sugarloaf Mountain
  • Walk around in uptown Sedona and visit various shops
  • Dinner at 89 Agave
  • Stay at Sedona Uptown Suites

Day 6: Sedona, Arizona

We woke up on day 6 and the weather was less than ideal with what looked like a full day of rain. We got lucky and were able to squeeze in another hike during the afternoon when the weather cleared up!

  • Breakfast at the hotel from food we had brought with us
  • Relaxing morning at the hotel reading and watching TV due to rain
  • Lunch at the hotel from food we had brought with us
  • Drive the Red Rock Scenic Byway
  • Hike Courthouse Butte and Bell Rock Trail
  • Dinner and Drinks at Oak Creek Brewery and Grille
  • Walk around the shops at Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village
  • Stay at Sedona Uptown Suites
View of the red rocks in Sedona

Day 7: Travel Day

Our last day was once again mostly a travel day, but below is what we did. The drive from Sedona to Phoenix, AZ was busier than most of our other drives, but it was once again about 2 hours.

  • Quick breakfast at Starbuck’s
  • Drive from Sedona to Phoenix, AZ
  • Return rental car
  • Flight from Phoenix to Tampa

Final thoughts on the ultimate Arizona road trip

If it’s not already evident we really enjoyed our week exploring Arizona! This itinerary worked great for us because even though we switched locations several times most of our drives were right around 2 hours.

If you enjoyed this post, consider signing up for my e-mail list so you don’t miss future posts. This is the first post in a series covering our Arizona road trip. I will include more in-depth information on each of the locations we visited in the coming weeks. Overall, I can’t recommend an Arizona road trip enough!

A picture of me standing in front of horseshoe bend

Looking for other National Parks to visit?

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