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Take this awesome 4-day road trip through Arizona

Sun-soaked deserts await, so buckle your seatbelt and hit the road.

By: Aurora Slaughter + Save to a List

From stunning desert landscapes to great food and city life, there is no shortage of entertainment in Arizona. With three national parks and six national forests, taking a road trip through the state means enjoying beautiful views and exciting outdoor activities.

Here is a guide on how to spend a four-day Arizona road trip to help you get started planning!

Day 1

Head into Saguaro National Park and witness a vast desert filled with the nation’s largest cacti. Named after the Giant Saguaro, visitors will be enamored by these majestic plants. Make the most of your time here and hit the trails early in the morning before the sun becomes too hot overhead.

Summit Wasson Peak

A desert landscape is seen from an overlook on the cliff
Photo by Lacie Griego

Distance: 7.4 miles
Elevation: 4,687 ft
Type: Loop

Wasson Peak is one of the most well-known hikes in the park and offers 360 degree views of the national park and the city of Tucson beyond. Along your way, you'll pass stunning desert scenery and the remains of old mining operations.

Stop for a bite to eat in Phoenix

Next, head toward Phoenix and stop for a mouthwatering Mexican American cuisine at Barrio Café. The award-winning chef and restaurant have been featured in several magazines and on Food Network - for good reason! With a welcoming environment, great service, and incredible food like homemade tortillas, tacos, fresh guacamole, and enchiladas, this local restaurant is a great place to unwind after a tiring day hiking and driving.

Day 2

Swim in Oak Creek Canyon

A person stands with their back turned in the water looking at the surrounding scenery
Photo by Holly Mandarich

Begin your morning near Slide Rock State Park off Highway 89 at Oak Creek Canyon. Park along the shoulder and climb down into the canyon to find one of the numerous swimming holes. This is a great way to beat the Arizona heat or feel refreshed after long hours in the car. 

Have a picnic lunch at Crescent Moon Picnic Site for stunning views of Cathedral Rock 

Cathedral Rock towers into the air
Photo by Justin Ritucci

Cathedral Rock is one of the most renowned natural structures in Sedona. You can hike up to the top of Cathedral Rock or enjoy the views from below at Crescent Moon Picnic Site. Pack a lunch or order take out before heading to the picnic site to enjoy tasty food with incredible views.

The Grand Canyon

Finish out your day at one of the most iconic national parks in the U.S. - the Grand Canyon. For a chance to beat the crowds and hit the open road, try biking through the park.

Bike the Hermit Road at the Grand Canyon

A biker looks out at the rim of the Grand Canyon towards the views of the vast canyon below
Photo by Sarah Neal

Distance: 18.4 miles
Elevation: 50 ft
Type: Out-and-Back

This paved biking trail will take you along the rim where you can see jaw-dropping views of the vast canyon while racing along on two wheels. This trail boasts some of the best rim views and gives you a great opportunity to witness the river rippling through the canyon below. Visitors can rent cruisers or road bikes or bring their own!

Day 3

Spend your morning exploring Horseshoe Bend 

An overhead view of Horseshoe Bend. The dark blue water circles around red sandstone walls.
Photo by Grant

Distance: 1.52 miles
Elevation: 157 ft
Type: Out-and-Back

Stand 1,000 feet above the Colorado River as you take in the stunning expanse of this famous spot. Marvel at the deep blue water against the sandstone walls. Take a stroll along the bend or find a spot to sit, relax, and take in the views. It can get windy here, so hold onto your hat!

Photograph Antelope Canyon  

The sunlight streams through a break in the rocks in a red rock canyon. The walls are entirely bright orange rock.
Photo by Hiep Tran.

Marvel at the stunning canyon walls spiraling 120 feet in the air and take some seriously Instagram-worthy pictures as the light dances through the narrow slots.

Note: Antelope is so famous you are required to book a tour guide for the visit. Book a guide in advance if this spot is on your Arizona road trip bucket list.

End your day at the State 48 Tavern and Taproom in Page

A landscape view of the patios outside a restaurant with a sign that reads
Image from State 48 Tavern

Pick from a rotating selection of craft beers and dig into your favorite American comfort food at this local tavern. This place tends to get busy in the evenings, so expect a packed restaurant with a great atmosphere. The extensive patio is the perfect place to sip a cold brew and relax after a day of Arizona road trip activities!

Day 4

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park

A far away view of the towering buttes
Photo by Dan Deublein

Begin your day with a scenic drive along the iconic Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. This park is a well-known backdrop in many beloved movies including Forrest Gump, Mission Impossible 2, Stagecoach, and Back to the Future III. Along this scenic route, enjoy breathtaking views of the red sand desert and massive sandstone buttes. 

Head to Petrified Forest National Park for a short hike along the crystal forest loop

Several pieces of petrified wood are scattered along the desert
Photo by Jared Blitz

Distance: 0.75 miles
Type: Loop

Petrified wood is formed when logs are swept into a river system and buried, causing the decaying process to slow down. Then, as minerals dissolve from volcanic ash, they seep into the logs and crystallize within the structure. This quick loop hike gives visitors a great opportunity to see the wonder of petrified wood up close as the sun reflects off of the mesmerizing crystalline structures.

Cover photo by Mark Handy.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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