Short on time and want to hit the highlights in a 4 day road trip across Arizona? Then this post is for you! This itinerary starts in Phoenix, and covers all the major highlights like Sedona and the Grand Canyon, as well as a few hidden gems. This itinerary is also very flexible: if you want to explore a spot in detail, add another day or two there. Not too fussed about a place? Drive right through!
Day 1: Sedona and Coconino National Forest
Get an early start to avoid the traffic, and head north. Pretty much as soon as you leave the city, you get to see large groupings of the Saguaro cactus. A few hours drive away, you have the beautiful red rocks of Sedona. Due to the how popular it is, traffic can get pretty bad. However, this a great spot to get out of the car and stretch your legs. The town itself felt pretty touristy, so skip the souvenir shops and instead do one of the hikes nearby for some amazing views of the region.
As you head further North up to Page, you drive through the Coconino National Forest. I was incredibly surprised to find such lush green forests in this part of the country. This is also a lovely spot for a picnic lunch if you are so inclined.
Head straight towards Page from here. Flagstaff is on the way, and is a good point to fuel up and pick up any more water or snacks. When you reach Page, head to Into the Grand for dinner with a dose of culture. Here, you get to try Native American frybread, as well as enjoy a highly informative dance show.
Where to stay: We stayed at the La Quinta Inn & Suits at Page. It was clean, spacious and was perfect for what we needed.
Day 2: Antelope Canyon & Horseshoe Bend
Today is for exploring all the amazing sights around Page. Take a tour of the Antelope canyon, which is just as beautiful as the photos make it out to be. I highly recommend booking a tour in advance, as these fill up incredibly quickly.
After your tour (or before, depending on your tour time), head to the Horseshoe bend. This spot has skyrocketed in popularity recently, so you might have a hard time finding a parking spot, especially if you go near sunset. The hike itself is not that long, but there is NO shade along the way, so make sure to wear a hat and carry plenty of water with you.
Also note: Due to the surge in popularity, and the unfortunate cases of people falling over the edge, a platform has now been built by the most popular parts of the overlook. There are spots further around the edge without platforms if you want an unobstructed look, but be sure to enjoy the views from a safe distance.
To the north of Page, head to the Wahapei viewpoint for views of Lake Powell and the Colorado river and into Utah. If you’re feeling adventurous, head a little further North to Utah and look at the foothills of the Grand Staircase National Monument. The Toadstool Trail is an easy 0.8miles (each way) and has some interesting rock formations you can admire.
Once you are done exploring the area, head South (and then East) to the famous Grand Canyon. We decided to head there in the evening, so we could get an early start the following day. But you could also spend this night in Page and head out to the Grand Canyon the next morning.
Where to stay: We stayed at the Red Feather Lodge in Tusayan. This was ideally located for us, as Tusayan is only a 15 minute drive from the Grand Canyon visitor centre.
Day 3: Grand Canyon National Park
You simply cannot miss the Grand Canyon if you are in the area. Having the same area as the state of Delaware and deep enough to fit three Empire State buildings in it, it’s easy to see how the Grand Canyon earned its name.
While it is possible to spend multiple days exploring and hiking the Grand Canyon, it’s also possible to see a lot in a day here. Stop at the visitors centre to pick up a map, and be sure to take advantage of the free shuttle buses around the park. You don’t want to be wasting your precious time finding a parking spot!
Read also: How to spend a day at the Grand Canyon
Day 4: Meteor crater and back to Phoenix
Catch the sunrise over the Canyon if you are an early riser, pick up any souvenirs you have had your eye on, and drive back South towards Phoenix.
A diversion I highly recommend is a visit to the meteor crater landmark, about 45 mins East of Flagstaff. Here you can touch a meteorite, watch a short film on the impact and walk along the rim of the crater.
Tip: If you have more time, you could do the Meteor crater on day one, and head to Vegas from here instead.
Make sure to pack plenty of water, and make sure you have enough fuel to get to the next city and then some. You don’t want to be stranded in the middle of the desert.
Cellphone coverage can be sparse in this area. Use a GPS to navigate rather than solely relying on your phone.
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