Ultimate 8-Day Arizona Road Trip Itinerary For Outdoor Adventure

Arizona is one of the greatest states for road-tripping. Why? For one, it has no shortage of amazing sights and adventure opportunities.

Within a short drive, you can visit the towering red rock bluffs of Sedona, the giant Saguaro cacti of Tuscon, the rim of the Grand Canyon, and the quiet Ponderosa pine forests of Prescott. And that’s just the beginning.

With three National Parks, 13 National Monuments, and 31 state parks, it can be overwhelming to piece together an Arizona road trip itinerary.

But you’re in luck! The Bearfoot Theory team has collectively spent many days road-tripping through this beautiful state, and we’ve put together what we consider to be the best Arizona road trip for those looking to get outside and explore.


Our Arizona Road Trip at a Glance

Since we’re outdoor lovers, our Arizona road trip itinerary is focused on hiking, camping, and enjoying the beautiful natural landscapes of Arizona.

I’ve also included a list of additional road trip stops at the end of this post if you want to extend your trip or customize it to your interests.

Where you will visit

  • Organ Pipe National Monument
  • Saguaro National Park
  • Sedona
  • The Grand Canyon
  • Horseshoe Bend
  • Antelope Canyon
  • Petrified Forest National Park
  • DAY 1: Arrive in Phoenix, Organ Pipe National Monument
  • DAY 2: Tucson, Saguaro National Park
  • DAY 3: Mt. Lemmon & Sedona
  • DAY 4: Sedona
  • DAY 5: The Grand Canyon
  • DAY 6: Page, Arizona
  • DAY 7: Petrified Forest National Park
  • DAY 8: Return to Phoenix

Day 1: Phoenix & Organ Pipe National Monument

Day 1 Overview

  • DRIVING DISTANCE – 128 miles
  • DRIVE TIME – 2 hours 10 min
  • ON THE WAY – Walk around Ajo, the closest town to Organ Pipe. It’s a funky town with some interesting art, architecture, and shops.
  • CAMPING OPTION – Two Peaks Campground in Organ Pipe National Monument
  • LODGING OPTIONSonoran Desert Inn

Phoenix

I recommend starting your Arizona road trip in Phoenix, especially if you’ll be flying in. It’s home to a major international airport and there are plenty of options for rental cars or camper van rentals.

If you want to spend a few days exploring the city, Phoenix actually has a lot of great outdoor activities despite its size.

Things to do in Phoenix

Here are a few options for pre-road trip exploring around Phoenix:

  • Book a tour at the REI Adventure Center in Scottsdale
  • Rent mountain bikes and head to Brown’s Ranch or McDowell Mountain Park
  • Take a sunrise hot air balloon ride
  • Hike up Camelback Mountain
  • Visit the Desert Botanical Gardens
Trail through the desert lined with cacti and desert vegetation outside of Phoenix, Arizona
Phoenix has great mountain biking on the outskirts of town

Organ Pipe National Monument

When you’re ready to leave Phoenix, hop in your car and head south to Organ Pipe National Monument.

This stunning (and under-the-radar) National Monument is named after the organ pipe cactus, a rare species native to the Sonoran Desert.

There’s a lot to see and do in Organ Pipe, but here are our top recommendations for enjoying this beautiful place.

Things to do in Organ Pipe National Monument

  • Take a Scenic Drive along Ajo Mountain Drive or Puerto Blanco Drive
  • Visit the Kris Eggle Visitor Center to learn more about the landscape and cultural history of the area.
  • Go Hiking – The two top trails are the easy Desert View trail or the more challenging Bull Pasture Trail.
  • Relax at the beautiful Two Peaks Campground
Organ pipe cactus in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona
Organ Pipe cacti are native to the Sonoran Desert in Arizona
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Day 2: Tucson & Saguaro National Park

Day 2 Overview

  • DRIVING DISTANCE – 128 miles
  • DRIVE TIME – 2 hours 15 min
  • ON THE WAY – Stop at the colorful Why Not Travel Store in Why to fill up on gas and snacks
  • CAMPING OPTION – Catalina State Park
  • LODGING OPTIONTuscon Hotels

Drive to Tuscson

From Organ Pipe National Monument, head east toward Tucson. This stretch of road is pretty remote, so fill up on gas (and snacks) in the town of Why before heading out.

Saguaro National Park

After grabbing an early lunch in Tucson, head to Saguaro National Park. It’s important to note that there are two separate sections of Saguaro – an East side and a West side and they are not connected.

The Red Hills Visitor Center is on the West side along with more hiking opportunities, so if you only have a day I recommend you head to West Saguaro National Park.

Things to do in Saguaro National Park

Be sure to use our Saguaro National Park guide to plan your visit! Here are a few quick ideas to get you started.

  • Visit the Red Hills Visitor Center to get the lay of the land
  • Hike some of the shorter loops or head up to Wassen Peak
  • Drive the 6-mile Bajada Loop
  • Relax at the beautiful Two Peaks Campground
Tall Saguaro cacti in desert landscape in Arizona
Saguaro cacti can grow to be 40 ft tall and over 200 years old!

Catalina State Park

After visiting Saguaro, head north through Phoenix to Catalina State Park. There are a number of campgrounds around Phoenix, but this is one of my favorites. It’s beautiful and there are lots of hiking (and mountain biking) trails throughout the park.

If you have time, I highly recommend driving up Mt. Lemmon Highway to the summit of Mt. Lemmon to view the sunset. It’s an iconic drive (give yourself about an hour and a half from Catalina State Park) and the views from the top are stunning!

Day 3: Sedona Via Beeline Highway

Day 3 Overview

Beeline Highway

Stretch your legs with a morning hike at Catalina State Park before getting in the car and driving north toward Sedona as you continue your Arizona road trip itinerary.

You can take the most direct route by going through Phoenix and jumping on Highway 17. But, if you have time, it’s worth taking the indirect route via Beeline Highway.

This quieter highway passes through some beautiful and remote areas as well as several historic towns like Strawberry and Pine, either of which are worth a stop to explore.

Tip: Make a stop a Tonto Natural Bridge State Park and stretch your legs on the short trail to the natural bridge and waterfall.

Natural bridge behind pool of water at Tonto Natural Bridge State Park in Arizona
Make a stop at Tonto Natural Bridge State Park to stretch your legs and hike to a natural bridge formation

Beeline Highway will dump you out on Highway 17 and then you will turn off onto Route 179 to Sedona.

Depending on where you’re staying (we recommend Lo-Lo Mai Campground, but there are plenty of other campgrounds and hotels in Sedona), try to get out to stretch your legs before dark!

Day 4: Sedona

Day 4 Overview

Exploring Sedona

Today, you have a full day to explore Sedona! There’s so much to see and do in this beautiful area, so head over to our Sedona Travel Guide and list of the best things to do in Sedona for tips and ideas on how to spend your day.

Things to do in Sedona

Here are a few ideas to help you start planning your day in Sedona.

  • Go hiking! Sedona has endless opportunities for great hikes. See our guide on the Best Hikes in Sedona for our top picks.
  • Rent a mountain bike and check out some of Sedona’s world-class singletrack
  • Cool off at Slide Rock State Park
  • Fill up on great food at Sedona’s best restaurants and coffee shops
  • Browse the shops at Tlaquepaque
  • Visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross
Female hiker standing at lookout on trail in Sedona surrounded by red rock bluffs and forest
BFT Contributor Linda loved the hiking in Sedona !

Have more time to spend around Sedona?

Jerome is a small town situated up on the side of a canyon about halfway between Sedona and Prescott. Formerly a copper mining town, Jerome has experienced quite a resurgence thanks to tourism and the establishment of several wineries.

One of Jerome’s biggest attractions is the Haunted Tour, which entertains visitors with glimpses of its near ghost town days and wild west copper mining history.

Jerome has also recently been lauded for its wine and grape-growing climate. Maynard James Keenan, the lead singer for Tool, founded Caduceus Cellars in Jerome, which is open 365 days of the year and is a fun stop for wine lovers.

Day 5: The Grand Canyon

Day 5 Overview

  • DRIVING DISTANCE – 114 miles
  • DRIVE TIME – 2 hours 5 min
  • ON THE WAY – Drive up Oak Creek Canyon and stop at Indian Gardens for breakfast
  • CAMPING OPTION – Grand Canyon Campground
  • LODGING OPTIONUnder Canvas Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon South Rim

If you’ve never visited the Grand Canyon, get ready to have your mind blown! The first time I saw the Grand Canyon, it was way more spectacular than I expected. The scale, depth, and blend of reds, whites, and pinks of the landscape was breathtaking.

Start your drive early from Sedona and be sure to take the route up Oak Creek Canyon. There’s a little cafe on the way called Indian Gardens, which I highly recommend stopping at for breakfast and coffee.

The drive from Sedona to the Grand Canyon is a little over two hours and there’s not much to see until you enter the park. But once you’re there, you have plenty of options to explore. I challenge you to become part of the 1% group who goes below the canyon rim 🙂

Things to do at the Grand Canyon

  • Hike the Bright Angel Trail. Be sure to leave plenty of time and bring lots of water
  • Walk the Trail of Time to learn about how the landscape has changed over millions of years.
  • Visit the South Rim Visitor’s Center to learn more about the history and geography of the Grand Canyon.
  • Catch the sunset from Yavapai Point.
View of the Grand Canyon from the beginning of Bright Angel trail, Arizona
Hike the Bright Angel Trail for incredible views of the Grand Canyon

Day 6: Page, Arizona

Day 6 Overview

  • DRIVING DISTANCE – 131 miles
  • DRIVE TIME – 2 hours 20 min
  • CAMPING OPTION – Lone Rock Beach
  • LODGING OPTIONShash Dine’ Eco Retreat

About Page, Arizona

Start your day early by catching the sunrise at Navajo Point. Then, start your drive north toward Page, Arizona on the border of Utah.

Page is a small town that caters to outdoor adventurers. It’s a jumping-off point for many backpacking trips, kayaking or rafting adventures, and other cool desert experiences.

What to do in Page, Arizona

Head over to post on the best things to do in Page for some ideas on how to spend your day (or even multiple days!) in this adventure town. Here are some of our top picks to spark your curiosity:

  • Visit Horseshoe Bend for stunning views over the Colorado River.
  • Book a tour to visit Antelope Canyon
  • Get out on the water at Lake Powell
  • Visit Vermillion Cliffs National Monument
Sun casting glow on rocks above Horseshoe Bend in Arizona
Horseshoe Bend is just one of many incredible sites accessed from Page, Arizona

Day 7: Petrified Forest National Park

Day 7 Overview

  • DRIVING DISTANCE – 232 miles
  • DRIVE TIME – 3 hours 55 min
  • ON THE WAY – It’s a long day of driving, so I recommend heading straight to Petrified Forest National Park
  • CAMPING OPTIONFool Hollow Campground (2 hours from Petrified Forest NP)
  • LODGING OPTIONHolbrook hotels

About Petrified Forest National Park

Get an early start from Page so you have time to explore Petrified Forest after your 3.5+ hr drive.

Home to ancient artifacts including 225 million-year-old petrified logs, visiting the Petrified Forest National Park is like stepping back in time. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I visited, but it exceeded my expectations!

Several walking trails wind through the park like the 1.6-mile Long Logs Loop which showcases the largest concentrations of petrified wood in the park.

What to do in Petrified Forest National Park

  • Hike one of the several walking trails like Long Logs Loop and Blue Mesa Loop
  • Visit Newspaper Rock, a detailed petroglyph
  • Tour the Painted Desert Inn, a historic building that has been converted into a museum
  • Drive the Petrified Forest Road on your way to Fool Hollow Campground
Petrified piece of wood at Petrified Forest National Park
Remember to practice Leave No Trace and leave all fossilized trees where they belong – in the National Park

Fool Hollow Lake

There aren’t many great camping options around Petrified Forest National Park, so I recommend continuing your drive (via Petrified Forest Road) for another two hours to Fool Hollow Campground on Fool Hollow Lake.

Day 8: Return to Phoenix

Day 8 Overview

  • DRIVING DISTANCE – 178 miles
  • DRIVE TIME – 3 hours 10 min

Driving back to Phoenix

It’s a 3-hour drive from Fool Hollow Campground, so enjoy your morning at the lake before setting off.

You can opt for the northern Route 260, which is more forested and remote, or the southern Route 60 which passes through Apache Reservation land.

As I mentioned above, if you have time to explore Phoenix, there are a lot of great outdoor adventures in and around the city.

And that’s a wrap on our Arizona road trip itinerary!


More Arizona Road Trip Ideas

There really is no shortage of amazing outdoor adventures to be had in Arizona. The itinerary above highlights our top recommendations for the best things to do in Arizona, but if you have more time, here are a few other Arizona road trip attractions to add to your itinerary:

Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Canyon de Chelly has long served as a home for Navajo people in northeastern Arizona. For nearly 5,000 years, people have lived in the remote canyons that make up this area. Today, over 40 Navajo families live, raise livestock, and farm the lands of this stunning place known to them as Tsegi.

In addition to its living history, Canyon de Chelly is also known for incredible geologic features like Spider Rock, a tall sandstone spire that towers over 750ft from the canyon floor.

Visitors can experience Canyon de Chelly through private tours with a local guide or head out on a self-guided hike on the one public hiking trail at the White House Overlook.

Bearfoot Theory founder Kristen Bor standing on the rim of Canyon De Chelley in Arizona
BFT Founder Kristen visited Canyon de Chelly during February

Havasu Falls

Visiting Havasu Falls takes quite a bit of effort and planning but it’s a mind-blowing experience. The 100ft turquoise-colored cascade of water spills over red rock cliffs into a series of plunge pools at the base. See these Havasu Falls photos to see what it’s like.

Located within Havasu Canyon on Havasupai (‘people of the blue-green waters’) land near the village of Supai, the falls require a permit to access, an all-day hike in, and a three-night camping reservation. It is absolutely worth it!

Turquoise blue waterfall and pool at Havasu Falls in Arizona
Havasu Falls is a stunning place to visit in Arizona

Parashant National Monument

If you’re looking to skip the crowds at the Grand Canyon National Park, but you still want to experience the beauty of the area, consider heading west to Parashant National Monument.

Established in 2000, this National Monument is one of the most remote and undeveloped national park units in the United States. There are no paved roads and no visitor centers, making it a perfect off-the-beaten-path Arizona road trip itinerary stop.

There are a handful of hiking trails with Parashant National Monument as well as free dispersed camping. And if you’re interested in stargazing, Parashant is a stop on the annual Southwest Astronomy Festival.

Red and white rock formations at Parashant National Monument in Arizona
The colorful landscapes of Parashant National Monument

Chiricahua National Monument

Chiricahua National Monument is located in the Chiricahua Mountains of southeastern Arizona. It’s known as a ‘wonderland of rocks‘ because of the unique rock pinnacles and hoodoos that make up the area.

For hiking, you really can’t go wrong. There are dozens of miles of trails that pass by precariously balanced rocks and through narrow canyons and grottos.

The Heart of Rocks area in the eastern region of the park is where most of the hiking trails are located, but several trails also from the visitors center to the west.

Unique rock formations at Chiricahua National Monument in Arizona
Chiricahua National Monument is a worthy stop on your Arizona road trip itinerary if you have extra time

Prescott

Prescott, Arizona is a small city of 43,000 people nestled within one of the largest ponderosa pine forests in the US. At 5,367ft, Prescott boasts cooler temperatures and an outdoor mountain-town vibe.

One of Prescott’s main outdoor attractions is Watson Lake Park, a beautiful park that provides access to fishing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, hiking, and exploring the fascinating Granite Dells.

Prescott is also home to dozens of miles of mountain biking singletrack, climbing, and hiking trails. For a great 11.9 out-and-back hike head out to the Peavine Trail.

Watson Lake in Prescott, Arizona surrounded by rock slabs
Watson Lake Park is a great place to stop on your Arizona road trip, especially in warmer weather

Best Time to Plan an Arizona Road Trip

The best time to visit Arizona is during the cooler months of late fall, winter, and early spring.

Summer in Arizona can be incredibly hot – even dangerously so if you plan on going hiking in the desert or doing outdoor activities.

Late October through April tend to have the lowest temperatures.

Keep in mind, though, that northern Arizona does get snow and cold weather. Visiting the Grand Canyon in the winter is a great way to beat the crowds, but always check the forecast to make sure there isn’t a snow or ice storm moving in.

Regardless of when you visit, be prepared with sun protection and plenty of water.

Grand Canyon National Park in winter
Seeing the Grand Canyon dusted with snow is a magical sight!

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Are you planning an Arizona road trip itinerary? What stops or destinations are on your radar? What places did we leave out? Leave a comment below!

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