Every year more than 45 million people visit Arizona for leisure and tourism. The state is so diverse, that one of the best ways to see it is by road. You can cruise at your own pace, taking in the sights, enjoying some amazing local dishes and be in awe of the incredible landscape. On your road trip itinerary, make sure you include some of the Arizona highlights, like the Grand Canyon and the beautiful Monument Valley. Fall is the ideal time for your trip, as the temperatures are less intense than the summer.
Your first stops
Before you set out on your road trip, it is important that you choose the right vehicle. The terrain in Arizona can be rough in places and the road surfaces very dry. Make sure you read reviews from a reputable source if you are choosing a hire car and find something suitable for your journey. Before you leave, it is imperative that you check your tires and make sure that you have a spare in case of puncture. Phoenix is the ideal place to start a road trip, there are some amazing places that you can visit by car, like Taliesin West, once the home of the ground-breaking architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. It is also worth making pit stops to see the Desert Botanical Garden in Papago Park and Phoenix Zoo, where there are 1,400 animals.
Petrified Forest National Park Monument Valley
Every road trip should include the Petrified Forest National Park to the northeast of Arizona. The Navajo and Apache park covers over 200 miles and is named after its impressive deposits of petrified wood. Found in the park are fossils that are around 225 million years old. Make sure whilst you are exploring the park that you visit the Rainbow Forest Museum and the Painted Desert Visitor Center, where you can learn more about the history of the park.
From the Petrified Forest, head to Monument Valley, one of the most photographed places on the planet. The sandstone rock mountains, formed over millions of years by layers by sediment are 1000 feet tall. Against the backdrop of the Arizona sunset, they are spectacular. As part of your road trip, you can take a guided tour of this Navajo National Park in a jeep to see some of the other amazing landmarks like the Ear of the Wind. If you are planning on camping at Monument valley, you will need a Backcountry permit if you are planning to camp or hike in the designated areas.
From Monument Valley, a road trip should definitely take in Lake Powell, just north of the vibrant city of Page. The lake is actually a man-made reservoir situated on the Colorado River. It is extremely popular with families as a vacation destination and receives around 2 million visitors a year. Lake Powell is a haven for watersports, swimming and camping. You can enjoy kayaking, paddle boarding and even take a cruise, just look out for The Cathedral in the Desert, which is an incredible rock formation in the flood waters. Hiking in the Lake Powell area is extremely popular, it is a great way to see the Rainbow Bridge National Monument, the highest natural bridge in the world.
From Lake Powell, head to Antelope Canyon, an incredible sandstone fantasy world sculpted by wind and water. You can explore on foot, or even by four-wheel drive truck. The geological formations have a wave-like structure and tall winding walls give the canyon a supernatural quality. You will certainly be able to take some wonderful photographs for your Instagram page. This natural wonder, has the Navajo name “Tse’bighanilini,” which translates as “the place where the water runs through the rocks,” it was once home to many herds of Pronghorn Antelope.
No road trip would be complete without a stop at The Grand Canyon. Every year more than 5 million people travel especially to see the majesty of this national park. The canyon itself is a mile deep and over 18 miles wide. You can take a river trip through the middle of the canyon (which last several days) or even travel by kayak. The national park is also perfect for some backwater camping and kids will love becoming a park junior ranger. There are 270 miles to explore, so on your road trip you can explore different parts of The Grand Canyon over several days. One of the best ways to see the canyon by road is along the Scenic Hermit Road on the east, or along Desert View Drive (Highway 64) on the west.
A long road trip is one of the best ways to explore Arizona. The landscape is spectacular and diverse, you can make it the vacation of a lifetime.