Tucson & Phoenix to the Grand Canyon South Rim
See the Grand Canyon state’s finest urban centers and natural playgrounds in 10 days and 853 miles.
Start: Tucson, Arizona
Day 1: Tucson to Cochise County (93 miles)
From Tucson, drive I-10 east to AZ 80 east to Tombstone, where you can relive Wild West history at the OK Corral (the site of the famous gunfight between Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and six other shooters), ride a stagecoach, and belly up to the bar at an old-time saloon. Continue on AZ 80 east to Bisbee to visit historic mining sites and tour the Queen Mine.
Days 2 & 3: Tucson
Get an early start today: You’ll want to experience the unique environment of the Sonoran Desert in Saguaro National Park, a cactus-studded preserve with hiking trails and interpretive exhibits, before it gets too hot. Choose either the Tucson Mountain or the Rincon Mountain District for a hike, then cool off in one of Tucson’s museums: Biosphere 2 (earth sciences), Pima Air & Space Museum (aviation), or Titan Missile Museum (Cold War history). Spend the evening stargazing at the Kitt Peak Observatory. On day 3, head back to Saguaro National Park (try the other district) for an early-morning hike. Then learn more about the desert flora and fauna you’ve seen at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum or Tohono Chul Park. And if you’re in the mood for shopping, take the 1-hour drive south to Tubac, an artsy town full of galleries.
Day 4: Tucson to Prescott (215 miles)
From Tucson, drive northwest on I-10 to Phoenix. Merge onto I-17 north, then take the AZ 69 exit to Prescott. Nestled at 5,200 feet, this outdoorsy town offers hiking and mountain biking on its nearby trails, rock climbing, and paddling in its three lakes. At night, swing by historic Whiskey Row, a once-rowdy district full of cowboys and saloons, for live music and nightlife.
Day 5: Prescott to Sedona (67 miles)
Take AZ 69 south to AZ 169 north to I-17, then hop off on AZ 179 to Sedona. Spend the day outside: Hike, bike, take a jeep tour, or take a guided tour from Sedona Trolley. Sedona is an ideal base for mountain biking, jeep touring, and hiking among the red rocks. After your outdoor adventure, visit Sedona’s famous art galleries, spiritual shops, and bookstores, and swing by at least one vortex site.
Day 6: Sedona to Williams (61 miles)
Drive north on AZ 89A, then merge onto I-17 north towards Flagstaff.
Looking for adventure? Try the ropes course at Flagstaff Extreme. Still can’t decide if Pluto is a planet? Visit Lowell Observatory where Pluto was discovered. Feeling the need for history? Visit Riordan Mansion State Historic Park.
Then head west on I-40 to Williams. This jumping-off point to the Grand Canyon has plenty of attractions in its own right: a historic downtown, Bearizona Wildlife Park, horseback riding, and jeep tours. Eat up at local favorite Grand Canyon Brewery and spend the night at the Best Western, Canyon Motel and RV Park, or Days Inn.
Day 7: Williams to Grand Canyon National Park (65 train miles)
Leave your car parked in Williams and head up to Grand Canyon National Park the old-fashioned way: on the Grand Canyon Railway. Once there, stroll the canyon rim, hike, check out the visitor centers, and more. If you’ve got extra days, spend them here.
Day 8: Grand Canyon to Scottsdale (247 miles)
From Williams, take I-40 east to I-17 south. Take AZ 101 Loop E to reach Scottsdale, a major Phoenix suburb.
The lively university town of Tempe is also worth a trip down the road: Stand-up paddleboard in Tempe Town Lake, catch a game at Arizona State, or stroll downtown.
Days 9 & 10: Phoenix
Downtown Phoenix is about 12 miles west of Scottsdale. Finish off your trip here with the lively dining, arts, and culture in Arizona’s capital. Stop by at least one of the city’s museums: Heard Museum (native culture), Musical Instrument Museum, and the Commemorative Air Force Museum. Biology fans shouldn’t miss the Desert Botanical Gardens, Wildlife Zoo & Aquarium, or Arizona Sealife. Best capper: a hot-air balloon ride over town with Rainbow Ryders.
End: Phoenix, Arizona
Arizona Office of Tourism