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6 Best Road Trips

Phoenix to the Grand Canyon Road Trip

Discover the best of Arizona along this awe-inspiring 563-mile road trip stopping at Southwest hot spots on the way.

There’s a gorgeous corner of Arizona that’s packed with secret lakes, vibrant vineyards bursting with locally made wine and a town nestled amongst red rocks so magnificent they are believed to radiate energy. If you were to drive from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon on I-40, you’d miss all of this and more. Take the road less traveled instead for a stunning drive that beckons you to explore towns like Prescott, Jerome, Cottonwood and Sedona.

Along the way, you’ll discover beautiful state parks offering new experiences. From Sedona, you’ll drive up the gorgeous Oak Creek Canyon to Flagstaff, a vibrant university town that’s home to a fun downtown and historic Route 66.

As you drive from Flagstaff to Grand Canyon National Park, the soil turns red, hinting at what’s to come. Read on to start building the best Southwest road-trip itinerary ever.

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Route

  1. Phoenix, Arizona
  2. Lost Dutchman State Park
  3. Gilbert’s Farm to Table to Trail Oasis
  4. Desert Haven at Salt River
  5. Perfect Prescott
  6. Unexpected Oasis at Cottonwood
  7. Sustainably Sedona
  8. Verde Valley, Arizona’s Wine Country
  9. Phenomenal Flagstaff
  10. Route 66, Bears and the Grand Canyon Railway in Williams
  11. Grand Canyon National Park

Map

Start: Phoenix, Arizona

Get to know the cosmopolitan side of Arizona in Phoenix where there is an activity for every interest. Here are the top seven things to do.

Lost Dutchman State Park

Biking in Lost Dutchman State Park
Biking in Lost Dutchman State Park (Photo: Arizona State Parks)

Get a rare insider’s view of the Superstition Mountains when you hike on easy to difficult trails through this corner of the Sonoran Desert. It’s just 40 miles east of Phoenix. Plus 9 more Arizona State Parks near the Grand Canyon.

Gilbert’s Farm to Table to Trail Oasis

Shaded trail through Gilbert's Riparian Preserve
Shaded trail through Gilbert’s Riparian Preserve (Photo: by Chris Barr courtesy of Discover Gilbert)

In the heart of Arizona’s Sonoran desert you’ll find a vibrant farm-to-table dining scene, gorgeous green spaces and more in the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert.

Desert Haven at Salt River

Walking through the lighted USS Arizona Memorial Gardens at Salt River
Walking through the lighted USS Arizona Memorial Gardens at Salt River (Photo: Courtesy Discover Salt River)

Located on the eastern border of Scottsdale, Ariz., you’d never guess you’re in a city when you visit the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community in the Talking Stick Entertainment District. This community is filled with small-town charm and unique attractions.

Perfect Prescott

Paddleboarding and boating on Watson Lake near Prescott, Ariz.
Paddleboarding and boating on Watson Lake near Prescott, Ariz. (Photo: Courtesy Prescott Tourism)

From great hiking and kayaking to a fun downtown scene, here are the top 5 reasons to explore Prescott.

Unexpected Oasis at Cottonwood

Wine tasting on the deck at Page Springs Cellars in Cottonwood, Arizona
Wine tasting on the deck at Page Springs Cellars in Cottonwood, Arizona (Photo: Courtesy Page Springs Cellars)

Take a stroll through this charming historic downtown packed with wine tasting rooms and restaurants before heading to a rare solitude-fueled national monument.

Sustainably Sedona

Hiker on Schuerman Mountain Trail in Sedona
Hiker on Schuerman Mountain Trail in Sedona (Photo: Courtesy of Sedona Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau)

Transform from a tourist to conscientious traveler by traveling off-season or choosing to hike a collection of stunningly beautiful trails with all the solitude but none of the traffic of the vortexes.

Bring the Gypsy Guide App to Sedona
Enjoy the freedom of driving your own car while traveling with an entertaining guide that doesn’t take up space. Learn more at gypsyguide.com/tour/sedona/.

Slide Rock State Park
Wear your jeans to slide down a slick natural water chute or put on your bathing suit to wade in a sparkling creek at Slide Rock State Park seven miles north of Sedona. Plus 9 more Arizona State Parks near the Grand Canyon.

A Toast to Verde Valley, Arizona’s Wine Country

Eric Glomski, winemaker and owner of Page Springs Cellars.
Eric Glomski, winemaker and owner of Page Springs Cellars. (Photo: Courtesy of Page Springs Cellars)

Winemakers in Arizona’s Verde Valley between Sedona, Cottonwood and Jerome, pour their passion into their work. Read about locals Eric Glomski and Barbara Predmore and their individual paths to winemaking.

Phenomenal Flagstaff

Cruising downtown Flagstaff, Arizona
Cruising downtown Flagstaff, Arizona (Photo: Discover Flagstaff)

Surrounded by the world’s largest contiguous ponderosa pine forest, Flagstaff’s uncrowded trails offer solitude, easy social distancing, a lot of trees and outstanding views. Here are seven things to do including visiting a national monument with cliff dwellings.

Starry Nights at Lowell Observatory
Visit a legendary landmark where Pluto was discovered and scientists continue to unravel the mysteries of the universe.

Giovale Open Deck Observatory at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff
Giovale Open Deck Observatory at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff (Photo: Courtesy Lowell Observatory)

Best Eco-Friendly Flagstaff + Grand Canyon Vacation Itinerary
Experience the best of the Grand Canyon while eating locally grown food, staying at eco-friendly lodging and hiking on gorgeous trails.

Route 66, Bears and the Grand Canyon Railway in Williams

Cruisers Cafe on Historic Route 66 in Williams, Arizona
Cruisers Cafe on Historic Route 66 in Williams, Arizona (Photo: Grant Ordelheide)

A wildlife park and a scenic train ride are waiting for you in this Grand Canyon gateway town full of Route 66 flavor.

Bearizona Drive-thru Wildlife Park
See bears, wolves, buffalo and more in this drive through park among the pine forests of north Arizona.

Take the Grand Canyon Railway to the National Park
Park your car in Williams and take a scenic ride on the Grand Canyon Railway into the heart of the park. Riders are immersed in history and culture as they travel to the Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon National Park

Hiker at Plateau Point in the Grand Canyon
Hiker at Plateau Point in the Grand Canyon (Photo: Grant Ordelheide)

Stop at Grand Canyon Visitor Center
Hidden secrets await in Tusayan.

Bring the Gypsy Guide App
Enjoy the freedom of driving your own car while traveling with an entertaining guide that doesn’t take up space. Learn more at gypsyguide.com/tour/grand-canyon-south-rim/

48 Hours in the South Rim of the Grand Canyon
Get ready for adventure. Here are some of our favorite things to do while at the South Rim from biking in solitude to exploring some of the rim’s most historic treasures.

Flight over the Grand Canyon with Maverick Helicopters
Flight over the Grand Canyon with Maverick HelicoptersMaverick Helicopters

Fly Above the Grand Canyon with Maverick Helicopters
Take a helicopter tour of some of Grand Canyon South Rim’s most popular sights. View Marble Canyon and Point Imperial as you fly through the canyon and climb above the North Rim. Learn more at www.maverickhelicopter.com

Front entrance to Yavapai Lodge in the Grand Canyon
Front entrance to Yavapai Lodge in the Grand CanyonCourtesy Delaware North

A Grander Stay at Yavapai Lodge
Sleep well and sustainably about a mile from the rim. The Yavapai Lodge’s restaurant, tavern and nearby market and shuttle stop make navigating the rim easy.

Tori Peglar's family hiking down the Bright Angel Trail into the Grand Canyon
A family hiking down the Bright Angel Trail into the Grand CanyonTori Peglar

Into the Deep
Read a family’s story about hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and discovering there’s more than meets the eye.