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Are you looking for the best Arizona road trip itinerary? Well, you are in the right place! Taking a road trip through Arizona is a great way to see one of the most beautiful states in the entire USA! We did this Arizona road trip as a family of six ranging in age from 16 to 60, so our road trip route is tried and true to please travelers of all ages.
We have also completed this Arizona road trip on our own as a couple as well so no matter the group you are with, you will love this itinerary. Although our post reflects an Arizona 5 day itinerary, you could shorten it for a 4 day Arizona itinerary or lengthen it for an Arizona itinerary in 7 days. It all depends on your plans and how much time you have to explore this beautiful state!
First we will share our recommended 5 day Arizona road trip itinerary, including where to stay at each location, and then we will share insider tips and tricks for planning the perfect vacation in Arizona. Arizona has so much to offer so with a little bit of planning, you will be on your way to creating your dream trip.
Save money in Arizona by staying at an Airbnb! Get a FREE $40 Airbnb Coupon by using our code when you book! The best part? We give suggestions to our favorites in this post!
The Ultimate 5 Day Arizona Road Trip Itinerary
Begin your Arizona road trip by flying into Las Vegas because it is centrally located to all the cool places you are going to want to visit. Phoenix is often much more expensive to fly into and Las Vegas, although not in Arizona, has tons of affordable flights from everywhere on the planet each and every day! Las Vegas is the perfect starting point for your Arizona 5 day itinerary. If you choose to fly into Phoenix, you can still complete this itinerary, but you will just do it in reverse order by visiting Day 3-4 first and day 1-2 second.
If you have a few extra days, you can start or end your trip by spending time in Las Vegas. It has so much to offer beyond just gambling and drinking and can be a great family-friendly destination. We recommend checking out Skyscanner to find the best and most affordable flights into Arizona. We use this tool to discover the best flights for our trip because you can easily compare rates.
Highlights: Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, Flagstaff Mountains
We always recommend flying into Las Vegas because there are all sorts of extremely affordable flights that fly into this world-famous city. If you can, try to catch an early morning flight into Las Vegas because it leaves time for exploring. This is the easiest and cheapest way to make Las Vegas the starting point for your Arizona road trip itinerary. Once you pick up your rental car, take a quick drive down the Las Vegas Strip and plug in “Flagstaff” into your GPS. Our Arizona family vacation itinerary doesn’t spend much time in Laz Vegas but you can feel free to extend a day or two if you want to see Sin City. Getting into Las Vegas early in the morning is a great way to see the city without all the traffic and crazy people running around. If you have never been, at least stop by to see the strip!
Stop 1: The Hoover Dam
While you are on your way from Las Vegas to Flagstaff, we highly recommend stopping off and seeing the famous Hoover Dam! The Hoover Dam spans both Nevada and Arizona, so it is the gateway to your Arizona road trip itinerary anyway! The drive from Las Vegas to the Hoover Dam only takes about 50 minutes so it is an easy and fun first stop. Everyone will be excited to road trip Arizona so a fun stop as soon as you get started is always a plus. Build this time into your drive so you can make allowances for the stop later on in the day.
Once you arrive, you can simply drive over the dam, or park and get out and walk around. Parking costs about $10. There is the option to take a tour of the dam for an additional cost as well, but walking the dam was fun too! If it is hot out and you are visiting Arizona during the summer, we highly recommend drinking plenty of water and wearing hats and sunscreen when stopping at the Hoover Dam. It is located right in the middle of the desert and you have a high possibility of getting heat stroke if you don’t follow proper precautions. If you only have four days in Arizona, we recommend just driving over the Hoover Dam and heading straight to Flagstaff unless you arrive very early in the morning.
Stop 2: Flagstaff
You will end your first day of your Arizona itinerary in Flagstaff. The drive from Las Vegas to Flagstaff is such a fun part of your Arizona road trip because of the elevation change! Flagstaff is high in the mountains and is surrounded by beautiful trees and fresh mountain air. It is a quaint and lively city with plenty of restaurants and bars. It takes about 3 hours and 45 minutes if you drive to Flagstaff straight from Las Vegas without stopping and you are going to want to spend two nights here. Flagstaff is the perfect place to put on your Arizona vacation itinerary because it gives you a break for the heat of the state and provides you with different views while being close to other attractions.
Day 2: Drive The Loop From Flagstaff To The Grand Canyon
Highlights: Multiple stopping points to see the Grand Canyon
You will basically drive in a big loop from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon, and then back to Flagstaff for another night. The fact that the entire drive is a big loop is really cool because you don’t have to backtrack! Depending on what time of year you go, we suggest leaving a little later in the day so you end up at the last stop of the Grand Canyon for sunset! There is nothing quite like a sunset over this magnificent landscape! If you are looking to spend more time, then we highly recommend leaving earlier and spending as much time as you can. You can modify this part of our Arizona road trip itinerary as you see fit.
Our recommendations below for our favorite stops along the Grand Canyon drive are done in clockwise order, assuming you are coming in near where the Visitor Center is located along the main entrance to the Grand Canyon. This also means you will be leaving Flagstaff and driving clockwise for this part of the road trip.
Our Favorite Grand Canyon Stops:
Yaki Point was pretty crowded because it is the first stop in Grand Canyon National Park and because it is close to the Visitor Center. That’s okay and it is still worth a visit. When you get in the National Park the first thing you are going to want to do is actually see the Grand Canyon.
Pro tip: No matter what, under any circumstances, do not go to the edge of ANY canyon, mountain, ledge etc., ESPECIALLY when it is snowing or raining. It may look safe, but there could only be a thin layer of snow covering an unstable part of the ground or simply a tree branch and well, we don’t need any death or destruction.
Even though it was still a bit crowded, the crowds make you feel safer when wandering around, just in case something were to happen. We went to the bathroom at this point, and take it from us, the bathrooms were pretty gross. Bring your own hand sanitizer, since most bathrooms were out. You can thank us later.
Moran Point is one of our favorite viewpoints and offers unobstructed views of the Grand Canyon. There is a railing and rock barrier you can walk along for different views during this part of your Arizona road trip.
Lipan Point is nice, but nothing special compared to the ones above. We breezed by it pretty fast and didn’t get any photos but if you are looking for even more Grand Canyon to see along your Arizona vacation, then why not make a quick visit?
Navajo Point was one of our favorites. There were tons of mini hiking trails around this point as well if you want to explore different views of the Canyon. The hikes are a wonderful way to explore and just remember our safety tips above. They provide great views and you can see really deep into the North Eastern part of the Grand Canyon. This is a fantastic stop for photography along with your Arizona road trip itinerary!
Desert View is the last stop of the journey for you and since this is the eastern-most point, you can see beautiful vistas all up and down the Canyon. You can even see the prairies on the north side. The complexity of the Canyon contrasted nicely with the barren prairie. Desert View was BEAUTIFUL at sunset, so if you can time it that way, we suggest it! There is even a watchtower at this location which kids tend to love so if you are doing your Arizona vacation as a family, this stop is a must!
Day 3: Head From Flagstaff To Sedona
Highlights: Oak Creek Canyon, Slide Rock State Park, Sedona
After the last two days, this is the part of your 5 day Arizona itinerary where you can take a breather! The drive from Flagstaff to Sedona takes under an hour, so you go from one beautiful place to the next! During your day in Sedona, you can choose one of the many hikes or tours offered! This drive will take you down a couple thousand feet from the forests of Flagstaff down to the beautiful red rocks of Sedona. Along the way there are multiple stops that you can see!
First, you will come to Oak Creek Canyon. This breathtaking canyon was carved from the river that runs through it for millions of years. It is a beautiful place to stop along your Arizona road tirp for a picnic or a quick dip in the water if you find a calm spot. Even if you simply choose to drive through Oak Creek Canyon without stopping, you will feel like you are on a roller coaster as you twist and turn through the beauty of the canyon. You will have to descend by car down the mountainside and it is quite a fun and unique experience during your Arizona road trip.
Explore Slide Rock State Park
When you reach the end of Oak Creek Canyon, on your right you will see Slide Rock State Park. This is exactly as it sounds, a state park with rocks that you can slide down. If you are completing this 5 day Arizona road trip during the winter, then you will obviously skip this part of the itinerary! But if you are visiting during the summer, we highly recommend stopping and putting on your swimsuit and jumping in. If you visit on the weekend during the summer this place will be packed with locals and tourists alike enjoying the fun rock slides and natural pools and waterfalls. You may even have to park a good distance away and walk the remainder.
Keep It Simple In Sedona
We suggest keeping it simple and hiking to a view of Cathedral Rock and feeling the power of some of Sedona’s vortexes. These hikes are more like walks and will be the perfect way to get into the Sedona spirit! Many people try to drive from Sedona to the Grand Canyon, but it is much better to stay in Flagstaff for that and explore all Sedona has to offer on its own!
Our Arizona road trip itinerary has days with a lot of driving and also days with less driving for rest and exploring like Day 3 and 4! If you are planning to spend only four days in Arizona, make sure to spend at least one day in Sedona! If you are more adventurous, you can even go camping in Sedona! So on your first day in Sedona, take a walk to Cathedral Rock and get settled into your accommodation so you can be prepared for the next day!
Day 4: Explore All That Sedona Has To Offer
Highlights: Church Of The Holy Cross, Ancient Ruins, Sunset Hike
During the fourth day of your Arizona itinerary, you will spend time hanging out in Sedona and hiking! You can drive your car down one of the many roads in Sedona and receive breathtaking views at every turn! This is one of our favorite days on the Arizona road trip itinerary because it lets you relax and take in the view and really soak in all that Sedona has to offer without having to drive and run around to all sorts of different places!
Visit The Church of the Holy Cross
The Church of the Holy Cross is located a few miles outside of the city center of Sedona and is overlooking the stunning Sedona countryside. One time we visited The Church of the Holy Cross it was a bright and sunny winter day and another time we visited was during a lightning storm in the summer. The lightning was off in the distance and you can see it from inside the church. We highly recommend checking out this church as it offers a stunning and easily accessible viewpoint of this region.
Explore Ancient The Palatki Ruins
The Palatki Ruins are ancient cliff drawings and dwellings painted right on the side of the mountain. It is so easy to see and an often overlooked thing to do on an Arizona road trip. Each of the two trails at the Palatki Heritage Center is just 1/4 of a mile each way so you can easily visit the ruins without expending too much energy or walking too far. One of the trails takes you right up to the Sinagua cliff dwellings, while the other leads to an alcove with ancient paintings from every native people that inhabited the cliff dwellings.
Hike To Devil’s Bridge
If you are a little more adventurous, we suggest hiking to Devil’s Bridge. The hike is actually a very easy four miles round trip. The only hard part is about the last 1/4 of a mile where you have to climb up one of the red rocks for the final view of Devil’s Bridge. The hike is considered “moderate,” although it should really be marked as easy for 80% and intermediate for 20%. The view is well worth the effort! We recommend these top 5 best hikes in Sedona if you are looking to add a little outdoor activity to your Arizona trip itinerary. You can adventure as little or as much as you want during this part of your Arizona road trip. Make sure to click the article for detailed hiking instructions and tips for visiting Devil’s Bridge.
Day 5: Conclude Your Arizona Road Trip By Driving From Sedona To Las Vegas
Highlights: Arrive back in Las Vegas, stop at anything you missed along the way
The good part about this section of your Arizona road trip itinerary is you are now able to stop at any spots you missed along the way! If you saw something crazy cool that you passed up in a hurry, now is the time to leisurely make your way back to Las Vegas to drop off your rental and catch your flight. Let’s say, for example, that you really wanted to do Slide Rock State Park or see the Hoover Dam and were just too pressed for time on your way down. Now is the perfect time to add them in. If you plan to road trip Arizona, spend some time seeking out your favorite spots along the way so you can see them on your drive back to Las Vegas.
A lot of airlines fly red-eye flights late at night from Las Vegas, so leaving Sedona in the morning and getting back to the airport in the afternoon isn’t a problem at all! Keep your eye out for beautiful stops along the way and don’t forget to pick someplace local for lunch! If you have an extra day, you can spend the night in Las Vegas and fly out in the morning so you can end your Arizona Road Trip with a little relaxation.