From Route 66 all the way to The Loneliest Road that starts in Maryland, the United States is filled with fantastic road trips that have long been alluring travellers out onto the open road. With so many different routes to take, it’s near impossible to decide on just one road trip to take. These Arizona road trips are a great starting point for an adventure with friends.
From Oak Creek Canyon to Apache Trail Historic Road, Arizona is full of legendary road trip routes – and of course, the famous Grand Canyon!
The Best Arizona Road Trips
1. Flagstaff to Petrified Forest National Park
Flagstaff is an ideal launching point for road trips all over northern Arizona! Take this leisurely route to Petrified Forest National Park, a desert area containing vibrantly colored petrified wood, historic structures, and archaeological sites.
Distance: 108 miles – (1 hour and 45 minutes)
Route highlights: The Painted Desert, Late Triassic fossils, Blue Mesa Road
When to do it: The best times to visit Petrified Forest National Park is between May 28th to September 30th.
2. Phoenix to the Grand Canyon
The south rim of Grand Canyon National Park is just a 3.5-hour drive from Phoenix. Kickstart your adventure by climbing Camelback mountain in Phoenix, and explore historic Glendale before driving to Oak Creek Canyon in Sedona. You can also tour some of Arizona’s wine country en route. Finally, you’ll pass Flagstaff and arrive at the Grand Canyon.
Distance: 224 miles – (3.5 hour drive)
Route highlights: Sedona or Oak Creek Canyon, National Park check-point ($25 fee), Bright Angel Lodge viewpoint.
When to do it: Spring and Fall
3. Apache Trail Loop
The Apache Trail’s famous Circle Route begins and ends in Apache Junction, Arizona. This scenic route will take you through deserts, mountains, by cliff dwellings, along lake shores, through old mining towns and through beautifully eroded canyons. This popular route has been used by tourists since 1922.
Distance: 120 miles (1 hour)
Route highlights: Lost Dutchman State Park, Goldfield Ghost Town, Canyon Lake and Theodore Roosevelt Dam.
When to do it: Year-round, but it’s best in summer!
Photo Cred: IG apachelakeresort
4. Phoenix to Canyon de Chelly
While this route will take about 5 hours to drive in full, we suggest allowing for at least 7-8 hours so that you’ve time to stop off at the many points along the way, such as the town of Payson. Canyon de Chelly is a steep canyon on on Navajo tribal lands, home to a contemporary Navajo Indian community that still inhabits the canyon floor. The park has two self-guided drives that extend from the visitor center and follow the rims of the canyon.
Distance: 314 miles (5 hours)
Route highlights: Montezuma Castle Nat Mon, Spider Rock, White House Ruins and Canyon del Muerto
When to do it: Year-round, but bear in mind some of the inner canyons are impassable in winter.
5. Flagstaff to Lake Powell
You’ll begin your drive on Highway 89, which starts in Flagstaff. Head North on towards on to Lake Powell, where the scenic views include beautiful red mountains that make up the Navajo Nation. As you drive up some hills, be sure to stop along the way and admire the views to the West. Lake Powell itself is a family-fun reservoir for boating, waterskiing, fishing, camping, hiking and more.
Distance: 132 miles (1 hour and 16 minutes)
Route highlights: Gray Mountain, Wahweap Viewpoint and Rainbow Bridge
When to do it: May-August
Photo Cred: IG visitlakepowell
6. Tucson to Kartchner Caverns State Park
Located in Southern Arizona, Kartchner Caverns State Park is just a short hop from Tucson in nearby Benson. It’s a fascinating place to end up after a scenic drive, as you can explore the insides of a living limestone cave and marvel at the world’s longest stalactite formation.
Distance: 70.4 Miles (1 hour 20 minutes)
Route highlights: Colossal Cave Mountain Park, Hummingbird garden and San Pedro River.
When to do it: Year-round.
7. Route 66
The stretch of the famous “Mother Road” running across northern Arizona is packed with history, culture and fun. When driving the Route in Arizona, there are plenty of incredible places to check out. Meteor Crater, the Petrified Forest National Park, Grand Canyon Caverns, and the Colorado River Recreational Park and are all just off the interstate, each one a must-visit, while Flagstaff has an oldschool Americana vibe.
Distance: 385 miles (6 hours)
Route highlights: Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In; Meteor Crater; Grand Canyon Caverns.
When to do it: Year-round.
Photo Cred: Kelli Klymenko
If you are spending time in the state check out 7 Mind-Blowing Airbnbs For The Ultimate Arizona Staycation.