If there’s any state in the entire U.S. that screams characteristics of being otherworldly, without a doubt, Arizona is the champ. This loop allows you to see all of Arizona’s most noteworthy cities and sites, including the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Lake Powell and the highly in-demand “The Wave.” Keep your eyes peeled during this entire road trip because a lot of your time behind-the-wheel will be equally as breathtaking as some stops.
From VacationRenter’s Resident Roadtripper: “This is some out-of-this-world landscape! The topography of the area is so wild with a beautifully maintained highway weaving through looming red cliffs, staircase layers of desert, and massive forests of cacti. If you stop at every beautiful thing you see, you’ll never get finished. Put on some uplifting music from one of our playlists, throw up a riveting book on tape and marvel at the wonder of this magnificent countryside.
Pro-tip #1: The Native American ruins in Flagstaff are worth it for a mind-blowing sunrise as the Wupatki saw it 1,000 years ago.
Pro-tip #2: Slot canyons are stunning, but Antelope Canyon is NOT worth it, enjoy Lake Powell while you’re in Page then get in touch with Dreamland Safari for a slot canyon tour outside of Kanab.“
Starting point: Phoenix
Closest airport to starting point: Phoenix International Airport (PHX)
Ending point: loops back to Phoenix
Driving distance: a little over 1,000 miles
Duration of the trip: 2 weeks
Day 1: Phoenix to Sedona – 160 miles
Buckle up and get ready for your adventure though Arizona! Your first overnight destination will be Sedona, but on the way up, be sure to pass Prescott so you can take a peek at Watson Lake, which is the most stunning at sunrise or sunset. Feel free to look it up online before your trip. It’s absolutely gorgeous.
Be sure to keep your eyes out the windows on this drive. You’ll notice the tremendous saguaro cacti dotting the landscape. Some of these are over 150 years old; a characteristic you can tell by the number of arms jutting from the main stalk.
Day 2 & 3: Sedona
Trust us when we say you’re going to want to spend a couple days in Sedona. There’s so much to explore in this beautiful city including Slide Rock State Park, Devil’s Bridge, Cathedral Rock, and the list goes on. To get the full Sedona experience, you can take a Jeep Tour that will take you to places you didn’t even know existed, or ride the Sedona Trolley to hit all the best spots of the city in only two hours.
Sedona is also known as a sacred destination where many come to seek inspiration by visiting one of their several “vortexes” — or for the grammatically conscious: vortices. It is said that these places are where Earth’s energy is especially strong, and a visit there can help individuals feel recharged and uplifted. The most commonly visited vortexes are Airport Mesa, Bell Rock, Boynton Canyon, and Cathedral Rock.
Day 4: Sedona to Flagstaff – 30 miles
An hour away from Sedona is Flagstaff, where you can venture into the Coconino National Forest, see the Wupatki National Monument, or gaze in awe at the chocolate-like Grand Falls. All three of these locations are must-see spots unique to Arizona’s topography and history.
You’ll definitely work up an appetite after visiting Flagstaff’s main attractions. Worry not, because we’ve got the perfect recommendation for you. Hit up MartAnne’s Burrito Palace for a phenomenal plate of huevos rancheros, an incredibly tasty breakfast burrito, or try anything else on the menu because the whole selection is delicious. Then, to wash it all down, you can grab an ice cold beer at Beaver Street Brewery or Mother Road Brewing Company.
Day 5: Flagstaff to Page – 190 miles
Almost halfway to Page will be your perfect opportunity to visit the Grand Canyon. Take a drive around the vast ridges of this world-famous national park, and don’t forget to pack a lunch so you can enjoy it from any viewpoint you wish. Like we mentioned before, this route is just as beautiful on the road as it is at any stop you make, so be sure to soak in the entire behind-the-wheel adventure as well. Remember: it’s all about the journey, not just the destination!
Day 6 & 7: Page
You could stay in Page for a day if you wanted to, but you wouldn’t get to see everything. One highly sought out attraction in the area is Antelope Canyon. The natural sandstone canyon slots are an undoubtedly extraordinary sight to see; however — we think it has become too crowded with tourists, and being cramped in a canyon with dozens of other people may take away from the experience. If tourist traps are something you prefer to stay away from, we have an alternative canyon tour for you: book a tour with Dreamland Safari for a more enjoyable private canyon experience when you’re in Kanab instead.
If you still plan on visiting Antelope Canyon, be sure to book a tour as early as possible because spots fill up very quickly. We suggest spending one full day touring the canyon, and another day to see the Horseshoe Bend at sunrise, then hang out in Lake Powell. At Lake Powell, you can spend a day out in the sun and stay cool by jumping in the water. You can also rent boats, pontoons and jet skis to see the area from a different perspective. Some compare their Lake Powell explorations to what it would be like if you found a body of water on Mars.
Day 8: Page to Kanab (Utah) – 75 miles
Page is the northernmost point of Arizona, while Kanab lies in the southmost point of Utah. Kanab would be your ideal destination if you plan on visiting Arizona’s highly in-demand hiking trail, The Wave, or one of the quieter tours of slot canyons provided by Dreamland Safari (recommended above).
Pro-tip: anyone who plans to visit The Wave must plan months in advance — four months ahead, to be exact. You must apply for a Coyote Buttes permit four months prior to your hiking date, and only ten lucky individuals are granted a permit via the online lottery per day.
As for anyone who wants to test their last-minute-luck, you also have a chance to obtain a walk-in permit the day before you plan to hike. Since you’ll be staying in Kanab, this will make your life a little easier. Be sure to arrive at the Escalante National Monument Visitor Center at 8:30am to apply for a permit. Only 10 individuals get chosen for this lottery as well, so good luck!
Day 9: Kanab
If you were able to score a hiking permit to The Wave, today would be your day to take advantage of your lucky prize. If not, do not fret — we have an epic backup plan. You can either get an authentic local canyon experience with Dreamland Safari, or spend the day hiking through Zion National Park. The contrast of red rocks, blue skies, and green trees all around is an absolute feast for your eyes. If you visit in the beginning of spring, you may even get lucky and add patches of white snow into the equation. By the time you’re done hiking Zion, you won’t feel bummed out about not getting a permit to The Wave.
Day 10: Kanab to Winslow – 400 miles
From Kanab, you’re going to make your way back into Arizona, but first make a pit stop to Oljato Monument Valley, where you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a backdrop of a “Wild Wild West” movie. Then, make your way down to Winslow. There, you can check out Homolovi State Park, Arizona’s Meteor Crater, Rock Art Ranch and Little Painted Desert County Park.
Day 11: Winslow to Phoenix – 180 miles
Finally, for the last leg of your expedition you’ll be heading back to Arizona’s capital, Phoenix. Since you’ve been surrounded by red rock formations and blue bodies of water for the last ten days, some might feel comforted to drive back into standard city life. Ten days away from your regularly programmed life will have you feeling much more refreshed too.
Day 12 to 14: Phoenix
When you get back to Phoenix, don’t rush home quite yet. Spend a few days in the city because there’s more to see before taking off! If you’re not tired of hiking yet, have a go at Camelback Mountain, overlooking the cities of Phoenix and Scottsdale. Art lovers can appreciate the street art scattered throughout the city, or if the timing is right, you can catch the First Fridays Art Walk. To cap off your Arizona trip, exchange a round of drinks and cheers at one of Phoenix’s extravagant pool parties!