If you are looking for adventure and an amazing journey, look no further—the best weekend road trips in Arizona await you. Few states are better suited for a road trip than Arizona—the Grand Canyon State has some of the most dramatic landscapes and breathtaking scenery in North America. It’s an incredibly diverse geological wonder that is rich in the history of the Old West. Though there is much to see and experience, here are 10 places to consider for your next road trip in Arizona:
1) Grand Canyon National Park –This should be at the top of everyone’s list for best weekend road trips in Arizona. The Canyon is a geological wonder located about a 3.5 hour drive due north of downtown Phoenix. Camp out at one of three NPS campgrounds. Spend a night or two at one of the Park’s many lodges like the historic El Tovar Hotel, Bright Angel Lodge & Cabins or Kachina Lodge on the South Rim. Stay at the luxurious Grand Canyon Lodge with its grand patio overlooking the North Rim. Hike down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and stay at the Phantom Ranch. Drive Rim Road to the Watchtower for some of the most breathtaking views of the Canyon.
2) Sedona –Art lovers, earth trekkers, and recreational enthusiasts love Sedona. It’s a vibrant art community filled with New Age shops, spas and art galleries. Located near Flagstaff, the town is a natural wonder. All around are red-rock buttes, steep canyon walls and pine forests. Visit Slide Rock State Park, take a hike through Oak Creek Canyon, or mountain bike in Oak Creek Village, and visit the iconic chapel built into the red rocks (Chapel of the Holy Cross).
3) Desert Botanical Garden –Located in central Phoenix the Garden amidst the Papago Buttes. It showcases the diversity of the desert flora in a refined, well-manicured facility. Enjoy the land Sonoran Desert scenery, the cacti in full bloom during the springtime, or the many exhibits and landscape art.
4) Apache Junction –This is where you will find the majestic Superstition Mountains. Near Phoenix, you can hike through the Lost Dutchman State Park and take in fantastic views of the city. Goldfield Ghost Town offers visitors an authentic glimpse of an old mining town or visit nearby Canyon Lake to take a cruise aboard the Dolly Steamboat.
5) Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park –located on the Navajo Nation along the Arizona-Utah border awaits a landscape that is stunning in size, scope and natural beauty. The red-sand desert is well-known for its towering sandstone formations. Surrounded by miles of mesas and buttes, the park has been a frequent filming location for Western movies over the years and can be accessed by the 17-mile Valley Drive loop. For a weekend road trip, Monument Valley truly is a unique visual experience.
6) Tucson –Yes, the city has all the luxurious resorts, spas and golf courses, but its real charm can be found in its rustic, authentic old west heritage. Located about ninety minutes south of Phoenix, Tucson sits amidst a spectacular mountain range, featuring the 9000 ft. plus Mt. Lemon. The mountains provide relief from the heat during the summer months and skiing in the winter. Tucson also has the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum, which encompasses 21 acres of botanical gardens, a zoo, art gallery, natural history museum, aquarium and restaurants. Tucson is also home to Saguaro National Park where you will find the nation’s largest cacti and symbol of the Southwest—the giant saguaro.
7) Petrified Forest & Painted Desert –In the northeast of Arizona just ninety minutes east of Flagstaff, two impressive geological wonders formed over 225+ million years ago. The Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert once had 200-ft tall conifers in a lush green forest where dinosaurs roamed around. Volcanic mountains erupted and entombed the forest for millions of years until erosion later exposed the gigantic logs and remnant pieces of the forest lands for the entire world to see.
8) Old Town Scottsdale – Within downtown Scottsdale weekend road trippers will find the Old Town featuring a taste of the Old West. There are Western bars and restaurants, art galleries, old west shops, and a pretty hip nightlife. The Civic Center plaza adjacent to the Old Town is found in an art museum, performing art center and free seasonal outdoor concerts.
9) Tombstone –Just an hour and a half southeast of Tucson, no weekend road trip in Arizona is complete without a visit to Tombstone. The famous (or infamous) Wild West town is well-known for the shootout at O.K. Corral. Western legends Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, Johnny Ringo, Ike Clanton and many more walked the streets nearly 140 years ago. Visiting Tombstone is more than just a historical experience; it’s a taste of authentic Western Americana.
10) Lake Powell –the immense lake is part of the greater Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Located along the Utah-Arizona border region, the lake is surrounded by tall canyons, red rock formations and sand dunes. Lake Powell is extremely scenic and known for its house-boating, water skiing, kayaking, fishing, hiking, camping, and exploration—it’s one of the largest man-made lakes in North America. It is 186 miles long with a nearly 2,000 mile shoreline that is longer than the entire west coast of the U.S. Within Lake Powell reside 96 major canyons, some stretching 15 to 20 miles in length. This road trip is about five hours north of Phoenix or 2.5 hours from Flagstaff.
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