Are you looking for the best Arizona road trip itinerary? Well, you are in the right place! We did this Arizona road trip as a family of six ranging in age from 16 to 60 [after all, family is one of the best parts of being in a relationship!], so our road trip route is tried and true to please travelers of all ages. 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!
Before we talk about the actual Arizona road trip itinerary, it is important to note how you are going to actually get to Arizona, where to rent your car from etc. So buckle up, bookmark this page, and start planning your Arizona road trip!
Quick Tips For Taking An Arizona Road Trip:
-Bring plenty of water. You may be driving for hours before you find a place that sells water when taking an Arizona road trip. Make sure to pack enough water as the inside of your car can get very hot, even with the air running full blast! If you run into car troubles and are stranded, having water will be even more important!
-Make sure to drive the speed limit and don’t drive recklessly. Many of the roads in Arizona are straight and desolate so it is tempting to drive very fast. 5-10 mph over the speed limit is as fast as you should drive during your Arizona road trip to avoid danger or a ticket from the police. The roads may be fun but getting into an accident or an expensive ticket isn’t so proceed with caution.
-You may have to pee on the side of the road. Yes, you read that correctly! Depending on where your Arizona road trip takes you, you may have to use the great outdoors to go to the bathroom. Of course, try to use a restroom if possible, but many parts of Arizona are quite desolate and the urge to go may hit you at an unexpected time! If you have to pee on the side of the road, make sure to pull over a safe distance and open both the driver and passenger car doors for privacy! This is all part of the experience when taking an Arizona road trip!
-Make sure you have enough gas to get to the next town. Even if you think you have enough fuel, it is a good idea to top off your tank anyway! If you are going to be driving for a long distance, there is no telling when you will come to the next gas station during your Arizona road trip. It is always a good idea to be safe than stranded in the hot Arizona desert because you didn’t want to take a few extra minutes to stop and refuel.
-Leave no trace during your Arizona road trip. This means that you should not litter! Not only is it 100% illegal in the United States, it is also harmful to the environment! If you eat something, even fruit, do not throw it out your car window! Put it in a plastic bag and throw it away when you get to the nearest trash can! Respect nature during your Arizona road trip and you can’t go wrong!
-Driving off-road is illegal in many places. Driving off-road in Arizona is illegal and dangerous in many places. The desert is a fragile environment and even a single car driving on it can damage many years of growth. If you come across a dirt road during your Arizona road trip, that is fine but do not off-road on your own to avoid a ticket or harming a fragile environment.
Best Time Of Year For Taking An Arizona Road Trip
You may not believe us, but there is literally no bad time of the year for taking an Arizona road trip! it just depends on when you have time to take a road trip to Arizona. During the summer, the kids are off school and the weather is warmer and during the winter the weather is cooler, prices are more affordable, but there is less time off school and work. The off-season or shoulder season is also a great time for taking an Arizona road trip because the weather is wonderful but there aren’t as many tourists and prices aren’t quite as expensive. No matter what time of year you choose take an Arizona road trip, the state will not disappoint!
Where To Fly Into To Begin Your Arizona Road Trip
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.
Which Company To Rent Your Car From
Since our Arizona road trip doubled as a family vacation, we knew we needed something large enough to carry six people, but affordable enough that we didn’t break the bank. After much research, we ended up booking with Sixt Rent-A-Car at the Las Vegas Airport. The booking process with Sixt is very easy and check-in was a breeze. Sixt’s website is straightforward and they even offer 25% off if you pay upfront. Paying upfront is something we often do for rental cars when traveling, but most rental companies only offer 10% off!
We booked an SUV big enough for an adult family of six and ended up with a GMC Yukon XL. Let us tell you, that isn’t the kind of car you drive, that is the kind of car that drives you! The price came out to around $650 for 7 days. When split between 6 people, the price became very reasonable for the size and luxury the car provided. Whether you are traveling as a group or alone, it is worth it to upgrade to a more comfortable car if you will be putting a lot of miles on it!
We are very thankful Sixt gave us such a huge care because many hours on the road with six people and all that luggage means we needed a lot of space. The thing we were most surprised about by the car was the extremely good gas mileage it provided! We drove for about 8 hours and the car only went down to half a tank! We were absolutely shocked and impressed that they truly don’t make SUVS like they used to!
Finally, Sixt offers a variety of insurance packages and roadside assistance. Although we don’t normally opt for insurance, this time we did, and during our road trip, a big truck kicked up a pebble and chipped our windshield! This became a huge crack that spanned half the windshield and we have never been more happy to have decided on insurance!
The Ultimate 5 Day Arizona Road Trip Itinerary
Day 1: Las Vegas to Flagstaff
If you can, try to catch an early morning flight into Las Vegas. 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 [from Sixt, if you are like us], 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.
Stop 1: The Hoover Dam
While you are on your way from Las Vegas to Flagstaff, you may as well stop off and see the famous Hoover Dam! The Hoover Dam spans both Nevada and Arizona, so it is the gateway to your Arizona 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.
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 you only have four days in Arizona, we recommend just driving over the Hoover Dam and heading straight to Flagstaff.
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.
Where to stay in Flagstaff
In case you didn’t know, we love staying in Airbnbs when we travel! We always suggest it to users because it is a great way to connect with locals and get huge homes for much cheaper than a regular old hotel room! You can use our Airbnb code and get $40 off your booking! If you are looking for where to stay in Flagstaff, we suggest booking the “Gorgeous Rustic Mountain Home” on Airbnb! The home is especially good if you are planning an Arizona family vacation or road trip with friends as it accommodates eight people and there are no extra charges for additional guests. It is a four bed four bath modern cabin in the middle of the woods in Flagstaff.
The cabin was ultra secluded, but less than two miles away from every store you could imagine. We loved this perk because it felt like you were in the middle of nowhere but a short drive down the road lands you in the middle of the city! If you are traveling with a group of people, you can go out to the store and purchase ingredients and then make all meals at home. Once you set foot in the cabin, you won’t even want to leave to go out to eat!
The check in and check out process was very simple and John, our host, was very responsive to messages. You enter the cabin with a key code provided by John so you don’t have to coordinate meeting times between you and him. This is great because anything can go wrong when you are road tripping and you may end up being later than expected! We had such a great time at Johns Airbnb in Flagstaff that we truly recommend it to anyone traveling with a group!
Day 2: Flagstaff To The Grand Canyon
Day two of your Arizona road trip itinerary will focus on the Grand Canyon. Seeing the Grand Canyon is an essential part of any Arizona vacation itinerary and today will be your turn to check this natural wonder off your bucket list!
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 want a more detailed breakdown of the Grand Canyon road trip, check out the article we wrote here. It is entirely possible to see the Grand Canyon and appreciate it in just a few hours and that is what we explain in the article! If you have some extra time, go early for family fun such as whitewater rafting the Grand Canyon, hiking, tours and more! This was, not surprisingly, one of the highlights of our Arizona family vacation itinerary when we road tripped Arizona with our own family. We are confident you will be in awe too!
Day 3: Flagstaff To 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!
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!
Where To Stay In Sedona
When booking a place to stay in Sedona, you will want a centrally located home with space and a view. For our family of six, we stayed at “Your Sedona Vacation Home” which was perfect because it had two master bedrooms! Jen, our host, was very responsive and checking in and out was super easy. We loved that she had a lock box outside so we could get the key and enter on our own. The home came complete with a very helpful guide created by Jen regarding information about the home and what to see and do in Sedona. We went out to eat to a yummy restaurant per her suggestion!
The home is a few blocks away from major grocery stores and restaurants, and we walked to the grocery store one morning to get food to cook for breakfast. The view from the back porch features Sedona’s red rocks and was a relaxing way to enjoy a morning coffee. If you stepped into the driveway, you could see another set of looming red rocks right over the road in the neighborhood as well! As with many things in Sedona, “Your Sedona Vacation Home” was surrounded by beautiful red rocks!
The home features four bedrooms and three bathrooms, including two master suites, and a full laundry room. This place is perfect if you are a group of friends or a family traveling together because everyone has their own privacy and there are great common areas, such as the living room and beautiful back porch, for when everyone wants to gather together. If you are planning on visiting Sedona, check out Jen’s place and don’t forget to use our code to get $40 off your Airbnb stay!
Day 4: Explore Sedona
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! We highly recommend driving to see the Church of the Holy Cross which is built into the red rocks and overlooks Sedona. It is stunning and an easy drive from downtown!
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.
Day 5: Sedona To Las Vegas
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. 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!
Don’t Forget To Pack These 5 Things For Your Arizona Road Trip
1: Sunscreen. Holy heck can Arizona get hot at times so packing sunscreen is a must for any Arizona itinerary. Even if it isn’t hot, the sun still beats down and you may get a burn! Play it safe and do not forget to pack sunscreen because you will be in the desert!
2: Reusable filtered water bottle. Save the earth and travel with a water bottle you can reuse. We love our Bobble water bottles because they cost under $7 and come with filters so we can drink clean water anywhere. They are perfect for hiking in Arizona or just road tripping in the Arizona heat.
3: Gopro. If you are looking for an easy way to capture great photos and videos during your road trip in Arizona, a GoPro should top your packing list. You can invest in a GoPro that is top of the line or stick with an older model like the GoPro Hero 3 which is what we travel with. GoPros are durable and waterproof and perfect to pack for an Arizona road trip. Whether you are planning an Arizona family vacation or taking an Arizona road trip with friends, you are going to want to capture precious memories!
4: Hat. We don’t care if you like baseball caps, sunhats, fedoras, whatever, you just need to make sure you pack a hat for your Arizona road trip! Stay safe and skin cancer free!
5: Daypack. For when you aren’t driving, you are going to want a small backpack or daypack to carry snacks, water, sunscreen, and anything else you may need when exploring. We love this daypack by Venturepal because it is lightweight and costs just $20!
What do you think about our Arizona road trip itinerary? Have you road tripped this great state? If so, what was your Arizona itinerary? What did you do and where did you go? Let us know in the comments!
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Please note, this post may contain affiliate links which means we may make a small profit from items you buy at completely no extra cost to you. This allows us to continue to run our website and provide you with content! Special thanks to Sixt Rent-A-Car for providing us with a rental for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed are our own.