This 10-day Arizona road trip itinerary is one of the best road trips in the southwest of the United States. If you’re looking to travel through Arizona and see the Grand Canyon, Sedona, incredible desert landscapes, and additional national parks, this is for you!
This Arizona road trip is fantastic for anyone of all ages! It’s the perfect family-friendly vacation filled with sites for young kids and options for older teenagers, too.
There are plenty of hiking options at pretty much every stop throughout the itinerary. Each destination has hikes for any level of hiker from beginner to expert.
And for all of you non-hikers, don’t worry! There is so much more than just hiking on this adventure. From incredible national parks and stunning canyon views to fun destinations like ghost towns and old-west saloons, you’ll have the time of your lives road trippin around Arizona!
This road trip starts in Phoenix, Arizona, and is a round trip up to the Grand Canyon and back. The drive is around 650 miles. We provide multiple driving options to a few of the sights which will vary the driving mileage a little.
Because this is a road trip itinerary, driving will be frequent and sometimes long. We stayed at four different campsites during this trip, all of which must be reserved in advance. But it’s an exciting and adventurous ten days!
Drive: 58 miles, 1 hour
We had to pick up our RV in the morning, so we hit the road as soon as we could. This was the shortest drive in the entire route, so leaving early wasn’t crucial, but it depends on what time you want to arrive at the site.
Once we arrived at our site, we did set up and started checking out the area. We were close to the lake, so a trip down to see it was on the top of our list.
We chose Lake Pleasant because of its proximity to Phoenix. My husband still had some work to finish up in the city, which is why we stayed an extra day before heading up north.
There is plenty to keep you busy at Lake Pleasant, especially if you are going to utilize the lake. The hiking trails are a great way to see the desert area. Kayaking, boating, paddle boarding, fishing, and having fun on the water slide are all fun options during the summer. And if you don’t have your own equipment, you can rent from the site. The sunrises and sunsets are insanely gorgeous to catch – and a must-see while at the campsite. And we had fun carving our pumpkin one afternoon – our holiday craft.
Itinerary Modification Tip: Staying one day less at Lake Pleasant frees up an additional day that can be added in either Sedona, Flagstaff, or the Grand Canyon.
Drive: 135 miles, 3 hours
For our next change of scenery, we headed up north to Flagstaff with a stop in Sedona. Plan on leaving early in the morning to have enough time in Sedona.
There are plenty of hiking trails throughout the stunning Red Rock formations if hiking is your thing. Downtown Sedona is a great place to see art and specialty stores. And the drive through the area is just spectacular!
Flagstaff KOA was such a treat to stay at! With the gorgeous mountains of Flagstaff as a background, the campsite has a woodsy and rustic feel, but with all the amenities campers have come to enjoy. Kids playground, hot showers, full hookups, on-site convenience store, and more!
Downtown Flagstaff also has some great restaurants and stores if you want to check out the city, and there are ski resorts nearby for skiing and snowboarding.
Itinerary Modification Tip: If you want to spend more than one day in Sedona, this is a great place to add a day to – especially if you want to get out and hike more than one trail.
Drive: 30 minutes & 15-minute drives
We spent our fifth day exploring national parks in the Flagstaff area. Wupatki is just a 30-minute drive from the campsite, and Walnut Canyon is only 15 minutes away. We set out for Wupatki in the morning and on our way back, hit up Walnut Canyon. Both are incredible sites to explore with short hiking trails. Wupatki is a historical site made up of ancient pueblos and other archeological treasures of civilizations of the past to see. Walnut Canyon has two main trails: one along the rim and another that takes you down inside the canyon – perfect for beginner and more advanced levels of hiking.
Here is more information about all the Arizona National Parks visited on this trip.
Drive: 100 miles, 2 hours
Next, we headed further north to the glorious Grand Canyon. There are actually two routes you can take to the Grand Canyon – arriving from the east and arriving from the south. We chose to enter from the east side to see more of the Grand Canyon that isn’t included in the South Rim and exit from the Southside. The drive from the east entrance is a bit longer than the south, but you do see more of the canyon from that side.
We stayed at the Trailer Village RV Park inside the SouthRim. It was the most expensive site we camped at – but completely worth it! Full hookups, and we even woke up the next morning to SNOW! Such a magical sight!
The park offers FREE bus rides inside the South Rim that will take you to pretty much every viewpoint. The busses run past every lodge and campsite as well, making it a convenient way to explore the Grand Canyon.
We spent the entire day exploring the canyon, hiking the rim trails, and checking out all the incredible vistas. And of course, working on the Jr. Ranger program! And don’t forget to catch a sunset while you’re there – Hopi Point is the TOP spot to see sunsets in the Grand Canyon.
Itinerary Modification Tip: Staying an extra day at the Grand Canyon is a great option – especially if you plan on hiking down into the canyon or doing any additional activities like riding donkeys or a helicopter tour.
Drive: 254 miles, 4 ½ hours
Unfortunately, the trip must go on even though we could have spent an entire week at the Grand Canyon. This drive is the longest of the trip, so plan on getting up early to take off. Leaving through the south exit, be prepared to see lots of mule deer in the forest, and don’t forget to stop and take a picture at the Grand Canyon sign (if you didn’t already).
Montezuma Castle is a small national monument located at Camp Verde and a great stop to break up the long road trip back to Phoenix. Walk around the short, paved loop to view the 5-story cliff dwellings, have a picnic at the picnic area, and enjoy the nature around you. The hiking level is easy, suitable for anyone.
Nestled right outside of Phoenix in the Tonto National Forest with awesome desert views is the Usery Mountain campground. Our site had electric and water hookups with a dump station nearby. It was a great location – close to the city, but far enough that you didn’t feel it. We loved our stay at Usery.
Drive: 53 miles, 2 ½ hours
We spent our last full day taking a fun road trip through the Tonto Forest with stops at Goldfield Ghost town, Canyon Lake, and Tortilla Flat. This is a fantastic day trip with interchangeable stops, depending on what you’d like to see.
Our first stop was Goldfield Ghost Town, and it was seriously like walking onto a Clint Eastwood movie set – but real! This abandoned gold mine town has so much to see and do. Located just 4 miles from Apache Junction, there’s plenty to see. Hop on a train ride, take a zipline to see the surrounding mountains, learn about the mining days on a mine tour, and play in the shooting gallery. Mammoth Steakhouse & Saloon is one of THE COOLEST saloons we’ve ever seen – the ceiling is adorned with old cowboy hats & boots. Definitely, a fun place to eat!
Ever wonder what an actual oasis in the middle of the desert looks like? Meet Canyon Lake: a breath of fresh air (and water) in the middle of thousands of cacti. It was next on our trip, in between Goldfield Ghost Town and Tortilla Flat. There you can take boat rides, scuba dive, jet ski, wakeboard, or go swimming – lots of fun lake options! There are also hiking trails, camping options, and fishing on the lake.
Tortilla Flat is an old west town smack dab in the middle of the Tonto National Forest. It has quite the history – going all the way back to the early 1500s. But what it’s known for is being an outpost for settlers coming to the west in search of gold. There are only about 5-6 places to visit so why not hit them all? The one-room schoolhouse, mercantile & gift shop, country store, museum, and the famous saloon.
And don’t forget to write your name and date on a dollar bill and place it on the wall in the Saloon. Of course, we had to be a part of that fun tradition! (slides 5/6). Oh, and sit on the Saddle Bar Stools – so cool!
Day 10 meant it was the last day of our trip, so we had to pack up, return the RV, and head back home. We were only a 20-minute drive from Cruise America Headquarters in Mesa, so we didn’t have to get started too early in the morning. One last breakfast and hike around the area, and off we went.
This was such a wonderful trip and with lifelong memories!
We did this trip at the end of October and it was fantastic! Because Arizona summers are so hot, the best time is Fall, Winter, or Spring. Of course, you can also do it in summer, but be prepared for the sweltering heat of over 100°F.
We did see snow up at the Grand Canyon, which meant temperatures do drop tremendously at night during the winter months. But for the most part, the days are dry and nice.
This trip is easily modified by staying more or less days at each campground. If I could go back and change anything, I would stay one more day in Sedona and one less day at Lake Pleasant. Because of our work situation, we didn’t have a choice, but it would have been great to camp and spend more time in Sedona.
For this road trip, you’ll need to make reservations at these campgrounds:
Lake Pleasant Regional Park: 3 nights
Flagstaff KOA: 2 nights
Grand Canyon RV Village: 2 nights
Usery Mountain Regional Park: 2 nights
Here is more information about each site.
We rented an RV with Cruise America for our 10-day Arizona Road Trip. Because we are a family of three, The Compact Plus 21 ft. RV was small enough to fit in regular parking spaces but large enough to trek around in. It’s an ideal size for couples, a small family with one or two young kids, or single travelers.
You can also use your own camper, tent, or RV for this trip – all that is needed is to reserve campgrounds.
Total miles driven: 640 miles
Campsite costs: $376.50
National Park costs: $80 (annual pass)
Family Moments: PRICELESS
Download our FREE PDF 10-Day Arizona Road Trip Itinerary for even more tips, recommendations, and hidden gems. It comes with links to each site for making reservations as well as more information about the road trip.