Arizona locals know just how beautiful the landscapes are all across the state, but if you didn’t already know it was a tourist hub, you may not think to plan a trip there. There are so many exciting places to discover amongst an abundance of wide-open spaces and absolutely spectacular scenery, you’ll wonder how you’ve gone this long without visiting before.
A question you’ll be forced to answer is how you will get to all these sites. Road trips can be a fun and exciting way to travel, but they can also be stressful if they aren’t planned right. Make sure you’re making all the best decisions, starting with picking the right vehicle to get you from place to place.
Renting an RV is an excellent way to travel and save some money while doing it. You can grab yourself a camper van or motorhome and book campsites rather than booking pricey hotels or Airbnb’s. All your amenities will be covered and you can spend more time out in nature, enjoying the stunning landscapes. There are plenty of options available to suit a variety of needs, from small sleeper trailers to full-size fifth-wheel motorhomes.
If you’re visiting from out of state, you don’t have to worry about renting an RV close to home and driving in, unless that’s part of your road trip plan. If you would prefer to fly closer to your road trip starting point and pick up your RV from there, you can do that instead. Outdoorsy is a website where you can rent an RV in Tucson that’s perfect for your trip. Choose the camper that fits all your needs and budgetary restrictions and get ready to embark on a wonderfully diverse trip through the best sites Arizona has to offer.
Here are the top nine road trip destinations in Arizona that you just can’t miss.
1. The Grand Canyon
Without a doubt, the Grand Canyon is the top site to see when visiting Arizona. Plan for a roughly 3.5-hour drive from downtown Phoenix if you’re heading up from the capital city. Once there, you can follow Rim Road east towards the Watchtower, which is an area you can check out that has some of the best views of the Grand Canyon. If you time your visit right, you can watch the sunset over this natural wonder of the world.
2. Desert Botanical Garden
Located in central Phoenix near the Phoenix Zoo is the Desert Botanical Garden. If you have never seen the diversity of the desert with your own eyes, this is definitely a good place to stop for a visit. A springtime trip here is ideal since it’s the time of year when all of the cacti are in full bloom. Typically, people think cacti are thorny, ugly plants, but once you visit the garden, you will know better. Surrounded by the Sonoran Desert, the garden is beautifully kept and manicured, offering unique scenic views and remarkable plant exhibits.
3. Apache Junction
Travel photography and blog readers will probably recognize this site immediately since it is one of the most photographed areas in the entire state. Apache Junction is where the iconic Superstition Mountains are located and there is definitely no shortage of unbelievable views there. Hikers can check out the Lost Dutchman State Park to get some fantastic views of the city of Phoenix as well, so you get the best of nature and metropolis in one place.
4. Monument Valley
Another must-see destination for anyone looking for the perfect travel photos, Monument Valley is also a frequently-photographed area in Arizona. The recognizable road traveling down a vast expanse of desert leading towards the towering sandstone formations will definitely stand out to visitors. Those sandstone formations may appear massive from the road, but once you get closer you realize just how huge they really are, with some reaching heights at over one thousand feet. Those who are seeking out the perfect picture should try to visit well before sunset and wait for the exact right time because the sun dips quickly, making it tricky to get the timing right if you aren’t prepared.
History buffs and hipsters alike won’t want to miss a stop in Jerome. What was once the fourth largest town in Arizona is now a tiny dot on the map with a mere population of 450 people. It has evolved from an 1876 mining town to an eclectic artist community that’s actually quite trendy. It’s not too far from Sedona, but the drive is an experience in itself. The road into the town is impossibly steep and narrow, but once you make it in, the views are spectacular.
The city of Sedona has so much to offer, it would be a shame to pass by, especially if you’re an outdoor enthusiast. Enjoy hitting up the mountain bike trails, hiking through Oak Creek Canyon, or go for a water slide ride at Slide Rock State Park. There are lots of activities that everyone can enjoy here, not to mention how mesmerizing the scenery is.
7. Rawhide Western Town
Located in the city of Chandler, this theme park is (obviously) western-themed in order to take visitors back in time to when Arizona was part of the Wild West. The ambiance is pretty authentic and gives guests a good feel of what western life was like back in the day. Of course, no western theme park is complete without a mechanical bull, so why not try your hand while you’re there?
For an even more authentic trip back in time, head to Tombstone, the famous Wild West town. Tombstone is known for the gunfight at the O.K. Corral back in 1881. There are re-enactments there of course, but the real attraction is knowing you’re walking along the same streets that infamous Wild West legends walked. It’s a relatively short drive from Tucson, so if you’re in the area and are even vaguely interested in the history of the Wild West, this town is a must-visit.
9. Antelope Canyon
You’re likely to recognize a photo of Antelope Canyon, but most wouldn’t be able to tell you where it actually is located. If you’re visiting the Grand Canyon, you can easily stop by Lake Powell, which is at the mouth of the Grand Canyon. You can then find Antelope Canyon and even take a tour. For those looking to snap some epic photographs, try and time your tour so you get to the Canyon at around noon for the best light and most dramatic photos.