When you’re road-tripping the Southwest, there’s no denying that you’re going to bump into your fair share of incredible landscapes, red and dusty hikes over jagged rock formations, some of the country’s (world’s?!) most spectacular scenery, and experiences that will take your breath away.
An Arizona road trip will give you a huge dose of the legendary spectacle this area of the USA offers, but deciding where to go won’t be an easy task! Your list will likely get longer before it gets shorter. Here are some of the most popular, most scenic, and most adventurous Arizona spots for you to check out.
Before you head off, I have a few more posts that will be crazy helpful for your road trip, be sure to check them out:
- Your Road Trip Essentials Packing List and Tips (+Printable Checklist!)
- How to Plan a USA Road Trip & Choosing a Vehicle
- 19 Mistakes to Avoid When on a Road Trip in the USA
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Arizona Road Trip
Below you’ll find some of the coolest and most adventurous places to visit in Arizona. You can do a few highlights in a week, get to know half of the state pretty well in a few weeks, but to see it all, you’ll likely need over a month!
It’s no secret the USA is massive, and to drive and enjoy even just one of the states can take quite a while. Always add on more time than you think, take your time, and perhaps try to focus on one region of Arizona if you don’t have a lot of time. You don’t want to spend half of your visit driving across the state!
Grand Canyon (Most Famous Arizona Road Trip Stop!)
The Grand Canyon is, without a doubt, Arizona’s most distinguished landmark, known by people from all over the globe. This natural wonder truly has to be seen in real life to take in its magnificence, stretching 277 miles from end to end.
When standing on the rim of this great crack in the earth, the canyon floor is around a mile below you, with the Colorado River carving its way through the rock. It just has to have a place on your Arizona road trip.
You will be spoilt for choice when it comes to camping at the Grand Canyon on your Arizona adventure. There is a huge range of campgrounds available, both big and small, offering a restful place to spend the night. Desert View Campground is located on the South Rim and is open during peak season on a first-come-first-served basis. Although there are no hookups available, its close proximity to the canyon means you can be up and out in the morning to see the beauty without the crowds.
Trailer Village is also located on the South Rim and is open all year round. There are RV sites with hookups available, and you can reserve your spot.
If you are exploring the North Rim, then you could give the North Rim Campground a go. Open in peak season, this primitive campground is a great place to stay and have easy access to the trails. For those looking for a bit more of an adventurous experience, backcountry camping is available as long as you have a permit.
Rim to Rim: (22.7 miles – hard) – If you are up for a challenge, take the Rim to Rim Trail. It is one of the longest in the park and usually takes between 5-7 days to complete. It is a very strenuous hike, as you’ll descend 14.3 miles and 6,000 feet from the North Rim to the very bottom of the canyon before heading back up again, climbing 9.5 miles and 4,500 feet up to the South Rim.
Cape Royal Viewpoint: (1 mile – easy) – There is only a short hike to this impressive viewpoint. From the parking lot, follow the trail for a short distance and the canyon will open up before you, with sweeping views from the North rim. This jutting peninsula is likely the most sweeping of any Grand Canyon vista.
Bright Angel Trail: (18.4 miles – hard) – The Bright Angel Trail is one of the most well-known trails at the Grand Canyon. It is long and will take two days to complete, one to reach the bottom of the canyon, and one for heading back up. You’ll hike through the lush green strip of Garden Creek before you reach the Inner Gorge.
One of the most challenging parts of this hike is the Devil’s Corkscrew, a challenging set of switchbacks. The hike ends with excitement as you cross the narrow Bright Angel Suspension Bridge.
South Kaibab Trail: (6 miles – hard) – This trail will take you atop the narrow Cedar Ridge, offering fantastic views of the canyon. The trail descends down to Skeleton Point, where you’ll be able to get a glimpse of the Colorado River down below. You’ll also cross the narrow Kaibab Suspension Bridge and visit other landmarks and exciting obstacles, making it an excellent hike.
Rafting: An adrenaline-fuelled and unique was to take in this natural wonder is by rafting the Colorado River. There are trips offered for a few hours, the whole day, or even longer if you are really up for an adventure. You’ll traverse white water with a knowledgeable guide, and although you may get pretty wet, it will be an activity you won’t be forgetting in a hurry.
If you want a bit of a calmer ride but are still up for hitting the water, then there are smooth water trips offered from Glen Canyon Dam to Lees Ferry, so you can soak in the sights at a more leisurely pace.
Helicopter: Fancy getting a bird’s eye view of one of the most spectacular sights on earth? It is no wonder that so many tour companies offer helicopter sightseeing trips to this natural phenomenon. You’ll rise up into the sky and, in no time, be soaring through the skies above the canyon. It may be a little scary, but there is no better way to take in this view.
Scenic Drive: The Desert View Drive is one of the best ways to take in the spectacular sight that is the Grand Canyon. At 25 miles in length, there is ample opportunity to take in the views, and many even have a few photos stops along the way. No matter what time of year you visit, the sight of the canyon as you drive along will take your breath away.
Cycling: Cycling is a great way to experience the Grand Canyon. On the South Rim, you can enjoy 13 miles of roads and Greenway trails that offer an exciting way to explore the rim. A great cycling trail is the Hermit Road, which follows the rim for 7 miles. The North Rim also has some cycling trails such as the 12 mile Arizona Trail, which heads through the forest.
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Coconino National Forest
Welcome to one of the most diverse National Forests in the country. You will be able to experience the famous red rocks of Arizona one day, followed by rich Ponderosa pine forests the next, interspersed with alpine tundra and sandy desert.
Cool off in the small lakes and streams, climb mountains and explore canyons; There is a lot to see in Coconino.
One of the most visited areas in the forest is Sedona. A visit to Sedona will give you a true welcome to Red Rock Country. It is one of the most scenic areas in Arizona. Here you’ll also find huge canyons, evergreen forests, and some amazing views, all centered around the small town of Sedona.
There are over 20 RV campgrounds in the forest, all of which have a range of amenities to make your stay comfortable. There are campgrounds in all areas of the forest, such as near Flagstaff and nearer Sedona, so you won’t have a problem staying near to where you want to explore.
For those who don’t want to camp, here are other nearby stays in Sedona.
Soldier Pass Trail: (4.1 miles – moderate) – The further you go along this hike, the better the views get. If you’re up for a little bit of a challenge, hike up to the caves in the rock or take a scramble down to the river. There are some fascinating rock formations along the way, such as the sinkhole and the seven pools.
Cathedral Rock: (1.5 miles – hard) The popular hike up Cathedral Rock offers great views of Bell Rock, Courthouse Butte, and the colorful Mogollon Rim. The trail itself runs up the east side of the rock, with some sections being quite steep and tricky. It is quite short and has an elevation gain of around 550 feet, so you might have to stop to get your breath back.
Devil’s Bridge Trail: (4.2 miles – moderate) – To see one of the most remarkable sights in the area, take the out and back Devil’s Bridge Trail. Although relatively short, the hike up to this huge, sandstone arch is very steep, making the views when you reach the top all the more rewarding.
At first, you’ll reach the base of the bridge with it towering above you, and from there, you can continue up a natural rock staircase to be greeted by incredible views of the surrounding forest.
Doe Mountain Trail: (1.5 miles – moderate) The out and back hike of Doe Mountain is popular due to the fact that the ascent to the top of the Mesa is quite gradual, and when you reach the top, the trail is flat, running from one side of the Mesa to the other. From the top, you’ll easily be able to spot some of the area’s most well-known landmarks.
Fay Canyon: (2.6 miles – moderate) The Fay Canyon hike is considered easy, taking you through one of the most scenic areas of Sedona. You’ll walk below cliffs and hanging gardens, ending at a towering rock formation. As you head along the bottom of Fay Canyon, you’ll notice and distinct cooler temperature than the canyon above.
This is a great, family-friendly hike as much of it is flat and shaded. About halfway up the trail, you’ll pass the Fay Canyon Arch, and the rest of the way, you’ll be surrounded by the towering walls of the canyon.
Boating: Hop on a boat and head out onto the water at Coconino National Forest. There are endless ways to explore this landscape via the water, with one of the most popular spots being the Flagstaff Lakes. In this region, you are able to go boating, swimming, waterskiing, and windsurfing.
Climbing: There are some great areas for bouldering and climbing within the park, ranging from rocky scrambles to full-on cliff hikes. One of the best areas is the Priest Draw Trail and Bouldering Area, a picturesque canyon with low limestone walls, and plenty of walls with overhangs to challenge climbers.
Jeep Tour: A Jeep tour offers an exciting and different way to explore the area. All excursions offer an unforgettable backcountry tour with knowledgeable and local guides. Tours range from gentle sightseeing to extreme off-roading adventures, where you can get up close to the giant red rock spires, and some of the area’s most iconic rock formations.
Skiing: In the colder months, the forest turns into a great place for skiing and other winter sports. Usually, the higher ground receives enough snow to support skiing, snowshoeing, and more, such as at the Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort. Take to the slopes and see Arizona in a way you have never seen before.
Scenic Drives: There are so many scenic drives in the forest you will be spoilt for choice. This is a great way to cover a lot of ground, stopping when you see interesting sights or if you want to stretch your legs for a while.
The Around the Peaks Loop takes you all around Arizona’s highest mountain, winding through a land of pine forests and aspen groves with plenty of places to stop for a picnic. Another great option is the Volcanoes and Ruins Loop, passing through the most recently active portion of the San Francisco volcano field, which is pretty cool to see.
Cycling: There are some incredible mountain biking routes that make for a very exciting ride. It doesn’t matter if you are just starting out or if you are a hardcore cyclist, there are routes for everyone. There is incredible scenery on every trail and plenty of year-round riding opportunities. Beginners should start out at Bell Rock, then when ready, move on to trails like Deadman’s Flat.
If you feel as though you are ready for something a little more advanced, then give Chuckwagon or Llama Trail a go. If you are really advanced, then the Hiline Trail offers some more challenging terrain.
ATV: What better way to explore the red rocks of the region than on an ATV? You are in complete control, so you can go as fast or slow as you like either with a rental or on one of the many guided tours. Vehicles range from 2 to 6 seaters, so the whole family could take part.
The red buttes of Monument Valley are an American icon, known by people all over the world. Therefore, no trip to Arizona would be complete without seeing this natural wonder.
Vast and sunbaked, this is an incredible place to explore, with endless ways to see the dramatic landscape.
There are a few different campgrounds in the Monument Valley Area. One of the most popular campgrounds is The View Campground, which has a number of amenities to make your stay easy and comfortable. Other campgrounds include Holiday Tribal Park and Goulding’s Campground.
Wildcat Trail: (3.9 miles – moderate) – If there is only one trail you complete in the tribal park, make sure it is this one. It will take you to some of the most famous rock buttes in the valley, plus it can be hiked without a guide. The relatively flat hike will take you around West Mitten Butte, and the opportunity to get so close to such a well-known rock formation is incredible.
Scenic Drive: Undoubtedly, one of the very best ways to see the huge landscape of Monument Valley, as many of the dramatic rock formations are located quite a distance from each other. Scenic Byway 163 travels northeast through the valley and takes in some of the biggest and best buttes.
OHV: See the sights of the park on an off-highway vehicle and take in the views in a fun and fast way. There are a few trails in the park that cater to OHV riding, such as the Monument Valley OHV Loop, at a short but scenic 8.2km.
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Antelope Canyon (a Popular Stop on an Arizona Road Trip!)
Antelope Canyon is one of the most photographed canyons in America, if not the world, and an unmissable stop on your Arizona road trip. The narrow, colorful rock that lines the walls of the canyon looks incredible no matter the time of day you visit, with the water carved curves creating an otherworldly landscape.
The canyon is located near the town of Page in northern Arizona and is very easily accessible for an Arizona adventure. It is in the Najavo Reservation. In order to see the iconic light beams jutting through the rock in the upper canyon, the best time to visit is around the middle of the day.
The Upper Canyon is the most famous as it is where the light beams occur. The lower canyon is less visited, but prices for tours tend to be a lot cheaper. It is longer and wider than the upper canyon, but still pretty spectacular.
Because the canyon is so popular, the only way to see it is with a Navajo Tour Guide, so it is always best that you book in advance, as you don’t want to miss out on seeing this incredible slice of Arizona.
And just down the road, you’ll have to hike the short, but well worth it, Horseshoe Bend Trail. The path is downhill on the way there and uphill on the way back, and it is a must-do for anyone who wants to tick the incredible Horseshoe Bend off their Arizona adventure bucket list.
The Glen Canyon Recreation Area is huge, in fact, it is so huge that it spans two states, with half of it in neighboring Utah. Overall it covers 1.25 million acres, meaning there are plenty of outdoor adventures just waiting to be uncovered.
There are endless opportunities for water-based activities, hikes, and scenic viewpoints.
There are many places to go camping in and around the Glen Canyon Area. Some of the most popular campgrounds include the Lees Ferry Campground, Bullfrog Campground, and Wahweap. If you don’t fancy staying in a developed campground on your Arizona adventures, then there is also the option for some more primitive camping right on the shores of Lake Powell.
Cathedral Wash Trail: (3.3 miles – hard) – This trail is rated as difficult mostly due to the fact that you’ll head down a narrow slot canyon, which can be very exciting. The downward climbs can feel pretty extreme, and you’ll have to use your climbing skills to scramble down through the high walls of the canyon, and as you reach the end, the hike opens up onto the Colorado River in the Marble Canyon.
Hanging Garden Trail: (1.2 miles – easy) – The Hanging Garden Trail is great for less experienced hikers, giving you the chance to get your toes in the sand and experience some desert scenes and the beautiful Lake Powell. You’ll also see the hanging gardens which is picturesque and surprising to see in such an arid, desert environment.
Old Navajo Bridge: (0.3 miles – easy) – You’ll get a lot of bang for your buck with this hike. The walk to the bridge will reward you with views of the Colorado River, Marble Canyon, and the Vermilion Cliffs. The bridge itself is the highlight here, towering 467 feet over the canyon floor, which can be a little scary!
Skylight Arch: (2 miles – easy) – Take this hike if you want to see a truly wonderful feat of nature. At the end fo the short hike, you’ll find the Skylight Arch, easy to see from the viewpoint. The trail itself is beautiful, leading out towards Lake Powell.
Boat Tour: Because Lake Powell is so huge, there are many different boat tours to choose from that allow you to see different aspects of the lake and surrounding rock formations. One of the most exciting tours is the Antelope Canyon boat tour.
This experience is very different from the usual images you would likely have seen of Antelope Canyon, as this part is filled with water, yet still has the tall walls the canyon is known for.
Kayaking and Paddleboarding: See the canyon from a different angle while having fun on a kayak or paddleboard. These smaller boats offer a great chance to get up close to the shores and explore hidden coves. If you don’t have your own boat or board with you on your Arizona road trip, there are plenty of places to rent one from around the shore.
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Canyon de Chelly National Monument
The Canyon de Chelly National Monument is a truly one of a kind landscape. Home of the Navajo people, it really is an incredible place, offering a rich history and endless outdoor recreation opportunities. The colorful, sheer cliffs in the monument have supported human life for thousands of years, and are filled with twisting streams and rich vegetation.
Cottonwood Campground is the go-to campground when it comes to camping at Canyon de Chelly on an Arizona road trip. Although it is run on a first-come, first-served basis, it has 93 campsites available, so you should be able to get a spot.
The one public hiking trail at the canyon can be found at the White House Overlook. The hike will take you down about 600 feet into the canyon via a series of switchbacks to the Whitehouse Ruin, which is a fascinating little stop.
Self-Guided Drive: There are two incredible self-guided drives within the monument that start at the visitor center and then head around the rims of the canyon. Take the South rim drive all the way to the Spider Rock overlook, where you’ll get a clear view of some of the park’s well known geological features.
Cycling: One of the most thrilling bike rides within the park is the 130-mile loop road around the canyon, which allows you to get a bird’s eye view of the bottom of the canyon.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area
As America’s first and largest national recreation area, you can find plenty to do in this part of Arizona. Swim, cycle, kayak, hike, and camp – the opportunities to add on to your Arizona adventures are endless.
This natural playground spreads across 1.5 million acres of canyons, valleys, lakes, and mountains. The two main bodies of water are Lake Mead and Lake Mohave, with one of the most visited sights in the area being the vast Hoover Dam.
There are many different campsites in the Lake Mead area to make your stay easy and hassle-free. All of these campgrounds offer restrooms, running water, grills, and picnic tables, and cater for both tents and RVs. If you prefer being a little off-grid, then there are also many options when it comes to backcountry camping.
One of the best ways to explore the diverse ecosystem around the lake is on foot. Canyons and washes are everywhere, presenting a challenge to even the most experienced of hiker.
Historic Railroad Trail: (8.2 miles – easy) – This historic Railroad Trail consists of a gavel path taking you through five large tunnels all the way to the Hoover Dam. Along the way, you’ll get panoramic views of Boulder Basin, which looks incredible no matter the time of day you visit.
River Mountains: (4.9 miles moderate) – If you are up for a serious hike, then the River Mountains trail is for you. It will take you uphill, with a bit of a scramble at the end, to be rewarded with incredible views of Lake Mead.
White Owl Canyon: (3.6 miles – moderate) – As the water level has lowered in Lake Mead, a number of twisting canyons have been revealed. This canyon got its name from the owls that actually live in the slot canyon, so keep an eye out for these as you hike through the maze of rock on this exciting route.
North Shore: (0.6 miles – moderate) – A bit more of a scramble than a hike, this is a short trip up the bluffs at the shores of the lake. Once you reach the top of the cliffs, you will be greeted with views of the Muddy Mountains, and the flaming red rocks of the Bowl of Fire.
St. Thomas: (2 miles – moderate) – When Lake Mead was first filled in the 1930s, the town of St. Thomas was flooded. Today, you can hike the original roads of the old settlement to get a better insight as to what was once in the area many years ago.
Scuba Diving: Lake Mead is often considered one of the best freshwater lakes in the world for scuba diving. There are varying depths and plenty of submerged sites, with dives for both novice and technical divers. Some of the most popular dive sites include Kingman Walsh, Cathedral Cove, and Ringbolt Rapids.
Canoeing and Kayaking: Although canoeing and kayaking are some of the most popular ways to navigate the waters of the lake, it is by no means the only way. Sailing, rafting, jet skiing, and paddleboarding are all great ways to get around, with rentals available at the marinas if you don’t have your own. With 290 square miles of water to navigate, you can choose to relax in a quiet cove or head out into open water.
Scenic Drives: The area around Lake Mead is vast, therefore one of the best ways to cover a lot of ground is to enjoy one of the many leisurely drives. There are many paved roads that wind their way through the mountains, lakeshores, and desert canyons.
The Lakeshore Road follows along the south shore of Boulder Basin, with a number of scenic picnic areas along the way. The North Shore Road will take you through incredible areas of red boulders and rock formations.
Biking: Hop on your bike and enjoy exploring the area at a faster pace than hiking. You are able to cycle on any of the roads in the park, plus on the many routes that are designated for bicycle use.
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Petrified Forest National Park
For those looking for incredible, otherworldly landscapes, look no further than the Petrified Forest National Park. The park is located in the corner of the Painted Desert and draws visitors who are hoping to see some of the colorful, petrified wood that the area is known for.
The 346 square miles of the park opens a window to the past, as you’ll be able to see elements of an environment from more than 200 million years old.
There is no camping directly in the park, however backcountry camping is available as long as you have a permit and camp in a designated zone. This can be a thrilling way to experience the beauty and stillness of the park away from the crowds.
Painted Desert Rim Trail: (1.1 miles – easy) – This is a short and sweet hike that winds through the woodland along the rim, with some incredible views of the painted desert along the way. There is also a good chance of spotting some of the local wildlife in the woodland, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled.
Blue Mesa Trail: (0.9 miles – easy) – The Blue Mesa Trail is a mostly paved loop trail making it pretty easy for people of all hiking levels. This is a great way to experience the badland hills and petrified wood in the area.
Crystal Forest: (0.9 miles -easy) – The Crystal Forest Trail is very short and worth exploring due to the sparkling crystals that can be found within the petrified wood. This is one of the best trails to see some of the Petrified Forest that the park is named after.
Agate House: (2 miles – easy) – Take the Agate Trail to be lead to a small pueblo, which is believed to have been occupied 700 years ago. The first part of the trail is paved, but then the going gets a little harsher and rocky towards the end.
Scenic Drive: Take the 28-mile scenic drive through the park to see some of the most spectacular viewpoints. There are plenty of designated pull-outs and parking areas along the route so you can get those perfect photos of the colorful rock, and stretch your legs on one of the trails.
Guided Tours: Sure, it is great to have the freedom to go out and explore by yourself, but sometimes it is also worth joining a guided tour. The park offers a number of tours and talks with experienced rangers who will tell you all you need to know about the park’s history and some of the natural phenomena that can be found here.
Cycling: Cycling is permitted on all paved roads within the park and offers a great way to explore if you don’t want to be stuck in your car. Part of some of the trails are also open for bikes, for those looking for a little tougher terrain to conquer.
Saguaro National Park
This lesser-known national park is a great way to truly experience the desert landscape of the region when on an Arizona road trip. The park gets its name from the impressive Saguaro cacti that dot the landscape. It is split into two distinct sections, the east, and the west, which sit on either side of the city of Tucson.
The Rincon Mountain District is to the east and rises up 8000 feet, containing over 128 miles of trails, and Tucson Mountain is to the west, which is lower and made up of much denser forest.
There are no campgrounds in Saguaro that are accessible with a vehicle, but there are places to go backcountry camping in the east section only. The best place to stay around this area with a vehicle is near the city of Tucson. Tucson’s Mountain Park is the closest to the national park, about 4 miles from the Red Hills Visitors Center. There Are 130 RV campsites here that are offered on a first-come-first-served basis.
Freeman Homestead Trail: (1.1 miles – easy) – This trail is short and sweet, taking you down to the sites of an old homestead foundation and a cool desert wash. There are plenty of interpretive signs so you can find out more about what you are looking at.
Loma Verde Loop: (3.7 miles – moderate) – The Loma Verde Loop takes you up a little in elevation to an overlook of an incredible cactus forest and Tanque Verde Ridge. This relatively easy trail offers a great insight into the surrounding landscape without being too strenuous.
Garwood Dam: (6.5 miles – easy) – This is one of the longer hikes in the area, but it is also one of the most exciting routes. Along the way, you will pass the Garwood Dam before heading up a series of switchbacks to stand on a ridge of the mountain foothills. The views here are incredible.
King Canyon: (2.2 miles – moderate) – The King Canyon hike will take you up the sandy wash between the rocky walls of King Canyon. This is a fun hike with varying terrain, such as rocky stair-like sections, which will help you climb the 380-foot elevation change.
Desert Discovery Nature Trail: (0.4 miles – easy) – This is a great family-friendly trail and is very easy to navigate even for kids or those that are not used to hiking. There are lots of interpretive signs about the Saguaro cactus which are excellent for all ages, and it is completely paved with a few shady benches. It is the perfect place to drink in the desert landscape.
Wassan Peak: (7 miles – moderate) – For those that are up for a bit of a challenge, take the hike up to Wassan Peak. Although it is pretty tough, it will give you 360-degree views once you reach the peak of the whole park.
Scenic Drives: There are two main scenic drives within the park. The route in the east section is a paved 8 mile, one-way loop, with many picnic areas along the way. It is known as the Cactus Forest Drive and offers a close up look at some Sonoran Desert life.
The drive to the west is known as the Bajada Loop Drive, with a graded dirt road. The loop itself is 6 miles long, but there are several options for added trips you can take along the way.
Havasu Falls is a major destination for serious hikers. These beautiful blue falls cascade over 100 ft and are located in the Havasupai Indian Reservation. It is a 10-mile hike each way to the falls, so it is really only for experienced hikers, but hikers will be rewarded with incredible views of the sparkling pools at the base of the falls.
Sunset Crater Volcanic Monument
Sunset Crater Volcanic Monument and the surrounding area is dotted with cinder cones and long hardened lava flows. These landmarks highlight the region’s explosive past that has shaped the landscape into what it is today.
The cinder cone is about a mile at its base, with a 300-foot deep crater at its peak. Although Sunset Crater is the highlight, over 600 volcanoes pepper the area, with a landscape reminiscent of a moonscape.
While there is no camping actually in the park, there are a few nearby options that will give you easy access to the area when on an Arizona road trip. The Bonito Campground is operated by the US Forest Service and is located just across from the Visitor Center.
Lava Flow Trail: (0.8 miles – easy) – If you are short on time or just want a quick glance at this volcanic landscape, the Lava Flow Trail is perfect. The paved loop route will allow you to see some great geological rock formations as you walk through the lava fields that have been unchanged for thousands of years.
Lenox Trail: (1.1 miles – moderate) – This trail is one of the best if you are looking to get a view of Sunset Crater itself. You’ll also get an incredible view of the Bonita lava flow, Elden Mountain, and Humphrey’s Peak. The interpretative signs placed at the top of the hike will help you learn a little more about the geological wonderland of this part of Arizona.
Although short, it is rated as moderate as it is quite a climb up to the main viewpoint, but is shaded when you are in the Ponderosa Pine part of the hike.
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument Hikes
Bull Pasture Trail: (6.3km – moderate) – As soon as you hit this trail, the full beauty of the park will open up before you. Bright wildflowers, the organ pipe cactus, endless red rock, and canyon views. The great thing is, you’ll likely have a lot of this trail to yourself.
Arch Canyon: (2.4 miles – hard) – Although only short, the Arch Canyon trail is pretty strenuous due to the climb all the way to the top of the canyon. After a fun scramble, the view will fully open up before you, making the climb completely worth it.
Desert View Trail: (1.1 miles – easy) – As the name suggests, this short and sweet trail allows you to get up close and personal to some of the desert flora and fauna. The many interpretive signs along the way will give you an insight into how some of these natural resources were used by the Sonoran people. You’ll have some incredible mountain landscapes along the way and be able to get up close to a huge range of cacti.
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
The stunning Vermilion cliffs are known for their colorful swirls of twisting Slickrock. The National Monument is filled with some incredible rock formations such as White Pockets, The Wave, and Buckskin Gulch, the longest slot canyon in the world.
The monument covers 280,000 acres, with the Paria Rover cutting across the Northeast corner of the monument in Paria Canyon, an incredible and sinuous slot canyon. In fact, this geological wonder is so big, it is three times the size of Las Vegas.
Most people visiting the monument will focus their attention on the northeast corner in the area of the Coyote Buttes, as this is where the most famous landmarks are located. You’ll need some advanced planning to visit these incredible landmarks as permits are needed, and there is only a limited number available.
Although there are no campsites in the monument, there are two well-developed campgrounds just outside—Stateline Campground and White House Campground.
The Wave Trail: (6.3 miles – moderate) – If you are lucky enough to get a permit for The Wave, you are in for the hike of your life. What makes getting to the wave pretty difficult is the fact that you’ll be hiking up the cliff, and some of the terrain is sandy, making it harder to get a foothold. There is spectacular scenery from start to finish making this a truly bucket list hike.
White Pocket: (1.5 miles – easy) – Although a shorter hike, there is still an incredible number of rock formations to be seen on this hike to the White Pocket region of the park. The hike is partly in the sand, which can be pretty tough going.
The rocks in this area look almost like frozen lava flow, and just be aware the drive to the hike is through deep sand. When you get there, it will feel as though you are walking on a different planet.
Coyote Buttes: (24.9 miles – moderate) – Although a permit must be obtained, Coyote Buttes Trail is well worth putting your name into the lottery for. You don’t have to go the full distance to see some of the incredible rock formations that help to make the area so famous.
You’ll be able to see formations such as the half and half rock, the southern wave, and the control tower. The butte formations are extensive, and it would take days to see the extent of what the area has to offer.
I hope this post helped you plan an epic Arizona road trip. Which one of these places are you most excited to visit? Let me know in the comments below!
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Nina Ragusa is an adventurer, messy bun master, breakfast fan, and full-time travel blogger. She’s been abroad and epically failing at the American Dream since 2011. Her sassy yet informative blog, Where in the World is Nina? is all about how to work abroad to live a more adventurous life. If you want to travel longer you have to work to wander.