15 Amazing Arizona Day Trips

The Top Arizona Day Trips

Best Ideas for Arizona Day Trips

The Grand Canyon State has some amazing sites to see.  That’s why I have put together this list of ideas for Arizona Day trips as a great way to explore more of Arizona.

Amazing Sunset Vista of Horseshoe Bend in Page, Arizona

These Arizona day trips are the best day trips you can take from any major city in Arizona.  I recommend going on an Arizona Road Trip if you have the time but these short trips are a great way to start.

day trips arizona

You can also use these ideas as weekend road trips from Phoenix.  Whether you decide on a day trip or want to take one of these weekend trips from Phoenix there is plenty to choose from!

 

Arizona Day Trips you won’t want to miss!

Grand Canyon is one of the best Arizona Day Trips

This huge canyon is one of the top national treasures and wonders of America. It has hiking, rafting, helicopter tours, camping and horseback trails.

If you are just going to experience the beauty and wonder of the Grand Canyon this can be one of the best ideas for day trips from Phoenix. The South Rim of the Canyon is open 24hrs and that is year round. It has multiple restaurants, places to get groceries (probably for those camping or in the lodging), you can rent a bike, there are several museums and visitors centers. They even have medical care and child care available.

The North Rim of the park is open from May 15th through October 15th of each year, the limited season is because the area is harder to get to and is a bit difficult to be traveled on. It also has restaurants, shopping and lodging available. If you want to visit this part of the park definitely be prepared prior to going.

You have to remember that being able to go to the Grand Canyon is a huge experience for people all over the world, so don’t be surprised if a lot of people are visiting when you go. The best times to visit the Grand Canyon for milder weather and less tourist congestion is between March to May and September to November.

The Grand Canyon is 3hrs and 24 minutes northeast of Phoenix

Driving Distance: 224 miles.

Cibecue Falls

Cibecue Falls has to be Arizona’s best kept secret.  This is an amazing Arizona waterfall and the hike on its own is fantastic but once you get to the waterfall you will see what I mean!

hikes in arizona with waterfalls

The hike to Cibecue Falls is 4 miles long and rated moderate in difficulty.  You gain over 220 feet in elevation on this hike.you’ll need to go to the Cibecue Creek Falls Trailhead in Gila County, Arizona.

Permits cost $30 and can be bought online.  You will need to log in to purchase and this will also give you access to Apache Falls.  There is a dirt road leading to the trailhead, which is found along the Salt River Canyon area.

Some say this waterfall in Arizona is a miniature Havasu Falls.  The waterfall is over 40 feet tall and falls into a pool of emerald water and of course, there are the red rocks of the American Southwest surrounding the falls.

This is one of the best Arizona waterfalls that is not well known yet.  Get there soon before the crowds!

Location: near Globe, Arizona in the Salt River Canyon

Length: The hike is 4 miles long

Antelope Canyon, Page Arizona

Antelope Canyon is the most popular slot canyon in Arizona.  You can visit either Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon but make sure you purchase your tickets months in advance as they do sell out at this popular attraction.

Upper Antelope Canyon is easier to access as there are no stairs.  It is also less crowded but you do not get to see the light beams in the canyon.

Lower Antelope Canyon has the light beams but you need to climb up and down ladders to access the canyon.

Both are beautiful and there is a small price difference between the two.  Access to the canyons is restricted to guided tours only.

Location: Page, Arizona
Distance: 90-minute tours
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Tuscon is a short day trip from Phoenix

With Tuscon being so close to Phoenix it makes it a great day trip. The great thing about Tuscan is even though it’s a modern city it’s still a great throwback to the history of Arizona.

Tuscon is built within the Sonoran Desert and the landscape has many natural cacti, mountain ranges and hiking trails. Tuscon has several national parks on the Eastside there is Under Canvas which can give people a glamping experience on 60,000 acres of ranch land.

There is Saguaro National Park on the Westside which gives you the chance to hike trails and see wild life like coyote, Gambel’s quail, and desert tortoise.

Tuscon is also 60 miles from the U.S./Mexico border in Nogales, AZ.  Tuscon has a bit of something for everyone. If you are looking for history there is the Historic Anza Trail, that the Spanish took to colonize California.

If you are looking for art, Tuscon has museums, performing arts and tons of local talented artists. If you want to have a bit of adult fun there is the Casino Del Sol Resort.

Tuscon is 1hr and 41 minutes southeast of Phoenix

Driving Distance: 113.2 miles.

Paria Canyon, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument

This area is known for its beauty, the Paria Canyon has towering walls streaked with different colors, sandstone arches, wooded terraces, and hanging gardens.

 

The 3,000-foot escarpment known as the Vermilion Cliffs dominates this area.  While ‘the Wave’ is the prominent attraction in this area, Paria Canyon is worth the visit but it is a lot more desolate than other canyons.

Location: Page, Arizona
Distance: 10 miles
Hiking Difficulty: Difficult

Montezuma Castle

The Montezuma Castle is part of the national parks of America and has been since 1906. The structure is said to be over 800 years old and has 20 rooms that exist inside of it.

This national monument was once the home of the Sinagua tribe who lived in Arizona from around the year 500 to around 1425. They have many beautiful pueblo dwellings across the state of Arizona.

This is an experience that you could enjoy within an hour or so. There is a gift shop on site, trails to hike up to the castle and park staff to answer any questions that you may have. Montezuma Castle could be the perfect place for a historic moment with the kids, a great set of selfies or nature pictures and definitely a peaceful place to just stop and be in awe.

You can read more about Native American Ruins in Arizona on my site.

Montezuma Castle is 1hr and 28 minutes northeast of Phoenix

Driving Distance: 94.4 miles.

Grand Falls

Grand Falls is 180 feet tall and located near Flagstaff.  It is part of the Navajo Nation and to get to the waterfalls you must do some off roading.

 best waterfalls in arizona

You will need to get a permit from the Navajo Nation before you visit.  One interesting thing about this water fall is the color of the water – it looks like chocolate milk!

The muddy waters of Grand Falls makes it look like chocolate falling over the falls into the Colorado River below.

Location: near Flagstaff, Arizona

Length: The hike is 1 mile round trip

Lake Powell is one of the best weekend trips from Phoenix

Lake Powell is in both Arizona and Utah, it covers around 2,000 miles of land between the two states. This is a beautiful place for boat tours, camping, hiking, fishing, jet skiing and so much more.

North Lake Powell is the portion that is in Utah and South Lake Powell is the part that is in Arizona. Either part of Lake Powell that you are on you will get to enjoy beautiful marinas, canyons, and bays. You’ll even find the Rainbow Bridge which is one of the world’s largest natural bridges.

There are also plenty of places to shop, eat and of course swim. Lake Powell is a great place to enjoy a relaxing trip along the shore, to enjoy beautiful nature up close and personal and even get in some golfing at an 18-hole championship facility.

Lake Powell is 7hrs and 48 minutes northeast of Phoenix

Driving Distance: 344.1 miles

Antelope Canyon

You will find Antelope Canyon in Page, AZ and you need to know that this is an experience that you can not just do alone or with your friends. Antelope Canyon is only allowed to be visited when you are part of a guided tour with a professional guide.

arizona slot canyons

There is something that happens in this canyon that everyone wants to see which is the ‘Beam of Light’ which is a shaft of light that peaks through the canyon and they can be seen on the 11:30 tours which occur in April to September. The beams of light are visible on clear, sunny days.

Be aware that if you are going to Antelope Canyon there are many tight spaces and you’ll want to consult the Antelope Canyon website to find out what you can and can not bring for your tour. This experience can all be done within 2 hours but you definitely need a reservation prior to going.

Antelope Canyon is 4hrs and 21 minutes northeast of Phoenix

Driving Distance: 276.7 miles.

Horseshoe Bend

In Page, AZ not far from Antelope Canyon. It is a horseshoe shaped bend in the Colorado River that is surrounded by a mountain range.

If you are visiting the Horseshoe Bend you don’t need a guided tour but you will need hiking or very good walking shoes because it is at least a mile each way to and from the area. It is said the best time to view the bed is between 10am and noon.

If you want to experience the Horseshoe Bend from the river there are rafts and boat experiences that are possible along the Colorado River. If you just want to have the from the top view of Horseshoe Bend then it may take you around a half an hour walk and whatever time you spend at the viewpoint. This is definitely a quick but beautiful experience.

You can check out my post on hiking Horseshoe Bend.

Horseshoe Bend is 4hrs and 15 minutes northeast of Phoenix

Driving Distance: 273.8 miles.

Sedona is one of the best day trips in Arizona

Sedona is known as a very spiritual place with four different spiritual vortexes. Sedona is also known for being very peaceful which makes one of the worthwhile day trips from Phoenix.

If you are looking for a great outdoor experience then the Red Rock State Park where you can hike or bike the 5 miles of trails. If you want a spiritual experience there are spiritual tours, retreats, spas, wellness and healers in the Sedona area. There are also several different wineries to have another kind of relaxing experience.

Visit Sedona to have a spiritual, nature blessed, artistic and just different than the usual opportunity.

You can check out my post on the most jaw-dropping hikes in Sedona and I also have a post on easy hikes in Sedona.

Cathedral Rock is one of the best Sedona Hiking Trails for beautiful views

Located just 10 minutes outside of Sedona, this is THE hike to do in Sedona.

Arizona day trips

Cathedral Rock Trail is a short trail that is very popular in Sedona. It may be short, but it is quite steep. The views from the top are worth it though.

This hike starts off easy enough and the trail is around 1 mile long but towards the end you will gain around 5000 feet in elevation.

You can see views of Bell Rock, Courthouse Butte, and Mogollon Rim along the way.

Much of this hike is spent ‘going in the right direction’.  Follow the cairns (pile of rocks) along the way until you see the top.  You need to be careful as you will be climbing up the rock and back down again.

PRO TIP: Make sure to put on sunscreen as there is no shade along the trail. Also, as this is a popular hike parking can be a problem. There are about 30 parking spaces there so if you want to make sure you get a spot, go early in the morning. This will obviously help with the sun and the heat too.

The phoenix to Sedona drive takes just under two hours and is basically a straight shot north up I-17

Sedona is 1hr and 57 minutes northeast of Phoenix

Driving Distance: 115.9 miles

Flagstaff

There is more to do in Flagstaff, Arizona then just visiting the Grand Canyon.  Flagstaff also is known for the Walnut Canyon, Lowell Observatory, Sunset Crater, Museum of North Arizona, Arizona Snowbowl, Coconino National Forest and the Wupatki National Monument.

This is a city that is made up of mountain ranges, deserts and ponderosa pine forests. People may come for the Canyon but discover things like the Alpine Peddler that gives you a cold beer as you and 14 other passengers peddle around the breweries, pubs and restaurants of Flagstaff. There is a walking Food Tour that allows you to learn about Flagstaff history as you taste the local and unique treats of the city.

No matter what brings you to Flagstaff there is a lot of camping, hiking, fishing, climbing, biking and sightseeing to do. There are also many fun places to shop and tons of great places to eat.

Flagstaff is 2hrs and 15 minutes northeast of Phoenix

Driving Distance: 144.4 miles

Meteor Crater Arizona

Meteor Crater Arizona is the best preserved meteor impact site on Earth. It is located in Winslow, AZ and has complimentary big-rig and RV parking. It is open daily from 8am-5pm and prices range from $9 to $18.

This place is cool for scientists, geologists, photographers, selfie lovers and creative people. No matter what walk of life you are involved in there is something that will interest you at this site. There is a discovery center that will help you to have a better understanding of asteroids and meteors. There is a movie that takes about the mystery behind the crater.

A 4D immersion ride is now available for fun for the entire family. There are guided tours along the rim of the crater to learn more about it and to get a nice workout. There is a souvenir and mineral shop for any goodies you may want to take home from your visit. And if you are hungry, there is the Blasted Bistro inside the Visitor’s Center.

The Meteor Crater is 2hrs and 46 minutes northeast of Phoenix

Driving Distance: 186.2 miles

Conclusion – Day trips in Arizona

I hope you have enjoyed these day trips in Arizona ideas.  Taking a day trip from Phoenix to visit one of these amazing places is so worth it.

Let me know in the comments what your favorite Phoenix day trip is and if you recommend anywhere else to visit.  Which ever you choose you are sure to enjoy your time in Arizona for sure.

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Arizona Day Trips

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American Southwest Obsessed

Nicole is a travel expert who has been traveling to the American Southwest since 1992. There is so much to see and do in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, and California. I spend part of the year in Phoenix and travel around the area visiting all the best places and going on the best hikes. Check out my detailed destination guides, the best hiking in each state guides, and the travel gear you need for your next trip.

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