5-Day Arizona Itinerary: Phoenix to Sedona to Grand Canyon

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by Maggie Turansky

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Boasting mild weather (outside of the summer months), ample activities, and some of the most diverse landscapes in the country it’s no surprise that you’re looking for the perfect Arizona itinerary.

And though I grew up in the capital of Phoenix, it wasn’t until I returned with Michael that I fully appreciated the beauty and diversity of my home state.

While many might only think of the Grand Canyon or the shopping and golf courses of Scottsdale when they think of Arizona, there is so much more that this state has to offer.

Though this is only a 5-day itinerary, there are ample opportunities to spend more time in each place and to add a few more depending on your timeframe.

Planning an Arizona Road Trip

While its geographical position means that the weather tends to be sunny and warm most of the year, it is worth noting that the climate can change drastically depending on the region you are visiting.

For instance, if you are visiting Phoenix in December and enjoying basking in some 20°C (68°F) weather but also want to visit the Grand Canyon on the same trip, be well prepared for lots of snow and temperatures well below freezing. If you happen to be visiting Sedona in winter, expect drastic variations in the high and low temperatures but generally mild conditions.

While the area surrounding Phoenix and the south have incredibly mild winters, the rest of Arizona often enjoys heavy snow and very cold temperatures. One of Arizona’s largest cities, Flagstaff, even has its own ski resort!

The temperatures work the other way, as well, and it is worth noting that if you plan to travel to Arizona in the summer months, be prepared for extremely high temperatures.

The Saguaro cactus at sunset
The iconic Saguaro cactus at sunset

Phoenix has the highest average temperatures of any capital in the US and it is not uncommon for the mercury to rise to well over 40°C (104°F). Most residents of the Phoenix metropolitan area will try to get out of town if they can and it is considered to be the off-season in the tourism industry.

However, if you venture north to the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff or Sedona, you will notice that temperatures in the height of summer can be immeasurably milder than farther south.

So if you want to visit Arizona as part of a longer southwest road trip in the summer months, it might make more sense to skip anything south of Sedona unless you love extremely high temperatures!

Arguably the best time to embark on any road trip in Arizona is in the spring or autumn months. The weather is mild and sunny throughout the state, though the nights can still get chilly.

You will need to pack for a couple of different climates regardless of which season you choose to visit in, however, the spring and fall temperatures tend to be a little bit more even throughout Arizona.

The last thing you need to consider before taking off is that you’re going to need a mode of transportation if you don’t have your own car.

If you’re planning on hiring a car while travelling from Scottsdale to Sedona to the Grand Canyon, we suggest browsing Rentalcars.com. This platform aggregates prices across major companies so you can compare prices easily.

Alternatively, you can find a campervan or RV through Outdoorsy which offers a huge selection of motorhomes in the Southwest.

5-Day Arizona Itinerary

If you want to get the highlights of this beautiful state but don’t have a lot of time to devote to it, then I would recommend spending five days in the lovely southwestern state.

This Arizona road trip itinerary begins in Phoenix and ends in the Grand Canyon and while it does have you moving from place to place a bit more than we would typically recommend, it does allow you to see a lot without exhausting yourself.

Day 1: Phoenix

As the capital of Arizona and one of the largest cities by population in the United States, the Phoenix metro area has a lot to offer tourists. Though visitors can easily spend more than one day in Phoenix, if you want to see more of the state in just 5 days, then one day will be just enough.

If the weather is fine, take the morning to go for a hike up the iconic Camelback Mountain before exploring nearby historic downtown Scottsdale. The Old Town area is filled with interesting shops, cafes, and restaurants that are sure to keep you entertained.

If you want to get into more serious shopping, Scottsdale Fashion Square is one of the largest shopping malls in the country and has a number of large department stores and luxury brands.

If shopping isn’t necessarily your thing, you could easily spend the entire afternoon exploring the Desert Botanical Garden where you can learn all about the native flora in Arizona in a beautiful setting. If you’re travelling with kids, the Phoenix Zoo is located right next to the botanical and is always a favourite among families.

End your day at one of the Pheonix area’s great restaurants and maybe check out some of the famous nightlife in the Downtown area, Old Town Scottsdale, or near Mill Avenue in Tempe.

Phoenix is the ideal place to get a feel for the state before venturing further north.

Old Town Scottsdale
Old Town Scottsdale

Where to Stay in Phoenix

The Phoenix and Scottsdale area is a sought-after vacation destination in the US, especially during the winter months when the cities remain basked in sunshine and blessed with mild temperatures. While there are a number of high-end resorts in the Phoenix metro area, there are also a few more affordable options as well.

SureStay Hotel Phoenix Airport – If you’re looking for an affordable and comfortable accommodation option in a convenient downtown location, then this hotel is a great choice for you. It comes well-reviewed with clean, air-conditioned rooms and friendly staff. Breakfast is also included in the room rate.

Sonder The Monarch – If you would like to experience a little bit of Old Town Scottsdale luxury in your short time in Phoenix, then you can’t go wrong with this hotel. Located in the heart of downtown Scottsdale, this hotel is incredibly clean, comfortable, and sure to impress.

Private Vacation Rental – If you want to save some money or just stay in some unique accommodations, then there are a number of private vacation rental options that will suit any personality or budget such as this private cottage in a desert oasis.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other hotels in Phoenix!

Day 2: Phoenix to Sedona

On the second day of your 5-day Arizona road trip, it is time to head north and begin to experience the dramatic and diverse natural scenery of the state. On this day, we recommend spending the night in picturesque Sedona.

Though the Phoenix to Sedona drive only really takes about 2-2.5 hours along the I-17, we would suggest taking your time on this journey as there are a number of stops you can make.

If you’re looking for a scenic drive from Phoenix to Sedona, a far prettier alternative to the I-17 is to take State Highway 87 toward Payson. While this isn’t a direct route to Sedona, the smaller road and stunning natural scenery are absolutely unbeatable, no matter the season.

A good stopping point on the Phoenix to Sedona drive along highway 87 is at the Tonto Natural Bridge, just outside of the small city of Payson. Located about 1.5 hours out from Phoenix, this natural site is equally as stunning as some of the attractions to come on this AZ itinerary, however, it sees just a fraction of the crowds.

The Tonto Natural Bridge is tucked into the lush pine forests of Northern Arizona and is believed to be the largest natural travertine bridge (or natural stone arch) in the world. Entry to the State Park is $7 per adult and there are four different viewpoints where you can see the bridge from all angles.

Road through state route 87 in Arizona
The trip up state route 87 is absolutely beautiful

There are also numerous hiking trails around the bridge of varying difficulties. Depending on the weather, you could easily spend a number of hours at the Tonto Natural Bridge while on your Phoenix to Sedona drive.

After visiting the Tonto Natural Bridge, continue along the highway until you reach Sedona.

If the Tonto Natural Bridge doesn’t interest you and you would rather take the I-17 for your drive from Phoenix to Sedona, then you could easily make a detour to the lovely town of Prescott, AZ.

Located about a 20-minute detour from the I-17 and about equidistant between Phoenix and Sedona, Prescott is a charming Northern Arizona town with a quaint main square, a lot of interesting shops, and a laid-back vibe. It can be very worth stopping here for a couple of hours to explore.

In the evening, if you want to see a unique side of Sedona, this nighttime stargazing & UFO tour is worth considering.

The Tonto Natural Bridge
The Tonto Natural Bridge

Day 3: Sedona

After enjoying your leisurely drive up to Sedona the day before, it is time to spend day three of this exploring the city of red rocks!

Sedona might well be the most beautiful city in Arizona — set amongst the backdrop of stunning red rock formations and high-desert landscape, this city has inspired New Age thought and creativity for decades.

There are a number of fantastic things to do in Sedona, from world-class shopping to some of the best hiking in the state. Sedona is a popular weekend destination for Arizona locals, meaning that there are a number of fantastic restaurants and cultural events in the city as well.

While you can easily spend a day in Sedona only going for a hike or horseback ride, we would recommend trying to fit at least two activities into your day in order to really get the most out of your short time in Sedona.

If you like to hike, begin your day with the iconic Devil’s Bridge hike. While this is a more popular trail in Sedona, it is short enough to do in a couple of hours and easy enough for most skill levels while still being challenging enough for more experienced hikers. Also, the landscape and views are simply amazing and well worth meeting a few people on the trail.

However, in order to avoid some larger crowds on the Devil’s Bridge trail, which is only located a bit outside of central Sedona, it is best to get on the trail in the morning. If you prefer not to hike, this jeep tour such as this scenic rim tour is a great option.

Spend your afternoon exploring the eclectic shops in the Tlaquepaque centre, which is filled with a number of small, locally-owned businesses well worth checking out.

The beautiful red rocks of Sedona
The beautiful red rocks of Sedona

Where to Stay in Sedona

Sedona is a popular destination for Arizona natives and visitors alike, so, therefore, there are myriad accommodation options to choose from including this lovely peaceful cottage. Other traditional accommodation options include:

Sedona Village Lodge – This hotel, located in a quiet corner of Sedona close to the city centre and many hiking trails, is a fantastic option if you’re looking for a basic room while visiting the city. They have great reviews, clean and air-conditioned rooms, and helpful staff. 

Sky Ranch Lodge – If you are travelling on a slightly higher budget, then this romantic hotel is a fantastic option in Sedona. Centrally located, they have a range of comfortable rooms available and a bar and restaurant on site. 

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other hotels in Sedona

The Devil's Bridge in Sedona
The Devil’s Bridge in Sedona

Day 4: Sedona to Grand Canyon

On the fourth day of your trip, it is time to leave Sedona and drive to the most iconic of Arizona attractions: the Grand Canyon.

The Sedona to Grand Canyon drive only takes about 2 hours, so you can easily visit the Grand Canyon as a day trip from Sedona. However, this may not be the best idea, especially if you have five days or more to devote to your Arizona itinerary.

The Grand Canyon is one of the most spectacular natural sites in the world. It is also incredibly massive and travellers could easily spend days exploring this amazing wonder.

If you’re interested in making any stops on the drive from Sedona to Grand Canyon South Rim, we would recommend getting out in Flagstaff, the largest city in Northern Arizona and a lively university town. This is the only place that is really worth exploring on the way.

If you’re interested, you can spend a few hours exploring the town, which is about an hour north of Sedona. The town has a number of cool coffee shops and restaurants and a young population due to it being the home of Northern Arizona University.

From Flagstaff, it takes about another hour to reach the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. If you are travelling in the winter months, only the South Rim of the Grand Canyon will be open to visitors, as the North Rim gets far too icy and snowy for it to handle many visitors per day.

Once you reach the Grand Canyon, take the time to enjoy the beautiful views and vistas of the canyon by walking along the easy, paved rim trail. Make sure to walk past the main viewpoints, as many people only take the time to snap a few photos and then get in their cars and leave.

If you walk only a couple hundred metres from the busiest viewpoints along the rim trail, you could easily feel as if you have the whole Canyon to yourself. You can also take a sunset hummer tour that takes you to some of the best lookout points as the sun sets.

The breathtaking Grand Canyon
The breathtaking Grand Canyon

Where to Stay at the Grand Canyon

Though the Grand Canyon is easily Arizona’s main tourist attraction, accommodation right next to the canyon is limited and quite expensive. A far better option is to base yourself in nearby Flagstaff or Williams and drive up to the canyon from there. Here’s where we recommend:

Private Vacation Rental This peaceful cottage in the forest is a great option for those looking for some secluded privacy.

Super 8 by Wyndham Williams East/Grand Canyon Area – This budget hotel in Williams is a perfect base for exploring the Grand Canyon. Though it is certainly no-frills, it has clean and comfortable rooms with breakfast included in the nightly rate. 

Hotel Aspen Flagstaff/ Grand Canyon InnSuites  This hotel is also a great option for a base for visiting the Grand Canyon. There are numerous rooms on offer, 24-hour check-in, and a great breakfast included in the room rate. 

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to find other hotels near the Grand Canyon!

Day 5: Grand Canyon

The last day of this trip sees you exploring a bit more of Grand Canyon National Park by day before making the long drive back to Phoenix by the evening.

After spending your first day walking along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, it’s time to check out one of the many trails around the Grand Canyon and see this natural wonder from a different perspective.

Depending on how much time you want to spend, your fitness level, and the season you’re visiting the Grand Canyon, there are numerous trails to choose from – just make sure you have your hiking shoes on! Pick up a map from the tourist info centre to make sure you have all of the best information.

If your budget allows you can also consider taking a helicopter tour from the South Rim for spectacular views of the site.

If you’re visiting the Grand Canyon between the months of May – October, it is possible to take a trip to the lesser-visited North Rim and experience a different side of the Canyon. However, this rim is closed to visitors in the winter months due to extreme weather conditions.

After exploring more of the Grand Canyon, it’s time to make the long drive back to Phoenix in the afternoon. It is about a 4-hour drive from the South Rim to the Arizona capital and it is easiest to make the drive along the I-17.

Arizona itinerary
The Grand Canyon in winter

Have More Time?

If you have more time to devote to your Arizona road trip, there are a number of additions you could include while using this route as a template.

If you have one week or longer, we would recommend spending both an extra day in the Phoenix area as well as a day or two extra in Sedona. This will allow you to see more of the attractions in both cities.

Phoenix has a lot more to offer travellers visiting for more than just one day, as does Sedona. You can also consider driving south from Phoenix to Tucson and visiting Saguaro National Park or exploring Tucson.

You can also head north from the Grand Canyon and explore iconic Horseshoe Bend before visiting Utah and seeing some more national parks such as Bryce Canyon or Zion. You can also take a few detours on the way back to Phoenix including stopping at Petrified Forest National Park.

If you have only time for a 3-day Arizona road trip itinerary, then that is perfectly doable as well. Spend your first night in Phoenix, enjoy the Phoenix to Sedona drive and explore the town of Sedona on the second day, and then head to the Grand Canyon bright and early on the third day in order to spend as much time as possible on this beautiful site.

All in all, there are many ways you can plan out the quintessential trip through Arizona, no matter how much time you have to spend exploring this southwestern state.

Are you planning an AZ itinerary? Have any questions? Let us know in the comments!

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Maggie is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from the US, she has lived in five different countries and has travelled to dozens more, both solo and with her partner, Michael. She particularly loves exploring Spain and spending time in the Caucasus and the Baltics. Read more about Maggie


  1. Hi, We are coming in late September. I was reading the 5 day itenary wonder if we should change our plan based on what I have ready here.

    We are Flying into Pheonix and staying in Scottsdale the first night, then three nights in Flagstaff, and back to Pheonix for our final night (5) before we leave on the 6th day. Should we change up and spend one of the Flagstaff nights in Sedona?

  2. Hi Maggie,
    Wow such great advice and comments.
    My husband and I will be in Phoenix and Scottsdale for a wedding (Sat-Tues AM check out) in January 2023. We planned a week for this vacation. So we have Tuesday till Sat (flight out of PHX at 3:30) to explore. Neither of us has been to the Grand Canyon. We are fit, but over 65. We live in NJ, so cold isn’t really a problem, but don’t want to pack a ton of clothes. Renting a car.
    I’ve read your Phoenix to Grand Canyon piece. I was wondering where to stay on the return to Phoenix, if we don’t want to drive 4/5 hours on the return trip.
    Thanks for any help

  3. Hi Maggie,
    Very glad that you have provided so many details.
    It will be our first trip to the area, we are a family of 9 members, from Florida & Boston, planning to spend this Christmas at Phoenix-Grand Canyon; What are your recommendations?

    • Hi Tina, Yuma is pretty out of the way compared to the other stops on this itinerary so I would only really suggest it if you’re looking to stop en route to San Diego or if it’s a place that really interests you 🙂

  4. Hello,
    What a great itinerary you have. I’m planning to use it for my first time in Arizona. But I will change a little and would like some expert advice. Please contact me if you can. Thank you

  5. Hi, Maggie! My friend and I are going to Arizona, but we have a tight budget and have no car. What kind of transportation do you recommend if we want to go to: Antelope Canyon, the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Horses shoe bend and the painted desert?

    Thank you so so much for your help!

    • Hi Gaby, I do think you’re going to struggle to see what you want in AZ without a car, unfortunately. You may want to look into some organised tours to get to where you want to go 🙂

  6. Hi Maggie,
    We are flying to Albuquerque from PA in mid March. We want to make a trip from Albuquerque to Arizona for 4 days and 3 nights. We want to visit Sedona, GC and Page. Could you please help us to make an itinerary and suggestion to stay.
    Thank you


  7. Iwill be in LA in April leaving on 10th, planned to visit Arizona and Phonix. can spare 9 to 10 days b4 returning to NJ. is it feasible to visit both the states. more in Arizona than New mexico. Any suggestions? if it is not worth can skip New Mexico all together or still cansee somer part of it in 3 day closer to the Arizona border?

  8. Hi Maggie- four of us are flying into Phoenix and have several bucket list items we want to see…Zion, Grand Canyon (sunrise and a sunset), Pueblo ruins, Monument valley are several…and flying out of Albuquerque a week later. Can you help with an itinerary?

  9. Hi Maggie, my friend and I are trying to make an itinerary but do not where to start, can you please help us? We will meet in Flagstaff, and we only have around 5 to 6 days, since I will take my flight back home on the seventh day in the morning.

    Thank you so much!

    • Hi Anita, if you’re starting in Flagstaff, you can just do this itinerary in reverse if you’d like! Hope you have a great trip 🙂

  10. Hello Maggie

    Many thanks for the info. Its helpful as we are considering a trip in mid March. We are considering Phoenix, Sedona and would love to include the Antelope Canyons in our 5 day strip. You think its good to plan Phoenix to Sedona to Antelope? Would a visit to Antelope still work in March? Thank you very much

    • Hi Abbi, if you don’t plan to visit the Grand Canyon then I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t include Antelope Canyon on this itinerary instead! It should be beautiful that time of year, just know that you can only visit the canyon on a tour run by a member of the Navajo Nation so it’s best to book in advance once you know your travel dates 🙂 Hope you have a great trip!

      • Thank you, Maggie. Would you recommend Antelope Canyon over Grand Canyon given the weather in March? Also read its best if we can afford to stay at a lodge inside Grand Canyon to see great sunrise. Is that true? Why? Thanks for all your time and help.

        • The weather isn’t going to be too different in the Grand Canyon vs Antelope in March so I would recommend just figuring out which appeals to you more. Also, if you can afford to stay within the Park at the Grand Canyon, it certainly could be worth it but I honestly think the sunsets are equally spectacular and it can be much more cost-effective to stay outside of the Park, as well.

  11. Hi Maggie,

    Thanks for this as this is my first time planning a trip to somewhere alone and this helped me a bit. A question I had was, is it possible to just stay in Phoenix and drive everywhere? Or is it better/smart to stay at each place? I want to stay for ~5-6 days there and meeting a friend who lives in Arizona (he’s not going to be coming with me, just going alone to all these places).

    Thank you!

    • Hi Marvin, thanks for your comment! You definitely could just base yourself in Phoenix and drive everywhere on this itinerary, but you will be spending A LOT of time in the car. Not that the south rim of the Grand Canyon is roughly a 4-hour drive from Phoenix and Sedona is roughly 2.5-3 hours from Phoenix. So if you’re willing to spend 6-8 hours of your days in the car while on your trip, you can, but I think it’s better to plan to spend some nights up north, as well.

  12. Hi,
    We are planning a trip to Arizona from December 25th to January 1st from Nyc. Would love to stay in warmer climates, that’s why not looking to do Grand Canyon. I have two boys 14 & 17. Would love to incorporate a few hikes along with other adventures. I am having trouble planning an itinerary to incorporate Phoenix, Tucson and Sedona.(we are open to incorporating any other area if suggested). Can you please help me determining attractions around these areas that would keep the whole family engaged. We would be renting a car. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  13. Hi Maggie,

    We would like to drive from Phoenix up to Page (for Antelope Canyon & Monument Valley) via Flagstaff just before Christmas. Should we worry about tire chains and snow on Highway17 and Route 89? I read that Flagstaff is at a high elevation. Also planning to visit Petrified Forest, snow at that time? Thank you for your insight!

    • Hi Jeanette, in my experience, the roads are pretty well-maintained and you shouldn’t need chains or snow tires. There will very likely be snow, but the roads are repeatedly cleared and salted so it’s not too risky driving them if your car isn’t equipped.

  14. Hi Maggie we are traveling to Phoenix but just for 4days mx 5 days. We do have in mind to visit Sedona grand Canyon and tombstone. Need help in planning our trip, best shops to sho , places to eat and shopping for souvenirs Any ideas tips will be very appreciated. Thank you so much.

    • Hi Catalina! I’m sorry to say that, despite growing up in Arizona, I actually have never been to Tombstone and therefore can’t offer any advice there. I do have to say that it is located quite a ways from both Sedona and the Grand Canyon (about a 4.5 and 6-hour drive respectively) so it may not be the most logical stop to include on such a short trip to Arizona. I think it would be best to concentrate on areas north of Phoenix like in this itinerary.

  15. Hi Maggie, love all your advice and recommendations. My husband and I have June 29 to July 4 to see Sedona & the GC. Considering a 5-night stay in Sedona or Oak Creek. Since we are coming from Napa, CA, we would like to take a side trip to the nearby wine area – any suggestions? Thank you!!!

    • Thanks for your comment, Leslee — glad to hear you’ve found our advice helpful! For a winery nearby Sedona, I suggest checking out Oak Creek Winery — they’re a highly acclaimed, family-run boutique vineyard 🙂 Hope you have a great trip!

  16. Hi Maggie,
    We are planning a trip to Grand Canyon early June for 7 days with our 18 and 21 year old daughters. I have read to also visit Zion and Antelope (so south rim of Grand Canyon). Is this recommended or should we do something else such as Sedona? Thanks!

    • Hi Julie, both Zion and Antelope Canyon are north of the Grand Canyon (Zion is actually in Utah) so you could follow this itinerary and then after visiting the Grand Canyon, head to Antelope Canyon and then to St George, Utah for the night to visit Zion.

  17. Maggie,

    We are in the process of planning a trip down to AZ! We are going to be there for 7 days and want to get a full experience of a little bit everything AZ. We would like to make stops in Sedona, Flagstaff, Page (Antelope, Horseshoe, Lake Powell) and end with a couple nights in Phoenix. Would love to hear your recommendations on planning this trip. The goal is to start and end in Phoenix.

    • Hi Jordan, sounds like a great trip! I would recommend following this itinerary and then adding a couple of days after the Grand Canyon to go up to Page before heading back down to Phoenix on your last day.

  18. Hi Maggie,
    My husband and I would like to take a trip to AZ in November 2020. How are things in regards to the current situation? Are parks, restaurant, shops open??

    • Hi Becky – things are changing all the time and restrictions can vary place by place, so I would recommend checking with the individual places you’ll want to visit to see what is open or not. Always best to remain as flexible as possible in the current climate. Hope you’re able to have a great trip!

  19. Hi Maggie,
    Do you have any tips on places to stop for views/ food during along the drive from the Grand Canyon to Phoenix? We would probably be leaving the canyon around 11 and slowly making our way there.
    thank you!

    • Hi Elise, the majority fastest drive is along the I-17 from Flagstaff down to Phoenix, but the drive itself can be quite scenic. There are a few places to pull over and take in some viewpoints along the way. If you’re interested in taking a detour, stopping over in the town of Prescott (about equidistant between Flagstaff and Phoenix) is a good option, however, Sedona is far more scenic. Hope you have a great trip!

  20. Hi,
    Flying into Phoenix on early Monday morning in March and out on Thursday night. We want to go to the Grand Canyon Wednesday. Would you suggest Sedona on Monday or Tuesday before we go? We would like to see Scottsdale too. Too little time and so much to see. Thanks!

    • Hi Katie, it could be worth it to stop in Sedona for a night when coming to or from the Grand Canyon — just pick whichever one makes the most sense for you! Hope you have a great time — March is a great time to visit Phoenix, but be aware that it will still be quite cold up at the Grand Canyon.

  21. Hi Maggie!
    We are currently planning to visit my mom in NM this summer. Although, we will be meeting in AZ to hangout in Phoenix, Sedona then Grand Canyon. This will be at the end of June/early July still undecided on dates.
    We lived in Phoenix so we already know it will be HOT but I haven’t been to Sedona or Grand Canyon as an adult. Do you think we could still enjoy our trip there during that time? Late June/ Early July?
    I have 3 young children so I’m concerned about them not enjoying it due to heat.

    • Hi Lisa, thanks for your comment! There’s no denying that it’s going to be hot in the summer, however, Sedona and the Grand Canyon are significantly cooler than Phoenix so I think it can be bearable. Just make sure to have plenty of water if you’re spending lots of time outside! In Sedona, if you want to beat the heat and go somewhere that is really fun for the whole family, I would recommend heading to Slide Rock State Park for swimming in the natural water slides. Hope you have a great trip!

  22. Hi Maggie,
    We are considering a trip from Phoenix to Las Vegas in late December. We’re Canadian, so cold is ok, and we drive in snow all the time, but we’d like to know if, between the winter and the wide open spaces, the roads are generally safe at that time of year.

    • Hi Rhea, the roads are generally very well-maintained and so there’s really no worry about the safety during the snowy season. Hope you have a great trip!

  23. We just returned from a weeklong trip to Arizona. I planned our trip loosely (or not so loosely) based on the tips you provided. Our vacation couldn’t have been better! We spent the 1st and last nights at the Econo Lodge Phoenix. The accommodations were simple but fine. (They have changed names and are now the Surestay) We spent a night at the Saguaro and loved it. The Scottsdale vibe was great-and the November weather was wonderful. (At home in NH it was 20 degrees. ) We stopped at theTonto Bridge and had a nice hike on our way to Sedona. We spent 2 nights in Sedona and took several hikes. Cathedral Rock was challenging for my 60 year old body but worth every step! Before we left Sedona we hiked Devils Bridge. It was beautiful, but the hike was long! We stayed at the Sedona Village Lodge. The staff was great! We opted to stay at the Grand Canyon for 2 nights. We stayed at the El Tovar because I had read about it some 20 years ago and it was definitely on my bucket list! For us, November turned out to be a great time to visit the Grand Canyon. The weather was beautiful and there were no crowds!
    Thank you for all your great advice! I am not sure I would have had the courage to plan this wonderful trip without it!

    • Thanks so much for your comment, Ann, and I’m so glad that my tips helped you plan a great trip to Arizona! It sounds like you had a wonderful time and I’m so happy that I was able to help.

  24. Hello Maggie,
    I am from Germany and we have 2 and a half weeks holiday over Christmas which means about 24th Dec. to 11th Jan. Does it make sense to go on a trip like you described in your 5-day trip in this period as you wrote that temperature could be quite low? We are not frightening cold temperatures but anyway should it make sense because we do not want to go there for skiing rather drop into nature and breathe in the wonderful sceneries.

    • Hi Nicole, there is no denying that northern Arizona will be cold and snowy that time of year but it shouldn’t prevent you from going at all! If you have proper clothing, you can very much still enjoy the great outdoors and you won’t have massive crowds to contend with, either. It is also usually pretty dry and sunny so while it may be cold, at least you won’t be wet! Hope you have a great trip 🙂

  25. Thanks for the information. We are planning a trip to Sedona, flying into Phoenix on June 12 and coming home June 17. Staying in Phoenix the first night. We have been to the Grand Canyon before so we will probably spend most days in the Sedona area unless we try the train tour to Canyon. What are the must sees in Sedona. Motion sickness could be an issue.

  26. Hi Maggie, I would love to include Zion and Bryce National Parks to the above itinerary. We would have around 10 days or more if needed to do the area. I haven’t got a picture yet of how far apart these areas are. Is it doable?

    • Hi Pam, if you have 10 days to spend the region then adding Zion and Bryce Canyon to this itinerary is definitely doable. From the Grand Canyon, it would take roughly 2-3 hours to drive to either park, depending on where you are. The increase of drive time would come if you’re planning on starting and ending in Phoenix, as the drive back from southern Utah will take around 7-8 hours.

  27. Maggie, thank you for the information. My family and I, (2 adults two boys 9 and 6) will be visiting in August…I know it will be hot but we’re from NYC and have traveled to Vegas in August before, will it be unbearable or do you think if we are mindful to stay hydrated and dress appropriately we will be ok to explore? I would love to take my sons hiking and do as many nature based activities as possible. We will be in Arizona for 8 days so any suggestions are welcome for activities and ‘nicer’ accommodations.

    Thank you,

    • Hi Melissa, thanks for your comment! Yes, August will be VERY hot, especially in Phoenix or anywhere south of there — it does tend to be the hottest month and you should expect high temperatures to be well over 100 degrees farenheit every day. That being said, it is obviously a different heat than NYC and I personally find it to be a lot more bearable. The early mornings (usually before 9AM) can actually be quite pleasant, so if you want to do any outdoor activities, plan to catch the sunrise. Heat stroke is a serious problem affecting a lot of tourists, so please be sure to stay hydrated. And, obviously, sunscreen is a must.

      If you end up heading to northern AZ around Sedona, Flagstaff, or the Grand Canyon, the temperatures are significantly cooler than they will be in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area. The other thing to keep in mind is that everywhere will have the air conditioning blasting so you can get respite from the heat. Basically, August can be unpleasant at times but it isn’t unbearable so long as you know what you’re getting yourself into 🙂

      In terms of accommodation, make sure to check out some of our recommendations in the article above. Hope you have a great trip!


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