Planning a Road Trip in Arizona, the Land of Dry Heat

If you asked me a year ago what I thought about Arizona, I would have said “It’s a great place for retirees and people who want to go to college and party, but otherwise… meh.”

Good thing my boyfriend talked some sense into me, or I would’ve missed out on what turned out to be one of the most memorable trips of my life.

We kept a journal throughout our trip to keep track of all the little details, so I thought I’d share the highlights with you lovely people in case you ever want to do something similar.

Let’s start with overview of our trip.

Our Planned Itinerary

When researching Arizona, we were amazed at how many beautiful places there were to visit. We knew we only had 8 days, so we needed to narrow down the list. We decided we wanted to start in Phoenix and end in Las Vegas without doing too many detours, so that helped us eliminate certain options. Here’s the itinerary we outlined:

  1. Phoenix Airport
  2. Goldfield Ghost Town
  3. Sedona
  4. Meteor Crater
  5. Petrified Forest
  6. Monument Valley
  7. Page
    • Antelope Canyon
    • Lake Powell
    • Horseshoe Bend
  8. Grand Canyon
  9. Las Vegas

Here’s a map of our planned route:


(Side note: we created this itinerary using the My Maps feature of Google Maps. Check out this article for more details on how to do this.)

Total Planned Driving Distance: 1,060 miles (1,710 km)

Total Planned Driving Time: 17 hours and 30 minutes

Our Actual Itinerary

As we would soon find out, things don’t always go as planned. I won’t go into details here (ooh, suspense!), but here’s the itinerary we ended up following:

  1. Phoenix Airport
  2. Goldfield Ghost Town
  3. Sedona
  4. Monument Valley
  5. Page
    • Antelope Canyon
    • Lake Powell
    • Horseshoe Bend
  6. Grand Canyon
  7. Las Vegas

And the map of our actual route:


Total Actual Driving Distance: 918 miles (1,481 km)

Total Actual Driving Time: 15 hours and 30 min

Our Budget

If you do want to give our road trip a try, you’re probably wondering how much it’d cost. Take a look at how much we spent to get a better idea:




Car rental 4-door with AC and unlimited miles (Dollar Rent-A-Car) $305
Car rental add-ons Accident insurance, roadside assistance, extra driver, GPS $270
Gas $75
Outgoing plane tickets Minneapolis to Phoenix x 2 people $365
Return plane tickets Phoenix to Las Vegas x 2 people $365
Food 2 people x 8 days $610 ($38/person/day)
Hotels 2 people x 7 nights $1,430 ($204/night)
Park entrance fees 1 vehicle x 5 parks $120
Souvenirs and gifts $190
Total 2 people $3,730

If you’re looking to save money, you could camp instead of staying at hotels or buy cheaper food at the grocery store instead of eating out at restaurants. I haven’t camped for a while and I am a huge foodie (if you haven’t caught on yet) so these were not compromises I was willing to make, but it’s up to you.

That’s the long and short of it! Next up: a deep dive into each leg of our trip. Stay tuned to find out why we ended up changing our itinerary and to get insider tips on what to do at each of these fabulous Arizona locations!

Have you visited Arizona recently? Or even better – are you an Arizona native? If so, share your own experiences below! I’d love to hear about it.

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