29 Best things to Do in Arizona Bucket List

We just love Arizona.

It’s location in the Sonora Desert offers unlimited beauty and outdoor adventure.

Our post will show you several of the top things to do in Arizona for your bucket list, including top hikes, star attractions, scenic drives and overlooks, Navajo history and cultural experiences, and so much more.

Airport Mesa Vortex
Airport Overlook, Sedona, Arizona

Sedona is the most striking place I have ever visited and one of my favorites in the USA.

Arizona is also home to the Grand Canyon, which must be of the USA’s best national parks, and who doesn’t love those saguaro cacti?

Tucson and Scottsdale are worth spending time in for your Arizona city fix.

Great Year-Round destination

Climb up A-Mountain to overlook Downtown Tucson
Climb up A-Mountain to overlook Downtown Tucson

The most wonderful thing about Arizona is it’s a great destination to travel to during the winter.

This doesn’t mean your Arizona road trip will be absent of snow – this can still happen, and it did to us at the Grand Canyon.

But once you travel through those lower elevations in Arizona, you can feel confident of warm sunny days. On some days we were in T-shirts. Evenings will be cold as you’re in the desert.

Craig and I have also road tripped through Arizona before during the summer. You’ll want to plan carefully as those scorching desert temperatures cause their own set of problems.

Great Road Trip destination

Devil's Bridge trail 4x4 track
Devil’s Bridge Trail, Sedona

Whether you do it in your car and stay in a variety of accommodation, or travel through Arizona in an RV, or travel trailer, Arizona is a fantastic road trip destination.

It’s easily accessible from LAs Vegas which is where many visitors road trip from. We have done both and have spent about 4 weeks in total exploring Arizona, and about four months in Southwest USA.

Let’s hope we continue to return. There are so many more Arizona attractions and places to see waiting on our bucket list.

Now, let’s move on to our top tips on places to see and things to do in Arizona.

Do a Monument Valley Guided tour

Our tour guide in Monument Valley
Our tour guide in Monument Valley

Now, only a small section of Monument Valley is in Arizona. It’s right there on the border of Utah and is a must not miss US attraction.

I’ve been so fortunate to see places around the world of exquisite beauty. It’s hard to say what is your favorite place and why.

I can’t say whether mountains, deserts, or beaches fill up my soul more than the other as each has its place and separate purpose.

I love them all.

But there are some places that stand above the others. They have this special magnetic pull that pulls you into their beauty.

They enchant you. They heal you. They call you to look in so you can create something better when you look out. You feel something ancient, timeless, spiritual and God Like about it.

Monument Valley is one of those places.

things to do in arizona
Monument Valley

You know when you’ve arrived even before you see it. The air electrifies somewhat, and you feel called to the present.

Then you see it and it connects to you and opens you up.

Monument Valley is one of our favorite places to visit in the USA, and one of the top Southwest landmarks in North America

We recommend going deeper on a guided tour with a Navajo guide.

These tours have permission to go off the beaten path in Monument Valley and you get to experience other wonders like visiting a Hogan, and rock formations with names like Sun’s Eye and Wind’s Ear. It’s a completely different perspective to Monument Valley.

The most enriching part to the experience is of course to learn more about Native American culture with your experienced Native American guide.

Stay in a Navajo Homestead Airbnb

monument valley arizona
Navajo homestay

I never thought to check Airbnb before for RV camping, but Megan (one of our now traveling friends) discovered it.

It was a lovely experience. We camped on the property of Cecelia and Steven and their grandchildren.

We had a stunning white horse beside us and who even roamed around our campsite of a morning. And we had beautiful views of the mesas and buttes.

A short walk from our RVs took us to this stunning Monument Valley view.

Cecilia sand Steven were very friendly and welcoming and accommodating. I loved chatting with them and soaking up their gentle, peaceful, Navajo spirit. We were right near the entrance to Monument Valley as well.

We organized our Monument Valley tour and Navajo Taco dinner with them.

You can see more and book a stay through Airbnb here. 

Admire the View at Horseshoe Bend

Tips for visiting Horseshoe Bend
Horseshoe Bend Arizona

You’ve probably seen plenty of images of this famous bend in the Colorado River as it winds through Page in Arizona. It is spectacular and you only need a short amount of time.

There isn’t much to do at Horseshoe Canyon itself, except gaze in wonder, although it depends on how many photos you want to take from multiple different angles.

You can walk to certain viewpoints along the rim, but there is only a small section that is actually fenced.

Standing on the edge of the high cliffs was quite scary. I was amazed at how many people would risk toppling off the edge just to take that coveted Instagram worthy photo.

I loved the emerald green of the river below and we saw many boats cruising by that next time I’d love to join!

You can read more tips in our post on Horseshoe Bend, Arizona.

Tour the Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon

Lower Antelope Canyon Tours in Arizona
Lower Antelope Tour

Antelope Canyon is a magical slot canyon near the Utah border.

It’s one of Arizona’s top attractions.

The canyon has been created by water splitting and polishing rock crevasses over time into incredible shapes, colors, and textures.

This wonder is hidden under a tiny crack in the ground, reminding us to dig a little deeper and explore a little wider to find treasures.

How the carved canyon walls changed in the light was spellbinding. The canyon is split into the Upper and Lower Canyon, each different to the other and can be viewed on separate tours. We did the Lower Antelope Canyon.

Our Navajo guide was knowledgeable about the rock formations and pointed out various shapes and creature and was excellent in taking photos for us and showing us how to capture the unique colors and features.

I also loved how he demonstrated how the canyon was formed at the end with a pile of sand and a bottle of water. This really helped the kids to connect to this experience.

Put this on your Arizona road trip. It’s popular, especially the Upper Antelope Canyon, so it’s best to book your tour in advance here. 

Read More: The Unique and Extraordinary Lower Antelope Tour, Arizona

Hike the Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon

Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon
Bright Angel Trail in the winter

If there is one hike to do in the Grand Canyon, it is the Bright Angel Trail. It’s manageable with kids and will give you an appreciation of the inner canyon without going too far.

If you’re game, go the entire 12-mile return down to Phantom Ranch. Craig and I did that in 06 on our 4 day Grand Canyon vacation (north and south rim) . It’s one of our favorite hikes in the US. Go early and you’ll almost have it to yourself.

You can go as far in as you like if you only want a short experience of it. Bear in mind the hard part is coming out. For an extra thrill go in the winter when the path is snowy. CAVEAT!! You must be careful. Safety is priority.

Read More: Tips for visiting Grand Canyon in the winter.

Desert View Watchtower Viewpoint

The Colorado River, Grand Canyon
Desert View watchtower Grand Canyon South Rim

Desert View Watchtower was probably my favorite view of the Grand Canyon.

This is the place where the Vermillion Cliffs, San Francisco Peaks, Painted Desert and Colorado River come into view.

I loved getting a great view of the Colorado River snaking through the valley, watched over by the jagged cliffs of the rim.

It was dramatic and bright and colorful, made all the more better with a rainbow bursting out of the clouds and over the river.

Be sure to climb the watchtower which is the highest point on the South  Rim. I loved the design of this building which resembles an ancient Puebloan Ian watchtower.

It was designed by Mary Elizabeth Coulter who designed many of the buildings within the park.

Stroll the Grand Canyon Rim Trail

11 family travel tips
Grand Canyon South Rim

The Rim Trail is the easiest walk at the South Rim and an excellent way to take in incredible views for all ages and fitness levels.

Whilst this trail does stretch for 13-miles from the South Kaibab Trailhead west to Hermits Rest, you can walk short sections of the trail and begin from any viewpoint in the Grand Canyon Village or along Hermit Road.

The 2.5 mile section of the Grand Canyon Rim Trail between the Visitor Center and the Village is worth doing, especially if you visit the Grand Canyon with kids.

It’s mostly flat the entire way, follows the rim of the canyon and gives you exquisite views. In the winter, it’s a chance to throw snowballs at each other as well.

Take your time to stroll, enjoy the views and learn along the way with the interpretative trails, museums and ranger talks.

Read More: 8 Helpful tips for planning a trip to the Grand Canyon with kids

Whitewater Raft the Colorado River, Grand Canyon

Desert view watchtower best view of Grand Canyon

This is my ultimate bucket list for Arizona and the USA.

Rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon has been on my list forever. It’s something we’re holding off on doing until the girls are a little older. It’s hugely popular and does require reservations months if not years in advance.

Rafting companies offer trips from 3-18 days. Find out more information here.

An alternative option might be this full day rafting trip from Las Vegas into Grand Canyon West.

Hike to Havasu Falls, Arizona

The Havasu Falls in the Havasupai Indian Reservation - Grand Canyon
The Havasu Falls in the Havasupai Indian Reservation – Grand Canyon

Another attraction topping my list of things to do in Arizona is the 10 mile hike to Havasupai Falls. The area is part of the Havasupai Indian Reservation and is managed by the tribe. The Havasupai people live near the Havasupai Falls in the Supai Village.

A series of beautiful and photogenic waterfalls can be found on Havasu Creek, a tributary to the Grand Canyon. The water flows out of limestone, which gives it a pleasing blue-green hue. 

The only option to visit the falls is to book a 3-day permit. Permits for Havasupai sell out immediately, and can only be booked online. To get permits for 2020, create an account on the Havasupai Reservations website.

Read this in-depth guide on visiting Havasu Falls from our friend Laurence who was lucky to get a permit! And here is a guide to hiking to Havasu Falls with kids from my friend Christina!

Havasu Falls were featured in our Best Waterfalls in the US list.

West Rim Grand Canyon and the Skywalk

Grand Canyon West
West Grand Canyon, Arizona

While I think the Grand Canyon is spectacular no matter where you visit, I did find the West Rim experience a little underwhelming.

One BIG contributing factor to that was that the glass floor Skywalk, which it is famous for, and the Eagle Point where it is located were closed.

Sadly, about 30-minutes before we arrived a man from Hong Kong stumbled and fell over the edge to his death so they had to close it to recover his body.

Unlike the South Rim, there are no protective barriers here at Grand Canyon West. It was quite scary and we had to keep a very close watch on our kids.

Due to its close proximity to Las Vegas, it’s good for those short on time and really want to see the Grand Canyon without driving all the way to the South Rim. (see more Las Vegas day trips here)

Grand Canyon West is not part of the Grand Canyon National Park, it is owned by the Native American, Hualapai Nation. It’s only a new attraction so I do think there is loads of potential and work being done to create more of an experience.

You do get beautiful views of the Colorado River at Grand Canyon West.

You can pre-book your tour from Vegas and Skywalk ticket here.

Broken Arrow Pink Jeep Tour, Sedona

Sedona Pink Jeep Tours
Incredible tour in Arizona!

The Pink Jeep tour in Sedona is what memories are made of.  

“You’re kidding me, we’re really going down that?”  our girls asked as we approached the rocky steep trail called Devil’s Staircase. Their nervous giggles quickly turned into screams as we surely did go down it.

These jeeps were made for rock crawling.

The Broken Arrow tour is the most popular and thrilling pink jeep tour one of the best things to do in Sedona with kids.

It goes up and down rock faces along the 4WD trail through stunning red rock scenery.

Ride the Verde Canyon Railroad, Sedona

Verde Canyon Railroad top arizona attraction
Verde Canyon Railroad – top Arizona attraction

The Verde Canyon Railroad is a 40-mile return train journey through 100 years of history, culture, and dramatic desert southwest scenery.

It follows the Verde River as it carves its way through the cottonwoods and high sandstone cliffs flanking its sides.

This is a region in Sedona, Arizona that is only accessible by train – unless you want to strap on the boots and do a bit of hiking.

Be sure to step into the open-air carriages for a better look at the scenery and to engage with the guide who will point out notable features and share cultural, geological, and historical insights.

We recommend paying extra for a first-class seat – it comes with comfy chairs, a cash bar, buffet food, and a champagne toast on arrival.

Find the Sedona Vortexes

Boynton Canyon Sedona best place to visit in Arizona
Enjoying the Sedona vortex

A vortex is thought to be a swirling center of energy that has powerful ability to heal, calm, and give insights and clarity to transform your life.

These are places where the earth seems especially alive with energy. You cannot see a vortex but you can feel it.

Sedona is special as it is said to be full of vortexes.

You’ll know as soon as you arrive that this is special place

Sedona is full of vortexes and easy to feel. Basically, you drive into Sedona and instantly feel an uptick of energy. It’s very special and home to many spiritual people.

Sedona is

Quite frankly, every hike in Sedona is incredible.

Read this post on the Sedona vortexes.

Hike Cathedral Rock, Sedona

Sedona Cathedral Rock Hike with kids top things to do in arizona
Amazing hike in Sedona

I think you can classify Cathedral Rock as more of a rock climb than a hike, but our kids managed it safely and it ranks as one of their favorite adventures in Sedona they love climbing up and over rocks after all.

There is a designated path to follow and being one of the most-photographed sights in Arizona, and popular Sedona hikes there are plenty of people around to follow in their footsteps.

We hiked up to the saddle, which is the gap in the opening, and the views going up and at the top are amazing!

We did this hike during our January visit, but if you visit in the summer months it would be best to do this in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the harsh sun and heat.

Hike Bell Rock, Sedona

Bell Rock Trail, Sedona
Bell Rock Trail

The Bell Rock Pathway is one of the most popular hiking trails in Sedona and one of the easiest Sedona hikes with kids, and it’s a stunning view as you get closer and closer to these iconic red rock formation

Well, we made it halfway up the rock, found a nice flat and safe area to sit and have a picnic and take in the incredible views.

I would consider the path up a moderate to easy climb, and the path quite easy to follow, plus there are several people doing it so it’s hard to lose your way!

We came to a large gap in the rocks you scramble through, which was fun for the kids, then we hiked around the rock about another 10-minutes before finding this flat area.

Just take your time, keep your kids close to you, and you’ll be fine!

Read more:

Eat at Elote Café, Sedona

top place to eat in arizona
Elote Cafe – a worthy stop in Arizona

The Elote Café came highly recommended to us by several friends, and it didn’t disappoint.

This is one of the most popular restaurants in Sedona, with cuisine inspired by the markets of Mexico, and is one of the top food attractions in Arizona.

They do not take reservations so get there early or be prepared to wait.

We thoroughly enjoyed the service, and our goat cheese balls, duck carnitas with guacamole, and vanilla bean flan.

Slide Rock State Park, Sedona

Slide Rock State Park, SEdona - top things to do in Arizona
Slide Rock State Park, Sedona in the Fall

We did not get to visit Slide Rock State Park in Sedona, but it came highly recommended as a top thing to do in Arizona with kids. It’s also been named one of “America’s Top 10 Swimming Holes!” (We also visited another one in Natural North Florida.)

It’s on our list for our next Arizona vacation.

We drove past its location in Oak Creek Canyon several times and it looked beautiful with its red rock landscape. Slide Rock is 80 feet long and 2.5 to 4 feet wide, had has a seven percent decline from top to bottom. Algae on the rocks creates the slippery ride.

Eat, Spa Break, and Play Golf in Scottsdale

Westin Kierland Resort and Spa, Scottsdale
Westin Kierland Resort and Spa

On your Arizona road trip, you will probably want to have some kind of break from all that amazing outdoor adventure activities.

Head to Scottsdale, this small resort town located in the Greater Phoenix area. Scottsdale is known for its upmarket spas, shopping and golf courses.

TPC Scottsdale Golf Club (a PGA Tour public course and home to the Phoenix Open) featuring two legendary courses, Scottsdale Airport and WestWorld.

Craig stayed there with the girls at the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa (review post) for two nights with his family. The resort looked incredible and I was very jealous, especially the spa treatments!!

We popped into Scottsdale on our way to Sedona. I loved the look and feel of Old Town Scottsdale. We stopped in for a quick bratwurst bite and craft beer in the beautiful gardens of Brat Haus. It’s a cool place to eat in Scottsdale.

We were also meant to attend our friend’s Colleen’s housewarming party but Kalyra came down sick so we had to forget about it!

You can check out our friend, Colleens guide to Scottsdale with kids.

Go Cactus Crazy at Saguaro National Park, Tucson

West Saguaro National Park Tucson (2)
West Saguaro National Park Tucson (2)

One of the easiest and unique national parks in the USA is Saguaro National Park It is divided into two parks – East and West – which are separated by the city of Tucson.

Of course, the Saguaro National Park is home to the saguaro cactus, which I just can’t get enough of seeing, and getting up close and learning about these plants is one of the best things to do in Arizona with kids – I only wish I could hug one!

Be warned cactus can hurt, as Kalyra discovered when she was attached by a jumping cholla.

Both sides of Saguaro National Park offer something special and are worth visiting.

Saguaro National Park West probably has more interesting hikes and stunning landscapes, if you only had time for one.

Read more about that in our post on Saguaro National Park.

Hike Sabino Canyon, Tucson

Sabino Canyon, Tucson, Arizona
Hiking Sabino Canyon

We loved the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area in the Santa Catalina Mountains, a much loved playground for local Tuscans.

Filled with hiking trails, saguaro forests, riparian creeks, waterfalls and swimming holes, there is plenty to do in Sabino Canyon.

We spent the afternoon hiking one of the Sabino Canyon trails through quite diverse environments and enjoying a picnic under the shade of a few trees

You can read more about our time and things to do in Sabino Canyon here.

Go Back to the Wild West in Tombstone

Things to do in Tombstone Arizona
Tombstone, Arizona – a unique place to visit

The Wildest Town in the West is sure to entertain you and take you back in time to a land of lawlessness.

I loved our visit to Tombstone, wandering the streets of the preserved 1880’s town, watching the reenactment of the O.K. Corral gun fight and getting an insight into the craziness of this silver mining town.

It’s one of the most unique places to visit in Arizona.

You can read our post on things to do in Tombstone here.

Take a Scenic Drive and Sunset on Gates Pass, Tucson

Gates Pass Scenic Drive
Gates Pass

Gates Pass is a mountain pass at an elevation of 3,172ft located on the crest of the Tucson Mountains.

Gates Pass Road is lined with scenic overlooks and is well known as one of the best sunset spots in Tucson. We missed it but it’s now on our Arizona things to do list for our return visit!

The views from driving through in the daytime were exquisite. Be careful as there are sharp drop offs.

Learn at the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum, Tucson

Saguaro National Park, Arizona
Learn more about the Sonoran Desert

We opted out of visiting the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, despite it being recommended by numerous people within our community.

It’s meant to be an incredible museum and one of the top Tucson attractions, but you can’t do everything when you travel so you want to be sure you know exactly what you want to experience when you visit Tucson AZ, especially considering your budget.

Read More: 18 amazing things to do in Tucson with kids

Mission San Xavier Del Bac, Tucson

Mission San Xavier Del Bac
Mission San Xavier Del Bac

Founded in 1692 by Father Kino and built in 1783, this Catholic mission is considered one of the best-preserved examples of Spanish Colonial architecture in the United States.

It stands in the center of a Papago Indian settlement along the banks of the Santa Cruz River, about 10 miles south of Tucson.

As a national historical landmark and the only remaining intact mission in Arizona, the Mission remains a working parish for the Tohono O’odlham people, many of whom still live nearby.

Be sure to do the free 45-minute docent led tour (donations encouraged) to discover the beauty of the mission architecture and learn the story of the church and fascinating insight into the history of this region.

Read more: 36 hours in Tucson itinerary

The following suggestions on things to do in Arizona were provided to us by our community. We ran out of time, but they still remain on our bucket list and we’re sharing them with you.

Play (or Ski) at Mt Lemmon, Tucson

An aerial image of the summit of Mt. Lemmon outside of Tucson, Arizona covered in snow with a vibrant blue sky.
An aerial image of the summit of Mt. Lemmon outside of Tucson, Arizona covered in snow with a vibrant blue sky.

We didn’t get to visit Mt Lemmon. We left it too late to go after our Sabino Canyon hiking adventures. Many locals recommended Mt Lemmon to us as a top place to visit.

It came highly recommended as one of the best things to do in Tucson Arizona. Mt Lemmon is north of Tucson and here you can go hiking, bicycling, horse riding, scenic driving, camping, fishing and much more!

What’s cool about Mt Lemmon is that it has ski fields in the winter – yes skiing in Arizona that has to be unique thing to do! You can golf and swim in Tucson in the morning, then downhill ski at Ski Valley, in the afternoon!

Canyon de Chelly, East Arizona

Spider rock in Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona, United States
Spider rock in Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona, United States

Canyon de Chelly National Monument is located on the eastern edge of Arizona.

Its dramatic, 305-meter-high sandstone walls preserves centuries-old ancestral Puebloan dwellings and rock art. It was first home to the Archaic-era people and for more than 300 years now, the Navajo have inhabited this sacred land.

There are two scenic rim drives with panoramic overlooks into the canyon. Most popular is Spider Rock, the iconic 244 rock formation rising above the canyon floor.

White House Trail is the only hiking trail allowing you access into the canyon. Otherwise you need to be accompanied by a Navajo guide.

Navajo guides lead four-wheel-drive, hiking and horseback trips within the canyon.

Petrified Forest & the Painted Desert National Park, East Arizona

Dramatic view of the Painted Desert National Park in Arizona
Dramatic view of the Painted Desert National Park in Arizona

The Petrified Forest National Park  has one of the world’s largest and most vibrantly colored assemblies of petrified wood, historic structures, and archaeological sites. It’s located in eastern Arizona, about 110 miles east of Flagstaff and 210 miles west of Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

Scientific studies show that the petrified trees found within the park date back 211 to 218 million years.

The southern section of the park has the highest concentration of wood. The northern half are the colorful hills of the Painted Desert which stretches all the way to the Grand Canyon.

The Painted Desert is a region of colorful, rocky badlands colored from deep lavneders to pinks, reds and oranges. Like most of Southwest USA it’s like walking through an Art Gallery.

Meteor Crater, Winslow, Arizona

View of the Meteor Crater, Flagstaff, Arizona
View of the Meteor Crater, Flagstaff, Arizona

Budding astronomers and astronauts will want to visit this top Arizona attraction near Flagstaff.

Meteor Crater is the spectacular result of a collision that rocked the American Southwest approximately 50,000 years ago. It is said to be the best-preserved meteorite impact site on Earth!

As it’s terrain resembles the surface of the moon it has been used by US Astronauts use it as a training site.

You can explore it via an interactive discovery center and crater trail.

Navajo National Monument, East Arizona

Betakin,Arizona, Anasazi ruins, Canyon de Chelly National Monument
Betakin,Arizona, Anasazi ruins, Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Navajo National Monument  encompasses three of the largest and best-preserved Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings in the Southwest region — Betatakin, Keet Seel, and Inscription House. You can visit both Betatakin and Keet Seel, but, due to its fragility, Inscription House is closed to the public. There are overlooks to the dwellings, and if you want to see the ruins up close, full-day hikes are also offered to both the Betatakin and Kiet Seel sites.

The cliff dwellings were built by Kayenta Ancestral Puebloans, the ancestors of today’s Hopi and Pueblo peoples. The Navajo now inhabit the area and arrived centuries after the cliff dwellings had been abandoned around the middle of the 13th Century for unknown reasons.

Arizona Travel Video Playlist

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Arizona Car Rental

Arizona is a fantastic road trip destination. If you have your own car, keep on reading.

If you don’t, Rentalcars.com is our most trusted source for car rental. (We’re affiliate partners with them as a result!)

Click here for prices on rental cars from Phoenix

Booking Arizona Accommodation

Each of the posts below have accommodation recommendations specific to the destination and from our personal experiences + ones we have thoroughly reviewed.

We recommend the following two booking sites (it’s the ones we use the most)

What are your insider tips on best things to do in Arizona? Please share them for future readers and our future Arizona travels.

Share with us below some of your favorite destinations and things to do in Arizona!

63 thoughts on “29 Best things to Do in Arizona Bucket List”

  1. I’m so excited to see what you guys end up getting up to! A long term road trip of the USA is a dream of ours so this will definitely be inspiration!! Good luck with the planning!

    1. Thanks Emily, we’re excited too. Nothing like a great American road trip. And the most practical way for a family like ours to explore a destination properly. Keep your dream alive!

  2. Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon can easily be done in a day. While you are in that area, take the one day float trip through Glen Canyon from Glen Canyon Dam to Lees Ferry…you will float right through Horseshoe Bend! Lake Powell is right there too, and you can take an excursion from Wahweap Marina to Rainbow Bridge, one of the largest natural bridges in the world.

    If you plan far enough in advance, go for a whitewater rafting trip through the Grand Canyon. Seven days is the minimum I would recommend. There is a reason this trip consistently ranks as one of the top adventures in the world: it is truly amazing! I might be biased though: I was a river guide in the canyon for several years. 🙂

    Wander around downtown Flagstaff, have a delicious Mexican breakfast at Martan’s and then drive through Oak Creek Canyon to Sedona. The drive alone is amazing! Jerome is a fun old mining town, as is Bisbee!

    Kartchner Caverns is a sight to behold, and Tombstone is campy, but fun for kids.

    Arizona is a truly remarkable state, with so many beautiful hidden gems, it’s impossible to list them all…no matter what you choose, this state will take your breath away!

    1. Hi Sarah, that float trip through Glen Canyon and Horseshoe Bend sounds cool. And had never heard of Rainbow Bridge so thanks!

      What is the age requirements for the Grand Canyon rafting? And what category are the rapids? 7 days would be incredible but not sure how we would juggle this with our kids currently being 8 & 4. May have to wait a few years??

      Appreciate the other tips and will be referencing them as we plan further. From the photos we’ve looked at so far, Arizona does look remarkable!

  3. If you happen to be taking Route 160 during any point in your trip (which is a good option if you visit Four Corners), you have to check out Dinosaur Tracks outside of Yuba City. It is quite possibly one of the coolest places I have visited. Literally marked by an old wooden roadside sign, this place is a throw back to the dinosaur ages. Amazing, clear tracks from so many dinosaurs, fossilized dinosaur eggs and an excavation site from where they dug up a full skeleton of a dinosaur that is currently on display at the Natural History museum in Flagstaff. No building or services here. No cost. Just a few Navajo that guide you around the site and tell you about what you are seeing. My 7 year old loved it. We spent so much time just exploring as there os so much left undiscovered out there. Do remember that you are on tribal land and please give a tip to your guide.

    Google Dinosaur Tracks in Arizona to see more about it.

    1. Yeah I always get confused about the location of Monument Valley, does it span across the borders of both states? Because it’s mentioned on the Arizona tourism website. And sounds great about those other three things in one day. Cheers Erin!

      1. I’m pretty sure it’s just in Utah, but given how close it is to Arizona, I can see why Arizona would want to claim it as it’s own! Monument Valley is completely awesome. I could have spent the entire day there! Definitely a top five highlight of last summer’s cross-country road trip.

          1. Just wanted to say it’s on the border of both states! I just went back there in winter and couldn’t see anything due to a snow storm so try to go when it’s clear… haha. Enjoy!

    1. Hey Bianca, I have seen many photos of Havasu Falls online and it looks incredible. Can’t wait to see it with our own eyes! And thanks for the tip about the Marble Canyon!

      1. Craig, I have hiked and camped at Havasu Falls 4 times and it is very beautiful magical place! This would be a very long 8+ mile hike for your girls and I would not recommend it for them. They do have other options to get to the bottom, horses and a helicopter ride. If you do hike/camp, I recommend paying for a mule to carry your tent, sleeping bags, ice chest etc. it is well worth it! Nps.gov Havasupai Indian Reservation has some good information and links to making your reservation, also Havasupai-nsn.gov or 928-448-2121 by phone. Reservations are recommended 3 to 4 months in advance. April, May and October are great months to go.

  4. Seeing your bucket list brought back great memories from our first trip on the road. We saw the Grand Canyon, Tucson, Phoenix, Sedona and so much more.
    It was breathtaking and yet there was so much more to explore.

    Try to make it to the Gem show in Tucson. It’s huge show that just takes over the city.

  5. Best wishes for you and family Craig, for your Arizona and US trip. These photos remind me of photos from your Sydney post. Beautiful! So much like Australia isn’t it? I just love open spaces and rugged terrain. wonderful. Have fun. I am sure to follow how your journey across America unfolds.

    1. Thanks for the well wishes Carmen. We love the outdoors too and Arizona seems like it’s going to be awesome. Those landscapes!! Looking forward to sharing our journey with you 🙂

  6. That’s a great start! As others have said, Lake Powell is a great thing to do while you’re in Page, and the Grand Canyon is a must do as well, at least for a few days so you can hike down into it. Flagstaff is another great place to visit for hiking and enjoying a more verdant area of the state. Can’t wait to read about the road trip, I’m sure it will be amazing!

    1. Wow Page sounds like the area to be. Definitely planning on several days if not weeks around the Grand Canyon and do as many hikes as possible. And thanks for the tip on Flagstaff Tim.

  7. Sedona! The place is beautiful and full of gorgeous landscape. I lived there for half a year and will never forget my visit to the lovely area. Make sure to stop there!

  8. I was going to recommend Petrified Forest, but it looks like you have it on your list!

    As for a few less famous things…I have fond memories of visiting Meteor Crater when I was a kid — it’s just a big dent in the ground where a meteor landed long long ago, and you can walk around the perimeter. It’s near Winslow, so you won’t be able to get the Eagles song out of your head. If you or the kids are into cacti, you might want to check out Saguaro National Park, near Tucson. Also near Tucson is the Biosphere 2, if you are into science. I visited the original Biosphere a long time ago and it was pretty cool — and educational!

    As for eats, I haven’t been in a long time, but I am going to Phoenix in May to see if the Alpine Valley Bread Company is as good as I remember it! All kinds of delicious, organic, healthy breads!

    1. Hey Kristin, really appreciate the tips on visiting Meteor Crater and Saguaro National Park. Sounds interesting. And the Alpine Valley Bread Company in Phoenix sounds perfect for us!!

      1. I was at Saguaro National Park this week after visiting the Sonoran Desert Museum. I think your family would really enjoy this museum. It is a combination of a zoo and botanical garden with reptiles, aquarium, lion, bear, ocelot, beaver, parrots etc.
        for hiking in Tucson, I recommend Sabino Canyon in the Santa Catalina Mountains. You can ride a tram with a narrated tour and get off at different stops to explore. I took the tram to the last stop #9 and hiked back to #1 on the Telephone Trail. Very nice views overlooking Sabino Creek. Taking a drive up Mt Lemmon (2,792m) is a real treat! Have lunch at the top at The Iron Door. I am an avid hiker so I keep thinking of more places to go. On the North side of Mt. Lemmon is The Peppersauce campground and caves! The caves are a little tricky to find but very cool! Kartchner Caverns isn’t too far away but requires advance reservation.

  9. I’ve traveled to all 50 states and after my home state of North Carolina, my second favorite state is Arizona. My favorite place is the Grand Canyon – I’ve been 30+ times over the decades – mostly as a camper. Here’s a few of my other favorites: 1) I did a 17 day raft trip down the Colorado through the entire length of the Canyon so I’m glad to see that on your bucket list. 2) I volunteered at the Tuba City Boarding School on the Navajo Reservation – try to find a way to dive a little deeper into the Navaho and Hopi Native American cultures – they are a remarkable people. A good road guide book is Native Roads by Fran Kosik. 3) my favorite town is Flagstaff – great brewery and coffee shops. 4) Second favorite town is Bisbee – east of Tucson. 5) best museum is the Heard in Phoenix. 6) hiking around the Dells near Prescott. 7) hiking around Sedona – tons and tons of trails. Town is touristy but the scenery of Oak Creek Canyon is stunning. 8) while Route 66 through AZ is good – make sure you put the entire 600 miles of Rt. 66 through Oklahoma on your OK bucket list – longest intact stretch of the “Mother Road” thru any of the states. 8) Saguaro National Park is fav after GC. 9) craziest thing is the actual London Bridge at Lake Havasu City – they brought it over and reconstructed it – about as touristy as you can get but in a nutty way. 10) sunsets and sunrises anywhere in the state – hard to beat. Maybe I’ll see you on the road!

    1. Amazing Danielle…30+ times to the Grand Canyon, is that a record, lol. Fantastic tips, really appreciate you taking the time to write all this out. And yes, maybe we will see each other on the road. How cool would that be?!!

  10. I highly recommend visiting the beautiful Canyon de Chelly, you can do a short hike into the canyon where you can see ancient ruins, also the Navajo National Monument has some amazing ruins you can hike to with a Ranger. Sedona is incredible and is very popular with New Agers and I really liked the Route 66 Museum in Kingman

    1. Love the sound of Canyon de Chelley and the Navajo National Monument Katie. Short hikes work well for us with our kids, although we’ve done 10 kilometres around Uluru 🙂

      Cheers for the tip on the museum in Kingman!

  11. You should most definitely visit Flagstaff in the north – it’s on route 66, so you’ll probably pass through it on the way to the Grand Canyon. It’s a high altitude pine tree oasis, and has incredible mountains that you can hike. The downtown area is super cute. Don’t miss Sedona either, which is just 45 minutes from Flagstaff. It’s a small village in the middle of red rocks, known for hiking and spiritual retreats. Enjoy!

  12. Craig and Caz,
    I follow your travel blog and attended the recent webinar. I am so excited to know you will be in my beautiful state of Arizona! I have lived here for 30 years and travel/hike extensively (lisaandpaulhike2015.blogspot.com). I would love to meet you, show you around or whatever you may need. I live in Phoenix. A campground I know you would love near Sedona and Cottonwood is called LoLoMai Springs. We stay in small cabins there when we go hiking in Sedona. LoLoMai.com I look forward to hearing more about your plans to visit AZ. I can’t wait to visit your amazing country some day soon!

    1. Would love to meet you in person Lisa, hangout, and learn more of your local tips for Arizona. And that campground sounds perfect! Will be referring back to this post when we get close to your home state!

  13. I came blazing through Arizona both times I’ve been through it. I’ve managed to see the Grand Canyon and Sedona, but not much else. I always seem to be out of time by the time I get there. I need to make a special trip to AZ as a destination.

  14. Sedona is great and as far the the Grand Canyon goes spend as much time as you can the. I’ve seen pictures of it all my life and it still took my breath away seeing it in real life. My real recommendation though is a tiny town called Crown King about two hours north of Phoenix. It’s a tiny old west town with a restaurant, a saloon and post office that seems frozen in time. The restaurant is surprisingly good! There is also great hiking camping and four-wheeling in the whole surrounding area. I was there many years ago but it stuck in my mind. Here is a more recent blog post by someone else that gives some more details: http://adventurousfamily.com/community/blog/view/id_32/title_Crown-King-and-the-Hike-into-Hells-Hole/

    1. Hey Eric. I think we could spend a week at the Grand Canyon, easily, and would love to see it in different seasons actually. And thanks for the tip about Crown King, sounds like a fascinating place, can’t wait to discover small towns like this!

  15. We would definitely recommend doing some hikes around Sedona. We did Cathedral Rock and Devil’s Bridge both in the same day. Also, Oak Creek Canyon was a beautiful drive between Sedona and the Grand Canyon. We did a few posts on our Arizona Road trip on our blog. trailsunblazed.com.

    Have fun!

  16. You might enjoy visiting Prescott. The first settlement in AZ. Became Fort Whipple, was the place to stop during the westward movement of covered wagons to re-stock supplies and water. Several old time bars “The Bird Cage”, etc.; a beautiful town square County Courthouse surrounded by well maintained 1800’s retail buildings; beautiful hiking trails and lakes; at an elevation of one mile high, and the same latitude as Los Angeles, it has mild seasons.

      1. Hey Craig, while you are hiking in Sedona check out the west fork of oak creek canyon trail! Not sure what time of year you will be visiting AZ but it is gorgeous in spring, fall and winter (haven’t tried summer). Other fun things are to climb cathedral rock and visit slide rock state park!

        1. Thank you Jennifer for your tip on the west fork of oak creek canyon trail. Added to our growing list of things to do in Arizona. Not sure what time of year we will be there, but probably not summer 🙂

  17. South of Flagstaff is a state park called Slide Rock State Park. It is an absolute must do to add to your list. Our boys were 14 and 12 at the time but younger kiddos were there too. I have never experienced something like it and it was probably one of our favorite days while in Arizona. Enjoy!

  18. Definitely take a detour to Bisbee- this quirky old mining town is fun and has a lot of history- we did a blog post about it if you want to learn more. Flagstaff is a great base for exploring northern Arizona. We used it for Grand Canyon, Route 66, Meteor Crater, Petrified Forest/Painted Desert. Great little city.

  19. this list was very useful. I always wanted to go to horse shoe bend. there is so many nice places to go in Arizona . just make sure you bring lots of water lol!!

  20. Hi guys!

    I would add the following to your list and those others have posted:

    1) See The Wave in the Vermilion Cliffs – also goes into Utah
    2) Chiricahua National Monument – the “wonderland of rocks” in the SE part of the state
    3) Montezuma’s Castle just north of Phoenix
    4) Spend time in Sedona – don’t just drive to it. It’s well worth it.

    Kristi aka The Trippy Tripster!

  21. If you haven’t already been to AZ, you’ve gotta add visiting some of our Wild West ghost towns like Tombstone, AZ. Also Bartlett Lake or Lake Pleasant are both family friendly! And if you are in Phoenix during the first the Friday/Saturday of the month, downtown Phoenix has what’s called First Friday, which is basically food trucks and street performers and nighttime entry at the museums! Also we have hot air balloon rides going almost every day, it’s a staple here! Since you are visiting the Grand Canyon you absolutely need to take the train that goes from Williams to the GC! I hope your trip to AZ is fantastic, and of course the best town is my own, Cave Creek/Carefree (we have a beautiful tea room that is great for kids and families!-called the English Rose Tea Room)

  22. Lovely list! In addition to all these wonderful places, y’all should visit Ajo, Arizona, a quaint & quirky tri-cultural border town in the heart of the Sonoran Desert. Stay at the Sonoran Desert Inn and Conference Center, a beautifully restored historic elementary school reimagined into a 21 room non-profit inn that focuses on art and authenticity in a laid back peaceful desert setting. Plenty to do around town: hiking, biking, birdwatching, and photographing in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and Cabeza Prieta Wildlife Refuge, visiting the old copper mine pit and museum and historical museum, exploring the galleries in town, and just bottom line escaping the hustle and bustle of the big city.

    1. Hi Charlotte, appreciate the extra tip to visit Ajo, sounds lovely with some cool activities! And the desert inn sounds very interesting!

  23. Having visited Arizona a few times, this great list brings back some great memories. Just waiting for some kind of return to normal before we go back again.

  24. Thanks for the good info. My husband and I will be heading to Arizona for two weeks in December. He is from there and we have visited several times, but you have given us some good ideas for new places to see. We also do a have a travel blog and have several posts on Arizona and the Grand Canyon, if you would like to take a look or share any of them. https://ourwanderfuljourney.com

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