If you live in Phoenix, or if you’ve just visited the Sun Valley and seen and done everything you can see and do in the city, a trip from Phoenix can open up a world of new adventures.

From short trips to the Sonoran Desert, to exploring America’s best national parks and monuments, to fantastic city attractions – we’ve got it covered for you.

Here’s our list of the top 20 journeys from Phoenix, from the shortest to the longest. Don’t forget to look down – some of the best directions are a little further down the road!

20 epic road trips from Phoenix to Arizona, through California, Nevada, Utah and New Mexico, from desert trips to city trips and incredible roads.

1. See Saguaro on the road to Tucson.

1 hour 40 minutes from Phoenix (113 miles)

Sunset in Saguaro National Park near Tucson, Arizona.
Saguaro National Park is near Tucson.

Anton Faultin/Shutterstock.com

Old Pueblo, as locals affectionately call it, is another big city in Arizona, although Tucson is also widely known as the largest small town in America.

If you take the I-10 to Tucson, Saguaro National Park is on your right as you approach. The famous giant Sonora desert cacti can be found everywhere and can reach a height of more than 12 metres in their lifetime, which can take 150 years or more.

Stay at the (very good) Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, which houses a botanical garden and various animals, including birds of prey.

Then, just before you go to town, you go to old Tucson. This is a classic Western film set, which is accessible to the public as a family amusement park when not in use as a film set.

Tucson itself is a rich mix of architecture and culture. Tucson has many old colonial buildings that give the impression of being almost European, but the pueblo architecture and a unique local blend of Mexican and traditional Apache-inspired cuisine are unmistakably Arizona.

2. Take a scenic trip to Arizona Land of Freedom.

2 hours from Phoenix (108 miles)

View from a waterfall on the Tonto Nature Bridge near Payson, Arizona
The Tonto Nature Bridge between Payson and Strawberry must stop.

Jason Yoder/Shutterstock.com

The Mongollon Rim is a 2,000-foot high ridge that stretches 200 miles across Arizona.

To see the border and the surrounding countryside, take the Beeline Highway (Route 87) to Payson.

It only takes a few hours to get there, but you’ll notice many changes as the dusty Sonora desert opens the way to lush pine forests and rivers as you get closer to the land of Rome.

The area is part of the Tonto National Forest. Keep in mind that the top of the ridge will be much cooler than in Phoenix, and even below the ridge the plateau is 1,500 m above sea level, which is much higher than in the Phoenix subway.

Once in Payson, go on to Pine and Strawberry. Tonto Natural Bridge National Park is on the move and offers great walking opportunities – bring your shoes and water.

Note the spears that live here – these little animals look a bit like wild boars and are incredibly cute. When you see him, the rest of the family is usually there too!

3. Walking among the red rocks of Sedona

2 hours from Phoenix (116 miles)

The Devil's Bridge rock formation at Sedona, Arizona.
Devil’s Bridge is one of the most amazing red rock formations near Sedona.

Matt Grimaldi/Shutterstock.com

If you are in Arizona, it is almost necessary to drive to Sedona and see the amazing red rocks that dominate the landscape.

It’s very easy to get from Phoenix to Sedona as the I-17 covers most of the route before it burns down on Route 179 at the last minute.

Along the way there are several sights to see – two crossroads for turning – the national monument of Castel Montesuma (see no. 4 below), and as you approach Sedona you may want to visit the very unusual Chapel of the Holy Cross, built in the red rocks – it looks spectacular from below and has an even better view from above.

Once you’ve arrived in Sedona, you can go in almost any direction and you’ll find amazing red stones. North of the city lies Slide Rock State Park, southwest Red Rock State Park and northwest a large wilderness area with the Devil’s Bridge.

The Red Rock Scenic Byway is the highway you took to get from Phoenix to Las Vegas. Some of the most famous rock formations, such as Cathedral Rock and Bell Rock, are located along the highway and you can see them from the road or take a short walk to get close to them.

4. Combination of culture and history on the road to Prescott and Jérôme

to 2 hours 50 minutes from Phoenix (146 miles)

Old rusty vans in the Ghosts Gold King gold mine near Jerome, Arizona.
The ghost town of the Gold King mine near Jerome is home to a large collection of old rusty trucks.

Ken Lamb/Shutterstock.com

A relatively short trip from Phoenix, the city of Prescott and Jérôme is a great way to combine panoramic views, different historical sites and local culture.

Start at the Phoenix I-17 exit and after 90 minutes you will reach Camp Verde and stop at the Castel Montesuma National Monument.

The castle of Montesuma is the ruins of an old fortress from the 12th century. For centuries, the inhabitants of Sinagua built in a steep rock. It is a relatively easy hike to see the ruins and an excellent start of the hike.

From there it is a half hour drive to the Tuzigut National Monument along the river Verde. It is another historical ruin of a large pueblo structure with more than 100 rooms at the top of a mountain range.

The town of Jerome is the next stop on Route 89A with an extra stop on the Verde Canyon Railway for a classic train journey.

The mining and ghost town just above Jerome is a bit kitschy, but it remains a breathtaking stop with a few rusty old pick-ups and abandoned buildings. The road to it is also very pleasant to drive – you can keep taking the bends if you like the scenery.

Finally, Prescott is a much larger city than Jerome, but the historic district around the Tiananmen Square is full of events.

5. Explore the flagpole and visit meteorite crater.

to 2 hours 55 minutes from Phoenix (188 miles)

A huge meteorite crater as a national landmark at Flagstaff, Arizona.
The meteorite crater of the national attraction leaves a real impression of its enormous size.


Flagstaff is all there is to do outside, and to get there from Phoenix, just jump on the I-17 to Phoenix and follow it to the end of the highway. In just over 2 hours you will reach the historic route 66 in Flagstaff.

The city is young and vibrant: one in three residents is a student or staff member of the University of North Arizona, and you can feel the excitement as you stroll through the historic center or have a drink in one of the dozens of cafes.

The mast is located on the edge of the Colorado Plateau at 2,106 meters above sea level, which is much higher than Phoenix, so expect a different weather.

If you want to go even higher, Arizona Snow is just behind Flagstaff in the north. You can go there directly and take the chairlift to the Agassis summit to enjoy a beautiful view. In winter, the entire region is transformed into a ski resort, making it an ideal place to relax all year round.

The enormous meteorite crater is a 30-minute drive from Flagstaff. It originated 50,000 years ago when a meteorite hit the earth and created a crater 1,200 m wide and 170 m deep. You have to climb the 45m high rim to reach the top inside – it’s worth the detour before you return to the Phoenix.

6. Driving on Sky Island Scenic Drive to Mount Lemmon

3 hours from Phoenix (152 miles)

Scenario of Île du Ciel on its way to the top of Mont Lemmon at sunset.
A trip to Mount Lemmon on the scenic Sky Island Scenic Byway is a must.

Sebastian Feuerherm/Shutterstock.de

The Sky Island Stage Highway is located in the hills near Tucson, but the climb and descent is so spectacular that it should have had its own entry on the list – if you don’t want to visit Tucson on the way, you’ll have to take the I-10 to climb Mount Lemmon.

The road has different names – officially it’s called Catalina Highway, you could find it as General Hitchcock Highway or Mount Lemmon Highway.

The name Heavenly Island comes from the unique mountains that stand in the middle of a desert, seemingly without entering a mountain range where no other large peaks are nearby.

The road to the top of Mont Lemmon is long and arduous, so fasten your seatbelt. If you go up, you go 1.8 km and the road is 27 miles long, which will take some time given the constant twists and turns.

It will surprise you that the path is also free – there is no charge if you don’t plan to camp.

Be prepared for changing conditions – a massive drop in altitude means you’ll have to deal with different weather conditions along the way and be replaced by pine forests at the foot of Saguaro catchi. While summer daytime temperatures can be as high as 100 degrees below zero (more than 38°C), they can drop below 70 degrees (21°C) at the Summer Port on the top of Mount Lemmon.

7. Crossing London Bridge to Lake Havasu

at 3 o’clock 10 minutes from Phoenix (193 miles)

The Old London Bridge across a canal in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.
No, it’s not central London! This old London bridge is located in Lake Havasu, Arizona.


Lake Havasu is an artificial lake in the Mojave Desert when the Colorado River was flooded by a dam in the 1930s.

To get from Phoenix to Lake Havasu, take the I-10 west of Hope, take Hwy 72 to the Colorado River and then Hwy 95 north on the river to the city of Lake Havasu.

The lake has all the typical nautical activities and is mainly known as a fishing area. The large number of poles in the lake attracts anglers from far away and regularly organises large fishing competitions.

One of the most unusual sights in Lake Havasu City is the London Bridge. It is an old London bridge that was demolished in London in 1968 when it began to dive into the clay of the riverbed to be replaced by a newer structure. Of all the bidders in the world, Lake Havasu won the auction for the purchase of the bridge.

After each stone was carefully disassembled and marked, the entire bridge was sent to Arizona and carefully rebuilt – it certainly seems inappropriate, but that’s why you should see this!

8. Discover the incredible desert-like nature of Yeshua Tree National Park

at 3 hours 15 minutes from Phoenix (222 miles)

Yeshua trees at sunrise in the Yeshua Tree National Park with mountains in the background.
The Yeshua Tree National Park is home to unique trees that grow in the desert.

HeavyT Photography/Shutterstock.com

There is no shortage of national forests near Phoenix – Coconino, Apache Sitgrives, Tonto and Prescott National Forests – all within 2 hours of the city.

Joshua Tree is one of the two national parks (with a large canyon), which are a little further from Phoenix and can be reached in just over three hours. Besides the small Saguaro National Park near Tucson (see no. 1 above), these two parks are closest to the Phoenix.

Joshua Tree National Park is easily accessible from Phoenix – take the I-10 for 220 miles directly west of Phoenix, then take the Cotton Tree Tourist Center a few miles off the highway.

The Yeshua Tree National Park is named after the unique trees that grow in the Mojave Desert. These trees, which can survive the extreme heat of one of the world’s hottest deserts, have thick hands that extend upwards to make them look like humans – hence their name.

If you come in summer, make an effort to make your hikes before 9 or 10 in the morning, because it’s hot during the day – from June to August, the average maximum temperature is over 38°C (100°F)!

There are good, little tiring hiking trails to explore, and in spring the desert flowers bloom and are worth seeing – especially as the temperature is much milder.

9. View of the Grand Canyon.

to 3 hours 20 minutes from Phoenix (224 miles)

The canyon of the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona is breathtaking.
The Grand Canyon is one of the most spectacular attractions in the United States.

prochasson frederic/Shutterstock.com

The Grand Canyon is not only Arizona, but probably the most famous natural spectacle in America, and only a few hours by car will separate you from the sight of your own eyes – how can you not see the huge crack in the desert?

The climbing routes through Sedona and Prescott take about the same amount of time – you can climb in one direction and come back in the other, stopping halfway between Prescott and Jerome (see no. 4 above) on the way up and Flagstaff (no. 5) or Sedona (no. 3) on the way down.

Although there are some great places to visit in the Grand Canyon, Grand Canyon National Park is probably the best option, and not just because it’s the closest.

The views from Grand Canyon Village are among the best and there are also good facilities and eateries.

The South Kaiba and Grand Angel trails allow you to descend and cross the canyon, while others follow the telescope in either direction to reach a different viewpoint.

If you want to go a little further on the North Face, you can do so on Route 89, and along the way you can visit the impressive Vermillion Rocks National Monument, but it will take twice as long, so you’ll have to plan a much longer journey!

10. Relaxing and resting in Palm Springs

4 hours 10 minutes from Phoenix (276 miles)

Palm Springs Palm Street in the Coachella Valley, California.
Palm Springs is an oasis of green lawns and palm trees in the middle of the Coachella River Valley.

Nick Fox/Shutterstock.com

Palm Springs is known as a place where the sun always shines – sitting on the edge of the Mojave Desert in the Coachella Valley, the weather is clear and sunny almost every day.

The fact that this desert is the hottest in the world and that the sun shines there means that summers are usually very hot – we’re talking about maximum daily temperatures of 42°C on average in July and August.

If you want to spend some time by the pool and move quickly from one air-conditioned location to another thanks to the heat, you can get to Palm Springs in just over 4 hours.

The direction is easy – take the I-10 west into the centre of Phoenix and drive 260 miles directly through Palm Springs. It’s very simple!

If you want to get out and avoid the heat, the Palm Springs air tram will take you to Mount San Jacinto State Park. It is a rotating tramway, which means that each seat alternately offers all the views, and upstairs you will find a bar and a restaurant overlooking the valley.

From here there are two routes, the Long Valley Discovery Trail (actually a short cycle path) and the Round Valley Trail, which (together with other continuous routes) can take you to the top of Mount San Jacinto.

Keep in mind that this is a large difference in altitude and that the temperature at the top can be 30 degrees cooler than at the bottom of the valley – if you come in spring or autumn, you may want to bring a light jacket.

11. Very strange journey to the Salton Sea

4 hours 10 minutes from Phoenix (265 miles)

Abandoned rusted swing on Bombay beach in Salton C, California.
Most of the infrastructure, cities and motels around the Salton Sea are deserted and abandoned.


If you want your trip from Phoenix to Southern California to be accompanied by a large portion of weird food, go to Salton City.

This large lake was created by chance when engineers working on an irrigation project on the Colorado River made several mistakes and the water from the river began to flow into the Salton basin. When they solved this problem 2 years later, a large lake was created.

Because the land on which the lake originated was a dry salt plain (in the area where once stood a large salt mine), the water is salty and has a salt concentration almost twice that of the Pacific Ocean.

Salton Sea was a popular seaside resort until the 1950s, but it soon got out of hand. Today there are many deserted seaside resorts, deserted beaches and rusty infrastructure.

One of the main attractions of the site is the Mountain of Salvation, built by an inhabitant of the area, on which several verses of the Bible are written to spread the word of Jesus.

Another are the sculptures in Borrego Springs, a little further in the direction of San Diego – huge metal structures depicting a giant snake, fighting dinosaurs and other scenes in the middle of the desert.

I warned you about a strange factor!

12. Find out what’s really going on in Las Vegas.

4 hours 30 minutes from Phoenix (301 miles)

Emblematic casinos and hotels along the Las Vegas Strip and the Bellagio Fountain.
Casinos and hotels on the Las Vegas Strip are not looking for a sophisticated look.

Lucky Photographer/Shutterstock.com

Everyone should visit Sin City at least once, and since it’s only a desert walk from Phoenix, it’s a great option for a road trip.

Many people make this trip on the interstate, drive north on the I-17 and I-40 – the roads are good and there are many places to stop.

But American Highway 93 is definitely the way to go, and it could be one of my all-time favorite stretches of road. The road is not particularly entertaining – it usually crosses the desert, which gradually changes from the saguaro cacti and red dust of the Sonora desert to the rocky, yellow hues of the Mojave.

But the cities in this section show how boring the people who built the highway were. With Baghdad and the city of Santa Claus you’ll pass through a city called Nothing. There’s literally nothing – here I’m trying to take a picturesque picture.

Dodge Challenger R/T parked in Notting, Arizona, in the middle of nowhere.

What you do in Las Vegas is known as staying in Las Vegas, but seriously – there are plenty of opportunities!

If you like to tremble, this is the undisputed capital of the gambling world, and from endless rows of slot machines to huge poker rooms, there’s something for everyone.

In addition to gambling, there is a wide range of evening entertainment and some of the best restaurants in the country. Make sure you choose a product that fits your budget – some prices can rise quickly!

Personally, I prefer to stay in the newest part of the Strip – hotels like Aria and Cosmopolitan are much more modern at reasonable prices (in the Bellagio you pay a high price), and gambling attracts a little less attention (in the Cosmo, by way of exception, there is no casino).

If you make a small detour, you can see Lake Mead and Hoover Dam as you approach Las Vegas, and if you leave early on your way home, you can cross the Grand Canyon (#9 above) or visit the red cliffs of Sedona (#3) on the way back.

13. Exploring wildlife on the steps of the Great National Monument – Escalante

to 4 hours 35 minutes from Phoenix (300 miles)

Devil's Garden Stones at the Great Staircase National Monument - Escalante, Utah.
The Devil’s Garden is one of the unique attractions of the National Monument of the Erestrap – Escalante.


This part of the wildlife in southern Utah was the last to be mapped in the United States and is still almost completely intact due to its beautiful landscape and unique rock formations, ideal for exploration.

It was first declared a National Monument in 1996 and then reduced by President Trump, but there is still a lot to see and do at the National Monument.

To get there, you have to cross Flagstaff north to Page in the north of Arizona. Here you can stop to take a look at the horseshoe bend of the Grand Canyon, an incredible 180-degree bend of the canyon, from where you have a beautiful view.

You enter the monument by crossing the border with Utah and approaching Great Water, but to get to some of the best places you have to drive to Escalante and then south. Stop at Toadstool Hoodoos on Highway 89 as you make your roundabout.

Although Bryce Canyon is on the border of the National Monument and Zion Park is just around the corner (see #19 below), it’s best to take them apart unless you have enough time to combine them into one big wilderness adventure.

On your way to Escalante you will pass through the Zebra Canyon, the Devil’s Garden, Cook-a-Bu Canyon and Jacob’s Arch.

I cheated a bit – although it takes about four and a half hours to get to the National Monument, you need the same amount of time to walk around and down to Jacob Gamblin’s Ark from above, so plan your visit according to the time you need to get on the road.

14. Visit to the Valley of the Pine Falls Monuments

to 5 hours from Phoenix (316 miles)

The monuments of the Cult Butts Valley at sunrise, on the border of Utah/Arizona.
The enormous rocks of the Monuments Valley look like another planet.


The Valley of Monuments is a spectacular desert valley with huge, characteristic sand cigarette butts, located about 5 hours drive from Phoenix.

Unlike many of the other options on this list, Monument Valley is not a national park because it lies within the Navajo National Park and the land cannot be federally managed.

While the Grand Canyon, Death Valley and Zion National Park are all within easy reach of the Phoenix and everything on this list, the Valley of Monuments can easily surpass them all – for the simple supernatural feeling you get when you first see these stones.

If you have time, you can drive a bit slower, but on a much nicer route to Monument Valley and make more stops along the way.

Take the Beeline Expressway to Payson in Tonto National Forest (#2 above) and then drive through Apache Sitgreaves towards Petrified Forest National Park. It’s not so much a forest as a dry rocky landscape, but there are really fascinating fossils and forest remains that you could ever discover here.

Then continue north to Chelly Canyon, which is also part of the Navajo Nation. It may not be as well known as the Grand Canyon or other attractions in Arizona, but it really is a beautiful canyon with lots of cliffs and steep cliffs to cross.

15. Sharing a beach with sea lions in San Diego

to 5 hours 20 minutes from Phoenix (355 miles)

The San Diego skyline behind San Diego Bay in Southern California.
San Diego is the pearl of Southern California and is located on the Pacific coast.


If you go to the Pacific coast and want to enjoy the beach and the mild climate, San Diego is the nearest and easiest option for you.

If you leave Phoenix on the I-10, take the I-8, which runs south via Yuma and near the Mexican border to San Diego. The scenery on this trip is quite spectacular, even if you follow the interstate route – you will pass through saguaros forests, rocky desert landscapes and even sand dunes that make you feel like you have entered the Sahara.

When I made this trip, I was amazed at the difference between the different types of desert and the gradual changes that took place on my way to San Diego.

San Diego has a temperate climate all year round, which is why so many people living in Phoenix migrate to America’s best city during the incredibly hot summer months.

You can stroll through the historic Gaslight District, spend some time in Coronado or visit the attractions of Balboa Park, which includes the world famous San Diego Zoo, botanical gardens and some of the finest museums.

Be sure to visit La Hall and La Hall Cove, home to a group of sea lions – you can see them relaxing on the rocks most days.

The beaches at Point Loma are perfect for an afternoon walk to the Cabrillo National Monument with its historic lighthouse and views of San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico.

16. Discover the suburbs of Los Angeles

to 5 hours 30 minutes from Phoenix (372 miles)

Downtown Los Angeles at some distance with a spacious neighborhood.
Los Angeles and its suburbs stretch all along the California coast.


If you have more time or want to explore the neighborhoods, beaches and attractions of the big city, Los Angeles is just a little further than San Diego.

The journey from Phoenix to Los Angeles is incredibly easy, even if it’s the best part of the 400 miles – just jump on the I-10 and stay put until you cross the Los Angeles River and are in downtown Los Angeles.

You can spend a weekend or two in the City of Angels and see only a small part of what this city has to offer. While many cities claim to cover a vast area, the combined urban area around Los Angeles is probably the largest I’ve ever seen, as counties, cities and towns blend seamlessly from Pasadena to Laguna Beach.

Mark a Hollywood sign that you absolutely must see (it offers a beautiful view of Los Angeles) and see the stars on the Walk of Fame along Hollywood Boulevard.

Then head to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills on the Sunset Strip and dine in Santa Monica if you want to see where the city’s rich and famous people spend their time.

Culver City is a lively neighborhood that’s not as popular as it should be, and Venice’s beach impresses people as they watch it from the promenade and relax to the sound of the waves rolling in.

If you have kids, Disneyland in Anaheim and Universal Studios in Hollywood are perfect for a day out. You can go further up the coast to Malibu to enjoy a quiet beach in the morning and then walk into the Santa Monica Mountains right behind you.

17. Discovering the Stones of the Valley of Death in the National Park

6 hours 40 minutes from Phoenix (413 miles)

Dry soil from the dam reservoir in Death Valley National Park, California.
The dry lake in the reservoir is the deepest point of North America.

Anatoly Lukicz/Shutterstock.com

If you thought summer in Phoenix was hot, a trip to California’s Death Valley National Park might change your view of what’s really hot.

In fact, I recommend that you do not visit the Death Valley during the summer – daily maximum temperatures from June to August average 49°F (120°F) – you will not be able to walk much in the afternoon……

The road from Phoenix to Death Valley runs through Las Vegas – just 2 hours after leaving Vegas in your rearview mirror.

Despite being a hot and dry desert, Death Valley has many different landscapes and parts. It is the largest national park in the United States, with the exception of Alaska, which has dry lake beds, mountains and even sand dunes.

If you come to the Racetrack Playa (a large dry lake), you can observe the phenomenon of the sailing rocks. These are large, very heavy rocks that seem to move by themselves in the pelvis and leave a trail.

The truth is that during the winter months, when Death Valley reaches the freezing point at night, they move, but despite the physics, it still seems strange.

18. Adventures in New Mexico in Albuquerque and Santa Fe

7 hours 30 minutes from Phoenix (482 miles)

The quirky center of Santa Fe, New Mexico, at night.
The center of Santa Fe is full of charm, beautiful buildings and historical character.

Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.com

The cities of Albuquerque and Santa Fe in northern New Mexico are very remote, but it is really an interesting place for a week from Phoenix.

From Phoenix to Albuquerque it is best to take the Beeline Expressway through Tonto National Forest towards Payson (see point 2 above if you want to stay here), then through Apache Sitgreaves National Forest to Holbrook.

The beautiful wooded hills give way to a dry desert for the rest of your journey on the I-40 – bring bottled water to your car!

Albuquerque looks like a big city – in the center of the city there are a lot of businessmen in suits. You’ll find a small old town, but there aren’t many, and it seems too touristy to me to appreciate.

Although Santa Fe is only an hour from Albuquerque, you will notice that it is very different. As an old colonial town, its development is more traditional and places more emphasis on art and culture, from the Wheelright Museum of American Indians (a short drive from downtown) to the endless art galleries along Canyon Road.

19. Discover the natural wonders of Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks

8 hours 20 minutes from Phoenix (476 miles)

The breathtaking Angel's Landing Trail is carved into a mountain in Zion National Park, Utah.
The view of the Angel Landing Trail in Zion National Park is impressive.

Kalin Tatu/Shutterstock.com

Yes, it’s a long drive to these two national parks, but Zion may be my favorite national park in the southwestern United States, and given the competition from parks like Yosemite, Death Valley and the Grand Canyon, it’s a real achievement.

Zion National Park is located in southwest Utah and you have to pass in front of the Grand Canyon (#9 above) and along the edge of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument (#13). If you can extend the journey along the way, I will certainly include it in the itinerary. Sedona (no. 2) and Flagstaff (no. 5) are also on the move and are perfect for stopovers.

Zion National Park not only impresses with its lush canyon landscapes, but also with its impressive hiking trails – you have paths carved into steep cliffs and views that will leave you speechless.

For the more adventurous, there are routes that will be really challenging – Narrows is a 16 mile one-way trip that takes you through a challenging canyon, including a wandering coffin in the cold river water and sneaking through narrow crevices between masses of rocks!

Bryce Canyon is just over an hour north. It is a small national park famous for its unique type of rock formations that have created large amphitheatres with many high, hooded cliffs that are densely packed and look like spectators. You can walk around the edge and look down, but don’t forget to bring an extra layer – the edge reaches 2,700m and even at the height of summer it can be much cooler than in Phoenix.

20. Walking in Canyonlands and Arch National Parks, Utah

9 hours 30 minutes from Phoenix (551 miles)

A look at Mesa Arch Canyon in Canyonlands National Park, Utah.
This landscape, which opens from Mesa Arch, is the reason why you should visit Canyonlands National Park in Utah.

prochasson frederic/Shutterstock.com

Canyonlands and Arch National Parks are the most remote places on our list, and it will probably take a few days to drive there.

But the road up from Phoenix has so many great places to stop along the way that it can just be perfect – Prescott and Jerome (#4 above), Sedona (#3), Flagstaff (#5), Grand Canyon (#9) and Monument Valley (#14) are all on the fastest route, and a slightly different route for the descent can go through the Tonto National Forest (#2 on our list).

The arches and gorges are located on both sides of the town of Moab. It is not a big place and can be very crowded during the summer months when tourists from all over the United States come to stop at the national parks.

If you come in the summer, you can also visit the campsites. If you already spend the night in the Canyonlands, you don’t have to make a long drive in the morning to get there!

The arches are a smaller park and are much closer to Moab. There are also fairly easy paths where you can park near the rock formations, which means there are many more visitors.

If you drive all the way, make sure you visit the two America Beautiful National Parks you pass and, if you have a good 4×4, spend the day on Rim Road, which runs around Canyonland and leads to places most other visitors have never seen before.

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