If you’re planning an Arizona Utah road trip, look no further! I’m spilling all the best spots, both well known and the hidden gems.
Arizona and Utah are the two states that just keep giving. I swear I could spend a lifetime in the Southwest revisiting all my favorite spots and finding new amazing places to explore.
I’ve personally been to every one of these spots and would only recommend it if I loved it!
Between both Arizona and Utah there are 8 National Parks and countless national monuments and state parks. Plus, if you’re willing to go down a few dirt roads you’re sure to find some epic, out of this world landscapes.
There are so many options through these two states. In this post I’ll break down all the best stops in both Arizona and Utah, and 1, 2, or 3 week road trip options!
You can always pick and choose and create your own trip depending on how much time you have. Plus I’ve got maps and budget tips for your next Arizona-Utah road trip!
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Planning your trip? Use my favorite resources!
Accommodation – Booking.com to find the best deals on hotels.
Flights – Skyscanner to look for the best prices and deals on flights.
Rental cars – DiscoverCars to shop around at multiple car rental agencies.
Travel insurance – Safety Wing; keep your trips insured to protect yourself while traveling.
Tours/experiences – Viator or Get Your Guide for the best tours.
Best airport to fly into for an Arizona-Utah Road Trip
If you want to go to both Arizona and Utah, the easiest airport to fly into will be Las Vegas Henry Reid International Airport.
If you plan on spending 2-3 weeks on your road trip, maybe consider flying into Las Vegas and flying out of Salt Lake City, UT or Phoenix, AZ to not backtrack along your route and fit the most stops in.
30 of the Best Stops on an Arizona-Utah Road Trip at a Glance
- Zion National Park
- Bryce Canyon National Park
- Mystic Hot Springs near Monroe, UT.
- Capitol Reef National Park
- Goblin Valley State Park.
- Little Wild Horse Slot Canyon.
- Arches National Park
- Canyonlands National Park
- Dead Horse State Park
- Fifth Water Hot Springs near Salt Lake City, UT.
- Cutler Point near Kanab, UT. (4×4, high clearance required)
- Buckskin Gulch Slot Canyon near Kanab, UT.
- The Wave near Kanab, UT. (Permits needed)
15. White Pocket, AZ near Kanab, UT. (4×4, high clearance required)
16. Lake Powell
18. Alstrom Point near Page (4×4, high clearance required)
19. Monument Valley
20. Valley of the Gods
21. Goosenecks State Park
22. Grand Canyon National Park
24. Edge of the World Campsite
29. Saguaro National Park
30. Organ Pipe National Monument
Arizona Utah Road Trip Maps
How many days do you need in Utah and Arizona?
You could spend as little as 5 days, or 5 weeks traveling through Utah and Arizona. There are so many various and diverse landscapes from mountains to canyons to red rocks to cacti to lakes and so much more.
But, to explore a little bit of each state along the Arizona- Utah border, I think 7-12 days is perfect to hit a lot of stops without feeling rushed.
The purpose of listing all the best stops in both Utah and Arizona is so that you can get a feel of all the best stops in each state.
Then pick out the destinations that suit you best and make the most sense depending on where you’re coming from.
How to take an Arizona-Utah road trip on a budget
It’s not hard to save money while taking your Arizona-Utah road trip, so it’s a great trip to take while being on a lower budget!
If you like camping, there is a ton of dispersed camping throughout both states. Dispersed camping is on public land that is free for you to use. Using apps such as The Dyrt, iOverlander, and Freeroam are all great for finding free camping spots near your destinations.
Another easy way to save money is to buy food from grocery stores and make your own meals as often as you can. Some quick and easy meal and snack ideas are: peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, lunch meat sandwiches, protein bars, protein shakes, apples, bananas, trail mix, dried fruit, and nuts.
If you do splurge on a hotel instead of camping, try to book one that has breakfast included. You can save an easy 20$ on food for that morning by doing this!
Get an America the Beautiful National Parks pass. If you plan on visiting 3 National Parks in a year- get the annual pass. Paying one fee each time you enter a park really adds up so you’ll end up saving money by getting the annual pass!
Planning tips for your Arizona-Utah road trip
- Check road & trail conditions: The desert is a place of extremes and things like flash foods, rockfall, and more can cause trail and road closures. Check conditions before embarking.
- Reservations & permits: For camping and lodging reservations, you’ll want to book far in advance especially during peak season. And check to see if you need a timed reservation to get into one of the parks. Keep in mind that permits are sometimes required for hikes.
- Keep your gas tank full: Sometimes you may not see your next gas station for 100+ miles, so it’s always a good idea to keep your tank at least half full at all times.
- Have a first aid kit & roadside kit: Safety first! Have a first aid kit for your hikes and roadside kit for your car. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially when in the middle of the desert!
- Know the road conditions before driving & your car’s capabilities: Does this road require 4×4, AWD, or high clearance? Be aware of rain in the desert. Those dirt roads can become mud quickly and be impassible,- even in the most equipped vehicles.
Best stops in Utah
1. Zion National Park
Zion National Park is located in Southwestern Utah, a little over 2 hours from Las Vegas International Airport. A small park that is so diverse and deserves 2 full days to explore all the best parts and hike the infamous trails of The Narrows and Angels Landing.
Best things to do in Zion National Park:
- Hike The Narrows: Walk through a slot canyon in the Virgin River. Moderate difficulty due to the fact you walk through the river the entire time. You can walk as far as you’d like- so it could be anywhere from 2-10 miles round trip. No permits needed.
- Hike Angels Landing: Permits needed, apply for a lottery on a 3 month rolling basis or try your luck one day before. Hard difficulty, this is not for those afraid of heights. 4.5 miles round trip & 1,600 ft elevation gain.
- Observation Point Hike: Just outside the park in East Zion. Fantastic views of the park. Moderate difficulty. 7 miles round trip & 700 ft elevation gain. A great alternative to Angel’s Landing if you don’t like heights or couldn’t get permits. Read more about this hike on my post here!
- The Watchman trail: Great for sunset. Moderate difficulty. 3 miles roundtrip & 635 ft elevation gain.
- The Canyon Overlook Trail: The perfect short trail located in the Eastern side of the park.
2. Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon, a 1 ½ hour drive from Zion, is a truly unique park, full of orange ‘Hoodoos’. These hoodoos are rock that have formed over thousands of years from erosion and are in the shape of spires. Spending one half or one full day is a good amount of time to see all the best sights.
Best things to do in Bryce National Park:
- Watch the sunrise: Walk around the rim right by the main parking area of the park, or set up your tripod to watch the sunrise at the aptly named Sunrise Point.
- Hike the Navajo & Queens Gardens Loop: Walk down into the hoodoos themselves and take a picture of yourself for scale! Moderate difficulty. 3 miles round trip & 650 ft elevation gain.
- Hike the Fairyland Loop Trail: A longer walk into the hoodoos to experience more of the park. Moderate difficulty. 7.8 miles round trip and 1,550 ft elevation gain.
3. Escalante, UT
Since Escalante is not a part of a National Park, it’s left out a lot by roadtrippers around Utah. But make sure you don’t skip out on this beautiful area! The Grand Staircase- Escalante National Monument is an incredible area that literally stretches over 1 million acres. There is lots of great hiking around Escalante.
Escalante is one hour from Bryce Canyon and 2 hours from Capitol Reef National Park.
Best things to do in Escalante, UT:
- Hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls: A waterfall in the desert- yup you heard that right. And a beautiful one at that. Moderate difficulty. 6.7 miles roundtrip & 850 ft elevation gain.
- Hike to Zebra Slot Canyon: Truly unique and stunning slot canyon. It’s a narrow one though and getting through some parts are difficult; I wouldn’t go alone. Moderate difficulty. 6.5 miles roundtrip & 450 ft elevation gain.
- Coyote Gulch backpacking trip: Hike to the incredible Jacob Hamblin Arch and camp down in Coyote Gulch. Most accessible trailhead is at Hurricane Wash. Pick up a permit at the Escalante Visitor Center and pack out all waste. ~20 miles roundtrip with minimal elevation gain/loss. Involves stream crossing and trail finding at times.
- Reflection Canyon backpacking trip: You’ll need high clearance and at least AWD to get to this trailhead. It’s a very difficult hike but worth it. No water sources along the route. Trail finding needed. 15 miles roundtrip & 1,500 ft elevation gain.
4. Mystic Hot Springs
If you fancy a dip at a hot spring resort, take a detour on your way to Capitol Reef at Mystic Hot Springs. The nearest town is Monroe, Utah. You will have to account for a few extra hours of driving. Find multiple tubs and baths here for soaking.One of the most unique and interesting hot springs you’ll find out West. Reservations are needed to soak here.
5. Fifth Water Hot Springs
By far one of the dreamiest hot springs I’ve ever been to – and I’ve been to quite a few around the U.S.! Fifth Water Hot Springs is about an hour outside of Salt Lake City. The pools are a vibrant light blue color, it honestly looks exactly how it does in person as in the photos!
The hike to reach the springs is 4.5 miles roundtrip with 600 feet elevation gain. If you go in the winter, the last 1.2 miles of the road is closed to get to the trailhead. So add an additional ~2.5 miles roundtrip to your hike. I went in winter and the extra miles were well worth it to see the springs with a blanket of snow!
6. Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef has a little something for everyone. The park is full of red rock walls & cliffs, arches, canyons, and large rock monoliths. If you have a full day to spend in Capitol Reef I highly recommend it. Located 2 ½ hours East from Bryce Canyon.
Best things to do in Capitol Reef National Park:
- Hike to Hickman Bridge: Beautiful hike where you can walk under a huge arch. Moderate difficulty. 1.7 miles roundtrip & 415 ft elevation gain.
- Hike to Cassidy Arch: A hike where the journey is just as beautiful as the destination! The hike to Cassidy Arch takes you through Capitol Reef’s red rock country and to a huge arch you can walk over. The scale here is truly epic. Moderate difficulty. 3.1 miles roundtrip & 650 ft elevation gain.
- Drive to the Temple of the Sun & Moon: I visited this part of the park on my third time in Capitol Reef and my only regret is that I hadn’t seen it sooner! It is stunning here and something you will not see in any other part of the park. AWD, high clearance recommended for this drive due to sandy and rocky/rutted parts of the road. Expect the 35 mile drive to take about 2 hours; access the road off of Highway 24 near Hanksville.
7. Goblin Valley State Park
One of the many interesting places in the Southwest that leaves you scratching your head- ‘How in the heck did this form?!” Goblin Valley is a fun quick stop where you can see these funky rock formations that are really called ‘goblins’. You’ll feel like you stepped off a spaceship at this state park.
Goblin Valley is 1 hour East of Capitol Reef. It is about halfway between Capitol Reef and Moab, UT.
Best things to do in Goblin Valley State Park:
- Walk around the Goblins: You don’t have to do a full hike here, you can simply get out and walk down into the goblins for a little while near the visitor center.
- Hike the Goblin’s Lair: A hidden gem trail to a slot canyon and caverns. Moderate difficulty. 2.3 miles roundtrip & 165 ft elevation gain.
8. Little Wild Horse Slot Canyon near Goblin Valley
One of my favorite slot canyon hikes ever! After your time at Goblin Valley, drive another 45 minutes West to find Little Wild Horse Canyon.
The hike is moderate in difficulty and just under 4 miles roundtrip with 500 ft elevation gain if you only go to the slot canyon. You can also do the full Little Wild Horse Bell Canyon trail that is 8 miles roundtrip and 785 ft elevation gain.
9. Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands is often overlooked compared to its neighbor of Arches National Park. But don’t sleep on this incredible place! There are 4 districts in this park, with Island in the Sky and the Needles being the most popular and accessible. You can easily visit Island in the Sky with just half a day.
Canyonlands is located 2 ½ hours from Capitol Reef, 1 hour from Arches, and 4 hours from Salt Lake City.
Best things to do in Canyonlands National Park:
- Hike to Mesa Arch for sunrise: Infamous spot for sunrise, you can get a glimpse of the rising sun through the arch. Easy difficulty. 0.7 miles roundtrip & 85 ft elevation gain.
- Green River Overlook at sunset: A stunning location in general but a sunset here is not to be missed. This is a simple overlook, no hiking needed.
- Visit The Needles district: Head over to the Needles district for quieter trails and solitude. Hike the 5 mile moderate trail to Chesler Park or go all the way to Druid Arch for a 10 mile roundtrip hike.
10. Dead Horse State Park
This state park is pretty small but worth the stop. If you’re coming to Canyonlands National Park, the detour to Dead Horse State Park is along the way and only takes an extra 25 minutes. You do not have to do any hiking to see the major viewpoint at Dead Horse. An hour at this spot is all you need.
Best things to do in Dead Horse State Park:
- Watch the sunrise or sunset at the Dead Horse Point Overlook.
11. Arches National Park
Home to over 2,000 arches, Arches National Park is the perfect place to spend a day on your Arizona-Utah road trip. Start your day by hiking to Delicate Arch to beat the crowds, hike to Sand Dune Arch and Devil’s Garden, and end your day at the Windows section.
Arches National Park is located just 15 minutes from the town of Moab and 4 hours from Salt Lake City. You do have to get reservation time slots April- October.
Best things to do in Arches National Park:
- Hike to Delicate Arch: The infamous arch that is on the license plates of Utah drivers, Delicate Arch is a sight to behold. Hike at sunrise to beat the crowds. Moderate difficulty. 3.2 miles roundtrip & 630 ft elevation gain.
- The Windows & Turret Arch: Also makes for a beautiful sunrise spot. Simple walk up sight easy to access from the parking lot.
- Double Arch: Across the parking lot from the Windows is Double Arch. Another walk up spot, the scale of this arch is truly incredible.
- Hike the Devil’s Garden trail: This hike will take you half a day but you will pass many arches and sights throughout. Moderate- hard difficulty. 8 miles roundtrip & 1,100 ft elevation gain.
- Hike to Sand Dune Arch & Broken Arch: Worth the quick stop to these 2 beautiful arches. Easy difficulty. 1.4 miles roundtrip & 150 ft elevation gain.
- Hike to Corona Arch just outside of Arches: This amazing arch is just 15 minutes outside of the national park and definitely worth the stop. Sunset makes this arch glow. Moderate difficulty. 2.4 miles roundtrip & 480 ft elevation gain.
12. Valley of the Gods
Valley of the Gods is in Southeastern Utah, just 1 hour north of Monument Valley in Arizona. Valley of the Gods is known as a mini Monument Valley. While it doesn’t have the same “wow” factor that Monument Valley does, it is still worth the stop if you’re in the area!
Best things to do in Valley of the Gods:
- Go camping: One of Utah’s best free, dispersed camping sites is here at Valley of the Gods. Set up camp and watch the buttes and canyons glow orange with the setting sun.
- Do the 17 mile drive: When the road is dry, any car can make this drive. It is a scenic 17 mile drive through Valley of the Gods to see all the best sights.
13. Goosenecks State Park
Just 30 minutes down the road from Valley of the Gods is Goosenecks State Park. The overlook largely resembles that of Horseshoe Bend in Page, AZ. Except Goosenecks is like 2 of those bends and this park is not nearly as crowded!
Best things to do in Goosenecks State Park:
- Goosenecks Viewpoint: You can easily park and walk right up to the viewpoint to see the Goosenecks. The canyon is carved by the San Juan River.
- Go camping: There are 8 campsites here, first come first serve, that sit right along the rim overlooking the goosenecks and the San Juan River.
- Hike the nearby Honaker trail: This rugged hike takes you down to the San Juan river. There are many switchbacks and some spots that those fearful of heights wouldn’t enjoy! Hard difficulty. 4 miles roundtrip & 1600 ft elevation gain.
Hidden gems in Utah
14. Cutler Point aka the Great Chamber
The Great Chamber is located closest to the town of Kanab, UT. A 4×4 high clearance car is absolutely needed to get here. The road has very deep sand at times.
From the main road it will take about 45-60 minutes to reach the trailhead to get to the Great Chamber. From that trailhead is only a 0.3 mile uphill walk through sand up to the large cave.
Since this place is hard to reach and off the radar, it makes one of the best hidden gems! It’s also a simple picture spot so you don’t need a large amount of time here.
Best stops in Arizona
15. Buckskin Gulch Slot Canyon
The Buckskin Gulch to Wire Pass trail is an absolutely amazing slot canyon. The trailhead is located about 1 hour outside of Page, AZ. You will actually go North and cross into Utah for a bit.
It’s one of the longest slot canyons in the entire world! The trail also features some petroglyphs and a cool rock formation at the start that resembles The Wave.
The trail is about 12 miles long, with almost all of it being in the slot. However, you don’t have to hike the entire trail. Feel free to just do a few miles and turn back around.
16. The Wave
You must have a permit to visit The Wave, that are pretty competitive to win. There is a lottery drawing for them that you can apply for at recreation.gov. I applied for permits for the first and only time in the month of January and got them on the first try!
Once you have scored your permits, the hike to this magnificent area is 6.7 miles roundtrip with 1200 feet of elevation gain. It is fully exposed in the sun and requires a bit of route finding, so download an offline trail map.
17. Page, AZ
Page is located in Northern Arizona, right before the Utah border. Page is a 2 hour drive from Zion, and 4 hours from Phoenix.
There is so much to do around the town of Page, it would be easy to spend 2 days here, especially if you want to get out on Lake Powell. If not, 1 day would suffice by hiking Horseshoe Bend and going to Antelope Canyon.
Best things to do in Page, AZ:
- Hike to Horseshoe Bend: This is the famous overlook of the Colorado River where the canyon looks like a horseshoe. Go during sunrise for the least crowds. Easy- moderate difficulty. 1.5 miles roundtrip & 135 ft elevation gain.
- Kayak Horseshoe Bend: If you’d like to see and experience Horseshoe Bend from a different perspective, consider kayaking the Colorado River and even camping down on the shores! There is a backhaul ferry that takes you up river and then you kayak back. It is a unique experience and gorgeous down there.
- Hike in Upper or Lower Antelope Canyon on Navajo land: An experience not to be missed. I’ve been to many, many slot canyons, but truly none measure up to the beauty that is Antelope Canyon. The canyon is really a work of art, looking like it was hand sculpted instead of the effects of thousands of years of nature just doing its job. You’ll need timed reservations for both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon.
18. Lake Powell
Lake Powell, truly one of my favorite spots in the Southwest. The blue- green waters of the lake just look so magical next to the orange and yellow canyon walls. I could easily spend a week on a houseboat just exploring! Lake Powell is right on the outskirts of the town of Page, AZ.
Best things to do in Lake Powell:
- Kayak to lower Antelope Canyon. Take a guided kayak tour and paddle to the entrance of Lower Antelope Canyon. There is a portion of this canyon you can access via Lake Powell and is not on Navajo land.
- Rent a boat for the day. A boat day on Lake Powell in the warmer months is really spectacular. Gaze up at the canyon walls as you cruise by. Renting a boat gets pricey, so visiting in the spring and fall months is better for those on a budget.
- Camp at Lone Rock Beach. Right on the shores of Lake Powell you’ll find the large expanse that is Lone Rock Beach. There is plenty of room to spread out, and it makes for great stargazing at night. There are no real ‘sites’ and it is first come first serve.
19. Monument Valley
Monument Valley is right at the border of Utah in Northern Arizona, 2 hours East of Page, AZ.
This huge valley is chock full of red sandstone buttes, some that tower over 1,000 feet tall! The sunrises and sunsets here are truly something special. Plus, there’s an amazing hotel that sits right at the foot of the valley with the best view! If the hotel doesn’t suit your budget needs, there is a campground there too with great views. One day in Monument Valley will suffice.
Best things to do in Monument Valley:
- Do the scenic drive: This is a 17 mile loop road that is the main attraction at Monument Valley. The best part is you can see pretty much all of this right from your car, with no need to go hiking. When the road is dry, any car can make the drive. You’ll see all the top sights on this drive, such as John Ford Point, The Mittens, Elephant Butte, Three Sisters, and much more. Make a half day out of this drive.
- Book a night at The View Hotel: I can’t imagine a better view of Monument Valley than at the View Hotel. If you can get a room facing the valley, it is definitely worth it. There are also cabins and a campground that they manage as well with amazing views!
20. Grand Canyon National Park
No trip to Arizona could be complete without a stop at the Grand Canyon! As Ron Swanson says, ‘Crying: Acceptable at funerals and the Grand Canyon.’
The Grand Canyon is truly a wonder, and if you physically can make it down below the rim I highly recommend it. I feel like you can really appreciate its depth and grandeur when you leave the rim. I hiked Rim to River with a stay at Phantom Ranch in May 2023, and while it was difficult it was SO worth it!
Best things to do at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon:
- Hike South Kaibab trail to Cedar Ridge. 3 miles round trip with 1,180 ft of elevation gain.
- Hike to the 1.5 mile Resthouse via Bright Angel trail. 3 miles round trip with 1,180 ft of elevation gain.
- Stay at Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Grand Canyon; advanced reservations required
- Best viewpoints of the Grand Canyon: Hopi Point, Mather Point, Grandview Point, Mohave Point, Yavapai Point, and Desert View for a view of the Colorado River.
21. Flagstaff, AZ
Flagstaff is a cute little town in between Sedona and the Grand Canyon and makes for a great stop. There is a nice downtown area with some breweries, coffee shops, and local stores.
Best things to do in Flagstaff, AZ:
- Climb Humphrey’s Peak, the highest point in Arizona.
- See the Aspen trees turn to gold in October. Take the gondola ride up during the fall season to see the Aspens from above.
22. Sedona, AZ
A crowd favorite, you have to make time on your Arizona-Utah road trip for Sedona. Red rock mountains closely surround the town and you can get jaw dropping views just while walking downtown! There are many amazing hiking trails in Sedona that will take you into the red rocks themselves, my favorites are below.
Best hikes in Sedona, AZ:
- Cathedral Rock. 1.2 miles & 740 ft elevation gain
- Bell Rock. 1.8 miles & 200 ft elevation gain
- Keyhole Cave. 2.2 miles & 470 ft elevation gain
- Merry Go Round Rock. 6.5 miles & 1100 ft elevation gain
- Subway Cave via Boynton Canyon. 6.1 miles & 825 ft elevation gain
- Shaman’s Cave or Robbers Roost. 3 miles & 460 ft elevation gain
- Red Rock Crossing. Walk up, no hike needed.
23. Prescott, AZ
Prescott is a small town about an hour and a half North of Phoenix and still holds onto its Wild West vibes. There’s also Watson Lake there, a lovely lake that makes for a great sunset spot or to paddle out on.
Best things to do in Prescott, AZ:
- Kayak or paddle board on Watson Lake.
- Eat at El Gato Azul, a tapas style eatery with a great happy hour.
- Walk down Whiskey Row downtown.
24. Phoenix, AZ
Of course we can’t leave Phoenix out of an Arizona Utah road trip. There are many state parks and mountains in the Phoenix area. Some of my favorites below are Lost Dutchman State Park, hiking to the Wave Cave, and kayaking the Salt River.
Best things to do in Phoenix, AZ:
- Lost Dutchman State Park. come at sunset, no hike needed!
- Visit the Desert Botanical Garden. Open daily, adult tickets are $16.95 each.
- Hike to the Wave Cave. 3 miles & 870 ft elevation gain. A hike that ends with a cool rock formation that resembles a wave!
- Hike Camelback Mountain. 2.5 miles roundtrip & 1420 elevation gain. The highest peak in the Phoenix area!
- Hike Peralta Trail to Weaver’s Needle. 8 miles roundtrip & 2500 ft elevation gain. Hike to an amazing butte in the mountainous desert.
- Hike Piestewa Peak for sunrise. 2.1 miles roundtrip & 1150 ft elevation gain. Stairclimber style hike, great for sunrise!
- Visit Saguaro Lake and stay at Saguaro Lake Ranch in nearby Mesa. Kayak the Salt River while there.
25. Tucson, AZ
Tucson and the rest of Southern Arizona is often overlooked by travelers visiting the state since most head North to the Grand Canyon and Sedona. But Southern Arizona has its’ own desert charm and scenery that I highly recommend checking out.
Best things to do in Tucson, AZ:
- Hike to Seven Falls. An 8 1/2 mile round trip hike with 1,000 ft in elevation gain. Located in Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. The trail features a tiered waterfall, small pool of water, and plentiful cacti along the way.
- Hike Blackett’s Ridge. 5.7 miles round trip with 1,800 ft in elevation gain, rated as hard. Amazing mountain views.
- Hike Tumamoc Hill. Easy paved walk on a hill, 3 miles round trip with 700 ft of elevation gain. You’ll get city and mountain views.
26. Saguaro National Park
On the East and West side of the city of Tucson there is Saguaro National Park; they are split into two different sections. The East side is more rugged and mountainous but the Cactus Forest Drive there is worth the trip. While the West side of the park has more beginner friendly trails and is where the visitor center is located.
Visit in May and June to see the Saguaro bloom with flowers. I saw these cactus blooms for the first time in May 2023 after it being on my bucket list for so long and it was really unique and beautiful.
Best things to do in Saguaro National Park:
- Drive the Cactus Forest Drive. In East Saguaro, a paved 8 mile loop road that takes you through amazing cacti with mountain views.
- Drive the Bajada Loop Drive. In West Saguaro, a graded dirt road that makes for a great scenic drive.
- Hike to Signal Hill. In West Saguaro, a quick 0.3 mile walk to see petroglyphs.
- Sunset at Valley View Overlook. In West Saguaro. An amazing West facing view where you can get a great shot of cacti with the changing sky at sunset.
27. Organ Pipe National Monument
Organ Pipe is about 3 hours Southwest of Phoenix, right near the Mexican border. It is an UNESCO biosphere reserve and the only place that organ pipe and the senita cacti grow together in the wild. You’ll see the most insane desert landscape with all the cacti you can imagine. Think ocotillo, cholla, organ pipe, senita, and saguaro cacti all in one view- pretty amazing!
Best things to do in Organ Pipe National Monument:
- Ajo Mountain Drive. Any passenger car can make this drive. Highly recommend doing this drive if it’s the only thing you do here! We spent a solid 3 hours doing this taking our time.
- Puerto Blanco Drive. Only 4×4 vehicles recommended.
- Arch Canyon trail. 3 miles & 1250 ft elevation gain. Very steep hike to a huge arch.
- Desert View trail. Short flat walk around the visitor center to learn more about the unique desert plants and wildlife.
Hidden gems in Arizona
28. Edge of the World campsite
My favorite camping spot in Arizona is at the Edge of the World, also called East Pocket. It is located in between Flagstaff and Sedona up a long dirt road that takes a few hours to drive up. You get absolutely amazing views of Sedona from far above, and the sunrises and sunsets are stunning.
You can camp here for free, just remember to be respectful, clean up after yourself, and leave no trace!
29. White Pocket
White Pocket is in Northern Arizona, near Kanab, Utah and is off of the same road as The Wave and Buckskin Gulch. To get to White Pocket you must have a 4×4, high clearance vehicle. The last ~10 miles of the road are in deep sand and many people get stuck trying to get out here all the time.
You are hours away from the closest town, so imagine how expensive that tow would be! Be smart and drive the right car, or book a tour to get there. It is a truly amazing sight here, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to another planet. While it is out of the way and quite the trek to get there, the scenery is 100% worth it! You do not need a permit to go to White Pocket.
30. Alstrom Point
Alstrom Point is another iconic spot in Northern Arizona that you will need a 4×4 high clearance vehicle. The last few miles of the road are extremely rocky and steep. We had a Jeep which was more than capable, but I was still a bit nervous on this road!
Alstrom Point overlooks Lake Powell and is closest to the town of Page. It will take you at least 2 hours of offroading to get here from Page. You can camp at Alstrom Point for free, no permit needed. And as stated before, be sure to leave no trace and pack out all trash. The view here is really incredible; I had been wanting to go here for years and it definitely delivered!
One week Arizona-Utah Road Trips
- Las Vegas to Zion to Bryce Canyon to Page, AZ
- Las Vegas to Zion to Bryce Canyon to Page, AZ to the Grand Canyon
- Las Vegas to Zion to Bryce Canyon to Escalante
- Las Vegas to Zion to Bryce Canyon to Capitol Reef
- Phoenix to Tucson to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
- Salt Lake City to Arches to Canyonlands to Capitol Reef
- Hidden gem road trip: Las Vegas to the Great Chamber to White Pocket to Alstrom Point
Two week Arizona-Utah Road Trips
- Las Vegas to Zion to Bryce to Capitol Reef to Canyonlands to Arches
- Las Vegas to Zion to Bryce to Page, AZ to the Grand Canyon to Sedona
- Las Vegas to Zion to Bryce to Page, AZ to Monument Valley
- Las Vegas to Zion to Bryce to Page, AZ to the Grand Canyon to Sedona to Phoenix to Tucson. [Fly out of Phoenix.]
- Phoenix to Tucson to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument to Sedona to the Grand Canyon
Three week Arizona-Utah Road Trips
- Las Vegas to Zion to Bryce to Page, AZ to Monument Valley to Canyonlands to Arches to Capitol Reef to Escalante, UT
- Las Vegas to Zion to Bryce to Page, AZ to Monument Valley to the Grand Canyon to Sedona to Phoenix to Tucson. [Fly out of Phoenix.]
Wrap up: Arizona-Utah Road Trip
In conclusion, an Arizona and Utah road trip is a perfect way to explore the beauty of these two states.
From the stunning landscapes of Monument Valley and Bryce Canyon to the unique charm of Sedona and Moab, there’s something for everyone on this adventure.
Whether you’re interested in hiking, photography, or simply soaking up the natural wonders around you, this road trip offers endless opportunities for fun and exploration.
So pack your bags, grab your camera, and hit the open road – Arizona and Utah are waiting to be discovered!