5 Day Arizona Road Trip Itinerary

 

Arizona has always been on my bucket list and I got to experience it for my birthday.  We saw so much but I know there is still so much left to see.

 

What We Saw on our 5 Day Road Trip through Arizona and Utah

What to Pack for your Arizona Road Trip in November

We visited quite a few different climates on this one road trip.  The elevation differences between the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff, and Page made a huge difference in climate and temperature.  I would recommend packing light insulating layers if you plan on visiting Arizona in November.  Here’s our exact packing list.

Base Layer

Outer Layer

  • 1 Pair of Jeans
  • 1 Pair of Leggings
  • 1 Flannel
  • 2 T-Shirts
  • 1 Sweater
  • Yellow Maxi Skirt for Pictures (not necessary, but scroll further to see why I brought it) – Check Prices Here
  • Hat
  • Ultra Light Down Jacket – Check Prices Here
  • Waterproof Parka – Check Prices – I didn’t pack this but I wish I had!  It was so cold and rainy for sunrise at the Grand Canyon 

Where to Stay for Your Arizona Road Trip

All the hotels we stayed at during our Arizona road trip were affordable, comfortable and conveniently located near the attractions. 

Where to Stay in Arizona:  Grand Canyon

We wanted to see sunrise at the Grand Canyon so we stayed in the actual park instead of the surrounding hotels outside Grand Canyon National Park.  This was actually my second trip to the Grand Canyon and previously we had stayed at Bright Angel Lodge which was a bit like a motel.  This time we booked the new wing at Yavapai Lodge which was definitely an upgrade from Bright Angel Lodge. 

Yavapai Lodge – Check Prices

We chose Yavapai lodge because of it’s a convenient location for Mather’s point.  Wanting to catch sunrise near Mather’s Point, Yavapai Lodge was the closest location.  We booked the newly renovated rooms of Yavapai Lodge East which were comfortable and well appointed.  The massive king bed was so comfortable after the drive from Flagstaff.  The bathrooms had bath wash, shampoo, and conditioner which was a nice convenience.  Yavapai Lodge also has a tavern which serves nice hot breakfasts, again super convenient if you are not at Grand Canyon South Rim for long.  Also, Yavapai lodge has 24-hour check in which was important because we were arriving very late in the evening.

El Tovar Hotel – Check Prices

If you are looking for a hotel with a beautiful view of the Grand Canyon, then El Tovar definitely fits the bill.  This historic hotel first opened in 1905 and is located on the rim itself.  Famed Chicago architect, Charles Whittlesey designed the hotel to be a cross between a Norwegian Villa and Swiss Chalet. Views from this hotel are second to none and you could literally wake up to sunrise over the Grand Canyon directly from your hotel. 

Bright Angel Lodge – Check Prices

Though this lodge is quite affordable it was a bit more like a motel when I stayed here a few years ago.  The sheets were worn (with cigarette burns) and lets not even talk about the bathroom.  I definitely preferred Yavapai East Lodge to Bright Angel Lodge.  Though these hotels are all located in a national park so you should expect a bit more rustic accommodations than luxurious.

Where to Stay Page Arizona

Page Arizona is located about 2.5 hours drive from the Grand Canyon South Rim with many affordable hotels.  We had two criteria searching for a hotel here, a convenient location and a pool that would be open in November. 

Courtyard Page at Lake Powell – Check Prices

We stayed at Courtyard Page at Lake Powell because it had a heated pool and hot tub in the courtyard area.  The hotel has well appointed spacious rooms, and our room on the ground floor had a door right out to the courtyard to the heated pool.  This is a great affordable hotel and I highly recommend it for your stay in Page Arizona.

Best Western View of Lake Powell – Check Prices

The Best Western View of Lake Powell was actually our first choice because it has an amazing view of Lake Powell as its name aptly suggests.  But it was fully booked when we went to Page Arizona.  I would still recommend it because it has excellent reviews.

Best Western Plus at Lake Powell – Check Prices

This Best Western is located directly below the Best Western View of Lake Powell.  Though it boasts posher interiors the view is not as good. 

Booking.com

Where to Stay Monument Valley

There is one hotel located inside Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park which gives you direct access to the park, The View Hotel.  The View Hotel has a comfortable lodge feel with traditional Navajo touches.  This was by far the most luxurious hotel of our Arizona trip, and I highly recommend a stay at The View Hotel.

5 Day Arizona Road Trip Itinerary Day 1

  • Land in Flagstaff, AZ from Washington DC at Night
  • Pick up the rental car from Enterprise at Flagstaff Airport
  • Drive to hotel in Grand Canyon National Park

We took an afternoon flight from Washington DC (BWI Airport) to Flagstaff, AZ and landed pretty late around 9 pm.  The only car rental place open that late at night at the Flagstaff airport is Enterprise, so we rented our car from them.  Luckily the Airport is tiny and the rental kiosk is right after exiting through security.  We were lucky and they upgraded our car to a Suburban, which put us in a great mood for our Arizona road trip.

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After picking up the car, which was parked right outside the airport, we headed directly to the Grand Canyon South Rim and checked into our hotel, Yavapai Lodge – Check Prices.  The drive is about 1.5 hours from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon.  I called to make sure that the hotel had 24-hour check in because we were arriving so late at night.

Driving to the Grand Canyon at Night

Driving to the Grand Canyon South Rim at night was pretty easy and flawless until we got inside the Grand Canyon National Park itself.  The Grand Canyon is super dark at night and we got lost circling around a few times before we found check-in, but accessing Grand Canyon National Park at night was not a problem.  We paid the entrance fee of $35 per vehicle at the machine located at the Grand Canyon South Rim, the fee covers 7 days at Grand Canyon National Park.

We checked in at Yavapai Lodge – Check Prices, and went directly to bed to prepare for sunrise the next morning.

Arizona Road Trip Itinerary Day 2

  • Sunrise at the Grand Canyon
  • Breakfast at Lodge
  • Scenic Drive
  • Arrive in Page, AZ
  • Check Into Page, AZ Hotel
  • Sunset at Horseshoe Canyon

Sunrise at the Grand Canyon South Rim

Sunrise at the Grand Canyon was something I had planned for so carefully during our Arizona road trip, but it turned out to be a big flop because of passing storms and cloudy skies.  As we walked sleepily to the spot I picked out for a sunrise at the Grand Canyon South Rim all to ourselves we were pelted by hail!  Yes, hail, which then turned into a freezing drizzle.  The sunrise was completely obscured by clouds and haze, but just as I was about to give up I saw the sun peak ever so slightly through the fog and clouds for the shot below, then it continued to be cold, windy and rainy, so we headed in for breakfast.

Breakfast at Yavapai Lodge Tavern

We both ordered the buffet breakfast at Yavapai Lodge Tavern and it had a good selection and plenty of hot coffee.  As luck would have it as soon as we finished breakfast the sun came out and the rain stopped.  We walked along the rim path and explored the South Rim for a few more hours before hopping in our car and hitting the road on the scenic route.

The South Rim Mather Point to Yavapai Point

We only had a few hours to explore the Grand Canyon and we chose to take the rim trail from Mather Point to Yavapai Point.  After a thorough street view using google maps of the Grand Canyon South Rim viewpoints, I found this particular portion of the rim path has the best viewpoints and opportunities to climb down onto the canyon and get some incredible photos of the Grand Canyon.  Did I want to spend longer in the Grand Canyon?  Of course!  But being short on time with only about 1/2 a day to explore the Grand Canyon, I went with the most scenic route possible that didn’t require hiking.  There are several ledges and outcroppings of rocks between Mathers Point and Yavapai Point that are excellent for photos!

Crowds at Mather Point

Mather Point is super crowded!  We went to the Grand Canyon during offseason and Mather Point was still crawling with tourists!  How to avoid the crowds at Mather Point in the Grand Canyon?  The best way to avoid the crowds is to take the rim path away from Mather Point.  If you are facing the Grand Canyon on the rim path just go walk to the left or the right and you will find secluded spots to take some amazing pictures.  All the pictures you see here were taken between Mather Point and Yavapai Point with zero crowds.  

Grand Canyon Scenic Drive – Desert View Drive

We took the scenic drive from the Grand Canyon South Rim on our Arizona road trip on our way up to Page, AZ.  The drive is along a road called Desert View Drive and was perfect with so many beautiful view points of the Grand Canyon.  Our favorite stop was Desert View Watch Tower which had a great view of the Colorado river. 

The scenic drive took about 3 hours before we arrived in Page Arizona where the time changed!  We happened to go during daylight savings and it’s not observed in Page, Arizona.  I had accounted for the timing of this but our cell phones didn’t catch up because depending on the tower you are on, it will give you a different time.  Do yourself a favor wear a watch on your Arizona road trip. 

Check into Page, AZ Hotel

Our Page, AZ hotel, Courtyard at Lake Powell was perfectly comfortable and check in was quick – Check Hotel Prices.  The check-in attendant was the one that corrected my time issues when I panicked that we had arrived an hour later than I thought it was. 

Where to Stay in Page, Arizona

There are plenty of lovely affordable hotels in Page Arizona.  We wanted to stay somewhere with a view and a pool and the Courtyard Lake Powell – Check Prices was a great choice.  Our room was well appointed and led right out to a courtyard with a heated pool and hot tub.  The Best Western Lake Powell View was actually our first choice but they were all booked for our dates.  The Best Western Plus Lake Powell also has a nice view of Lake Powell but with more luxurious interiors. 

Sunset at Horseshoe Canyon

We freshened up a bit in our room then hopped back into our car and headed to Horseshoe Canyon for sunset.  Sunset is super popular at Horseshoe Canyon and the parking lot was packed!  Hiking Horseshoe Canyon was more of a relaxed walk than a hike.  One way the hike to Horseshoe was about half a mile.  We arrived and found it packed with people!  The whole thing was a bit disappointing. 

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After sunset at Horseshoe Canyon, we went back to our hotel and had dinner at the hotel. 

Arizona Road Trip Day 3

  • Horseshoe Canyon Sunrise (we skipped)
  • Lower Antelope Canyon Photography Tour
  • Water Holes Canyon
  • Dinner
  • Sunrise at Horseshoe Canyon

Unfortunately, we did not get up for sunrise at Horseshoe Canyon because we were tired and slept in.  In hindsight, I would have skipped sunset the previous day and just went for sunrise instead. 

Lower Antelope Canyon Photography Tour

We opted for the Lower Antelope Canyon Photography Tour in the morning thinking it would be less crowded.  But apparently because of the possibility to see light beams at Lower Antelope Canyon the morning tour is more popular according to our guide.  The Lower Antelope Canyon photography tour took about 2 hours and was definitely worth it.  Though this tour is no longer offered, there is an extended Lower Antelope Canyon Tour that gives you more time in the Canyon.

After the Lower Antelope Canyon Photography tour we headed back to our hotel for a quick dip in our pool and to freshen up. 

Water Holes Canyon

I really wanted to explore Antelope Canyon without a tour and on our own but that wasn’t an option, so I found Water Holes Canyon.  Instead of taking both the Lower Antelope Canyon tour and the Upper Antelope Canyon tour we chose a less touristy option.  Water Holes Canyon looked almost exactly like Antelope Canyon but without tourists, we basically saw about 5 other people there.  Though you can no longer go to Water Holes Canyon without a tour, it is still under the radar and definitely worth a visit – more information about Waterholes Canyon.

Dinner at El Tapatio in Page, AZ

We skipped lunch so we were extra hungry for dinner and ended up at El Tapatio.  El Tapatio has amazing reviews and we were not disappointed by their delicious Southwestern style Mexican food and huge portions.

Arizona Road Trip Itinerary Day 4

  • Check out of Page, AZ
  • Drive to Monument Valley
  • Forrest Gump Point
  • Monument Valley Self Drive Tour
  • Check Into Monument Valley Hotel
  • The Drive from Page, Arizona to Monument Valley

We checked out of our Page, Arizona Hotel right after breakfast and started our drive to Monument Valley.  Monument Valley is a 2.5 hour drive from Page, AZ.  The roads to Monument Valley were flat, wide and easy to navigate.

Forrest Gump Point

From Page, Arizona we drove past, yes past Monument Valley to go to Forrest Gump Point.  Forrest Gump Point is about 30 minutes from Monument Valley and offers a great view of Monument Valley.  The movie Forrest Gump made this point famous as the spot where Forrest stops running and goes home.

Forrest Gump Point is a great spot for some awesome Instagram shots!

Monument Valley Self Drive Scenic Loop

We headed back to Monument Valley after taking quite a few pictures at Forrest Gump Point to do the Monument Valle scenic drive.  We went to the tourist center to pay our fee and pick up a map but there was no one to collect the fee, but we did manage to score a map. 

The Monument Valley scenic drive was amazing and possibly the highlight of our trip.  I’m sure we would have seen even more if we had taken a guided tour but we didn’t have enough time.  The Monument Valley Scenic Road takes about 3 hours to drive and has some amazing view points.  Read more about the best viewpoints of the Valley Drive and what kind of car you need to drive Monument Valley.

The View Hotel Monument Valley

We checked into our hotel, The View upon finishing the self-drive tour.  Each room at The View Hotel has an amazing view of Monument Valley. 

We had dinner at The View Hotel Restaurant and it was amazing, I highly recommend all the traditional Navajo dishes on the menu.

Arizona Road Trip Itinerary Day 5

  • Check out of The View Hotel
  • Drive Back to Flagstaff, AZ

After having breakfast at The View Hotel in Monument Valley and taking a few more pictures we drove from Monument Valley back to Flagstaff, AZ.  From Monument Valley to Flagstaff the drive is about 3 hours and is 178 miles.  You take 163 south, then 160 west, and 89 south.  We could have really squeezed in one more stop to Devil’s Bridge, which about 1 hour south of Flagstaff, but after 4 days of hiking we were too tired.  We ended up having a romantic meal at Brix Restaurant and Bar (the husband picked this one out after we “roughed it” for 4 days).  

The next day we caught our early flight back to DC!

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