5 Best Road Trips in Arizona for Outdoor Adventure

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  • Havasu Falls
  • Canyon de Chelly
  • Vermilion Cliffs
  • Chiricahua
  • Flagstaff
  • Roadside Assistance
  • Cheap insurance
From Havasu Falls to three national monuments to Flagstaff, there’s an endless amount of natural wonder in the Grand Canyon State—and it’s the perfect place to explore by car.
No cross-country road trip is complete without a trip to the Grand Canyon. But while it may be the most famous park in Arizona, it’s far from the only one worth exploring.
Whether you’re looking forward to the monuments, parks, or towns, the car insurance comparison shopping and broker app Jerry has compiled the five best road trips in Arizona for people who like to get outside.
So if you’re a hiker, camper, or nature photographer (even if it’s just on Instagram!), lace up your hiking boots, make sure you’ve got your roadside assistance all set, and get ready for an adventure.
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Havasu Falls

It’ll take a little more than a road trip to get to Havasu Falls—you’ll have to hike 10 miles with all your camping gear to get there. But when you do, you’ll find a setting you will never forget.
The drive to the trailhead runs through barren desert, veering north on a dusky road at Peach Springs in the northwest corner of the state.

Why you should go

Deep in the Grand Canyon National Park system is the Havasupai Indian Reservation, home to huge waterfalls and pools that look more like they belong in Hawai’i than Arizona. If you want in, you’ll have to get a permit and make an overnight reservation.
If you’re lucky enough to secure a permit, your long, intensely hot hike will bring you to some of the most striking waterfalls in the country.
Pro Tip Havasu Falls is a hotspot for Instagram influencers. Start early or visit in the offseason to avoid the biggest crowds (and their selfie sticks).

What to do

First and foremost, always be respectful. The hike runs through Havasu Falls, a small village at the heart of the reservation. People live there year-round, so remember that you’re a guest on their land.
In addition to Havasu Falls, there are a few local falls that pour into cold pools that are beautiful to explore and take dips in. You can also hike along the river deeper into the canyon and explore more remote falls. If you opt for this route, note that you’ll have to make your way through a rock tunnel and down a very long, slippery ladder to get there.
A small waterfall cascades along red rock into a turquoise pool at Havasu Falls, Arizona
Havasu Falls, Arizona

Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Just east of Chinle, off of Highway 191, you’ll find some of the Southwest’s most stunning natural features. Housed on Navajo land, Canyon de Chelly (pronounced “duh-shay”) offers road-trippers the chance to get a mix of hiking, sightseeing, and education.

Why you should go

This road trip brings you to one of the most distinctive places in the state. For thousands of years, this sprawling canyon was home to different Indigenous populations. They left behind rock art and the remains of some of their dwellings.

What to do

The overlooks are easy to get to and give access to amazing views of the canyon.
One of the biggest features (literally) you can find here is Spider Rock, a rock formation stretching nearly 1,000-feet high.
You can also take tours by foot, horse, or jeep with a park ranger or Navajo guide. The White House Ruins and Mummy Cave are two of the top sites to see.
Snowfall covering the plateaus and valleys of Canyon de Chelley in winter
Canyon de Chelley, Arizona

Vermilion Cliffs National Monument

Head a little west of Page, just south of the Utah border, to find a landmark that looks like a scene from a sci-fi movie set on Mars. The Vermilion Cliffs are steep, eroded escarpments made of sandstone, limestone, siltstone, and shale—some of them up to 3,000-feet tall!

Why you should go

There is a diverse range of scenery here, depending on which parts of the park you explore. You’d be hard-pressed to find anything else like the views here, with winding spirals and swirls of red rocks, multi-colored canyon walls, and the world-famous Horseshoe Bend.

What to do

You can do some world-class hiking here—and if you’re a really big hiker, you can take a multi-day backpacking tour. You’ll need a permit for some of the trails, but there’s also a lot you can see without a permit.
If you want to make a weekend of your trip, you can camp at Stateline and Whitehouse campgrounds. You can also camp in the wilderness in previously disturbed areas.
A person with a yellow backpack walks through Paria Canyon in the Vermilion Cliffs wilderness, Arizona
Vermilion Cliffs, Arizona

Chiricahua National Monument

Due east of Tucson and tucked into the southeast corner of Arizona, you’ll find a “Wonderland of Rocks” that’s well worth the road trip. The site is over 12,000 acres and boasts opportunities for scenic drives, hiking, and camping.

Why you should go

One of the sky islands, Chiricahua boasts some unique flora and fauna like javelina, red black bears, and white-nosed coatis. The mountain range juts out of the flat desert and is covered in countless little rock spires. These are some of the most unique views you’ll find in the state.

What to do

The park has 8 miles of paved roads for scenic drives and 17 miles of day-use hiking trails.
Bonita Creek and Silver Spur Meadow trails offer easy walks with little change in elevation. The Big Loop is on the other end of the spectrum and hits all the best wilderness scenery. It’s 9.5 miles of strenuous hiking, so pack everything you need for the day.
There are also plenty of other hikes for skill levels in between, making Chiricahua the perfect place for all outdoor enthusiasts.
Pro Tip Stop by Faraway Ranch Historic District, the guest ranch of the Erickson family, who campaigned to establish Chiricahua National Monument. Tours last 45 minutes and start at the benches by the house.
A road cuts through pine forest in the Chiricahua National Monument, Arizona
Chiricahua National Monument, Arizona

Flagstaff

Last up is a whole town. At nearly 7,000 feet, Flagstaff is the place to escape the Arizona heat without leaving the state. During the colder months, you can even access some stellar spots for winter sports.

Why you should go

A lot of people view Flagstaff as an entry point to the Grand Canyon, but it’s much more than that. No matter the time of year, Flagstaff is always worth a trip for outdoor lovers.
This little college town even boasts great shopping, dining, and drinks for that post-hike wind-down.

What to do

There are countless places to hike and mountain bike in the forests around town. But with skiing and snowboarding opportunities being so rare in the desert, you’ll want to come here during peak season to visit Arizona Snowbowl.
When you’re done hitting the slopes, drop into town for local food and brews.
Wall mural showing an Indigenous person, retro cars, a Route 66 sign, and the town in Flagstaff, Arizona
Flagstaff, Arizona

Why you need roadside assistance

Wherever you go on your Arizona road trip, you’ll likely find yourself riding down some pretty remote roads in the desert heat.
Make sure your trip doesn’t stop before it starts with roadside assistance from Jerry! For the price of a Flagstaff pint, you can get help with flat tires, lockouts, engine troubles, and much more. It’s a great way to make sure you get where you’re going with peace of mind so you can hit the trails and breathe easy.

Protect yourself with car insurance

Any good road tripper knows that you should never hit the road without a solid car insurance policy.
If you’re looking for a new insurance company (or just checking to ensure you’ve got the best price!), Jerry can provide you with competitive quotes from up to 50 top providers in under a minute.
Swapping is just as effortless. Jerry takes care of all the paperwork and phone calls and even can assist you in canceling your old policy!
“Using Jerry is a super straight-forward process, and at each step you can see exactly what coverage you’re paying for. Thanks to Jerry, I’m paying $900 less each year while keeping full coverage for my new car!” ––Martin H.
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