Arizona National Park Road Trip

Planning Our 12 Day Arizona National Park Road Trip

Next month Park Chasers will be off on our next big national park road trip.  This time we’re heading back to sunny Arizona for another week-long camping adventure.  We’ve got plans to check off 9 of the 400+ national parks on our #parkchasing list and are excited to experience another Arizona national park road trip.

Today we’re sharing our potential itinerary, including the route, the national park units, and a few of the items on our packing list.  We hope it helps you generate some ideas for a future Arizona national park road trip of your own.  

If you have a longer stay, be sure to check out our 8 Day Grand Canyon and Zion road trip route that can be easily added on to this one for a longer stay and more parks: 


Day One – Arrive in Phoenix 

Unlike our last trip to Arizona which departed from Las Vegas, this time we’ll be arriving in Phoenix.  Our trip itinerary starts late in the day on Friday, when we’ll arrive at Phoenix International Airport and grab a rental car for the week.  


Day Two – Hohokam Pima National Monument & Saguaro National Park 

It doesn’t take long into our road trip before we visit our first national park unit.  Just south of downtown Phoenix we plan to visit Hohokam Pima National Monument. The site protects the artifacts and excavations of “Snaketown,” a Hohokam village from around 300 AD to 1200 AD.  Scientists and researchers believe that at one point, more than 2,000 people lived in the village. 

After Hohokam, we head south to Tucson and Saguaro National Park. 



Saguaro National Park

Day Three – Saguaro National Park 

The next few days of the road trip we’ll be spending in Saguaro National Park.  With two distinct units (East and West Saguaro) that wrap around the Tucson area, there’s a lot to see and do.  We’ve been relying on the research and podcast episodes of “Everybody’s National Parks” for planning purposes, and think that they’re a great resource. 

Our plans for Saguaro include collecting the national park passport stamps scattered around the park, day hiking in both the East and West units, and of course, getting a picture or two with a giant saguaro.  Did you know they are the largest cactus in the United States? 


Day Four – Tonto National Monument 

After one final morning of hiking in Saguaro, it’s back in the car for another leg of our Arizona national park road trip. Next stop:  Tonto National Monument and our first chance to visit one of the National Park Service’s protected cliff dwellings. We’re planning the Lower Cave Dwellings Hike and a ranger program during our visit. 

After Tonto, we’re back on the road north towards Sedona and camping in the Coconino National Forest.



Day Five – Humphrey’s Peak 

Our wake-up call on Day 5 of our Arizona national park road trip will be an early one.  On this day, we’re heading to the Arizona Snowbowl and a hike up Humphrey’s Peak, the tallest point in Arizona.  At 12,633 feet (3,851 m), Humphrey’s Peak will be our 3rd ‘high point’ and some of the tallest elevation we’ve ever hiked in.  Our trail research has recommended an early morning start and to prepare for altitude sickness.  It’s common for hikers on this stretch of trail. 

Returning to our campsite in the Coconino National Forest for the night. 


arizona road trip sign

Day Six – Montezuma Castle, Tuzigoot, and Walnut Canyon National Monuments 

After hiking Humphrey’s Peak, we’re planning to give our feet a rest on Day Six. Departing from Coconino, we’re planning a short day trip to three different National Park Service units.  All are within 60 minutes of the campground and all protect a different part of Native American history: 

  • Montezuma Castle National Monument protects a 20 room ‘apartment’ cliff dwelling, one of the best preserved in the National Park Service.  
  • Tuzigoot National Monument is home to the Tuzigoot pueblo, a trading post for the Sinagua people and surrounding desert communities. 
  • The Island Trail and the Rim Trail at Walnut Canyon National Monument will be the final stops for the day, allowing us to hike among more than 25 different pueblo ruins on our way to views of the 600 foot deep Walnut Canyon. 

Day Seven – Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki National Monuments – Grand Canyon National Park

After checking out of the campground, we’ll be on our way for the next leg of our Arizona national park road trip.  This time to Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and Wupatki National Monument.  North of the Flagstaff area, both monuments showcase the unique landscape in this part of Arizona. 

Our destination for the day is the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.  We’ll be staying the night in Mather Campground and gearing up for our hike to Phantom Ranch! 

Related Links:


Grand Canyon National Park

Day Eight – Eleven –  Grand Canyon National Park

One of the things we’re most excited about for our Arizona national park road trip is hiking the Bright Angel Trail to Phantom Ranch and the Bright Angel Campground.  Training for the hike, getting the right gear, mapping out water and meals for two nights in the canyon.  All in preparation for a once-in-a-lifetime experience at the bottom. 


Day Twelve – Travel Home

After a final night on the South Rim, we head back south approximately Phoenix for our last travel day of the road trip. It’s always a great feeling to get back home and check out the photos!


Arizona National Park Road Trip
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