The Southwest United States is home to an abundance of wide-open space with an otherworldly landscape that looks as if it has been carved by a divine hand. Driving through Northern Arizona, massive red rock formations demand your attention as you pass. Road-tripping through the Southwest with a campervan allows you to take your time and explore the desert landscape with everything you need for an adventure. This 5-day Southwest road trip itinerary will introduce you to Northern Arizona’s must-see sites.
Travel Time from Phoenix to Monument Valley
This 5-day road trip covers approximately 721 miles and takes roughly 12 hours and 7 minutes. It’s best to experience this trip over 5 days.
Total Miles: 721 miles
Total Travel Time: 5 days, driving 12 hours, 7 minutes.
Best Time of Year for a Northern Arizona Road Trip
Northern Arizona’s landscape is an arid desert marked by impressive bluffs, mesas, and vast canyons. As one might expect, Arizona in the summer can be unbearably hot. Temperatures in the Grand Canyon in mid-July can reach up to 105°F. In the winter, temperatures in Northern Arizona can plummet to just above freezing, and the desert is especially cold at night. With that in mind, we recommend exploring the Southwest in the Spring or Fall. If you’re looking for other great trip ideas out west, check out our California itineraries.
Preparation for a Northern Arizona Road Trip
Preparation is key. Anytime you head out into the desert, even if you’re traveling in a comfortable camper van.
Adventure Prep: Gear
Sun Protection: Regardless of what time of year you find yourself exploring the Southwest, the sun is always a factor. Prep for your days by bringing ample sun protection, including sun hats, sunglasses, UPF clothing, and plenty of sunscreen.
Layers: In the desert, the weather is never constant. The days can be scorching, but the night temperatures can drop quickly as soon as the sun goes down. If you’re exploring Arizona, make sure to bring layers for chilly nights.
Water & Food: A Campervan allows you to take everything you need on the road. When exploring the desert, make sure to bring more water than you think you need. Add a kitchen kit to your campervan to plan out each of your meals during your journey.
Dispersed camping vs. campsites: Fall and Spring are great times to travel if you’re planning to camp. You’ll find more availability than traveling in the summer. A van makes dispersed camping easy. You can disperse camp for free on federal and BLM land. There are plenty of apps to help you find a dispersed camping site on your route. If you’re considering booking a campsite, either in a national/state park or a private campsite, make sure you book at least two months before your trip.
Phones & Chargers: Navigation is integral to your trip’s success. Make sure you bring a smartphone or GPS device and a charger.
Printed Maps: In the desert, you never know when you’re going to lose service. Taking a printed road map of the region is a great fail-safe to have in case you lose service.
Which Camper Van is Best for the Southwest?
Escape Campervans offers a variety of van models to suit your travel needs, group size, and desired destination. These vans are equipped with all the bells and whistles to provide the ultimate mix of comfort and ease of travel. With a built-in kitchenette, solar panels, and a comfortable queen bed, there’s no better way to hit the road in the Southwest. From our Phoenix pickup location, you can choose between spacious Big Sur, Del Mar, and Mavericks models, each can sleep up to 5 people (with a rooftop sleeper). Browse our selection of vans to find the perfect model for your Northern Arizona road trip, and make sure it’s stocked with everything you need for an epic adventure.
Northern Arizona Road Trip Stops
Day 1: Phoenix to Sedona, Arizona
After picking up your Escape Campervan in Phoenix, head north to Sedona, Arizona. Sedona offers the perfect blend of dining and nature access with plenty of nearby camping. Sedona offers private campgrounds near some of the town’s most pristine natural wonders, like Montezuma Castle National Monument, the Verde River, and more. There are dozens of private campsite options and dispersed camping found mostly in Western Sedona. To find out more about campsites in Sedona, click here. Check our favorite apps to find reliable dispersed camping.
Top Hikes & Outdoor Activities Near Sedona
Sedona has no shortage of breathtaking views and thrilling trails. Here are just a few of our favorites.
Devils Bridge Via Dry Creek Road: This moderate is a 4-mile out and back with striking views of the Devil’s Bridge rock formation. Time this hike to catch the sunset from the Devil’s Bridge.
Cathedral Rock: This trail is just over 1 mile and takes hikers up the iconic rock formation with a bit of a scramble at the top. While Cathedral Rock offers epic sunset views, it draws a crowd in the afternoon. Hike in the morning to avoid crowds.
Subway Hike (Boynton Canyon Trail): This seven miles out and back along the Boynton Canyon Trail takes you to one of Northern Arizona’s most iconic rock formations, the Subway Cave. Start the hike early to beat the heat. Expect a crowd on weekends.
Places to Eat in Sedona
Tii Gavo– 525 Boynton Canyon Rd, Sedona, AZ 86336: Located inside the Enchantment Resort, Tii Gavo offers visitors decadent dishes while they enjoy stunning views of Sedona’s red rock landscape.
Cowboy Club Grille & Spirits– 241 N State Rte 89A, Sedona, AZ 86336: Cowboy Club Grille & Spirits opened their doors in 1946 and has been a Sedona staple ever since. Enjoy history, tradition, and classic southwest flavors.
Day 2-4: Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon must be seen to be believed. As you approach the rim for the first time, the earth gives way to a serpentine canyon that looks like it reaches the depths of the earth’s core. Camping and hiking in the Grand Canyon should be on every outdoor enthusiast’s bucket list. The Grand Canyon is a national park, and it’s easy to find campsites within the national park on the official website.
Camper-Van Friendly Campsites
Desert View Campground: Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023: Located on the South Rim, Desert View Campground is located 23 miles to the east of Grand Canyon Village. Reserve your campsite early. Desert View Campground has 49 sites, access to drinking water, and restrooms.
Mather Campground: 1 Mather Campground Rd, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023: Located within the park, this campground costs $18 for the night and has all the amenities you need, including coin-operated showers, restrooms, and even a laundry facility.
Dispersed Camping: While the Grand Canyon is one of the most popular sites in the country, you can still find dispersed camping in various locations along the North Rim. Check out local resources and apps for more information on dispersed sites.
Grand Canyon Hikes & Activities
On your first day in the Grand Canyon, after a few hours on the road, it might be wise to pick a short hike to start your trip. Hiking in the Grand Canyon should not be taken lightly. The elevation changes can be severe, and the temperatures can range from over 100°F to near freezing. If you’re looking for free dispersed camping, check out our blog.
Cape Royal Viewpoint: If you’re looking for epic views without a grueling trail, head to Cape Royal Viewpoint to look out over the North Rim. This hike is just over 1-mile round trip.
South Kaibab Trail to Skeleton Point: This day hike in the South Rim winds down an exposed ridge, revealing jaw-dropping views. The trial is a 5.8 mile out and back that descends for 2,000 feet.
Grandview to Horseshoe Mesa: This 5.6-mile out-and-back trail, located in the South Rim of the park, is one of the most remote options in the South Rim area and offers a respite from the crowds.
Best Places to Eat in the Grand Canyon
The Skyview Restaurant: Located on the canyons West Rim in Hualapai tribal land, the Skyview Restaurant offers diners the perfect post-hike cravings with excellent wings, burgers, hot dogs, and beer, along with an incredible view.
Brewed Awakenings Coffee Co: Located an hour south of the Grand Canyon in the delightful town of Williams, Brewed Awakenings is a great place to start your day before heading into the park. They offer your typical coffee shop fare plus breakfast burritos and decadent pastries.
Maswik Pizza Pub: Maswik Pizza Pub is exactly what you need after hiking in the Grand Canyon. They offer delicious 16-inch pies, pizza by the slice, and draft beer.
Day 4-5: Monument Valley
Monument Valley, located near the border of Northern Arizona and Utah, is a red sand desert known for the sandstone buttes and iconic western scenery. The park offers visitors hiking, horseback riding, Navajo Nation Arts & Crafts shopping, and an out-of-this-world 17-mile scenic drive.
Monument Valley Activities
Monument Valley Scenic Drive: This isn’t your average scenic drive. This self-guided 17-mile scenic drive takes you through one of the country’s most unique landscapes and offers plenty of photo opportunities.
The View Campground:The View Campground RV sites and wilderness campsites are located within Monument Valley.
Arrowhead Campground: Arrowhead Campground offers 5 acres of pristine desert just over the Utah border. With plenty of space to roam, this desert campsite offers dreamy views of the park.
Hummingbird Campsite: Also located just across the border in Utah, the Hummingbird Campsite is a privately owned five-acre campground with plenty of space to star gaze in the desert.
Why Rent a Camper Van for a Northern Arizona Road Trip?
The American West and road-tripping go hand and hand. Taking a Northern Arizona Road Trip in a camper van allows you to camp where you please with modern conveniences and comforts not found while tent camping. Additionally, a campervan gives you unmatched mobility and versatility to go where you please.
Reserve with Escape Campervans for your Trip
Now you’re prepared with the ultimate Northern Arizona itinerary for the road trip of a lifetime. Head to Escape Campervans to book your van today and take the first step towards an unforgettable travel experience.