Northern Arizona is home to some of America’s most iconic destinations. Travelers can explore timeless geological wonders along with towns that faithfully preserve their Old West heritage. Follow this loop itinerary to experience the forests, deserts and cities of the majestic Grand Canyon State.
Starting Point • Entertainment, Outdoor Recreation
With year-round sunshine and easy access to the desert, it’s no wonder that Arizona’s sprawling capital city is also a major hub of outdoor adventure. While some travelers simply touch down in Phoenix before heading out to wilder parts of the state, the city offers plenty of great outdoor activities, including hiking to the summit of Camelback Mountain, located just outside the city, and learning about native flora at the Desert Botanical Garden.
Drive 116 miles, 1 hour, 57 minutes • Entertainment, Nature, Outdoor Recreation, Shopping
Nestled among Arizona’s famous Red Rocks, this charming little bohemian city attracts artists, spiritual seekers, and outdoor enthusiasts to its stunning landscapes and cultural attractions. On your way into town from Phoenix, make sure to stop by the Montezuma Castle National Monument, celebrated for its pre-Columbian pueblo structural style, before heading on a hike up Cathedral Rock, which offers excellent views of the Red Rocks.
Drive 58.3 miles, 54 minutes • Entertainment, Food, History, Nature, Outdoor Recreation
Temperatures may start to decrease once you hit the higher altitudes of Flagstaff, a laid-back springboard for visiting the Grand Canyon and the San Francisco Peaks. Visit the flower-filled Arboretum at Flagstaff or learn about the solar system at the Lowell Observatory, where Pluto was first discovered. Home to Northern Arizona University, there are plenty of entertainment and dining options for visitors.
4. Kaibab National Forest
Drive 13.5 miles, 16 minutes • Outdoor Recreation, Sports
Here, you can hike a section of the 800-plus-mile Arizona Trail, which stretches from Mexico clear up to Utah. Popular access points are located right by the town of Tusayan off Highway 64 (near Forest Road 65) or from the Grandview Lookout Tower, off Forest Road 302.
Drive 88.1 miles, 1 hour, 30 minutes • Entertainment, History
Your next stop is Prescott, a historic city that was originally formed as the territorial capital of Arizona in 1864. Make sure to take a stroll down the historic Whiskey Row, a block dominated by Old West saloons that pay homage to a past filled with notorious Wild West outlaws. The city still hosts shootout reenactments events every year.
Drive 58.9 miles, 1 hour, 20 minutes • History, Outdoor Recreation
Finish off your trip in historic Wickenburg, a compelling town that oozes Wild West history. Attractions here focus squarely on cowboy and mining life, from the Desert Caballeros Western Museum, full of Southwest and Wild West-inspired art, clear up to the Vulture City ghost town and its historic Vulture Mine. It’s also a great place for hiking, from the lush Hassayampa River Preserve to towering Vulture Peak, a 3.4-mile in-and-out trail surrounded by brush and cacti. Cool off with some Chaparral Homemade Ice Cream, a popular local stop. Take the Drive back to Phoenix (66 miles, 1 hour, 7 minutes) and the loop is complete.
Discover more adventures in Arizona.