Plan on spending 2 weeks in Arizona, and you'll get a much better sense of this state's diverse landscapes. You can spend more time at the Grand Canyon, marvel at massive saguaro cacti in the desert lowlands, spend a bit more time lounging at a resort, and visit one or more of the state's picturesque artists' communities. Just remember that Arizona's size makes occasional long drives a necessity.
Days 1, 2 & 3: Tucson
To get yourself in vacation mode, head straight for the pool at your resort. If you're a hiker, try one of the trails in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains. Sabino Canyon, with its trams and network of trails, is just about the best place in the city for a quick hike. On Day 2, go west to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, the state's single-best introduction to the Sonoran Desert. (Despite the name, this is more zoo than museum.) By the way, there's a great cafe here.
After you've hung out with the hummingbirds and communed with the coatis, drive a few miles farther west to Saguaro National Park. This park has units on both the east and west sides of Tucson, but this western unit has the most impressive stands of the saguaro cacti for which the park is named. Be sure to check out the petroglyphs at Signal Hill. On Day 3, drive south to the historic arts community of Tubac. En route, stop at Mission San Xavier del Bac, a Spanish mission church that is known as the "White Dove of the Desert." In Tubac, check out the galleries, Tubac Center of the Arts, and Tubac Presidio State Historic Park, and then head a few miles south to Tumacácori National Historical Park, which preserves the ruins of another Spanish mission church. Finish the day on the Mexican border in Nogales, with dinner at Zula’s, southern Arizona’s favorite Greek-Mexican restaurant. It’s an hour’s drive back to Tucson from here.
Day 4: Phoenix and Scottsdale
Drive north on I-10, exiting in Tempe to head first to downtown Scottsdale, where you can take the Old Scottsdale walking tour. After lunch, go west to downtown Phoenix, where you should definitely stop to visit the Heard Museum, the state’s best introduction to Native American cultures. Stroll down to Heritage Square to see what’s left of Phoenix’s historic core. Your stay in Phoenix will be brief, so don’t book a pricy resort, where you’ll pay for amenities you won’t have time to use; stay downtown or in the Camelback corridor.
Day 5: Sedona
Take the scenic route to Sedona via Wickenburg and Prescott. Stop at Wickenburg’s Desert Caballeros Western Museum for the cowboy perspective on the Wild West. The back road, U.S. 89A, is slow and vertiginous, but the Verde Valley views are worth it. Once in Sedona, take a jeep tour or hike the 4- to 5-mile loop trail around Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte. When the sun sets, be sure you’re either at the Crescent Moon Picnic Area or atop Airport Mesa.
Days 6 & 7: Grand Canyon
For Day 6, drive north to the Grand Canyon by way of scenic Oak Creek Canyon. Take U.S. 89 from Flagstaff to the east entrance of Grand Canyon National Park. It's worthwhile to make the short detour to see the Sinagua pueblo ruins at Wupatki National Monument. Also be sure to stop at the Cameron Trading Post to see the gallery of Native American artifacts in the historic stone building across the parking lot from the main trading post. If you've developed a taste for fry-bread tacos, be sure to have lunch here. Stop at Desert View, just inside the park entrance, and also Lipan Point, and catch the sunset over the Grand Canyon. Once you reach Grand Canyon Village, hike along the rim to catch the sunset over the Grand Canyon. Settle into your hotel for the night (reserve well in advance for in-park lodging, or stay in Tusayan, just outside the park).
On Day 7, get up early to catch the sunrise, then do a day hike or mule ride down into the canyon. (You must reserve far in advance for the mule ride.) If you’re not a hiker, spend the day exploring the viewpoints along Hermit Road. In cool weather, it’s a treat to spend time sitting by the fire at Hermit’s Rest, a fascinating little building designed by Mary Elizabeth Jane Colter, who designed several of the most attractive buildings on the South Rim.
Days 8 & 9: Page & Lake Powell
From the Grand Canyon, go northeast to the town of Page. En route, you may want to make a short detour to Tuba City, where you can see dinosaur tracks in sedimentary stone west of town. Page sits atop a mesa overlooking Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Lake Powell, the reservoir created by Glen Canyon Dam. This reservoir is the most astonishing body of water in the West. The vast miragelike lake is flanked by red-rock canyon walls similar to those of the Grand Canyon. You can tour the massive dam and rent a variety of boats for exploring the lake. Just outside Page, take a guided tour of Antelope Canyon, one of the most renowned slot canyons in the Southwest. On Day 9, take a boat tour up the lake to Rainbow Bridge National Monument.
Day 10: Monument Valley
From Page, head to Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, a 2-hour drive west through the Navajo Nation reservation. On the way, visit the Navajo National Monument, where a 1-mile hike will take you to an overlook viewing the Betatakin cliff dwellings. Just be sure you arrive at Monument Valley early enough in the afternoon to do a jeep tour of the valley with a Navajo guide. Stick around to take pictures of the sunset on the Mitten Buttes. Stay overnight in Kayenta.
Days 11 & 12: Canyon de Chelly
The next day, perhaps after a horseback ride or jeep tour in Monument Valley (whichever you didn’t do the day before), drive to Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Cruise around the rim drives to get an overview of this extraordinary canyon, where the Navajo have been living for centuries. On Day 12, take a truck tour of the canyon, or hire a Navajo guide to take you into the canyon by jeep or on horseback.
Day 13: The Hopi Mesas
After leaving Canyon de Chelly, drive south to Ganado and visit the historic Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site. Then head west across the Hopi Reservation, stopping in the village of Walpi on First Mesa, where you can take a guided tour of this ancient mesa-top pueblo. On Second Mesa, visit the Hopi Cultural Center and check out Tsakurshovi, a tiny crafts shop specializing in traditional Hopi katsina (kachina) dolls. Continue south to Winslow and stay at the historic La Posada hotel, with its renowned Turquoise Room as your preferred dining spot.
Day 14: Phoenix
On your way back to Phoenix to catch a plane home, stop at Meteor Crater, 20 miles east of Winslow. Once you’re back in Phoenix, if you have a later flight, try to fit in a visit to the Pueblo Grande Archaeological Park near the airport for one last taste of Southwest Native American culture.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.