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. The next day, 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 your third day, 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.
Days 4 & 5: Sedona
En route north to Sedona from Tucson, be sure to stop in Phoenix to visit the Heard Museum. This is the state's best introduction to the Native American cultures of the region. After lunch, take the scenic route to Sedona via Wickenburg and Prescott. This will allow you to stop at Wickenburg's Desert Caballeros Western Museum for the cowboy perspective on the Wild West. Alternatively, you could stop at Prescott's Phippen Museum, which showcases artworks by members of the Cowboy Artists of America. If you time things right, you should be in the historic artists' community of Jerome just in time to catch the sunset on Sedona's distant red rocks.
To get out amid the red rocks of Sedona, take a jeep tour or hike the 4- to 5-mile loop trail around Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte. In the afternoon, visit either the petroglyphs at V Bar V Heritage Site or the Sinagua ruins at Palatki Heritage Site. 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. Check into your hotel. The next day, get up early to catch the sunrise, and then do a half-day hike down into the canyon.
The next day, get up early to catch the sunrise, and then do a day hike or mule ride down into the canyon. If you plan ahead, you can even spend the night down in the canyon at Phantom Ranch. If you're not a hiker, spend the day exploring along Hermit Drive, where there are numerous overlooks. Whenever I'm out this way, I like 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 interesting and 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. The morning after you arrive, take the boat tour up the lake to Rainbow Bridge National Monument.
Day 10: Monument Valley
From Page, head to Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. On the way, be sure to visit Antelope Canyon, which is one of the most accessible slot canyons in the Southwest. If you get an early enough start, you should also have time to visit Navajo National Monument and take a look at 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. Also, the unforgettable landscape here makes Monument Valley the best place in Arizona to go for a horseback ride.
Days 11 & 12: Canyon de Chelly
The next day, perhaps after a horseback ride or jeep tour (whichever you didn't do the day before), drive to Canyon de Chelly National Monument. The following day, do one of the truck tours of the canyon, or hire a Navajo guide to take you into the canyon by jeep or on horseback. Alternatively, drive the rim drives. The South Rim Drive is my favorite of the two because it provides the opportunity to hike down into the canyon on the White House Ruins Trail.
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 and stop in the village of Walpi, where you can take a guided tour of this ancient mesa-top pueblo. Be sure to stop at Tsakurshovi, a tiny crafts shop that specializes in traditional Hopi kachina dolls. Continue south to Winslow and stay at the historic La Posada hotel.
Day 14: Phoenix
On your way back to Phoenix to catch a plane home, stop at Meteor Crater, which is 20 miles east of Winslow. You may want to have lunch in Flagstaff. Once you get back to Phoenix, lie by the pool and chill out for a few hours.
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.