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10 Natural Wonders: an Arizona RV Road Trip

Steve Reed
An RV driving down an Arizona highway with mountains in the background.
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As spring blossoms across the Southwest, there's no better time to hit the open road and embark on an RV adventure through Arizona's stunning landscapes. Starting and ending in Phoenix, this road trip will take you through ancient ruins, red rock formations, majestic canyons, and natural wonders that will leave you in awe at every turn. Sound interesting? Well pack your gear and get ready to hit the open road of the beautiful southwest! 

Here's the route:

A map with a road trip route through Arizona marked.


Stops 1, 2 & 3: Montezuma Castle National Monument, Camp Verde and Sedona (total drive time 2 hours)

As we head north from Phoenix on I-17N towards Camp Verde, our first stop on the trip is Montezuma Castle National Monument. An undeniable display of the Sinagua people’s exceptional engineering skills from over 600 years ago, the impressive cliff dwellings offer a glimpse into the lives of the ancient Native American communities and their resourcefulness in adapting to the desert environment. The drive time to the castle is about 1.5 hours so get an early start so you can spend some time exploring the cliff dwelling and visitor center.

A cliff with Montezuma Castle National Monument in the side

Montezuma Castle is nestled right next to Camp Verde. A place that has a blend of natural beauty and rich history, with so much to see and do that you might consider stopping here and spending some time before going on to Sedona. Here you can visit Fort Verde State Historic Park, a testament to the area's frontier past. Explore outdoor adventures along the Verde River or ride the Verde Canyon Railroad for a scenic journey with panoramic views of cliffs, forest, and wildlife. Others choose to wander through the lush vineyards of local wineries for a wine tasting experience. With its scenic charm and historical allure, Camp Verde offers a retreat for nature enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

A visitor map of Campe Verde.

From Montezuma Castle, it’s just a short 35-minute jaunt north to our next stop in Sedona. The vibrant red rock formations of Sedona create a surreal backdrop for hiking, rock climbing, and meditation. Whether you're exploring the scenic trails of Red Rock State Park or browsing the art galleries in town, Sedona's enchanting beauty is sure to captivate your senses.

A red rock formation in the middle of a river with Cathedral Rock in the background.

Unless you spent a lot of time exploring Camp Verde and stayed there a night, this will be our first overnight stop of the trip. Depending on your timeline, you might consider staying a couple of nights to fully experience the hiking, sightseeing, and perhaps a day for relaxation in this beautiful setting.


Stop 4: Grand Canyon National Park (total drive time 2 hours)

No Arizona road trip is complete without a visit to the Grand Canyon, one of the world's most iconic natural wonders. Head north on AZ-89A from Sedona towards Flagstaff, and then on US180-N to the entrance of the Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim). Nothing can prepare you for the vastness of the canyon as you stand on the rim. The grandeur the Colorado river has created over the ages is breathtaking. Hiking opportunities abound, from the popular South Rim trails to the more rugged paths of the North Rim, offering different perspectives of this geological marvel.

A picture of the Grand Canyon from the south rim.

Considering stopping over 2-3 days to fully experience both the South Rim and North Rim, including hiking, scenic drives, and viewpoints. The next stop on our journey is 2.5 hours away so feel free to stay or move on to the next location.


Stop 5: Antelope Canyon (total drive time 2.5 hours)

Continuing east on US-64E and then north on US-89 N, we venture towards Antelope Canyon, one of the most photographed destinations in the Southwest. These monumental sandstone sculptures are pristine slot canyons sculpted by water and wind over millennia. The narrow passages, illuminated by sunlight filtering through the narrow openings above, create a play of light and shadow that photographers and nature enthusiasts find irresistible. Guided tours lead you through this geological artwork, highlighting the intricate formations that make Antelope Canyon a natural wonder that should not be missed. Give yourself half a day to really enjoy the site and have time for a tour.

Antelope Canyon looking towards the sky from the base


Stop 6: Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park (total drive time 1 hour 50 minutes) 

Head east and south on US-98 E and then North on US-163 N towards Monument Valley. Crossing into Navajo Nation territory, you will arrive in the valley that has been an iconic landscape immortalized in countless Western films. The towering sandstone buttes, mesas, and arches rise majestically against the desert backdrop, offering breathtaking panoramas everywhere you look. Highly recommend a jeep tour with Navajo guides to provide insights into the cultural significance of this land and its enduring allure. 1-2 days here would give you plenty of time for a jeep tour, photography, and cultural experiences with the Navajo.

A photograph of Monument Valley rock formations.


Stop 7: Canyon de Chelly National Monument (drive time 1.5 hours)

Heading southeast on US-163 S and then US-191 N towards Chinle, we discover the hidden gem of Canyon de Chelly National Monument, where ancient cliff dwellings and petroglyphs whisper tales of the Ancestral Puebloans. One of the longest continuously inhabited landscapes in North America, it preserves ruins of the indigenous tribes that lived in the area. The sheer walls, carved by the Chinle Wash over millions of years, create a dramatic and spiritual setting for these ancient ruins that is beautiful to behold.

We recommend that you consider spending 1-2 days exploring the canyon, visiting ancient ruins, and learning about the Navajo heritage.

A close-up of a cliff face with ruins of indigenous tribes that lived in the area.


Stop 8: Petrified Forest National Park (total drive time 1.5 hours)

Return south on US-191 S and take US-180 W towards the Petrified Forest National Park, where fallen trees from prehistoric forests have turned to stone over eons. Best known for its Triassic fossils, it’s like having two parks in one: an ecosystem over 200 million years old with plants and animals now represented in the landscape of the Painted Desert. The colorful petrified wood, fossilized logs, and vibrant badlands depict a landscape frozen in time. Hiking trails like the Painted Desert Rim Trail offer panoramic views of this unique natural treasure.

Plan on spending half a day to a full day for hiking, visiting the Painted Desert, and exploring the petrified wood exhibits.

A picture of Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona


Stop 9: Meteor Crater Natural Landmark (drive time just over 1 hour)

As we head back west on I-40 W, take exit 233 for Meteor Crater Road. Meteor Crater is an impact crater created about 50,000 years ago, a striking reminder of Earth's violent past and the cosmic forces that shaped our planet. This massive crater is nearly a mile wide and offers insights into planetary geology and space exploration through interactive exhibits and guided tours at the Barringer Space Museum.

Plan on spending a few hours here for a guided tour and exploring the visitor center.

Meteor Crater Natural Landmark


Stop 10: Tonto National Forest (drive time 1.5 hours) 

Return to I40 E and head towards Flagstaff for our final stop of this trip before returning to Phoenix. From Flagstaff take AZ-87 S toward Payson, where the Tonto National Forest is located. This sprawling wilderness, the ninth largest national forest in the United States, is comprised of rugged mountains, lush canyons, pristine lakes, and is an excellent location for outdoor activities. Camping under the starry night sky, hiking along scenic trails, and fishing in crystal-clear waters provide a serene conclusion to our epic RV road trip through Arizona's natural wonders.

Tonto National Forest

The return trip to Phoenix is about 40 minutes so time willing, spend around 1-2 days for camping, hiking, fishing, or other outdoor activities.


Come Home to Carefree Covered RV Storage

A sign outside of a building

Description automatically generatedAs we reflect on the awe-inspiring landscapes, ancient cultures, and geological marvels encountered along the way, one thing is certain – Arizona's diverse and breathtaking beauty leaves a mark on every traveler's heart, inviting us to explore, discover, and cherish the wonders of the Southwest.

After such an adventure, know that we’re always here for you at Carefree Covered RV Storage. When you store your recreational vehicles with us, you’ll enjoy secure, quality covered RV storage with our extensive video camera surveillance, along with 365-day automated access with our phone gate app, charging outlets, free Wi-Fi, and free self RV wash and sewer dump. We’ve even got complimentary bags of ice! Check out our facilities in Texas and Arizona, then stop by, and we’ll get your rig set up.

At Carefree Covered RV Storage, you’re guaranteed peace of mind, protection, and personalized, old-fashioned service. We make it easy for you to rent and make payments online, maintain your vehicle, and get on the road — so that you can keep living the carefree life.




Written by:

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Description automatically generatedSteve Reed has over 30 years of experience in the technology sector and is the Director of IT for Business Property Trust, a real estate investment firm located in Portland, Oregon, that owns and manages covered RV and self-storage in Arizona and Texas. Between his travels, road trips, and food experiences, he also manages digital resources and content for businesses, including



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