Phoenix is the perfect central hub for a long list of Arizona day trips—the Phoenix area makes sense as a snowbird roost as it offers plenty of RV parks, hiking, golfing, and other activities. These excursions are iconic bucket list material and can be reached within a few hours or less.
As a bonus, the roads leading to these destinations are interesting and gorgeous as well. So if you want to truly enjoy the scenic beauty of Arizona, consider these day trips, one day at a time.
It takes roughly two hours to travel from Phoenix to Sedona, so there’s many hours in between to soak into the natural and new age aspects of lovely Sedona. Known as Red Rock Country for the colorful red rock formations that dominate the landscape, Sedona is a popular destination for photographers, nature lovers, hikers, and mountain bikers. Sedona is home to hundreds of miles of trails, some easy, some difficult, yet all loaded with magnificent views of the surrounding million year old ancient rocks.
Ah the day trip of all day trips—the magnificent Grand Canyon is on most bucket lists, and the South Rim resides 230 miles north from Phoenix. Sure, you might want to spend more time at this landmark, but it could be done in a day. What can we say? This mile deep canyon is over 18 miles wide at some points, and displays mesmerizing geological colors and formations. Camp, hike, or just stop for a peek—regardless, it’s a “must”.
Lost Dutchman State Park
Named after the fabled lost gold mine, Lost Dutchman State Park is located in the Sonoran Desert, 40 miles east of downtown Phoenix. Several trails lead from the park into the Superstition Wilderness and surrounding Tonto National Forest. Take a stroll along the Native Plant Trail or hike the challenging Siphon Draw Trail to the top of the Flatiron.
Montezuma Castle National Monument
An ancient civilization carved clever dwellings into the sturdy rock of what is now a famous monument. A lot more than Montezuma attracts people to the site—Wet Beaver Creek, a flourishing spring and interesting wildlife are just a few things to put on the list when stopping through. The drive will set you back an hour and a half.
Prescott is surrounded by ponderosa pine forests and enjoys a cooler climate that’s perfect for experiencing all four seasons in the outdoors. This is a nature lover’s paradise with lots of opportunities for camping, horseback riding, fishing, kayaking, and mountain biking. Check out the downtown historic area as well as Watson Lake, the Lynx Lake Recreation Area, and Whiskey Row.
Tucson Mountain Park
A hefty 20,000 acres comprise this large park featuring 62 miles of hiking and biking trails. Historic sites such as old locomotives and school houses create an intriguing environment that melds with the outdoors. It takes just under two hours to get there.
Red Rock Scenic Byway
What’s a day trip round-up without mentioning a sweet highway? This stunning drive is the literal “gateway” into the area’s that house iconic red stone formations of Arizona making it highly significant. One hundred and ten miles from Phoenix, the breathtaking drive offers glimpses of amazing foliage and spanning views.
Located near the top of Cleopatra Hill between Prescott and Sedona is the historic copper mining town of Jerome. Once known as the wickedest town in the west, Jerome was born a copper mining camp, growing from a settlement of tents into a roaring mining community. Today Jerome is a thriving tourist and artist hub with a population of around 450 people. Jerome resides above what was once the largest copper mine in Arizona which was producing an astonishing 3 million pounds of copper per month.
Picacho Peak State Park
Visitors traveling along I-10 in southern Arizona can’t miss the prominent 1,500-foot peak of Picacho Peak State Park. Enjoy the view as you hike the trails that wind up the peak and, often in the spring, overlook a sea of wildflowers. Enjoy the beauty of the desert and the amazing views.
About three hours away, you can drive southwest to Yuma, a popular snowbird destination with some excellent historic attractions and sand dunes for outdoor recreation. Tour Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park and then sample delicious dates at Martha’s Gardens Medjool Date Farm. You can often find fun local festivals taking place in the historic downtown area and also head over to the Imperial Sand Dunes National Recreation Area to drive ATVs up and down the dunes.
Newcomers to Arizona are often struck by Desert Fever. Desert Fever is caused by the spectacular natural beauty and serenity of the area. Early symptoms include a burning desire to make plans for the next trip “south”. There is no apparent cure for snowbirds.