Grand Canyon National Park extends 277 miles of the mighty Colorado River and nearby uplands. It is located entirely in great northern Arizona, and since the most accessible part of the Grand Canyon park overlooks the South Rim. Hence, the majority of the visitor tends to head in that direction. My childhood best buddy and I planned an exciting 4 days road trip in Northern Arizona starting from Flagstaff – Grand Canyon National Park – Sedona – Page and back to Flagstaff.

Flagstaff Airport, Flagstaff - Grand Canyon
Just landed at Flagstaff Airport, Flagstaff – Grand Canyon

Best Time to Visit

Grand Canyon is always beautiful, but it depends on what you are interested in, as the conditions vary significantly all through the year.

Spring between the months of March-May is the best time of the year to visit the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. This could be the ideal season if you are looking for mild temperatures, comfortable hiking, light precipitation, and fewer crowds.

Summer between June – August is the picking season; they are the most popular months but crowded, and temperatures are hot and regular thunderstorms may not be the best. 

Fall between September and November is also a great month to visit Grand Canyon’s South Rim as the crowds drop significantly after Labor Day and the temperature. 

Winter between December – February has freezing temperatures, and that definitely scares many visitors away, but Grand Canyon covered in snow is a gorgeous sight. On average, South Rim gets about five feet of snow in winter.

How Did I Get There

Over the years, I was fortunate to make a couple of trips to the Grand Canyon, and each time I discovered something new. There are several ways to arrive at the National Park. Many visitors take a day trip from Las Vegas; many fly out of Phoenix and Las Vegas. Daily flights also arrive in Flagstaff, only about 73 miles from the Park. You must rent a car from these airports or reserve a shuttle to the park.

Flying to Flagstaff, then a road trip to Tusayan

Our flight arrived at Flagstaff Pulliam Airport, Arizona (FLG) at 5:47 pm, got our rental car from National, and headed towards Grand Canyon South Rim (village). It took us about an hour drive from the airport, enough time for us to make it to the lookout before sunset. The only drawback was that all the hotels inside the Grand Canyon Park were sold out, so we had to stay in Grand Canyon Village, a beautiful town called Tusayan, about 6 miles south of the South Rim Lookout.

4 Days Itinerary in Northern Arizona

Day 1 – In Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon, Arizona is one of the world’s seven natural wonders, attracting nearly 5 million visitors every year. The park stretches 277 miles along the Colorado River. However, 90% of the visitors see the Park from the overlooks along the South Rim. The South Rim, which is the most accessible part of the park, includes historic Village, Hermit Road, and the scenic Desert View Drive.

Grand Canyon, Arizona
I was driving a Cool Looking Kia Soul Rental Car

The North Rim of the park is the less visited part of the Grand Canyon even though it’s only 10 miles across the canyon from the South Rim, but it is 220 miles, or approximately 4.5 hours drive by car, all the way around the National Park.

Top Things To Do In Grand Canyon, Arizona

The South Rim includes the historic Village, The Scenic and Historic Hermit Road, and the Desert. View Drive. The South Rim is open all year long, even on holidays.

A Must Do – The Desert View Drive

The less crowded Desert View Drive, with many breathtaking overlooks and un-named pullouts, will allow you to experience the ever-changing moods of the Grand Canyon. The scenic route is east of Village on the South Rim, which follows the rim for 25 miles (40 km) out to the Desert View Watchtower and East Entrance. The Drive is well maintained, and pulling out to lookouts is easy as signs are well marked.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Beautiful view of Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

The map below shows the location of many breathtaking overlooks and un-named pullouts on Desert View Drive and will allow you to experience the ever-changing moods of the Grand Canyon. It also displays the scenic Desert View Drive with marked outlooks. It’s about 23 miles long toward the east from theVillage or Information Plaza to Desert View Tower. If you have a self-driven car, then this is a must-do. Equally beautiful no matter what time of the day you visit, each has its unique beauty. Sunrise in the east of Desert View Tower and Sunset towards the village will bring home some beautiful shots. Also, George and the valley will be bright when the sun is in a higher position.

Grand Canyon South Rim
All the marked outlooks along the scenic Desert View Drive, Grand Canyon South Rim

Pull Over At Pipe Creek Vista

This pullout can be accessed by private vehicle or the free Kaibab Rim Route (Orange) Shuttle Bus, departing from the Grand Canyon Visitor Center.

Pipe Creek Vista
Pipe Creek Vista, Desert View Drive, Grand Canyon

 Desert View Drive
View of Grand Canyon from Desert View Drive

A Quick Stop At Yaki Point (Elevation: 7262 feet / 2213 meters)

If you like to enjoy the sunset or sunrise, then the quiet Yaki Point is your best bet. This is the only viewpoint on Desert View Drive that is not accessible by a private vehicle. Instead, it can be reached using the free Kaibab Rim Route (Orange) Shuttle Bus departing from the Grand Canyon Visitor Center.

Yaki Point, Grand Canyon National Park
Yaki Point Lookout by the Desert View Drive.

Another Stop At Grandview Point (Elevation: 7399 feet / 2256 meters)

This popular viewpoint offers panoramic views of the National Park from east to west, including several bends of the Colorado River to the east. The historic Grandview Trail begins here. This trail is very steep! In the summer, much of the trail is in full sun. In the winter, ice, and snow can make hiking treacherous. Always use caution on the Grandview Trail.

Grandview Point Lookout, Grand Canyon
Grandview Point Lookout, on Desert View Drive

Don’t Miss Moran Point (Elevation: 7160 feet / 2182 meters)

This is one of the most colorful spots on Desert View Drive; you must stop here and enjoy the scenic view of the rocks, the sediment colors are varied, and the lights reflect off the rocks to provide beautiful views.

Moran Point Lookout by Desert View Drive
Moran Point Lookout by Desert View Drive

Tusayan Ruin and Museum

The Tusayan Ruin is off the Desert View Drive (Route 64 ). This ruin is the remains of a small ancestral Puebloan village. A relatively flat 0.1-mile (200 meters) trail wraps around the ruin and offers the opportunity to learn more about the place and the people who once called this home.

Next Stop At Lipan Point (Elevation: 7360 feet / 2243 meters)

This viewpoint is also along Route 64 (Desert View Drive), worth stopping to embrace the beautiful nature. From this viewpoint, you will witness several points of interest.

Lipan Point, Desert View Drive
Lipan Point, Desert View Drive

Must Stop At Navajo Point (Elevation: 7461 feet / 2275 meters)

Just a few minutes west of the Desert View Watchtower, this viewpoint offers a great view of the Watchtower, panoramic vistas to the west, and a view north up the Colorado River. Navajo Point is the highest overlook on the South Rim – unless one is standing on the top observation deck of the Watchtower itself. This is because the top of the tower measures slightly higher.

Navajo Point, Desert View Drive
Navajo Point, Desert View Drive

Stretch Out At Desert View Watchtower (Elevation: 7438 feet / 2267 meters)

Along Desert View Drive, you will find a parking area, and a short ¼-mile (½-km) walk will lead you to these historic buildings, to the rim. From Desert View Point, you can enjoy the Colorado River and make a big bend to the west. Finally, you can climb the stairs to the watchtower’s top for outstanding canyon views—a great photo opportunity for photographers. At this location will find a bookstore, snack bar, general store, service station, restrooms, and seasonal campground.

Desert View Watchtower
Desert View Watchtower
Desert View Watchtower
Inside view of Desert View Watchtower

Day 2 – Grand Canyon to Sedona Stop in Flagstaff

Early morning visit to the Grand Canyon South Rim to experience the magnificent sunrise, especially the 25 miles long desert drive, got the best view. Next, we headed toward Sedona; on the way, we made a quick stop in Flagstaff for sightseeing. From Grand Canyon National Park to Flagstaff is about 82 miles (130 km), and driving usually takes about 75 minutes. Not a bad idea to explore this little tourist town during your Grand Canyon trip. Here are a few recommended things you could do in Flagstaff. 

Visit San Francisco Peak

The San Francisco Peaks are a volcanic mountain range in north central Arizona, just north of Flagstaff, and a remnant of the former San Francisco Mountain.

Grand Falls Should Be On Your Must-See List

Grand Falls is a natural waterfall system located 30 miles northeast of Flagstaff, Arizona, in the Painted Desert in the Navajo Nation. At 185 feet tall, it is taller than Niagara Falls.

Walnut Canyon National Monument

Walnut Canyon National Monument is a United States National Monument located about 10 mi southeast of downtown Flagstaff, Arizona, near Interstate 40. The canyon rim elevation is 6,690 ft; the canyon’s floor is 350 ft lower.

Lowell Observatory Is A Place You Could Consider Visit

Lowell Observatory is an astronomical observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, United States. Lowell Observatory was established in 1894, placing it among the oldest observatories in the United States.

Wupatki National Monument

The Wupatki National Monument is a U.S. National Monument located in north-central Arizona, near Flagstaff.

Wupatki National Monument, Arizona
A view from The Wupatki National Monument, Arizona

Day 3 – Top Things To Do In Sedona

The Grand Canyon to Sedona road trip was so scenic that I made several stops. The 136 miles (218 km) should not take more than 2 hours of nonstop driving, but consider it way longer than that. You will definitely end up making multiple stops on the way. Here are a few exciting things you could consider doing during your Sedona trip.

Take The Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Drive

Oak Creek Canyon is a river gorge in northern Arizona between Flagstaff and Sedona on Route 89A. The scenic drive is a breathtaking experience. I have ranked among the top 5 most scenic drive charts. If you are a photographer, it’s a must-do trip in Sedona.

Oak Creek Canyon
A Visit To Oak Creek Canyon, on route 89A, Sedona

Red Rock State Park Is A Great Place To Visit

Red Rock State Park is a state park in Arizona featuring a red sandstone canyon outside the city of Sedona. This day-use park’s main mission is to preserve the riparian habitat along Oak Creek. This State Park maintains a 5-mile network of interconnecting trails along scenic Oak Creek. You can experience the vista at the top of Eagle’s Nest (300’ climb).

Red Rock State Park, Sedona
Hiking is one of the famous things to do in Red Rock State Park, Sedona

Visit Slide Rock State Park

Slide Rock State Park is a state park in Arizona, located in Oak Creek Canyon, only 7 miles north of Sedona on Route 89A. It is known as one of America’s top swimming holes. This natural waterslide is formed by the slippery bed of Oak Creek. The slide rock is 80 feet long and 2.5 to 4 feet wide, with a 7% decline from top to bottom.

Slide Rock State Park, Sedona
A sightseeing stop at Slide Rock State Park, Sedona

Drive Up The Hill And Enjoy at The Chapel of the Holy Cross

The Chapel of the Holy Cross is a Roman Catholic chapel and a favorite tourist attraction for many who visit Sedona. It is located just off Route 179 at the end of Chapel Road. It is open from 9 AM to 5 PM daily. The Chapel is nestled beautifully into a red rock; from the top, it has an incredible view of the majestic Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, Courthouse Butte, and much of the eastern rim of Sedona.

Sedona, Arizona
I took this shot of The Chapel of the Holy Cross from a distance, before climbing up to the church!

Cathedral Rock Another Hiking Site

Cathedral Rock is a famous landmark in Sedona and can be seen from the distance. It is one of the most photographed sights in Arizona. There is a short 0.7-mile trail that quickly rises 608 feet in elevation. The middle part of the trail has a near-vertical segment that requires climbing. This is an excellent place for hikers and those not afraid of heights.

Cathedral Rock, Sedona
A beautiful view of Cathedral Rock, Sedona

Take the Bell Rock Tour

Bell Rock is one of the famous tourist attractions located north of the Village of Oak Creek, AZ, south of Sedona in Yavapai County. The elevation of its summit is about 4,919 feet. It did not take much effort to track down the location of this church bell shape rock from a distance. Even an early morning or evening drive to the Rock along the beautiful Red Rock Scenic Byway (Highway 179) is amazing.

The hike to Bell Rock is famous among visitors as it is easy and flat. The Trail will take you about halfway up Bell Rock. Unfortunately, the top of the Rock is inaccessible. If you take the entire Courthouse Butte Loop, it’s about five miles long. But you can bypass it and take only the Bell Rock pathway, which is much shorter.

Bell Rock, Sedona
The hiking trail to Bell Rock, one of the favorite hiking among visitors in Sedona.

The Honanki Heritage Site

The Honanki Heritage Site is 15 miles west of present-day Sedona. Great place to experience the cliff dwelling and rock art site that was last inhabited between 1400 and 1875 by Yavapai and Apache people. Perfect place to stretch your legs and breathe in the fresh air; the site has two trails for self-guided tours to explore the ruins as well as the surrounding forest. One of the best ways to get there is by Pink Jeep Tour or self-driven car.

Day 4 – Sightseeing in Page

Page is located in Coconino County near the Glen Canyon Dam, Lake Powell, and Horseshoe Bend and is home to one of the most visited slot canyons called Antelope Canyon. The amazing Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon, in particular, is a photographer’s dream site and should be on the top of your bucket list.

Things To Do In Page

Visit Antelope Canyon

A trip to Arizona would not be complete without seeing the magical Antelope Canyon. Although Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons are equally popular, just outside Page, about 15 drive, is the USA’s most visited and photographed site. The best time to visit is between 10:30 am – 12:30 pm for a beautiful view of light beams passing through the holes above and making an unbelievable scene. Click here to find Find tours, activities, and more.

lower antelope canyon
Antelope Canyon, AZ – USA

Lower Antelope Canyon:

Lower Antelope Canyon is fascinating; the colorful rock was slowly created over millions of years by water and wind; amazing to see the bright red, orange, pink, purple, and blue curving sandstone rocks around that will definitely take your breath away. Over the years, Lower Antelope Canyon has become a favorite gathering place for photographers, tourists, and visitors worldwide; therefore, early booking is recommended.

Lower Antelope Canyon Visitors Center

This tour runs in a smaller group of 10 every 30 minutes from the visitor’s center. Since this area is located on the Navajo reservation, so can only be accessed with a Navajo guide. At the beginning of the tour, visitors need to descend steep ladders to get to the narrow canyon floor. Inside the canyon, there are a few more staircases to pass through, and in some sections, it gets narrower.

lower antelope canyon
Some area of the slot canyon gets really narrow

Upper Antelope Canyon

Both canyons are stunning, but Upper Canyon is also one of the most popular among photographers. The light beams through the dust inside the canyon during midday; it is unbelievably beautiful. Unfortunately, there are limited trips offered. Therefore, if you like to visit the upper canyon, you need to book in advance, in fact, months.

Upper Antelope Canyon is the most photographed slot canyon in the American.

Must Visit Glen Canyon Dam

The Glen Canyon Dam is a huge dam on the upper Colorado River on the northern border of Arizona. The Glen Canyon dam impounds the Colorado River in a man-made reservoir named Lake Powell. This a similar looking to the famous Hoover Dam.

Glen Canyon Dam
Looks like Hoover Dam but it’s Glen Canyon Dam instead, upper Colorado River

Take A Boat Trip in Lake Powell 

There’s no better way to see the best of what Lake Powell offers than by boat. The sunset dinner cruise is one of the most favorite events in Lake Powell.

Lake Powell, page
The best way to enjoy Lake Powell is by taking a Boat Trip, Page

Hike Your Way Up To Enjoy The Horseshoe Bend

For a stunning view of a lifetime, visit Horseshoe Bend. If you are a travel photographer, pay attention to what time of the day would be best for your subject. You will find yourself standing on the edge of crumbling sandstone cliffs and looking over, moving as close as you dare to the edge. It is spectacular and a bit freaky for those afraid of heights.

Horseshoe bend, page
Stunning view of Horseshoe Bend, Page, Arizona

Day 5 – Visit Horseshoe Bend + Return Flight from Flagstaff

On the final day, we visited the horseshoe bend in the late morning for a better view of the canyon. After the trip, we started heading back to Flagstaff airport. I will return the rental car at the airport and check-in for the 6:20 pm flight to New Jersey via Phoenix.

Where to stay in Grand Canyon, Arizona

Canyon Plaza Premier Studio and Apartments

Views of the valleys and forest areas are featured in select Arizona apartments. Grand Canyon, South Rim Entrance, is a 5-minute drive away. Studios feature a kitchenette, and apartments include a full kitchen at Canyon Plaza Premier Studio and Apartments. A balcony is provided in each unit. An outdoor swimming pool and indoor hot tub are available for guest relaxation. A concierge is provided to assist guests with area attractions, and many Grand Canyon tours pick up from the hotel. Grand Canyon National Park Airport is just 2 miles from the accommodation.

Holiday Inn Express Grand Canyon

Featuring an indoor swimming pool, this Grand Canyon, Arizona hotel is 15 minutes drive from Grand Canyon National Park. Free Wi-Fi is provided in all rooms. In addition, a flat-screen TV with cable is featured in all guest rooms at Holiday Inn Express Grand Canyon. Furnished, each air-conditioned room features coffee-making facilities. A hot tub is provided onsite at Grand Canyon Holiday Inn Express. In addition, fax and photocopying services are offered onsite. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is 229 mi away, while Kaibab National Forest is 14 mi from Holiday Inn Express Grand Canyon.

My Opinion and Last Word

Have you been to Grand Canyon, Arizona? Any cool tips to share?

I loved being in Grand Canyon, Arizona, and want to go back again. I hope my story has motivated you to visit Arizona.

Please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you to improve my knowledge. 

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Accommodation In Flagstaff, Arizona

At first, we planned to stay overnight at Flagstaff but later change the plan, but if you are looking for accommodation in Flagstaff then here are few affordable hotels that I have researched. 

Quality Inn 140 and 117 Flagstaff, Flagstaff, Arizona

Roadway Inn & Suites, Flagstaff, Arizona  

Accommodation In Sedona, Arizona

The Views Inn Sedona, Sedona Arizona

Sky Ranch Lodge, Sedona Arizona

Book Your Sightseeing Trip

There are a lot of beautiful places to visit and some exciting sightseeing activities to bring unforgettable memories back home. Please click on our below affiliate link to see your options.

Hasan Mahmud

Traveler, Blogger, and Travel Photographer!

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