An Impromptu Road Trip Through Arizona

Footage from the trip!

Arizona Road Trip

I took an interesting road trip from Vegas to West Rim Grand Canyon to Flagstaff, Arizona, then to Page Arizona, South Rim of the Grand Canyon and ended in Phoenix, Arizona before heading back to Las Vegas. It was an unforgettable road trip, to say the least. The road trip of 1200+ miles and 18+ hrs took place over 4 days.  I went through several emotions ranging from hangry, boredom, hot and excited to name a few. It is a trip I will never forget.

First, let me tell you how this interesting road trip came about. It started when my mom wanted to go somewhere for the weekend and we decided on taking a trip to visit the Grand Canyon. Flying on the same day to Phoenix was too expensive so I looked to Vegas and was able to book both of our flights for $11.2o each +points thanks to my quick 50K bonus on Southwest. We quickly packed our bags for an evening flight without any hotel rooms booked. Once on the plane, I secured a room for $19 plus fee at the Mandalay Bay for the night. Read how I got the room for $19 during a holiday. We picked up a rental car using Dollar (same family as Hertz but cheaper) and after breakfast, we set off for the Grand Canyon Skywalk.

10% off rentals of Mid-size through Full-size cars, Mid-size SUVs, plus double Southwest Airlines Rapid Reward points (1,200 points vs 600 points per rental). Use code 100389, valid through 1/1/18

 

Here are a few key things that helped us during this road trip:

  • Never Lost GPS or a similar GPS. You will have long miles of no cellular service so it is best to not rely on the maps on your cell phone. I would dare say you need a paper map. If renting a car with Dollar and Hertz, you are able to pick the car and might luck up on one with a GPS and satellite radio included so you don’t have to pay extra.
  • The Gas Buddy Phone App which tells you the price of nearest gas stations and how far the nearest gas stations are. This came in handy when a gas station advertised being the last gas station for several miles.
  • Snacks and water/drinks before heading off into rural Arizona as gas stations were scarce and very expensive due to the little amount of competition.
  • Sunscreen! Depending on the time of year the sun is no joke.
  • Good music! Self-explanatory!

Now On To The First Stop!

This West Rim/ Grand Canyon Skywalk is the closest to Vegas at about 2-2.5 hours drive. The drive to the Skywalk was very interesting and there was no cell service the closer we got to the rim.

 

 


Grand Canyon Skywalk

The Grand Canyon Skywalk allows you to get a view of the Grand Canyon and if you’re bold you can walk over the Grand Canyon on a glass walkway.  Once you arrive you are guided to park at the information center. At the information center, there is light food and souvenirs. You pay entrance onto the skywalk and board a shuttle. There are also lodges and a hotel. You take the shuttle to the Skywalk and you’re given an entry time. There are lockers to store your personal items. Unfortunately, they don’t allow cameras but there are photographers on site to offer photos for a cost. I did not know until this experience that I am afraid of heights. Once on the Skywalk, my stomach dropped and I walked very slow. After some deep breathing and praying, I re-walked it, enjoyed the view and took photos. At the end of the trip we realized in hindsight that the West Rim/Skywalk could have been skipped but if you’re short on time and in Vegas and want to see the Canyon, it is worth a tour. At $50 per person for entry and additional $50+ for photos, I can’t justify this price unless you absolutely can’t get to the other side of the Canyon which is 4-5 hours away.

 

Photo Cred Grand Canyon Skywalk
Photo Cred Grand Canyon Skywalk

 

 

 

 

 

Time was our biggest enemy. We spent a lot of time taking photos, waiting for the photos to print and shopping for souvenirs before we knew it, the sun started to set. One of the employees explained how to get to Page, Arizona which is where Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. He was very helpful down to mapping which city we would have cell phone service. Since it was late we ended up in Flagstaff for the night. While I had cell service I looked up the best rates and called hotels on the way and settled for a Hilton in Flagstaff.

Antelope Canyon- Page, Arizona

The next day we headed to Page and had a chance to see more of the Historic Route 66. The ride to Page was about an hour and a half from Flagtaff. If you want to visit from nearby major airports, it’s 4.5 hours from Phoenix or Las Vegas. The ride was filled with boredom and spotty cell phone service. I spent most of the time looking up tours for Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon as the only way you can visit is with an approved tour guide to visit. Check out TripAdvisor for a review on various tour companies. During peak season it is better to schedule the tour but we drove there on a prayer and was able to secure spots on a walk up tour. I was left underwhelmed by the Upper Antelope Canyon. Check out why and 10 things you SHOULD know before visiting Antelope Canyon!

 

 

 



Horseshoe Bend- Page, Arizona

After Antelope Canyon we headed less than 10 minutes away to Horseshoe Bend. By now we had sand in every place and the walk down to Horseshoe Bend is lengthy and filled with a ton of rocks and of course sand. My mom almost decided not to go but she did and took her time. Once you’re there the views are amazing. This made the drive to Page worth it. If you have time you can also check out Lake Powell.

 

Grand Canyon South Rim

After Horseshoe, we were up against time again and headed to the South Rim of Grand Canyon since it was on the way to Phoenix and it was about 2 hours away. However, if you’re flying into main airports its about 4 hrs and 20 mins from Vegas and 3 hrs and 30 mins from Phoenix. Once you’re in the park there is a long drive to the Mather view point (shown below). You have to pay around $25 per car to get in. There are certain days when National Parks are free, click to learn more.

This side (rim) of the Grand Canyon is far more picturesque and breathtaking than the West Rim that we visited the day before. We were able to watch the sunset and take great photos. We quickly got out of there as there were a lot of wildlife animals and no street lights and the gas stations were scarce. We debated staying near the Canyon for another look since the pass is valid for a couple of days. I hope to visit Havasu Falls on my next visit to the Grand Canyon

Determined to stick to our ‘places to see’ list we headed to Phoenix. This drive was the scariest. We crossed over many elevated bridges (5,000 feet up)and there were no street lights. To add to the “adventure” there were many fires due to the heat so there were a lot of smoke warnings. Once again I looked up some hotels and made calls once we got closer to Phoenix.

 

Phoenix

Once in Phoenix after a night a rest we ventured into 100+degree temperature to tour the town. This included downtown Phoenix and the ritzy Scottsdale, Arizona. Scottsdale had a Los Angeles or Buckhead, Atlanta feel. We were in Phoenix for 1.5 days. Since there was not much planning prior to this trip I don’t think I saw a lot of Phoenix. Honestly, we were tired and it was SO hot. I would like to return to Phoenix and visit Sedona which is about 1.5 hrs away. We headed back to Vegas early so we would not get caught in the dark again.

 

The drive back was interesting as we stopped at interesting gas stations for souvenirs and breaks. Once in Vegas we stayed at the Venetian for 2 nights and had much needed R&R and shopping before heading back to Atlanta.

 

Relaxation in Vegas after the road trip!

It was a very interesting experience! Even though it was sporadic I have no regrets. It was an eye opener. I don’t think people realize the journey you have to take to get to Grand Canyon and Antelope Canyon. They are not close to any major airport. I am satisfied from my visit but I wouldn’t mind going back and spending a few more day as there is a lot more to see in Arizona. Have you visited any of these sites? Comment below with things you wish you knew prior to the trek!

 

Pin This Trip!

A recap of the journey to visit the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon and other popular sites in Arizona.

 

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Kim H.

Kim H. is the creator and chief editor for Work Hard Travel Well. Born and raised in College Park, Ga. She is a true “FILA” :) and UGA Alumna. Go Dawgs!