If you decide to take a Phoenix to Grand Junction road trip, then you’ll get to see some of the best scenery that Arizona, Utah, and Colorado have to offer. There are some fabulous national parks along the way; you’ll definitely get your fill of red rocks and spectacular canyons. Excellent state parks abound as well, and they can please everyone from history buffs to adventurers. Plenty of exciting cities and tourist destinations line your route, so you’ll have an easy time putting together a fantastic road trip itinerary from Phoenix to Grand Junction.
Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified Forest National Park is an easy drive east on Interstate 40 from Flagstaff, Arizona, for an hour and 40 minutes. The interstate cuts through the park, so you’ll get to see amazing sights just by driving through it. If you want to explore this gorgeous painted desert full of petrified wood and petroglyphs further, you can do so on foot, horseback, or bike. You can even go off the beaten path on a backcountry camping journey if you so desire.
Grand Canyon National Park
How can you pass up the chance to explore Grand Canyon National Park on your road trip from Phoenix to Grand Junction when it’s only half an hour from Cameron, Arizona? Millions of people flock to this iconic canyon and gorge every year in order to view the stunning grandeur of this awesome environment. This park is known for its multiple rugged adventuring opportunities, but there are several easy trails that show amazing views. Hiking, biking, and horseback riding are popular here, as is rafting down the Colorado River.
Mesa Verde National Park
If you want to view some of America’s best-preserved ancient Puebloan ruins on your Phoenix to Grand Junction RV road trip, then exploring Mesa Verde National Park is a must. More than 600 cliff dwellings and 4,300 archeological sites call this park home. Be sure to visit the famous Cliff Palace, which is North America’s largest known cliff dwelling. This park is most frequently explored on foot; you can also participate in guided tours if you want to learn more about the fascinating history of this park, which is a two-hour drive from Teec Nos Pos, Arizona.
Arches National Park
The entrance to Arches National Park is right off of Highway 191 as it goes through Moab, Utah. At this stunning national park, you’ll be able to see some of the majestic sandstone arches that give the park its name. You’ll also have the chance to hike and ride on multiple trails that will take you through some fantastic desert scenery. There are also great places to go canyoneering and rock climbing. If you haven’t yet had your fill of red-rock canyons and stunning desert vistas, you can head 30 minutes west of Arches to visit Canyonlands National Park.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
In order to explore yet another stunning canyon, all you have to do to reach Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is travel an hour and 20 minutes southeast of Grand Junction. The basalt rock that gives the Black Canyon its name is some of North America’s oldest exposed rock. Unsurprisingly, rock climbing and hiking are both quite popular here. Another favorite Black Canyon pastime is kayaking, canoeing, or rafting down the Gunnison River. The night sky is also black thanks to the park’s remote location, so the stargazing is outstanding here.
Jerome State Historic Park
If you want to visit a mining mogul’s mansion that was built in the early 1900s, then you’ll definitely want to put Jerome State Historic Park on your road trip itinerary from Phoenix to Grand Junction. The Douglas Mansion is a big draw here; you can tour it as well as the museum it contains. Once you’re done walking around the house and grounds, you can find a lovely place to picnic and to gaze at the surrounding countryside.
Slide Rock State Park
At Slide Rock State Park, which is 35 minutes from Rimrock, Arizona, you can have a great time sliding down 80-foot-long Slide Rock. If you just want to relax, you can wade and swim in Oak Creek. Multiple trails will take you along the creek and into the surrounding countryside. There’s also an apple orchard here, so you might be able to munch on a tasty apple or two in season.
Goosenecks State Park
About 20 minutes west of Mexican Hat, Utah, is fascinating Goosenecks State Park. The park takes its name from the winding nature of the San Juan River as it cuts its way through a steep canyon to create the effect of goosenecks. You can see some of the best sights in this park from your vehicle, including parts of Monument Valley and Alhambra Rock. There are no trails in the park, although you can hike and bike along the roadways.
Green River State Park
Before you get too far away from Arches National Park, you can head west on Interstate 70 for about 20 minutes from Thompson Springs, Utah, and visit Green River State Park. Green River itself is a great place to go fishing, boating, and rafting. You’ll also be able to play golf on the park’s nine-hole course and engage in some top-notch bird-watching.
Highline State Park
Another excellent place to go bird-watching is Highline State Park. Thousands of birds migrate each year through this park that’s 10 minutes north of Mack, Colorado. Highline Lake itself is a wonderful location for fishing, sailing, water skiing, kayaking, and more. There are multiple trails in the park that are suitable for hiking and mountain biking.
Hurricane Harbor Phoenix
Before you get too far away from the Phoenix area, you should drive five minutes west of Interstate 17 and have a blast at Hurricane Harbor Phoenix. This Six Flags waterpark is full of exciting rides like the Anaconda, Tornado, and Bahama Blaster. If you get hungry, you can eat at places like Tidal Wave, Cowabunga Street Tacos, and Surfer’s Sweets & Ice Cream.
There are multiple great places for stargazing on your road trip itinerary from Phoenix to Grand Junction, but simply looking up at the heavens is not quite as amazing as looking through a high-powered telescope like those at Lowell Observatory. In addition to using several advanced telescopes to search the night skies, you can also go solar observing during the day at this observatory that’s 10 minutes from your route as it goes through Flagstaff.
Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
Just five minutes from the outskirts of Flagstaff is the Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. Many of those who visit here enjoy exploring this park, as well as part of the Wupatki National Monument, by vehicle along a 34-mile loop. If you want to hit the trails, there are multiple paths that will take you through lava flows, pine forests, and more.
Monument Valley straddles the Utah/Arizona border; its entrance is several minutes off of your route as it goes through Oljato, Utah. Majestic red sandstone formations shaped by erosion through the ages await you here and are easily explored via a guided or a self-guided tour. Legendary formations like Elephant Butte, Merrick Butte, John Ford’s Point, and the Mitten Buttes call this stunning part of Navajo land home.
McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area
You pass right by the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area as you near Grand Junction, but you’ll have to drive an hour and a half from Fruita, Colorado, to reach the park’s official entrance. Since the drive itself is on winding, twisty Rimrock Drive, you’ll be enjoying a scenic cruise while traveling to your destination. Once you’re at the conservation area, you’ll be able to explore part of this 123,430-acre park that's full of dinosaur fossils, natural arches, and a solid stretch of the Colorado River.
Camp Verde, Arizona
In Camp Verde, you can visit fascinating locations like the Montezuma Castle National Monument and the Out of Africa Wildlife Park. There are some lovely RV campgrounds in Camp Verde.
When exploring Flagstaff, you can stop by excellent destinations like Walnut Canyon National Monument and Flagstaff Extreme. You’ll have your pick of nice campgrounds at which to park your camper.
People primarily visit Moab for its proximity to two great national parks, but you can also go off-roading at Hell’s Revenge and stroll around the Moab Film Museum. Plenty of dump stations and campgrounds can be found here.
Just before you reach your final destination, you should visit the Museum of Western Colorado: Dino Journey Museum and the Western Slope Vietnam Memorial. There are a couple of dump stations and campgrounds nearby.
When you follow this road trip itinerary from Phoenix to Grand Junction, you will enjoy historic locations and beautiful scenery along the way. If you want to travel in comfort and style, consider an RV rental from RVshare. From large motorhomes to compact campervans, there is a rig that will meet your travel and budget needs. Once you hit the road, you are protected by our renter guarantee and 24/7 roadside assistance. Find the perfect vehicle for your travel needs in Phoenix or Grand Junction.