Road Trip in Arizona

Before packing your bags and taking off for a sightseeing trip to the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, or maybe even London Bridge, make sure you're legal—and prepared—to drive in Arizona.

That means having a valid driver's license, a registered and insured vehicle, and an understanding of the state's roadways.

Driving in Arizona

Comfort, baggage space, style—there are several factors to consider when selecting a vehicle for your road trip, but the most important is a vehicle meeting car insurance and registration requirements. Whether you're an Arizona resident or traveling from out of state, your vehicle must be registered and insured (or you must be able to prove financial responsibility).

In addition, now is a good time to brush up on Arizona's rules of the road. The Arizona Driver's Manual and our guide to AZ safety laws can get you up to speed on the state's laws pertaining to:

  • Road rules and vehicle knowledge.
  • Traffic signs and signals.
  • Safe driving practices.
  • How to avoid car accidents.
  • Handling emergency situations.

Also, make sure you're properly licensed before shifting into drive in AZ.

AZ Visitors

U.S. Residents

An adult with a valid out-of-state driver's license should have no problem driving in Arizona.

As a teen, however, there might be a few graduated driver's license (GDL) hurdles to jump. Most states implement a GDL process, but not all states use the same process; because each state varies, it's best to contact the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) for information on how Arizona's GDL regulations line up with your home state's specific policies.

Foreign Tourists

If you plan an Arizona road trip with a valid foreign driver's license, please contact the AZ MVD for specific details on documentation requirements. Obtaining an International Driving Permit (IDP) in addition to a valid foreign driver's license is helpful for translating your license and other credentials.

You must apply for your IDP with the country that issued your current driver's license.

Major AZ Roads

From the Arizona Department of Transportation (DOT) to the state's Office of Tourism, various state agencies work together to help navigate the state's various roadways.

Here are a few major Arizona roads to know for navigating around the state. Interstates (1) are federally-managed and frequently connect to other states, while U.S. Routes (US) are state-managed.

  • I-8
    • Interstate 8 runs west to east across Southern Arizona through Yuma, Dateland, and Sonoran Desert National Monument. Connects to California.
  • I-10
    • Another major west to east connector across Southern Arizona, Interstate 10 serves Quartzite, Tonopah, Goodyear, Phoenix, Tempe, Tucson, and San Simon. Links to both California and New Mexico.
  • I-17
    • Arizona's major north-south connector, Interstate 17 begins south of Flagstaff and runs through Black Canyon City before terminating in Phoenix.
  • I-19
    • A major connector to Mexico, Interstate 19 begins in Tucson and travels southward through Green Valley and Rio Rico before entering Mexico.
  • US 60
    • Runs west to east through Salome, Wickenburg, Surprise, Phoenix, Claypool, and Show Low.
  • US 95
    • Travels north to south from near Lake Havasu through Parker, Quartzite, and Yuma.
  • US 101
    • Rings Phoenix along its north and west suburbs through Glendale, Peoria, Scottsdale, Tempe, and Chandler.
  • US 191
    • Runs north to south from the Utah state line to Many Farms, Ganado, Chambers, St. Johns, Springerville, and the Mexican border.
  • US 202
    • Rings Phoenix's eastern suburbs through Chandler, Gilbert, and Mesa.

Arizona Road Trip Destinations

Whether you're someone who prefers exploring the great outdoors, soaking up local culture and arts, or are a mix of both, Arizona delivers.

Grand Canyon

Of course, no Arizona road trip would be complete without visiting Grand Canyon National Park. If you can, plan on spending several days in this picturesque landmark that has been carved out by the Colorado River.

The North and South Rims offer plenty of guided tours, hikes, camping. Adventurous overlanders can camp along the edge of the North Rim. You can even brave a stroll over the canyon on the Grand Canyon Skywalk.

AZ's Great Outdoors

Of course, the Grand Canyon isn't the only site to see in Arizona. From massive, snowy mountains to gorgeous examples of Sonoran Desert, AZ has it all. Here a few to check out:

  • Petrified Forest National Park
    • This northeastern Arizona park features a spectacular painted desert and large stands of petrified wood from an ancient forest. Camping, hiking, and backpacking are popular activities.
  • Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
    • Situated in extreme southern Arizona, this monument preserves giant organ pipe cacti, saguaro cacti, and natural arches, among other features. Sightseeing, wildlife viewing, camping, and hiking are popular activities.
  • Sonoran Desert National Monument
    • Mountain ranges and deep valley floors make this a very diverse national monument. Horseback riding, camping, backpacking, and stargazing make this a must-see.
  • Lake Havasu
    • This man-made lake preserves wildlife and miles of coastline to boat through and explore along the California border.
  • Lake Mead National Recreation Area
    • Created by the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead is popular for boaters hoping to cool off in the waters of the Colorado River.

Free Ebook: Road Trips of America 

Come along for the ride as we guide you through some of the best road trips in the country. Whether you’re a history buff, cultural connoisseur, or nature lover, we’ve covered all the sights and attractions in each state you won’t want to miss.

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Arizona has much more to offer besides the Grand Canyon. Other popular destinations include:

  • Flagstaff
    • Situated in the world's largest ponderosa pine forest, Flagstaff shines in any season, with nearby skiing in the winter and a cooler mountain climate. Be sure to check out:
      • Lowell Observatory. A lack of major cities makes Lowell the perfect place to take in the awe-inspiring night sky of the desert.
      • The Museum of Northern Arizona. Learn all about the native tribes of Northern Arizona and Colorado Plateau, such as the Zuni, Hopi, and Navajo.
  • Phoenix
    • Arizona's largest city features a whole host of attractions and is a great place to shelter from the cold of a northern winter. Some fun activities include:
      • Golf. Arizona's state sport is well-represented in the Phoenix area, which features course that annually host PGA events.
      • Spring Training. Each spring, Major League Baseball teams descend all around Phoenix for spring training. It's a great time to meet your favorite players and get autographs.
      • Japanese Friendship Garden—Ro Ho En. Featuring more than 1,500 tons of rock and more than 50 species of plants, this carefully landscaped flower and rock garden meanders alongside a peaceful waterfall and makes for a perfect stroll.
  • Sedona
    • Famed for its natural wonders and vibrant arts scene, Sedona is quintessentially southwest. When you're there, be sure to check out:
      • Uptown. Plan to spend a day touring the 80+ art galleries along gallery row in this eclectic part of town. From modern art to works in the tradition of Native Americans, you can browse to your heart's content in Uptown.
      • The Sedona Marathon. Each year in February, runners at varying distances meander through the beautifully-striated rock surrounding Sedona on one of the nation's most gorgeous courses.
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