Southwest Road Trip 4 Day Itinerary: Vegas, Grand Canyon, and Sedona
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Experience the best of Arizona and Nevada with this epic 4-Day Southwest Road Trip. Destinations include Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, and Sedona for not just a fun trip, but one filled with beauty and nature’s best views.
Southwest Road Trip
Do you think you can knock out Vegas, the Grand Canyon, and Sedona in only 4 days? It sounds like a lot, but it all actually fits perfectly in those 4 days.
With us living in Missouri, if we were to physically road trip through all of that in 4 days from Missouri, we wouldn’t be sleeping at all. And I don’t know about you but I like to sleep.
I also like to enjoy my time when traveling. 4 days seems like we rushed through it all and we did in a sense. We actually flew into Las Vegas, NV at the beginning of the road trip and flew out of Phoenix, AZ at the end. We actually rented a small Camry between those two airports for the road-tripping portion.
With rewards points from my Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority and Sapphire Reserve cards, the flights were free and we only ended up paying maybe $300 for the rental after everything. If you don’t know this, renting a car with a different drop off location will end up being more expensive than with the same pickup and drop off location (if you were to fly out of the same airport you came in at). We knew this going in and it was worth it to us.
Why Vegas, Grand Canyon, and Sedona?
My wife Alexandra and I are HUGE UFO/Alien/Paranormal nerds. I love a podcast called Euphomet where I first heard about these locations being such a hotbed for UFO sightings and paranormal activity.
With my birthday approaching, I felt this part of the U.S. pulling me to it. But I did not want to spend most of the trip driving. As much as I love a long road trip like that, the number of days I was able to get off from work wouldn’t allow for a long road trip like that.
Instead, we chose to fly into Vegas then do a short road trip between Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff, Sedona, and Phoenix.
Day 1: Fly into Vegas
The day before my birthday we flew out of St. Louis, MO and into Las Vegas, NV in the early afternoon. We took a shuttle to the car rental office and drove off with our little Camry (thank you Chase reward points).
We chose the Luxor to stay for that one night before driving to the Grand Canyon the next day and starting our little road adventure. Why Luxor? Because I read online that it was supposed to be haunted and I am always looking to find ghosts where we stay (but never do *sad face*).
The Luxor is not the grandest or most luxurious place to stay in Vegas and after staying there, I won’t be staying there again. We stayed in the pyramid and the room was okay but it was a little too dark and stuffy for me. But it was cheap so we got what we paid for (it was also covered by our Chase reward points, booked through the Chase rewards portal).
If I could give you one piece of advice about going to Vegas is don’t go in September. It was so hot and I don’t care who says dry hot is better than humid hot, dry hot still means it is hot. Luckily, it cooled off a lot as we made our way to the Grand Canyon (along with some rain as rain periodically comes and goes throughout the day around the Grand Canyon, Sedona and surrounding areas in Arizona this time of year).
People often reference to Vegas as one of the cheaper travel destinations in the United States and that is because the hotels aren’t usually too expensive (unless you stay at the Bellagio). What is the expensive part are the drinks and food.
Day 2: Drive from Vegas to the Grand Canyon
You can either take a quick trip to the Grand Canyon from Vegas in a helicopter or do it the more fun way (in my opinion) and take the road.
It is a 4-hour drive from the Vegas strip to the south rim of the Grand Canyon via US-93 S and I-40 E, which was ideal for our overall road trip itinerary. 4 hours is a perfect duration for any drive, especially when there are multiple stops on the way.
If you leave early enough as we did (we left about 8 am), you’ll have time to check out the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, stop to eat lunch, take the scenery in, and get there in time for plenty of daylight hours left for adventure at the Grand Canyon.
Prepare yourself for the line getting into the south rim though. It is one of the busiest entrances and if you get a National Park Pass beforehand, you can zoom right through. Normally it is $35 per vehicle at the Grand Canyon (and that entrance fee is pretty close to the same amount at every National Park in the U.S.) but if you get the U.S. Park Pass, you can use it all year at any National Park for $80.
For us, it was a better deal since we easily visit more than 2 National Parks a year.
That night we drove to a cute little Airbnb in Flagstaff, AZ. As much as we wanted to stay at the Grand Canyon, they were all booked up but there are plenty of other scenic fun places to stay, especially on Airbnb.
Day 3: Drive to Sedona from Flagstaff
After waking up to the sound of a rooster and chickens the next morning in our cute trailer Airbnb in Flagstaff, we took it slow since it only takes 45 minutes to get from Flagstaff to Sedona.
You’ll want to take 89A but be wary of the road as it gets quite windy before you reach Oak Creek. Right before you get to Sedona on the right-hand side of 89A will be the best breakfast place in the area, Indian Gardens Cafe & Market. We loved it, my parents loved it when they went a couple of months after us and everyone ever probably has also loved it (they also have some great vegetarian options too).
We booked a vortex jeep tour which was amazing. We did a group meditation (which was definitely a first for me) at one of the vortexes we visited and our guide was really great and informative.
If you don’t know what the Sedona Vortexes are, I definitely suggest to read up on them and try to connect with some while you are there. It is an amazing feeling of being grounded yet lifted at the same time and being connected with the earth there.
Then we stayed the night in a guesthouse on Airbnb.
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“Sedona vortexes are thought to be swirling centers of energy that are conducive to healing, meditation and self-exploration. These are places where the earth seems especially alive with energy.” . . When visiting some of these sites as we made our way through Sedona, we definitely felt it. There was a swirling of energy that pulsed through our bodies as we centered with it. Healing any strife we felt in that moment and silencing everything. . . Even the birds stopped. . . I wish we could have hiked to each and every vortex in Sedona but we just didn’t have enough time. I hate that excuse too, not having enough time. But next time 😸
Day 4: More Sedona and Fly Home Out of Phoenix
For our last day, we woke up early, ate breakfast at Red Rock Cafe (another great breakfast place), and went for a short hike up to Bell Rock.
We didn’t have too much time to hike all the way up Bell Rock because we had a plane to catch in Phoenix and a 2-hour drive to get there. If you end up making the same or similar plans, take I-17 S and go early because you will hit traffic in the afternoon.
But we made it to our flight without too much trouble. The scenery on this drive is amazing so try not to make it so you have to rush through it. Stop and take some pictures!
Tips for Affording A Southwest Vacation
We use a variety of apps to help us save money on our spontaneous road trips.
Some of our favorites to save money on accommodation, rental cars, food, etc:
- Rakuten: Get cashback on hotels, flights and more by using their Travel & Vacations area of the site.
- Ibotta: Another great cashback app that saves you money from everything from online shopping to restaurants and travel.
- Dosh: Link your credit cards to the app and save money on a variety of categories, including travel.
- Airbnb: My go-to app for booking overnight stays when I don’t have available points to use at a hotel since most of the time I can find something on Airbnb for 50% cheaper than most of the hotels in the area. You can get $55 towards your first trip with my link.
Here’s to More Spontaneous Short Trips
I love little spontaneous trips like this. Even though I would love to slow travel throughout the whole U.S., Canada and Mexico one day, these short bursts will suffice.
Have you ever been to Nevada and Arizona? Are you planning on going and was this helpful? What other fun spontaneous trips have you taken? Let us know in the comments below and happy travels!
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Dani is an entrepreneur and one of the creators of hikingandroadtrips.com. She is obsessed with everything outdoors, especially hiking, traveling and will take any opportunity to #getoutside for adventure or to just vibe with the earth.