For the family who appreciates the great outdoors and wants to see some of America’s most iconic landscapes, there can be few better road trips than this one. In one long weekend, you will be exposed to some of the most impressive scenery, not just in the country but in the world.
After leaving Tucson, you will be heading north into wide-open desert and rugged canyon country. Your comfortable mobile home will open aspects of the great outdoors that might otherwise be inaccessible. At the same time, you will be exposing your children to geographical wonders and cultural history that will leave an indelible mark on their memories.
On the first day we offer you an opportunity to break the journey in Phoenix but other than that, this is a wild adventure in which nature provides most of the entertainment; and what entertainment it is. From harsh desert vistas to ponderosa pine forests and breathtaking canyon views, this journey won’t fail to awe and amaze. Even the night skies are impressive here and what better way to appreciate that magnificent starry canopy than to stare up at it from beside an open fire?
You will probably spend your first night in the Coconino National Forest which is two and three-quarter hours from Tucson, so you may want to break the journey in Phoenix.
Phoenix is a large city and as such is teeming with family entertainment, restaurants, and activities. While you are surely keen to get into the great outdoors, it might be an idea to split the journey here and grab a bite to eat and perhaps even do something unusual so that the kids can let off a bit of steam.
Whilst there are many options, a lot will depend on the age of your children. Here are two that provide an easy way to kill a couple of hours and at the same time leave you time to comfortably get installed in the forest before nightfall.
For those with younger children, the Children’s Museum is really hands-on. Whether it is building with giant building blocks, skidding through the noodle forest or doing a workshop, this place will certainly keep them amused.
Young adults might prefer the Arizona Science Center which is a museum dedicated to helping people engage with and explore the world of science.
Established in 1908 by Theodore Roosevelt, this forest is huge at 1,842,959 acres. It is RV friendly country and so you will have plenty of parks to choose from depending on what aspects of the park you would most like to see. At that size, the landscape and geography on offer are extremely varied. It ranges from ponderosa pine forest through to volcanic peaks. You could camp in the harshest desert or beside a lake or river.
Your choices are further widened by the activities you would like to engage in while there. Hiking is available just about everywhere but many places also offer horseback riding, mountain biking or canoeing. In addition, you might prefer to view some ancient culture such as the cliff dwellings at Montezuma Castle.
There is no shortage of wildlife to look out for and species include the tiniest horned toad through to enormous elk and coyotes to prairie dogs. Be aware that the name Coconino is derived from the native Havasupai word for ‘little water’ and that water is in short supply in many areas, so please use it responsibly.
Depending on where in the forest you chose to stay, the drive to Grand Canyon will take less than an hour and a half. There is a wide option of places from which to experience the canyon itself and we suggest you head for the rather unimaginatively named Trailer Village.
This is the only trailer park in the National Park with full hook-up facilities and it can cope with rigs of up to fifty feet. It is also open all year round. From there you are in easy striking distance of some of the most spectacular canyon views and you will be able to explore easily.
The park allows charcoal fires but because of the risk posed by wildfires, it does not allow wood fires. At the nearby Yavapai lodge, there is a restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner so if you don’t feel in the mood for a barbeque beneath the stars you can always pop in there for a bite
The trailer park positions you perfectly for access to the south rim of the canyon and it is from here that you will catch the best sunsets and the most awesome canyon views. It is highly likely that this will be the most memorable part of what will be a momentous road trip so try to designate as much time to this area as possible.
The canyon is huge and its sheer immensity will be sure to inspire you. Here two billion years of history is laid bare in a place where the Colorado River has sliced open the earth like a giant knife. This natural wonder is not only one of the premier sites in the US but attracts visitors from around the world. Roughly five million visitors come to the canyon each year to admire views that were first seen by European eyes in 1540.
There are numerous things to do especially along the southern rim. The rim is dotted with viewpoints and museums. You are also able to hike, descend the canyon by mule or take a helicopter flight or raft adventure.
If merely admiring is your chief objective, the sunsets from the south rim are simply magnificent. The canyon walls turn a deep shade of pink that makes for perfect photographs and lasting memories.
There are so many things to see and experience along this road trip that time is going to be a precious commodity. From Grand Canyon, you still have a six-hour drive to your final destination so we have put in one last stop to split that leg of the journey. Three and a half hours from Grand Canyon, the town of Kanab makes an ideal place to take a break, stretch your legs and grab a quick bite to eat before hitting the road again.
There are many restaurants in the town but for good value and family-friendly atmosphere, you will be hard-pressed to be the Rocking V cafe. Their menu is broad and eclectic as reflected in dishes with names like Ed and Red Hummus, Seafood Louie, and Power Canyon Salad.
To add appeal the restaurant also houses an art gallery that supports local artists. Their motto, “without art we are just monkeys with car keys” says a great deal about them.
Fishlake National Forest is now just two and a half hours away. Your road trip has been an interesting one and you will have experienced a wider variety of what the great outdoors has to offer in one long weekend than some people experience in a lifetime. This will, in no small part, be due to the freedom offered by having a self-contained home at your disposal.
Your adventure is far from over as the National Forest holds many more opportunities to commune with nature. Here aspen forest and mountain meadows meet the largest freshwater mountain lake in the state. The wildlife is abundant and includes black bears and cougars, so keep your eyes open and above all, enjoy.