From Flagstaff to Lake Powell: Plan Your Perfect Road Trip Itinerary

While planning your itinerary to Flagstaff isn’t typically described as an “overwhelming” experience, there is satisfaction in it.

We just got back from 6 days of traveling the upper regions of Arizona, and boy do I have some great things to share with you.

Spend a Few Hours at the Grand Canyon

Overview & “Fast Facts” on The Grand Canyon

An absolutely incredible natural landscape, the Grand Canyon’s Southern Rim is just a short and beautiful hour and a half drive north from Flagstaff.

The Grand Canyon is home to geological history dating back millions of years. That being said, we don’t actually know how old the Grand Canyon is – scientists theorize the Colorado River began carving its way around 70 million years ago, but it wasn’t until long after the dinosaurs had gone extinct that it came close to the natural wonder we see today. This could be the reason there have never been dinosaur bones found in the Grand Canyon.

The Canyon plummets 6,039 feet (over a mile!). That’s one helluva drop; but still not the deepest canyon in the world (that honor belongs to Tsangpo Canyon in Tibet; bucket list, anyone?).

Personal Experience

I lived in Arizona from age five until fifteen and then once more, for a few years, as an adult. In all that time I never made my way to the Grand Canyon, but I am happy to say we did it this time around!

One thing that I noticed, that you can avoid, is people tend to crowd around the the first look-out locations. The initial views are so incredible, it makes sense that people want to capture its majesty, but there are many opportunities to take really great photos without the gathering of people in your shots. My advice is to enjoy the view in the beginning, but keep it moving further along the path in order to get better photos.

Plenty of Ways to See and Explore

Whether you are taking it all in from views in a helicopter above the clouds or your water bottle in hand, feet on the ground, there are so many options to choose from. We chose the latter, opting for a leisure stroll along the rim. Park entrance fee’s are roughly $35 dollars per car, with parking at the Southern Rim Visitors Center for free. Just outside of the Grand Canyon/Coconino National Park is a cluster of restaurants, gift shops, and fast food joints. There are even some hotels sprinkled in, if staying the night tickles your fancy.

Downtown Flagstaff

Old Town Shops

Prime gift grabbing here. Old Town Shops is the home of 10 independently owned stores and restaurants.

Bright Side Bookshop

Every chance I get, I am inside a bookstore. Bright Side Bookshop was quant and cute. I was pleasantly surprised when walking inside; I was expecting a small used book store, with a little clutter and a lot of love. Bright Side Bookshop, though definitely not lacking in love of books, was clean, organized, and had a healthy mix of new and used books, with helpful signs pointing at recommendations and favorites (the shop was full of these little personal touches!)

Sweet Shoppe: Candy Store

This place had some of the most elaborate caramel apples, truffles, homemade chocolate bars, and novelty boxes I’ve seen in a while. It’s a delightful and delicious treat, right in the middle of Flagstaff.

Grab A Bite To Eat

When our trips are long we pack a decent supply of snacks for the road; usually a cooler with carrots, cucumbers, salsas, and dips (among other things). This helps us save money in the long run. That being said, we can’t help ourselves to some local cuisine!

Tourist Home All Day Cafe

I didn’t capture many pictures here, you’ll just have to take my word for how good it was. We ordered spicy deviled eggs, truffle popcorn, and hatch green chili mac & cheese.

Ewa’s Thai Cuisine

Thai food is a staple of delicious happiness in my tummy (i.e my favorite food of all time). So, it has become a tradition of ours to find a great Thai food place on all trips.

Coffee Shop Hop

The number of great coffee shops located in Downtown Flagstaff will blow your mind. If you are a coffee lover like me, this will be your haven for travel.

Late for the Train has wonderful seating options (and strong wifi), including a wondrous outdoor patio with lots of draping greenery.

Drive to Lake Powell

Our trip actually revolved around a Lake Powell Half Marathon. We drove from Lake Powell to Flagstaff – spending two days in Flagstaff.

It’s a farther drive from Flagstaff to Lake Powell compared to that of the Grand Canyon, and depending on how much time you have would influence whether or not I would suggest the trip.

With proper planning, Lake Powell can be a noteworthy outdoor experience. Here is the short list of popular options to choose from:

Horseshoe Bend Hiking

Horseshoe Bend is a 1.2 mile roundtrip trail. The trail is wheelchair accessible, and dog friendly.

Run a Half Marathon with Vacation Races

I thoroughly enjoy Vacation Races. They pick gorgeous locations for their runs, and focus their races on enjoyment rather than competition. Check out the link above to see all of the race locations offered.

Visit Antelope Canyon

Rent a Boat or Kayak

Swimming is a popular activity at Lake Powell, and renting a boat to hit the water gives you an entirely new look.

There are a lot of options when planning your trip to Flagstaff and/or Lake Powell. I hope this information will help to make your trip just as memorable.

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