This pre-made itinerary guides you along a six-day road trip journey through the heart of the American Southwest, where time seems to stand still, and nature’s wonders unfold at every turn. This captivating road trip adventure takes you from the charming city of Fort Smith, Arkansas, through the expansive plains of Oklahoma and the vibrant landscapes of Texas, ultimately leading to the iconic Grand Canyon. Immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of Northern New Mexico, indulge in Texan hospitality, and traverse the rugged terrains of Arizona and Utah.
This carefully curated itinerary promises a seamless blend of scenic drives, outdoor exploration, and cultural experiences, offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness the grandeur of the Grand Canyon from both its South and North Rims. From leisurely RV camping to heartwarming family picnics against the canyon’s backdrop, each day unfolds a new chapter in this unforgettable tale of nature’s majesty and familial bonds. Get ready for the road trip of a lifetime as you traverse the Southwest’s most iconic destinations, creating cherished memories that will last a lifetime.
Day 1: Fort Smith, AR to Amarillo, TX
(image via Unsplash)
Start: As the sun rises, embark on an unforgettable journey from Fort Smith, Arkansas, through the expansive plains and vibrant landscapes of Oklahoma, en route to the iconic Grand Canyon.
Morning: Enjoy a leisurely drive to Amarillo, Texas, with intermittent stops to stretch and take in the local charm of the Texan countryside.
Lunch Recommendation: Amarillo offers numerous delightful diners and local eateries, such as The Big Texan Steak Ranch, renowned for its 72-ounce steak challenge and authentic Texas ambiance.
Afternoon: Upon arrival in Amarillo, settle into the RV camping accommodations at the tranquil Oasis RV Resort or the family-friendly Amarillo Ranch RV Park for a restful evening.
Evening: Indulge in a hearty Texan dinner at the popular Yellow City Street Food, offering a diverse menu of delectable dishes and a vibrant, laid-back atmosphere.
Late Night: After dinner, consider exploring the renowned Cadillac Ranch, an iconic art installation featuring a series of half-buried Cadillac cars, illuminated against the starlit Texas sky.
Tips: Take advantage of the scenic rest stops along the route to capture stunning photographs and offer the older adults frequent opportunities to stretch and rest.
Other Recommended Things to Do: Visit Palo Duro Canyon State Park for a brief nature walk or scenic drive to marvel at the rugged beauty of the second-largest canyon in the country.
Prep for Tomorrow: Set out early tomorrow morning to make the most of the journey to the Grand Canyon.
Day 2: Amarillo, TX to the Grand Canyon
(image via Unsplash)
Start: As the sun begins to illuminate the Texas horizon, prepare for an awe-inspiring drive from Amarillo to the Grand Canyon, brimming with anticipation for the natural wonder that awaits.
Morning: Journey through the picturesque landscapes of Northern New Mexico, taking in the rich colors and rugged beauty of the region, and ensure frequent breaks for the older adults to stretch comfortably.
Lunch Recommendation: Stop for a delightful midday meal at the Scared Grounds Café in Flagstaff, offering a fusion of Southwestern and American cuisine amid a cozy, inviting ambiance.
Afternoon: Arrive at the Grand Canyon and settle into the Mather Campground, nestled within the serene majesty of the Canyon’s South Rim, offering a genuine wilderness experience.
Evening: As the day draws to a close, savor a tranquil evening against the backdrop of the canyon’s breathtaking vistas, perhaps with a relaxing family picnic while watching the sunset over the horizon.
Late Night: Take advantage of the clear, star-filled night sky at the Grand Canyon and partake in stargazing, sharing stories and admiring the celestial wonders above.
Tips: Dress comfortably and in layers for varying temperatures throughout the day, and be sure to pack ample water and snacks for the journey to and from the Grand Canyon.
Other Recommended Things to Do: Explore the Grand Canyon Village for a captivating introduction to the history and culture of the region, or for those seeking adventure, consider a ranger-led program for an enriching experience.
Prep for Tomorrow: Take the morning to relax and immerse in the natural grandeur of the Grand Canyon, and be prepared for a day of exploration and discovery.
Day 3: Grand Canyon Exploration
Start: Wake up to the crisp canyon air and the warm glow of the sunrise, readying for a day filled with the marvels of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim.
Morning: Embark on a scenic hike along the South Rim Trail, offering spectacular panoramic views and plenty of photo opportunities to capture cherished memories.
Lunch Recommendation: Enjoy a delightful lunch at the El Tovar Dining Room, providing exquisite cuisine and unparalleled views of the canyon, adding a touch of elegance to your adventure.
Afternoon: Visit the Desert View Watchtower, an architectural gem offering unparalleled vistas of the canyon and the Painted Desert, providing an enriching historical and cultural experience for all generations.
Evening: As the day winds down, unwind and savor the serenity of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim with a peaceful evening picnic, marveling at the shifting hues of the canyon as the sun sets.
Late Night: Experience the nocturnal sounds of the canyon and enjoy a relaxed evening stargazing, deepening the connection to the vastness and beauty of the night sky.
Tips: Stay hydrated and take regular breaks during hikes, particularly ensuring that the elderly adults are comfortable and acclimated to the high-altitude environment.
Other Recommended Things to Do: Consider a mule ride adventure along the canyon trails for a unique and memorable perspective of the awe-inspiring landscape.
Prep for Tomorrow: Rest and rejuvenate for another day of unforgettable exploration at the Grand Canyon. Prepare for a leisurely morning before departing for the next destination.
Day 4: Grand Canyon to Lake Powell
(image via Lake Powell Resorts and Marinas)
Start: Depart from the Grand Canyon and set off for the captivating expanse of Lake Powell, where scenic wonders and adventures await, continuing the journey through the marvels of the Southwest.
Morning: Enjoy a relaxed breakfast at the campground, then begin the scenic drive toward Lake Powell, traversing the picturesque landscapes of Arizona and Utah.
Lunch Recommendation: Relish a tranquil midday meal at the Rainbow Room at Lake Powell Resort, offering stunning views of the lake and delightful culinary creations.
Afternoon: Arrive at Lake Powell and settle into the Wahweap Campground, surrounded by the serene beauty of the area, and consider a leisurely exploration of the marina and visitor center.
Evening: As the day draws to a close, consider a sunset cruise on Lake Powell, witnessing the vibrant colors of the sunset reflecting on the water, creating a memorable and picturesque experience for the entire family.
Late Night: Relax under the star-studded sky at the campground, sharing stories and relishing the tranquil ambiance of the Southwest evening.
Tips: Consider bringing insect repellent for the evening hours and be mindful of the changing weather conditions in the high desert environment surrounding Lake Powell.
Other Recommended Things to Do: Explore the stunning Antelope Canyon or engage in a thrilling Glen Canyon Dam tour for an immersive experience in the geological wonders of the region.
Prep for Tomorrow: Rest and rejuvenate for the upcoming day of exploration, ensuring a hearty breakfast before setting off for the next destination.
Day 5: Lake Power to Grand Canyon North Rim
(image via Grand Canyon National Park)
Start: Begin the day with a hearty breakfast, preparing for a scenic journey from Lake Powell to the serene wilderness of the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, offering a new perspective of this natural wonder.
Morning: Depart from Lake Powell and enjoy a picturesque drive through the rugged landscapes of Northern Arizona, savoring the scenic beauty as you approach the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
Lunch Recommendation: Delight in a delightful midday meal at the Grand Canyon Lodge Dining Room, offering delectable cuisine and breathtaking views of the North Rim, heightening the dining experience.
Afternoon: Unwind amidst the tranquility of the North Rim Campground, taking in the sights and sounds of the surrounding forest and reveling in the natural beauty of the area.
Evening: As dusk descends, consider a leisurely walk along the Bright Angel Point Trail, providing mesmerizing vistas of the canyon and a perfect vantage point for sunset gazing. *(Do be aware that Bright Angel Point Trail will be temporarily closing for waterline replacement from December 1, 2023, through May 14, 2024.)
Late Night: Enjoy a relaxed evening at the campground, perhaps with a cozy campfire and stargazing, creating cherished memories under the expansive night sky.
Tips: Dress warmly for the cooler temperatures at the North Rim and be prepared for potential changes in weather, especially during the evening hours.
Other Recommended Things to Do: Explore the serene Transept Trail for a relaxed walk amidst the natural splendor of the North Rim, or take part in a ranger-led program for an enriching educational experience.
Prep for Tomorrow: Rest well and prepare for the journey back to Fort Smith, Arkansas, savoring the memories and experiences of the Grand Canyon before bidding farewell to this natural wonder.
Day 6: Return Journey to Fort Smith, AR
(image via Joe Chester)
Start: Wake up early for the journey back to Fort Smith, Arkansas, taking in the final moments of the natural wonders and scenic beauty encountered during the expedition.
Morning: Depart from the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, traveling through the picturesque landscapes and relishing the sights one last time before beginning the homeward bound journey.
Lunch Recommendation: Enjoy a delicious lunch at a local diner or roadside restaurant, embracing the warmth of Southwestern hospitality and savoring the delectable regional cuisine.
Afternoon: Resume the scenic drive through the vast expanses of New Mexico and Texas, with frequent breaks to stretch and rest as you make your way back toward Fort Smith.
Evening: Arrive back in Fort Smith, Arkansas, with hearts full of unforgettable memories and a renewed appreciation for the breathtaking splendors of nature.
Tips: Take frequent breaks during the return journey, especially for the older adults to relax and stretch, and ensure ample supplies of snacks and beverages for the road.
Other Recommended Things to Do: Consider a brief stop at the quirky and charming town of Tucumcari in New Mexico, offering a glimpse of classic Route 66 Americana and the chance to stretch weary legs.
Prep for Tomorrow: Take time to rest and rejuvenate, reflecting on the incredible journey and cherishing the shared experiences of the Grand Canyon expedition, before continuing with your usual routine and reminiscing about the wonderful moments of the trip.
This itinerary was generated using artificial intelligence (AI) technology as the result of reader-submitted parameters and input. A member of the A Weekend In team has reviewed and edited the output for accuracy, clarity, and readability. However, it is still advisable to cross-reference the information before making definitive travel plans. Readers are encouraged to consider this content as a starting point for modifying and/or creating their own personalized itineraries using our free AI-Powered Travel Planner.