Getting There and Around
- Where to Go
- The Best of the Valley of the Sun
- Wild West Adventure
- Let Scottsdale Rock Your World
- Finding Water in the Sonoran Desert
- Spring Training
- Arizona Family Road Trip
- Phoenix Points of Pride
- Southwestern Culture and Heritage
- Nocturnal Scottsdale
- Exploring Phoenix’s Architecture
- Unexpected Arizona
- Desert Chic
- Chilly Drinks and Cool Eats in Scottsdale
Most visitors to the Valley of the Sun arriving by air land at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (3400 E. Sky Harbor Blvd., 602/273-3300, www.phxskyharbor.com). It’s the country’s ninth busiest airport in terms of traffic, with some 100,000 passengers arriving and departing every day.
Tempe-based US Airways (800/428-4322, www.usairways.com) and Southwest Airlines (800/435-9792, www.southwest.com) account for more than half of Sky Harbor’s traffic, though 18 other carriers provide service, including international airlines like British Airways (800/247-9297, www.britishairways.com), Aeromexico (800/237-6639, www.aeromexico.com), and Air Canada (888/247-2262, www.aircanada.com).
Free shuttles connect Terminals 2, 3, and 4 (Terminal 1 was demolished in 1990), and visitors can also catch buses to the rental-car center and the light rail stop at 44th Street. Sky Harbor sits smack-dab in the middle of the Valley, just three miles east of downtown Phoenix and 20 minutes from Old Town Scottsdale. Two entrances link the airport to the city: one on the west side that connects to I-10 and 24th Street, and another on the east side that joins Highways 143 and 153 (44th Street) and Highway 202 (Loop 202).
Travelers arriving by private jet can use Scottsdale Airport (15000 N. Airport Dr., 480/312-2321, www.scottsdaleaz.gov/airport), a handy, headache-free option. This north Scottsdale airpark, a frequent choice of celebrities, is one of the busiest single-runway airports in the country.
Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (6033 S. Sossaman Rd., 480/988-7600, www.phxmesagateway.org) in east Mesa serves as a small hub for regional carrier Allegiant Air (702/505-8888, www.allegiantair.com), with service to northern parts of the country. As the Valley continues to grow, the airport will likely relieve growing congestion at Sky Harbor.
By Car and Bus
The car, in some ways, continues the grand tradition of exploring the West on horseback or by stagecoach, as it gives travelers the solitary experience of seeing the wide open spaces that stretch between Arizona’s towns and cities. That’s the romantic take, at least. In truth, most visitors to Phoenix and Scottsdale will need a car, especially those planning to make the trip to Sedona.
The Valley of the Sun is expansive, and unlike densely populated centers in New York and San Francisco, there is too much space and too little public transportation to see it all in an efficient manner. Embrace the spirit of the Great American Road Trip, and be prepared to spend some time behind the wheel when plotting trips to Jerome, Oak Creek Canyon, and Montezuma Castle.
Phoenix and Scottsdale were built with the car in mind. The streets follow an efficient and easy-to-navigate grid pattern, which is interconnected by a large web of highways. The I-10 snakes from the southern part of the city, through downtown Phoenix, before heading to the West Valley. Highway 60, also called the Superstition Freeway, provides an important artery to the East Valley, which is encircled by the new Highway 202 (Loop 202).
Its counterpart, Highway 101 (Loop 101), wends from Chandler to Tempe and Scottsdale, where it turns west and travels to the West Valley communities of Peoria and Sun City, before veering south through Glendale and connecting to the I-10. Finally, “the 51” freeway connects Central Phoenix to the northern part of the city and Highway 101 (Loop 101).
This travel guide covers only a small portion of the Grand Canyon State, and there is plenty to see within few hours’ drive of Phoenix. Further afield, the I-10 connects Phoenix to Tucson in the south and Palm Springs and Los Angeles in the west. The scenic I-17 crosses Phoenix into the high deserts and grasslands of Camp Verde and Flagstaff, where you can catch other highways to the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas or to the other Four Corners states of New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah.
Greyhound (2115 E. Buckeye Rd., 602/389-4200, www.greyhound.com) provides bus service to major cities throughout the state and Southwest, though you will not find terminals in Scottsdale or Sedona. To reach Red Rock Country without a car, you can catch a van service from Phoenix’s Sky Harbor airport. Sedona Phoenix Shuttle (800/448-7988, www.sedona-phoenix-shuttle.com) offers a direct link to the Village of Oak Creek and West Sedona.
© Jeff Ficker from Moon Phoenix, Scottsdale & Sedona, 1st edition