Gas up the car, grab some road food and sodas, make that perfect highway mix for the stereo (pick songs that go well with long, empty views), and hit the road on one of these scenic road trip routes around Arizona.
Open spaces and strange scenery abound on these routes through the hot, rocky deserts of western Arizona.
- Historic Route 66: Drive the remains of the Mother Road on the dry northwestern plains, where you can jump back to a slower time, passing through Kingman, stopping at the Historic Route 66 Museum, and spending some time in Seligman, the center of a Route 66 cultural rebirth.
- Joshua Tree Forest Parkway: Take Highway 60 northwest from Phoenix through Wickenburg and keep going when it turns to Highway 93, known for its stands of Joshua trees.
You’ll be driving uphill on these scenic drives; watch as the vegetation changes from desert to a transitional bushy scrub to highland evergreen forests, all while you sit comfortably behind the wheel.
- U.S. 60 to the Salt River Canyon: The forest comes on pretty quick as you leave the central scrublands around Globe and rise along a twisty highway into the White Mountains. Make sure to stop for a photo op at majestic Salt River Canyon.
- Highway 89A from Prescott to Jerome: Take Highway 89A up over forested Mingus Mountain, stopping to enjoy a sweeping view of the Verde River Valley below when you reach the pass at the top of the hill. A little farther on and you’re in the old copper mining town of Jerome, now home to boutiques and restaurants.
- Swift Trail Parkway: Negotiate a twisting forest road from the desert Gila Valley to the top of Mount Graham at over 10,000 feet, the highest of Southern Arizona’s sky islands—it’s the equivalent of driving from Mexico to Canada in about an hour.
The vast, sparsely populated Colorado Plateau has many lonely, scenic roads. On some of them, the traffic is so thin that you could take a nap on the center stripe.
- The Vermilion Cliffs Highway: Perhaps the loneliest of Arizona’s lonely routes, this scenic road snakes across the Arizona Strip in northwestern Arizona, just below the border with Utah, and passes towering red-rock cliffs and vast bunchgrass plains.
- Kayenta to Monument Valley: The short drive from Kayenta to Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park on the Navajo Reservation is almost as scenic as the famous Valley itself, with strangely eroded sandstone monuments rising from the sweeping red-dirt plains.
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