There’s nothing like the Great American Road Trip! And given continued travel restrictions preventing Americans from taking their vacations abroad in many countries, more and more people are turning to road trips when they need to get away from it all.
If you’ll be in Phoenix, Arizona and are looking for scenic drives or road trips to take, read on for some fun ideas.
Taking the two-hour drive up to Sedona is rewarding both in terms of the drive and the destination. Sedona is a beautiful desert city surrounded by red rock formations, canyons, buttes, and pine forests. It also has a vibrant arts community, which means there’s plenty to see and do once you get there.
As for the drive itself, the last part of your route from Phoenix will be on SR 179, also known as the Red Rock Scenic Byway. After you turn left off of I-17 onto the byway, you’ll soon be in the Rd Rock Scenic Corridor within the Coconino National Forest. The drive is surrounded by towering, jaw-dropping rock formations with optional stop-offs at a visitors’ center (at the time of writing, it’s temporarily closed due to COVID-19), several trailheads, petroglyphs, a chapel, and a state park.
The Apache Trail
Ready to put your driving skills to the test? About two hours east of Phoenix lies the Apache Trail, an ancient route used by the native Apaches, which then became a stagecoach route. For a while, this mostly unpaved road was considered the most dangerous road in the US! Also known as Arizona State Route 88, the road is safer now, but you’ll still be facing tight turns and steep drop-offs (the speed limit remains 15 mph).
The drive will take you 40 miles through the Superstition Mountains and Tonto National Forest. Stops include Goldfield Ghost Town, Theodore Roosevelt Dam, Canyon Lake, Tortilla Flat, Lost Dutchman State Park, Tonto National Monument, and Fish Creek Hill Viewpoint.
Desert Foothills Scenic Drive
If you have less time to devote to your road trip but still want magical scenery, there’s a great drive near Scottsdale, Arizona, which is only half an hour from Phoenix. It’s called Desert Foothills Scenic Drive and is located on the stretch of Scottsdale Road between Carefree Highway and Happy Valley Road (don’t both of those names make it sound like a relaxing place to be?).
The drive is about 6 miles long and will only take you about an hour (at a maximum) to complete while doing the stops. There are around a dozen signs posted along the road that you can stop and read for information about native vegetation and other natural features. It’s kind of like a museum you can drive through! And you’ll have great views of nearby mountains from the road.
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