7 Scenic Arizona Highways and Where They’ll Take You
From canyons and deserts to volcanoes and mountain peaks, Arizona has more than a lifetime’s worth of natural beauty. The Grand Canyon State has 31 different state parks, all of which provide you with a plethora of things to see.
The best way to get around Arizona is by car, but not just because of its convenience. Driving along Arizona roads allows you to see some of the most beautiful scenery in the United States.
But what if you’ve never been there before? Which scenic highways do you need to see? Keep reading to learn about seven different Arizona highways that you’ll want to drive along.
1. The South Rim Drive of the Grand Canyon
As you drive along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, you realize why it’s world-famous. The road runs for 57-miles and gives you unparalleled views of one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
Aside from gorgeous views from inside your car, the road also provides you with plenty of chances to stop and get a bit closer. Stopping at Desert View lets you climb up to Lookout Tower, while also appreciating Native American art.
Once you’re in the park, you can stop near the Main Visitor Center. This provides you with easy access to all of the rim trails, as well as some of the different amenities that the park offers.
- The 6 Best Places to Watch the Sunset in Dubai
- 4 Ways to Afford Nomadic Travel Lifestyle
- 5 Reasons to Go for a Dirt Bike Adventure in Your Next Visit to Queensland
- Top 10 Best European Cities You Should Visit
2. The Apache Trail
If you’re in Arizona for a short period of time, the Apache Trail should definitely be on your itinerary. It’s a stunning, 44-mile drive, but is just northeast of Pheonix.
Named after the Native Americans who used to use the trail, the Apache Trail weaves through mountains, valleys, and canyons, providing you with an endless number of stunning views. It also features plenty of spots where you can pull over and take everything in.
You’ll also see a lot of lakes along the drive, before arriving at Roosevelt Dam at the end.
3. Willcox to Chiricahua
If you’re interested in seeing some of the geographic variations that Arizona offers, this 42-mile drive lets you see it.
Starting out by the Dos Cabezas Mountains, you then ascend Bonita Canyon, finally arriving at Chiricahua National Monument. Along the way, you’ll see everything from cacti-filled deserts to mountain-studded pine forests.
You can drive along this stretch of road at all points during the year, but fall and spring are often the best times. During the summer, the temperatures can be unbearable, while winter snows can block off parts of the road.
4. Sedona to Oak Creek Canyon
Another drive that lets you appreciate the different topography of the state, the 27-mile Sedona scenic drive from Flagstaff to Oak Creek Canyon is another can’t miss.
The path takes all along the edge of Oak Creek Canyon, giving you access to stunning views and vistas. As you progress farther along the trek, you’ll begin to see pine forests and other alpine delights.
Once you arrive at the canyon, consider stopping at Slide Rock State Park. This famous swimming area is a natural waterslide, where water rushes downward and turns the rocks into a waterslide.
5. Kayenta to Monument Valley
If you’ve seen Forest Gump, then you should be familiar with the stretch of road that runs from Kayenta up to Monument Valley. The drive lets you see some of the most stunning geological features in the world.
Gigantic mesas and ridges break apart the otherwise flat horizon, while cactuses and other types of desert vegetation remind you that you aren’t actually on Mars. Everywhere you look, you see hues of red, orange, and purple.
If it’s a clear day, consider driving along this road during the sunset. Once the sun disappears behind the horizon, you’ll find yourself unable to stop gazing up at the blanket of stars all around you.
6. Sunset Crater to Wupatki National Monument
10 miles north of Flagstaff, you can embark on a 35-mile drive that takes you through volcanic fields and ancient ruins.
Once you’re on the drive, make sure to stop at Sunset Crater Volcanic National Monument. You’ll get to see lava fields up close, as well as walk around different cinder cones.
As you drive further along the stretch, you’ll arrive at Wupatki National Monument. There, you’ll get to learn a bit about the people that lived in the area thousands of years ago. You’ll also get to see the vibrant hues of the Painted Desert.
7. Sky Island Scenic Byway
North of Tuscon, this 25-mile stretch of road weaves its way up Mount Lemmon. From the road’s origins in the Sonora Desert to the peaks of the Santa Catalina Mountains, make sure that you have your camera ready to snap photos.
If you’re not a fan of the heat, you’ll be happy to know that the temperatures dip dramatically on top of the mountains. Some of the taller ones, like Mount Lemmon, can have temperatures that are around 25 degrees lower than the surrounding areas.
The road also takes you to numerous camping sites. You can also consider packing a lunch and enjoying a picnic.
Don’t Miss These Arizona Highways
Whether you’re planning a trip to Arizona or are thinking about moving there, there are some sights that you just can’t miss. Make sure that you make time to drive along some or all of these Arizona highways and roads.
You Won’t be Disappointed!
Did you learn about some new Arizona roads that you didn’t know about? Before you go and start planning your next cross-country trip, take a moment to check out some of our other blog posts for more travel guides and tips.