Hit the Road: Discover Arizona’s Most Breathtaking Scenic Drives

Introduction to Arizona’s Scenic Drives

Buckle up, roll down the windows, and get ready to hit the road as we take you on a journey through Arizona’s most breathtaking scenic drives.

Forrest Gump spot near Monument Valley

When it comes to exploring the natural wonders of the United States, Arizona is a true gem. With its diverse landscapes, stunning vistas, and iconic attractions, the state offers a plethora of scenic drives that will take your breath away. From the historic Route 66 to the majestic Grand Canyon, Arizona has something for every road trip enthusiast.

Benefits of Exploring Arizona by Car

Exploring Arizona by car offers a unique and immersive experience that allows you to fully appreciate the beauty of the state. Unlike flying or taking a train, driving gives you the freedom to stop whenever and wherever you please, allowing you to immerse yourself in the stunning landscapes and capture those picture-perfect moments.

Additionally, driving through Arizona’s scenic drives allows you to discover hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path attractions that you might otherwise miss. So embrace the freedom of the open road and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime.

Driving through Arizona’s scenic routes also provides an opportunity to connect with nature on a deeper level. As you wind your way through the state’s breathtaking landscapes, you’ll be surrounded by towering mountains, vast deserts, and stunning rock formations.

The ever-changing scenery will leave you in awe, and the peace and tranquility of the open road will rejuvenate your soul.

So take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and let Arizona’s scenic drives take you on a journey of self-discovery and wonder.

Planning Your Scenic Drive Itinerary

Before embarking on your Arizona adventure, it’s important to plan your scenic drive itinerary to make the most of your trip.

Start by researching the different scenic drives available in the state and determine which ones align with your interests and time constraints.

Consider the length of each drive, the attractions along the way, and the time of year you’ll be visiting. It’s also a good idea to check for any road closures or construction that might affect your route.

Once you’ve chosen your scenic drives, create a detailed itinerary that includes the starting and ending points, the attractions you want to visit, and the estimated time it will take to complete each drive.

Pro tip: factor in extra time for stops, meals, and rest breaks.

It’s also a good idea to have a backup plan in case of unforeseen circumstances, such as inclement weather or unexpected closures. With a well-planned itinerary in hand, you’ll be ready to embark on your Arizona adventure with confidence.

Safety Tips for Scenic Drives in Arizona

While scenic drives in Arizona offer unparalleled beauty and adventure, it’s important to prioritize safety during your journey. Here are some essential tips to keep in mind:

  • Prepare Your Vehicle: Before hitting the road, make sure your vehicle is in good working condition. Check the tires, brakes, and fluid levels, and ensure that you have a spare tire and necessary tools in case of emergencies.

  • Pack Essentials: Bring along a first aid kit, plenty of water, snacks, and a fully charged cell phone. It’s also a good idea to have a paper map or GPS device in case you lose signal.

  • Observe Speed Limits: While it’s tempting to speed through the scenic drives, it’s important to adhere to speed limits for your safety and the safety of others. Slow down and enjoy the journey.

  • Stay Hydrated: Arizona’s desert climate can be unforgiving, especially during the summer months. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and avoid heat-related illnesses.
  • Be Mindful of Wildlife: Arizona is home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, elk, and javelinas. Be cautious while driving, especially during dawn and dusk when animals are most active.

By following these safety tips, you can ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey through Arizona’s scenic drives.

Route 66: The Iconic Scenic Drive Through Arizona

No scenic drive through Arizona would be complete without a journey along the iconic Route 66. As one of the most famous highways in the world, Route 66 offers a nostalgic trip back in time with its retro motels, classic diners, and vintage roadside attractions.

Fun fact: The Arizona section of Route 66 stretches for 401 miles, taking you through charming towns, stunning landscapes, and historic landmarks.

Cool Springs Station wide view

Route 66 winds its way through the picturesque towns of Flagstaff, Williams and Oatman before reaching the California border.

Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the Grand Canyon Caverns, visit the historic Route 66 Museum in Kingman, and marvel at the stunning views from the Walnut Canyon National Monument.

Check out this map and town by town description of the Arizona section of Route 66.

Whether you’re a history buff, a photography enthusiast, or simply looking for an unforgettable adventure, driving along Route 66 in Arizona is an experience like no other.

So dust off your old road map, put on your favorite playlist, and get ready to cruise down the Mother Road.

Red Rock Scenic Byway: Experience the Beauty of Sedona

Nestled in the heart of Arizona’s red rock country, Sedona is a haven for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. And there’s no better way to experience the beauty of this enchanting town than by driving along the Red Rock Scenic Byway (see map).

This 7.5-mile stretch of road offers breathtaking views of Sedona’s famous red rock formations, including Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, and Courthouse Butte.

As you wind your way through the Red Rock Scenic Byway, be sure to make a stop at the Chapel of the Holy Cross, a stunning architectural marvel built into the red rocks.

Take a moment to soak in the serenity and spiritual energy of this sacred place. You may also want to explore the hiking trails and picnic spots along the route, or simply pull over at one of the scenic viewpoints to capture the beauty of Sedona on camera.

Whether you visit during sunrise, sunset, or any time in between, the Red Rock Scenic Byway promises an unforgettable journey through one of Arizona’s most captivating landscapes. So roll down the windows, feel the cool breeze on your face, and let the magic of Sedona surround you.

Apache Trail: A Historic and Scenic Drive Through the Superstition Mountains

For a taste of Arizona’s rich history and rugged beauty, look no further than the Apache Trail. This historic and scenic drive takes you through the breathtaking Superstition Mountains, offering panoramic views of lakes, canyons, and towering rock formations.

The Apache Trail is a 40-mile loop that starts in Apache Junction, just outside of Phoenix, and takes you on a journey through the heart of the Tonto National Forest.

Note: Some portions of State Route 88 are closed due to storm damage.

See map and check road status before you go.

As you navigate the winding roads of the Apache Trail, be prepared for narrow stretches, steep drop-offs, and hairpin turns. But don’t let that deter you, because the rewards are well worth it. Along the way, you’ll pass by the stunning Canyon Lake, where you can take a scenic boat tour or go fishing.

You’ll also have the opportunity to visit the historic Goldfield Ghost Town and Tortilla Flat – two restored mining towns that offers a glimpse into Arizona’s Wild West past.

Whether you choose to drive the entire loop or just a portion of it, the Apache Trail will leave you in awe of Arizona’s natural beauty and rich history.

Go ahead, channel your inner adventurer, pack a picnic lunch, and get ready to embark on a journey through time.

Coronado Trail Scenic Byway: A Breathtaking Drive Through the White Mountains

If you’re looking for a scenic drive that will take your breath away, look no further than the Coronado Trail Scenic Byway.

Fun fact: This 123-mile stretch of road winds its way through the majestic White Mountains, offering stunning views of deep canyons, dense forests, and snow-capped peaks.

As you traverse the Coronado Trail, you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world, surrounded by nature’s grandeur.

Coronado Trail leads through tunnel

The drive begins in Clifton and continues all the way to Springerville, passing through the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest along the way.

Along the route, you’ll have the opportunity to stop at scenic overlooks, hike through pristine wilderness areas, and visit charming mountain towns.

Keep an eye out for wildlife, as the White Mountains are home to elk, deer, and a variety of bird species.

Whether you visit during the vibrant fall foliage season or the snowy winter months, the Coronado Trail Scenic Byway promises a breathtaking journey through Arizona’s natural wonders. So grab your camera, pack a jacket, and get ready to be amazed.

Saguaro National Park Loop Drive: Discover the Desert Landscape of Tucson

For a unique desert experience like no other, head to Tucson and embark on the Saguaro National Park Loop Drive. L

Fun fact: This 8-mile scenic drive takes you through the heart of the park, where you’ll be surrounded by towering saguaro cacti, rugged mountains, and vast desert landscapes.

Quick glimpse of drive through Saguaro National Park near Tucson, Arizona

The Saguaro National Park drive is divided into two sections:

  • Tucson Mountain District
  • Rincon Mountain District

Each offers its own distinct beauty.

signal hill spiral petroglyph

As you navigate the Saguaro National Park Loop Drive, be sure to keep an eye out for wildlife, as the park is home to a variety of desert creatures, including roadrunners, javelinas, and Gila monsters.

You may also want to stop at one of the many trailheads along the route and explore the park on foot. The Valley View Overlook and the Signal Hill Petroglyphs are not to be missed.

Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a photography lover, or simply looking for a peaceful escape, the Saguaro National Park Loop Drive will transport you to a world of natural wonders.

So roll down the windows, feel the warm desert breeze on your face, and let the beauty of Tucson’s desert landscape mesmerize you.

Scenic Drives Near the Grand Canyon: Desert View Drive and Hermit Road

No trip to Arizona would be complete without a visit to the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon. And while there are many ways to experience this natural wonder, driving along Desert View Drive and Hermit Road offers a unique perspective and allows you to explore the rim at your own pace.

Desert View Drive, also known as the East Rim Drive, is a 25-mile scenic drive that takes you from the Grand Canyon Village to the Desert View Watchtower. Along the way, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the canyon, with numerous pullouts and viewpoints where you can stop and take it all in.

Be sure to visit the Desert View Watchtower, a historic stone tower that offers panoramic views of the canyon and the Colorado River.

Bonus content: One-day itinerary to get the most out of your Grand Canyon experience on a budget

Grand Canyon Hermit Road

Hermit Road, on the other hand, is a 7-mile scenic drive that starts at the Grand Canyon Village and follows the rim westward. This drive is only accessible by shuttle bus or foot during the peak season, but during the off-season, you can drive your own vehicle along the route.

Hermit Road offers a more secluded and less crowded experience, with stunning views of the canyon and opportunities for hiking and picnicking.

Whether you choose to drive along Desert View Drive, explore Hermit Road, or both, the scenic drives near the Grand Canyon will leave you in awe of nature’s grandeur. So make sure to bring your camera, pack a picnic lunch, and get ready to witness one of the world’s most spectacular landscapes.

Lesser-Known Scenic Drives in Arizona

While Arizona is home to many well-known scenic drives, there are also plenty of lesser-known routes that offer their own unique charm. Here are a few hidden gems to add to your Arizona road trip itinerary:

  • Salt River Canyon Scenic Drive: Located on the Apache Indian Reservation, this 27-mile drive takes you through the stunning Salt River Canyon, with its dramatic cliffs and rushing river.
  • Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Drive: Just south of Flagstaff, this 14-mile drive offers breathtaking views of towering red rock cliffs, lush forests, and the crystal-clear waters of Oak Creek.

  • Copper Corridor Scenic Byway: Stretching for 36 miles between Superior and Miami, this scenic drive takes you through historic mining towns, past towering saguaros, and offers stunning views of the rugged desert landscape.

  • Sunset Crater Volcano Loop Road: Located near Flagstaff, this 34-mile loop drive takes you through the remnants of ancient volcanic activity, with views of cinder cones, lava flows, and the iconic Sunset Crater.

These lesser-known scenic drives offer a chance to escape the crowds and explore Arizona’s hidden treasures. Dare to venture off the beaten path, discover new horizons, and let the road guide you to unexpected beauty.

Conclusion: Discover the Beauty of Arizona Through Its Scenic Drives

Arizona’s scenic drives offer a captivating journey through some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the United States. From the iconic Route 66 to the majestic Grand Canyon, each drive presents a unique opportunity to explore the natural wonders and rich history of the state.

Whether you’re a road trip enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply looking for a memorable adventure, hit the road and discover the beauty of Arizona through its scenic drives.

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