Arizona is a picturesque state filled with natural beauty, from the red rock canyons to the dramatic saguaros of the desert.
A journey through Arizona’s countryside is sure to be a memorable experience and a great way to soak up all its stunning sights. Whether you go alone or have company for your ride, this adventure has something amazing in store.
Nestled among gorgeous landscapes, expect to encounter breathtaking views, delightful wildlife, and an encounter with nature like no other.
Enjoying the simplicity of the open road awaits if you are ready to set out on a beautiful journey, so come and explore Arizona’s stunning roads.
Overview Of Scenic Drive in Arizona
Arizona is home to some of the most stunning and unique geographical features anywhere in the country. One great way to explore these incredible sights is to take a scenic drive.
From the colorful red rock formations of Sedona to the fascinating saguaro-lined highways in Phoenix, there’s no shortage of awe-inspiring sites to experience on your journey through Arizona’s scenic drives.
Along the way be sure to admire its breathtaking canyons, skyscraping cacti, and scattered basalt formations that dot its rolling hillsides.
And don’t forget to stop at any of Arizona’s many panoramic vista points to truly take it all in. With its diverse landscapes, friendly locals, and numerous attractions, there really isn’t anything not to love when it comes to experiencing a scenic drive in Arizona.
Popular Scenic Drive In Arizona
One of the most popular scenic drives in Arizona is the iconic route known as “The Apache Trail,” which stretches from Apache Junction to Roosevelt Lake. It’s a favorite among adventurers, sightseers, and photographers alike, because of its breathtaking views.
Winding through the canyons of Tonto Basin, the drive offers stunning scenery along its 46 miles – including deep gorges that drop hundreds of feet below the road. From wild horses to eagles soaring above, you’ll never forget your experience on the Apache Trail.
Located between Phoenix and Globe, Arizona, the Apache Trail is one of the most beautiful scenic drives in the state.
Visitors can witness desert vistas, majestic mountains, lush forests, and crystal blue lakes all along this 78-mile drive.
The Apache Trail traces its origins back to 1929 when it was a major supply route for soldiers fighting Native Americans in the area. Today, this route offers travelers breathtaking views that cannot be found anywhere else.
A stop at Tortilla Flat provides a unique glimpse into history as it is the last remaining stagecoach stop from days past.
Along with mesmerizing desert landscapes and historical sites, visitors also get the opportunity to admire Lost Dutchman State Park with its beautiful lake and waterfall. Adventure seekers are also in luck.
Sedona Red Rock Scenic Drive
The stunning beauty of Sedona is best experienced on the Red Rock Scenic Drive.
This 20-mile loop along Highway 89A winds through rugged canyon country, offering some of the most spectacular desert landscapes in the American Southwest.
From jagged canyons to towering monoliths and towering orange buttes, the ever-changing color palette and fantastic geology of Sedona are a sight to behold.
Along the way, visitors can explore unique museums and galleries, take short hikes with unforgettable views and sample delicious culinary delights in quaint downtown eateries.
Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Drive
Immerse yourself in the strikingly captivating beauty that is Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Drive in Arizona.
Noted as one of the most stunning drives in the US, this nearly 25-mile stretch of Highway 89A winds its way along a dramatic, twisting canyon cut by Oak Creek; past stunningly red rocks adorned with clumps of vibrant green Ponderosa pine.
Starting up at an elevation of 5,000 feet and descending nearly 2,000 feet down into Sedona, this drive offers mesmerizing views at every moment you are behind the wheel.
Expect to see vivid colors from crystal blue river waters winding through lush riparian forests to dazzling red spires rising beside deep pools perfect for trout fishing to panoramic overlooks featuring vast canyons stretching off into the horizon.
This two-lane road is loved for its abundance of adventurous pullouts, so be sure to take full advantage and don’t forget your camera.
The Million Dollar Highway
Take a journey on a breathtaking 26-mile journey through Arizona’s Million Dollar Highway.
Located a few hours southeast of Flagstaff and beginning at the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest, the highway takes you high into the mountains and past some of Arizona’s most striking views.
Along this stretch of Route 66, travelers are met with jaw-dropping cliffs that drop as far as 1,000 feet into alpine valleys below.
You will also get the opportunity to see one of Arizona’s oldest ghost towns, abandoned mines, and shimmering lakes fed by mountain springs.
Coronado Trail Scenic Byway
The Coronado Trail Scenic Byway in Arizona offers a one-of-a-kind landscape, dotted with endless natural wonders.
Spanning over 260 miles, the byway winds its way through alpine forests, red canyons, and ancient ruins.
The various elevations make for stunning panoramic vistas that look down into deep canyon ravines while gazing across rocky mountain crags.
Along this route, you’ll find picturesque rivers and lush meadows populated with elk, antelope, and bighorn sheep, animals that are rarely seen in other parts of the state.
For those seeking historical sites, the byway is rich with Aztec caverns, Spanish missions, and abandoned mines from centuries ago.
The Rim Drive At The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is a breathtaking national park and the Rim Drive offers an unparalleled experience to take in its magnificence.
Driving along the rim of the canyon, visitors can take their time besides some of the most spectacular views in Arizona.
This 70-mile route passes through some of the oldest rock formations and gives breathtaking glimpses of the Painted Desert, multiple colored mesas, buttes, and valleys.
Along with enjoying the fantastic natural beauty, visitors can also appreciate rare wildlife such as condors and eagles that frequently fly above.
History buffs will also appreciate various ruins from bygone cultures such as Native Americans, Spanish explorers, and soldiers from earlier wars.
Painted Desert Rim Drive
An adventure awaits those who decide to embark on the Painted Desert Rim Drive in Arizona.
This breathtaking drive offers a variety of sights and experiences, from desert landscapes and mountains shaped by the elements to exposed geologic layers formed over millions of years.
The colors and formations that can be seen along the drive are incredible, like something out of an epic western movie.
During the ride, visitors can take their time at certain points and explore deeper into what makes up this natural wonderland.
From distant views of Petrified Forest National Park to close-ups at various overlooks along the way, this scenic drive is not one to miss.
The Catalina Highway
Arizona has quite a few breathtaking places, and the Catalina Highway is one of them.
The Catalina Highway, or the Sky Island Scenic Byway as it is also called, is a winding mountain road in Arizona’s Coronado National Forest.
It offers spectacular views of several mountain ranges including the Pusch Ridge Wilderness and Sabino Canyon.
The Catalina Highway makes an ideal place to take a scenic drive with its pine forests, rock walls, and cactus-lined foothills.
Along the highway, you can also stop at nearby attractions such as Sabino Canyon Recreation Area, Mount Lemmon Ski Valley, and Biosphere 2.
Those looking for a leisurely trip can even take a romantic ride on horse-drawn wagon tours to enjoy the stunning scenery of Mt. Bigelow from the nearby observatory.
For travelers looking for adventure, there are plenty of hiking opportunities offering picturesque views along the hike up Mt. Kimball or over the Romero Pools Trail.
The Byway To The Beaches
If you are looking for a memorable and beautiful driving experience, then look no further than The Byway to the Beaches, a scenic drive in Arizona.
Located along the Sonoran Desert, this drive passes through the iconic Saguaro National Park, which is home to two species of cacti, the giant saguaros and barrel cacti.
As you admire these impressive plants, the journey continues on scenic roads toward Kino Bay. Along the way, visitors can witness stunning vistas with mountain backdrops that are sure to linger in their minds. Immerse yourself in nature as you come across waterfalls, creeks, and desert wildflowers.
Before arriving at Kino Bay’s crystal blue waters and white-sand beaches and shorelines, stop at some of the historic sites such as Mission San Xavier del Bac, Long Horn cattle ranches, or Old West towns like Tombstone or Bisbee.
Lake Powell Scenic Drive
For those looking for a scenic drive in Arizona, the Lake Powell Scenic Drive is an absolute must. This stunning 130-mile route takes motorists along the Colorado River and offers breathtaking views of Glen Canyon.
Making stops along its various loops and points of interest, travelers have the opportunity to explore some of the most mesmerizing deserts and rock formations in existence.
Wild horses roam freely near Antelope Point while Monument Valley provides an unmatched backdrop of arches and hoodoos beyond imagination.
Even when you reach Lee’s Ferry, which marks the end of your journey, you are sure to feel inspired by this sightseeing adventure.
Tips For Enjoying The Drive
Taking a scenic drive through the great state of Arizona is an amazing experience, made even more enjoyable with the right preparation.
Firstly, it’s important to have your vehicle in good condition and stocked with plenty of water, snacks, and other necessary items before heading out.
Additionally, make sure you have your GPS enabled or directions printed out. Before setting off on your journey it is also advisable to purchase road maps so that you don’t miss any of the amazing sights along the way.
The best way to enjoy a scenic drive through Arizona is at a leisurely pace. Take time to pull off the side of the road for pictures and explore areas off the beaten path.
Best Time To Visit
A scenic drive through the state can be a great way to experience it, and the best time to do so is during the spring.
Springtime brings beautiful bursts of color to the desert as wildflowers bloom, cacti are blooming and wildlife is abundant. The air is also more pleasant, with mild temperatures perfect for exploring outdoors.
Preparing For The Drive
Before beginning your journey, there are key steps you should take in order to ensure your drive is as safe and enjoyable as possible.
First and foremost, it’s important to plan your route in advance, ensuring knowledge of where you’re headed and how long it’ll take. Make sure maps are printed or bookmarked on your phone beforehand.
Additionally, before leaving, check the tires on your car so they’re at the right pressure and check that all other fluids are topped off; it’s best to be prepared for any roadside emergency.
And lastly, but certainly not least, the most important tip: bring plenty of companionship. After all, our best travel memories come from shared experiences with friends or family.
Gathering all these items together will help make sure that you have a great time as you go out for a scenic drive in Arizona.
A scenic drive through Arizona can be one of the most memorable experiences of your life.
From breathtaking views of the Grand Canyon to picturesque desert sunsets, there’s something to be said for being in such an awe-inspiring atmosphere. Water should be at the top of your list, as Arizona can get really hot, and staying hydrated is key.
Additionally, packing road snacks or picnic items will help ensure sustenance along the way. A trusty handheld fan could also come in handy if temperatures soar too high and you need relief from the heat.
Finally, don’t forget your camera to capture the beauty surrounding you! If you make sure to have these items on hand, you’re certainly well prepared for an incredible scenic expedition around Arizona.
Drivers must use caution when driving on these roads due to possible ruts, rough terrain, and washouts.
During periods of heavy rain or snowfall, roads can become hazardous due to slippery surfaces, deep puddles, and an increased risk of rock slide hazards.
Drivers should check for road closures before taking any scenic route and drive with extra care around curves and steep inclines as visibility may be reduced.
With proper preparation and some common sense, cautious drivers can enjoy a safe and pleasant journey through this wondrous part of the world while viewing magnificent landscapes in all directions.
Across Arizona, there is a beautiful, and diverse landscape that can only be fully experienced if you take a scenic drive throughout the state.
From the Saguaro cactus forests located in the Sonoran Desert to the White Mountains Road of Northeastern Arizona, there are countless moments of grandeur to be taken in while traveling through the state.