Jan 18 2015
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Arizona Road Trips Worth Taking

The Grand Canyon, Photo Credit Larry D. Fellows

Looking to get out of the city and explore Arizona?

Here’s a quick guide to day trips from Phoenix, and a few destinations that are worth an overnight stay:

One Hour from the Phoenix Metro Area

Apache Junction, Photo Credit: David H. Smith

  •  Casa Grande Ruins National Monument – Visit the historic ruins of the Hohokam tribe who mysteriously vanished from the area in 1450 A.D.
  • Eloy – See the Sonoran Desert in all its glory from the air with Skydive Arizona. This world-class facility accommodates first time jumpers as well as world champion skydivers.
  • Estrella Mountain Regional Park – Experience an Arizona sunset amid pristine desert landscape at this 19,480 acre park just outside of Phoenix. Estrella Park offers more than 33 miles of beautiful trails for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding.
  • Lake Pleasant – Escape to Lake Pleasant for 50 miles of shoreline and crystal clear water. Boating enthusiasts dream about camping, sailing and water skiing at this lake.
  • Superior – Home to the world’s smallest museum – a mere 134 square feet – a visit to this former mining town is not to be missed. The recently completed Arizona Trail, spanning from Mexico to Utah, is easily accessible through Superior. On the way home, be sure to visit the Boyce Thompson Arboretum and take in thousands of unique desert plants and wildlife.
  • Superstition Mountains – A trip along the Apache Trail to Tortilla Flat is full of Old West lore, American Indian history and gold prospecting.
  • Wickenburg – In Wickenburg, hats and spurs aren’t just accessories. It’s the West at its best where you can ride and romp with real cowboys.

Two Hours from the Phoenix Metro Area

Flagstaff, Photo Credit: David H. Smith

  • Flagstaff – Besides winter sports, this cool mountain town is worth a visit for its dining and nightlife scene in addition to sites like Northern Arizona University, the Lowell Observatory and Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument.
  • Jerome – Once called the “Wickedest Town of the West,” this mining town turned burgeoning artist enclave sits atop Cleopatra Hill at 5,200 feet, offering breathtaking red-rock views. Take a historic ghost tour, peruse quaint art galleries or sip local wine at one of the area’s tasting rooms. Jerome’s sense of wonder is sure to leave you inspired.
  • Payson – Pristine mountain views and a rich Western heritage make Payson a premier vacation spot where you’ll find the Tonto Natural Bridge, the largest natural travertine bridge in the world. Explore neighboring small towns like Pine, Strawberry, Christopher Creek, Rim Country and Verde Hot Springs.
  • Prescott – Explore this former territorial capital, where charming bed-and-breakfasts and historic hotels abound. Head to Whiskey Row and satisfy your thirst for new experiences. This Wild West Row was once frequented by shady ladies and wild west iconic guests like Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday.
  • Sedona – Discover Red Rock Country in Sedona, a serene community in the North Central region known for unique art and spiritual enrichment. Experience Southwest shopping, al-fresco dining or five-star spa treatments. When you’re done exploring the cultural scene, be sure to visit one of the many wineries in the nearby Verde Valley, known for producing top-quality vintages. Wine experts agree this region is a must-see for any wine enthusiast.
  • Strawberry/Pine – Just North of Payson on Hwy 87 stands the towns of Strawberry and Pine. Here, you’ll find yourself at the base of the Mogollon Rim, with elevations of over 6,000 feet. Popular for cozy cabin rentals, you’ll also find the Ranch at Fossil Creek, a farm offering local artisan goat’s milk cheese and fudges. Visitors can take guided tours with any of the farm’s four legged creatures – from llamas to goats – among the Tonto National Forest.
  • Tucson – Highlights in Tucson include the University of Arizona, the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum, Old Tucson Studios and the unique 4th Ave shopping district. Plus, Kartchner Caverns in Benson is only 40 miles to the southeast.

Three Hours from the Phoenix Metro Area

Sonoita, Photo Credit: Arizona Office of Tourism

  • Holbrook/Winslow – Along historic Route 66 is the gateway to the Petrified Forest National Park and Painted Desert. Dinosaur bones and other fossils have been found in the Holbrook/Winslow area.
  • Sonoita/Elgin – The Sonoita Wine Trail has 12 individually owned wineries and vineyards, including Sonoita Vineyards and Callaghan Vineyards.
  • Patagonia – Santa Cruz County welcomes birding and wildlife enthusiasts alike. Situated in Southern Arizona, you’ll find an immense diversity of bird species, making it clear why Patagonia is one of the premier birding regions in the United States.
  • Tombstone – Retrace the steps of infamous Wild West characters like Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday with daily reenactments of the Gunfight at the OK Corral.
  • Tubac – The art colony was established in 1752 as a Spanish fort. Today, working studios and galleries surround the grounds that were once a Spanish military garrison.
  • Williams –Known as the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon,” the town of Williams offers a colorful range of activities. See wildlife up close at Bearizona, shop the historic downtown on Route 66 or spend the day aboard the Grand Canyon Railway.
  • Yuma – Because this was once the safest spot to cross the Colorado River, all roads used to lead to Yuma for travelers like the Spanish explorers and farmers fleeing the Dust Bowl. Yuma also boasts more sunshine than any other city on earth. As the Winter Salad Bowl Capital of the U.S. pick up something delicious on a Field to Feast Tour.

Overnight Adventures

Lake Havasu City, Photo Credit: Arizona Office of Tourism

These towns are more than three hours from Phoenix but worth the drive for a quintessential Arizona experience:

  • Bisbee
  • Chiricahua National Monument
  • Grand Canyon
  • Greer
  • Lake Havasu City
  • Lake Powell
  • Monument Valley

What else is there to see? Visit arizonaguide.com to discover more.