Although the summer vacation and traveling season is over, you can still enjoy a cruise through Arizona to check out what our beautiful state has to offer. In fact, with the changing foliage colors, the fall season has even more stunning sights than the middle of summer. Plus, you don’t have to worry so much about developing heat exhaustion in most areas of the state. Check out some of these favorite Arizona road trips to see some of the unforgettable sights in our state.
1. See how you could get your kicks on Route 66.
The Mother Road introduced so many people to the gorgeous sights that we Arizonans enjoy and helped others to see that a desert could truly be beautiful. Although a good portion of the highway was remapped during the construction of Interstate 40, parts of Route 66 still exist, as do the many little towns that thrived along the road. Since the road spans the northern portion of the state, you can start from either side and still get a historic experience. Holbrook, pictured above, is one of the first stops eastern visitors made into the Grand Canyon State.
Chevelon Creek Bridge can now be driven over once again following a 2013 restoration.
Hackberry is a great spot for photos and purchasing Route 66 memorabilia.
Oatman is a ghost town that almost feels like a time capsule of the early twentieth century.
2. Check out the unique landscapes in northern Arizona.
All of Arizona has some amazing landscape views but a unique collection of them exists in northern Arizona. Picturesque and colorful, these areas, like the rest of Arizona, hold a rich history. Let’s start with the red rocks you will find in the Sedona area, like Red Rock State Park.
The iconic views of Monument Valley are not to be missed!
Canyon de Chelly is another area that features sweeping desert views and its rather easy accessibility makes it one of the most visited national monuments in the US.
Not only will you find a large collection of petrified wood at Petrified Forest National Park but also painted desert badlands, a Route 66 monument, and wildlife.
3. Discover a part of Arizona’s history along Apache Trail.
This scenic drive not only looks pretty but also has plenty of great places to stop and explore. It's named after the trail some Apache groups used to travel through the region; it was later used as a wagon route. If you’re driving from the Phoenix area, starting the trip at Lost Dutchman State Park (pictured above) gets you ready in the right mood for the rest of the trip.
If you haven’t yet visited a ghost town, Goldfield is a good place to start. It has a large collection of attractions, food, and plenty of history as well.
Between Goldfield and Tonto National Monument, don’t forget to enjoy the beautiful, rugged landscapes along Apache Trail. The road is much less scary than it was when I first saw it in the early ‘90s.
Round out the trip with a visit to Tonto National Monument, where the cliff dwellings of the Salado people sit. The area was first recorded by a schoolteacher named Angeline Mitchell.
4. Get a taste of the Old West in southeast Arizona.
Can’t get enough of that old timey, Wild West feel? Consider taking a trip to the southeastern portion of our state to really dwell in that nostalgia that was probably considerably more dangerous than it is today. A great starting point (if you’re coming from the eastern portion of the state) is the remains of Fairbank, a ghost town along Highway 80. Once a bustling town with a population of 15,000, Fairbank today only just barely remains in our historical view.
Don’t forget to stop at the town that refuses to die, Tombstone. Allen Street is the place you want to visit but a trip to the old courthouse and north to Boothill are essential stops.
Another place to check out here is Bisbee, a former mining town that is beautifully renovated and preserved.
5. See the beautiful fall colors in Arizona’s central region.
Unless you’re from out of state, there’s no way you would be tired of hearing how beautiful Arizona is. The changing leaves this time of year makes it even more so. Here are a few key areas to visit if you want to spend a weekend spotting the fall foliage. Your first stop? Oak Creek to see some amazing foliage like this.
Anywhere around the San Francisco Peaks is a great option as well, such as from the Inner Basin Trail pictured here.
And, don’t forget the collection of small towns and wilderness areas along the Mogollon Rim in the central part of the state. You'll find plenty of viewing options here!
What favorite road trips have you taken across our amazing state? We would love to hear your suggestions in the comments section below or on our
Facebook fan page!