Go out of the city and into the state of Arizona, Phoenix
Follow I-17N, go through Flagstaff onto 89N and then stop at Cameron Trading Post before going into the Grand Canyon National Park through 64W
The drive to Grand Canyon from Phoenix takes about 3 ½ to 4 ½ hours, and I usually just leave in the morning and return later in the day when bringing friends and relatives.
From Phoenix, I always find it better to drive into the Grand Canyon’s South Rim, coming from the East going West. So I follow I-17. Go up 89N and then stop at the Cameron Trading Post for lunch (admire the nice Native Indian artifacts and silver plate ceilings) and souvenirs, and then follow the road going East to West into the Grand Canyon National Park. Then going back to Phoenix, I just go down the west side by taking 64S towards Williams, 40E to Flagstaff and then I-17S back to Phoenix.
There is an entrance fee for the Grand Canyon Park for vehicles, starting at about $25 I think for cars, and the pass is valid for a few days. Or you can even buy a yearly pass if you are going to other national Parks around the USA.
Cottonwood is just a little over an hour drive from Phoenix, but immediately you feel like you are transported into another time of cowboys and Indans after you reach the Old Town of this city...
Just follow the road out of Cottonwood and then you turn right when you see the Tuzigoot sign (the GPS did not give correct directions), and then there it is ----a stone structure looming on a hill in the horizon. This is the ultimate Sinaguan ruin left by a people that mysteriously disappeared from this area in the 1400s. Why? Famine, weather, boredom?
Once there, you go to the museum for $5 tickets for those more than 15 yo (as of 2008). The 4yo twins were free....
In the Sinagua Museum, you find a room showing how these ancient people led their daily lives. These included grinding corn, cooking, weaving cloth, drying skins and making baskets. You will also notice the presence of the colorful Macaw bird – this meant that there was probably trading with Mexico and also some pottery trading from the north. Their pottery is notably undecorated and you will see several storage containers.
And then you go up the trails going up to the structure. The trail is wheelchair friendly and the kids loved following it - one mile of it!
Tuzigoot means “crooked water’ in Apache, and I wonder if it refers to that little river we passed by earlier? And the stone structure at the end of the trail was originally two stories high in places and with 77 ground floor rooms. Entry was then mostly by ladders through roof openings – I guess this is a construction marvel to protect from the scorching heat and cold.
The views around this 42 acre monument are spectacular and so get your cameras ready for the ultimate Sinaguan experience...
Located on Highway 89 between Cottonwood and Clarkdale
Prescott already has a Costco, indicative of the amount of people who have decided to live in this cool town north of Phoenix. A lot of Phoenix residents decided to buy resthouses/vacation places here to escape the scorching sun during summer.
Aside from the fine arts festivals, antique shops at the Courthouse Plaza, the cowboy saloons with swinging doors and the Victorian houses on Mount Vernon Avenue, this town is also famous among rock climbers because of Granite Dells.
Follow I-17N from Phx to Highway 69
Yes, Phoenix may be hot but during the winter months (December to February), you will see skiers going off to the ski resorts of Flagstaff.
Hikers also proceed to the jagged San Francisco Peaks, with Humphrey’s Peak being the highest elevation in Arizona at 12,643 feet. For those who would like to have a scenic chairlift ride, there is the Arizona Snowbowl (www.arizonasnowbowl.com 928-779-1951) which operates from summer and into October.
From Flagstaff/Wiliams, you can even take a famous train ride to go to the Grand Canyon (Grand Canyon railway)! The trains depart from Williams and the trip through forest and desert takes 2 hours and fifteen minutes each way.
Flagstaff also has commercial places like Barnes and Noble, Sizzler and several other restaurants. There's a lot of hotels you can choose from.
Just follow I-17N from Phx to Milton Rd/Route 66
I once read that Sedona is one of the most romantic places in the United States. It also is featured sometimes in the History Channel’s UFO series, because a lot of unidentified flying objects have been spotted on its horizon. They say that the place is sacred and full of “magnetic power”.
The rocks are a very beautiful burnt-orange to red color, and the shopping strip on 89A is an enjoyable place to walk through – with lots of shops and nice places to eat at. There are the pink jeep adventures, shopping for fine arts and inexpensive clothing, lots of souvenir shops for crystals and special stones. There is even a shopping outlet in Sedona.
Best part of it is enjoying the slippery rocks at the creek at Slide Roack Park --- very cool! All of our friends who we brought to Sedona fell in love with this enchanting place, and the drive through the winding roads and seeing houses by the side of the mountain was also very enjoyable.
Follow I-17N to Highway 179
Now this is really an unusual place to visit – with streets at steep angles and houses/buildings perched on the side of the mountain.
Jerome used to be a copper-mining town in the 1870’s but then people left, and it virtually became a ghost-town for many years. Today, the place has been repopulated by artists who have taken this place as their refuge from the city.
You can enjoy eating in little restaurants and also shopping around for art.
Follow I-17 to Hwy 260.Camp Verde Exit
The Old West survives in this nice little town between Phoenix and Las Vegas. It even has a museum for cowboys called the Desert Caballeros Western Museum (www.westernmuseum.org 21 N Frontier St 928-684-2272. But just be careful when driving into town because cops are easy on catching those who do not follow the speed limit. There are several small eateries ands hops where you can stroll around. A walking map is available from the Wickenburg Chamber, www. Wickenburgchamber.com 216 N Frontier St 928-684-5479.
Follow I-17 N From Phoenix to Carefree Hwy, then drive west to Hwy 60
Another peaceful and beautiful road to drive in Arizona is State Highway 89 in Northern Arizona. If you are a person who enjoys wide open spaces with little traffic and sights to see you will enjoy this one! As the Colorado River which runs through the Grande Canyon cuts a winding path through this area there is once again no shortage of amazing land formations with incredible breath-taking views of the living desert. There are also many National Forests and Parks in the Area to see. Be sure to stop at the rest area near the bridge over river, the local Indians set up shop here and sell their Native American handmade jewlery and crafts. The jewlery is mostly silver and turquoise (a stone very sacred to the Indians of this area) and is fashioned in a lovely magical fashion! Prices are very reasonable as I have seen peices of much lower quality selling for much higher prices in other parts of America. Of course before buying jewlery anywhere it is best for one to educate ones self as to not pay to much. Also, keep in mind that in most cases the prices shown are negotiable. Even, if not in the market to buy anything you may enjoy striking up a conversation with the Indians, they are a very friendly and a wonderful people and can tell you many things about the locale from a Native American perspective! Have fun!
One of my favorite activities is driving up to Lake Rosevelt and back via Road 88 North out of Apache Junction (a small town a few miles east of Phoenix, and home to the world famous "mullet haircut". The drive is a truely breath-taking winding drive up through some of the most incredible scenery you will ever see anywhere in the world! At the beginning of the drive you will pass the enterance to Lost Dutchmen State Park where the legendary lost dutchman's gold mine is rumoured to be located. It is centered around the magical Superstition mountain. I recommend do not go there without a guide, as "over the years numerous skeletons of unfortunate explorers have been found with the bullet holes in the skulls". The area is sacred to both indians and treasure hunters!
You will pass by three dams and reseviors on the way and the resulting lakes are very beautiful in such an arid desert as is southern Arizona they are true oasis', and what is the most incredible variety of cactii life as to be seen anywhere in the world (please do not be tempted to steal or hurt the cactus it is against the law). If hiking in areas at the lower end be cautious of the "high chaparel" as you can see no landmarks when in it and even local hunters have gotten lost and wandered aimlessly until running out of water and perishing! When hiking anywhere in southern Arizona always bring lots of water!
There are small jeep-like vehicles that can give you tours of this area, but I don't know who provides them. :)
lake pleasant regional park formed by the creation of a dam. Huge lake in the middle of the desert. Near the lake are plenty of places to go off roading (4 wheel driving),be prepared for a bumpy road. Advisable to take a4WD book such as Backcountry adventures.
Not sure the story behind this but there is a giant boys, with a life size tractor and a headless man running from them. My guess is that the headless man once had a head and it was just broken by vandalism. It is worth seeing, and can be seen from I-10 if you are going west. Check it out. If you get off I-10 to go to the site you will also see life size farmers holding pumpkins. Strange place this goodyear.
Directions: North side of I-10 between exits 125 and 124 where the interstate crosses over a viaduct. If you get off at exit 124 and go north, then turn right at the first intersection, the figures will be off in the field to the right.
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It probably takes between 3 and 4 hrs to get to this park from Phoenix but if you like caves this is the place to go.
It is Americas largest dormant cave, dry cave, if it ever gets wet it will start growing again.
Tours are $7.50 and last 45 minutes
Think of a canyon in Arizona and of course you will think of the Grand Canyon. There are many other canyons in Arizona, although they aren't as famous some are well worth a visit.
Canyon de Chelly is in Navajo country so you can't drink alcohol there.
It is a relatively small canyon compared to the Grand canyon, yet it is still hard to imagine how a river curved it out of the rock.
It is a lot greener and it only takes about an hour to hike down it. It is also alot cooler than PHoenix so is a great escape on the hotter days. Unfortunately it is about a 300 mile drive away from Phoenix.
Saguaro Lake - Just outside of town is Saguaro River; a very scenic river that feeds into a lake (in the photos you can see Jamie standing in front of the lake). At the lake you can rent a boat and just spend a lazy day on the water enjoying the sun and tranquility.
The entire Phoenix area is just quite scenic. Coming from the east coast it was nice to see such open spaces.
There is this really huge cactus on the east side of I-17 north of Pioneer Village. It was in a rest area that was closed several years ago, but I believe the cactus is still there.
I took this picture in 1984, with my ex-wife holding our son next to the cactus, to give an idea how tall it is! It's got to be thirty feet (10m) tall!