Northern Arizona is home to stunners like Cathedral Rock and the majestic Grand Canyon, but there’s so much more than red rock panoramas. Long scenic drives under clear skies unveil the state’s true colors by bringing you to mysterious archeological sites brimming with Native American history and spiritual communities with world-renowned spas. Drive long enough and you’ll wind up in the cosmopolitan Valley of the Sun, your destination for fine art, modern eateries and spectacular desert scenery.
1. Grand Canyon
It took two billion years of geological tumult to create the Grand Canyon’s soaring buttes, rippling rock faces and vast gorges. Take in the awe-inspiring landscape of this UNESCO World Heritage Site from Ooh Aah Point, a panoramic lookout along the South Kaibab Trail. For more spectacular views, walk through Rim Trail to reach scenic vistas like Mather Point and Yavapai Point. You can also take a thrilling helicopter tour to get a bird’s-eye view of the entire park.
A. Grand Canyon Railway RV Park • Williams, AZ (800)843-8724
Drive 79 miles • 1 hour, 30 minutes
You’ll work up an appetite after exploring the Grand Canyon so make sure to refuel with a delicious meal in Flagstaff. This foodie town has over 200 restaurants and breweries so you’ll find something that satisfies your taste buds. Locals recommend the wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizzas at Pizzicletta, chilaquiles from MartAnnes Burrito Palace and Brix’s locally farmed fare. This college town also has lots of coffee houses. If you have time, head to Petrified Forest National Park to see petrified logs and the ruins of an ancient Puebloan village.
Drive 29 miles • 50 minutes
Make Sedona’s crimson rock formations your outdoor playground. Hop on a bike and pedal through the red earth on easy trails such as Bell Rock Pathway and Big Park Loops. If you’re looking for a challenge, try the Little Horse Trail or Llama Loop. Cathedral Rock and Devil’s Bridge are popular hiking trails if you prefer to wander by foot. Afterward, treat yourself to a rejuvenating massage at one of the many spas in town. You can also discover the city’s spiritual side by getting a psychic reading, joining a yoga class and shopping for healing souvenirs. Enjoy a meal at a fine restaurant in town.
Drive 116 miles • 1 hour, 55 minutes
America’s fifth-largest city promises striking desert scenery and big-city sophistication. Start your day at Desert Botanical Gardens to view more than 50,000 desert plants. Flora is showcased along five thematic trails and farm-to-table delights can be enjoyed at the on-site restaurant. Keep in mind Artlink’s First Fridays Art Walk takes place on the first Friday of every month. The reoccurring event lets you step inside 70 galleries, making it one of the nation’s largest self-guided art walks. Board the free hop-on hop-off shuttle to get to various districts.