8 Arizona Scenic Drives That Are Worth the Trip - Fast Lane Drive

8 Arizona Scenic Drives That Are Worth the Trip

July 1, 2022 Arizona, Driving Routes

Arizona is home to some of the most impressive scenery in the United States, so it only makes sense that you’ll find some of the best drives in the country here, too. We wanted to share some of the best-paved options for Arizona scenic drives while you’re exploring this tremendous state. You just may see one of these routes on our upcoming Arizona drives.

Arizona Route 66

While much of the old highway has fallen into disrepair, Arizona still boasts one of the longest stretches of the historic Route 66. Many travelers short on time come on and off the route from the I-40 freeway that runs parallel, but if you want to stick to the original road, you’ll have an 80-mile segment to drive. 

Start in Seligman, a small town that embraces its Route 66 connections as the Birthplace of Historic Route 66. If you need to fuel up, this is the place to do it. 

Seligman is home to classic diners and soda shops that look like a blast from the past. You can drive all the way to Kingman from here. Just expect curvy roads once you get close.

Red Rock Scenic Byway

The 14.3-mile Red Rock Scenic Byway will take you past some of the most famous red rock formations this side of the high desert, which makes this one of the best scenic drives in Arizona. Pick it up as State Route 179 at I-17, just south of the Village of Oak Creek, and take it to the end on State Route 89A in Sedona. 

See views of Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, and the Chapel of the Holy Cross along the way. This route begs for pull-offs, which may come with a small fee if you want to do any recreating outside of your vehicle. 

The Red Rock Byway is a famous scenic drive in Arizona. Expect some traffic in the segments near Sedona. The best time to take the drive is outside of November-March. This part of the state can get snow.

Salt River Canyon

If you’ve already been to the Grand Canyon, you won’t want to miss what’s known as Arizona’s “mini Grand Canyon.” It’s just under 90 miles from the Phoenix metro area to the edge of the canyon and the wilderness area. You’ll take twisting, winding roads, passing through the desert landscape, old mining communities, and numerous pull-offs to check out the rushing Salt River and the canyon floor below.

Start in Phoenix or the town of Apache Junction. Salt River Canyon is a fair weather drive. Inclement weather can make those curves dangerous.

Arizona State Route 89A

This route was Arizona’s first scenic road designation among Arizona scenic highways, so you know you’ll have some beautiful vistas on this one. The 80 miles from Prescott to Flagstaff will take you through the Black Hills of Yavapai County, the Verde Valley and the Verde River, and Oak Creek Canyon. The road narrows through the small towns along the way. The old mining town of Jerome and Cottonwood, an Old West town, are two standouts.

Expect some congestion during peak times as you approach and drive through Sedona, the heart of this route.

Fredonia-Vermillion Cliffs Scenic Road

Not to be confused with the state route above, this scenic drive takes you along U.S. Route 89A, a highway that travels east-west from Kanab, Utah, to the Coconino County town of Bitter Springs, Arizona. For your Arizona route, start in Fredonia, a hub for travelers who want to explore the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, and travel for 82 miles until you reach the junction with U.S. Route 89.

Pass through the Kaibab National Forest, Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, and the Navajo Bridge as you travel to Bitter Springs. This is a great photo opportunity if you want to pull over and see the rushing Colorado River below. 

Sky Island Scenic Byway

See giant saguaro cacti, Sonoran desert landscapes, and high-elevation forests across 27 miles on this National Scenic Byway. The U.S. Department of Transportation compares the change in landscapes to driving from Mexico to Canada, with a much shorter drive time. Pick up the byway at East Catalina Highway and North Lemmon Short Road, and head northeast until you reach the community of Summerhaven. You’ll be nearly 30 miles north of Tucson at this point.

If you plan on any recreational stops, be prepared to purchase parking passes at certain viewpoints along the way. You’ll also need to prep for temperature dips. The elevation changes on this one are fast and furious.

Coronado Trail Scenic Byway

If you like the thrill of switchbacks, the Coronado Trail Scenic Byway has over 400 of them across its 123 miles. (You may see some of the mileage details clock this one at 144 miles, but that initial number we shared comes from the U.S. Department of Transportation.) Numerous hairpin turns may slow you down quite often as you drive, but the breathtaking scenery is well worth the deceleration.

Travel past historic pioneer trails and imagine life along this scenic road way back when. Pick this one up in the town of Springerville and end in Clifton or vice versa. Expect snowy conditions in the shoulder seasons. You’ll hit over 9,000 feet of elevation throughout the drive.

Apache Trail Historic Road to Tortilla Flat

The Apache Trail Historic Road, or State Route 88, is a favorite for anyone seeking a Scottsdale scenic drive. The road is about 40 miles, but you’ll turn around at Tortilla Flat, where the paved road ends. Several road repairs are happening beyond that point, so you won’t miss out on anything as you skip the off-roading.

You’ll still have nearly 20 miles of wilderness, canyons, and ghost towns to drive through just east of the city. Start in Apache Junction and the Goldfield Ghost Town, a reconstruction of an abandoned mining town. 

Hit the Road With Fast Lane Drive

Arizona is perfect for long drives and weekend getaways with Fast Lane Drive. It’s why we have a growing chapter of our exotic car club in Scottsdale, one of the most scenic cities in the state, and regularly schedule drives throughout Arizona.

We’re about more than scenic escapes, though. If you’re interested in joining a car club that prioritizes relationship-building and philanthropy just as much as the cars you arrive in, Fast Lane Drive may be the car club for you. We want to see the best of the states we operate in and give back as our way to make a mark on these communities we love.