Road Trips

All Hail Red Rocks, Buttes and Epic Scenery on These Road Trips From Phoenix

There’s so much natural beauty and history to experience in Arizona. If you make your base in the Phoenix and Scottsdale areas, you can hit the road for any one of these fun and easy day trips:

Sedona and Montezuma Castle

phoenix road trip
Take a hike – literally – into the past. (Photo: Getty Images)

Sedona’s red rock buttes are home to some of Arizona’s best—and most dramatic—hikes, spread out across 1.8 million acres of national forest. Relax on on the patio at Elote Café patio for a flavorful Mexican lunch, then stop by Montezuma Castle National Monument on your way back in town.

You can peer into the windows of a 20-room, cliff-side dwellings of the Sinagua people that date back to the 12th century.

Tucson and San Xavier del Bac Mission

phoenix road trip
Find yourself on a … mission. (Photo: Alamy)

Arizona’s oldest intact European structure sits just nine miles south of downtown Tucson. The San Xavier Mission was founded in 1692, serving the Tohono O’odham tribe then and now.

The Spanish colonial church that draws more than 200,000 visitors a year for mass, or simply to admire one of the Southwest’s most historic buildings.

Kartchner Caverns State Park

Discovered in 1974, these limestone caves showcase some of the world’s most intricate calcite formations, dating back tens of thousands of years. Guided tours wind half a mile through the cavern seven days a week.

Flagstaff

phoenix road trip
Seek respite in the forest. (Photo: Alamy)

Escape just three hours north to Flagstaff’s ponderosa pine forests for cooler temperatures and laid-back vibes.

For a serious hike, head to the top of Humphreys Peak, the highest point in the state at 12, 633 feet. Fuel up afterwards at Pizzicletta, a downtown Flagstaff staple for wood-fired pizza just off Route 66, then throw back some cold ones at one of the many craft breweries.

Cottonwood and Jerome

Old mining towns dot the Arizonan landscape, but one of its most precious isJerome. The Black Hills copper town, which overlooks Verde Valley, hosts a surprisingly large artistic community and historic haunts. Only a 15-minute drive east, Cottonwood is the epicenter of the state’s burgeoning wine industry.