Five Flagstaff Road Trips
Get out of town and see the sights
Flagstaff is full of things to do and lots of charm, but sometimes you hear the call of the open road. Explore a little bit more of Arizona with these five road trips.
Summer Cool Down: Head to the Grand Canyon’s less crowded North Rim. On the way you’ll go green with envy driving through the thick forests of pine, spruce and aspen. These trees make up part of the Kaibab National Forest. The forest is home to a variety of wildlife including mule deer, coyotes, numerous birds and the endangered Kaibab squirrel. Jacob Lake is an unincorporated community with an inn, restaurant and a US Forest Service Visitor’s Center. The North Rim is only open from about mid-May to mid-October, but for Grand Canyon fans it’s definitely a side that should be seen.
Getting there: Take US 89 north to Bitter Springs, US 89A west to Jacob Lake, Arizona 67 south to the North Rim.
Ancient Treasures: This is a trip for those who get a bit antsy in the car. Explore the open road, as well as some of the region’s great national monuments. First stop is Walnut Canyon National Monument; choose a short trail to explore the canyon and cave dwellings designed by the Sinagua Indians. From canyon to crater, as your next stop is Sunset Crater National Monument. Colorful cinder cones dot the landscape here, thanks to volcanic activity thousands of years ago (like around 1000 AD). Again, get out of the car and hit the easy one mile Lava Flow Trail for a 360 degree look at the crater. When you are finished, follow the scenic Loop Road to Wupatki National Monument. Here you can tour around the ancient pueblos still standing in the area.
Getting there: I-40 east to the Walnut Canyon exit. After Walnut Canyon, head back towards Flagstaff and take exit 204, then north on 89A to Sunset Crater. Follow the Loop Road to Wupatki. When finished, take Highway 89 south back to Flagstaff.
Tip: Pack in a lunch, there aren’t any stops along this route.
Road Revenge: Those who like a little roller coaster action in their road trip will appreciate driving from Prescott to Jerome. Both cities are interesting stops in their own right, offering quaint squares and shops and restaurants with lots of charm. But driving between them can be a bit hair-raising as you negotiate the switchbacks, dips and curves of the road. Passengers are rewarded with great views of the Verde Valley; drivers need to keep their eyes on the road. Jerome has a long mining tradition and you’ll still seen remnants of industry about town.
Getting there: Take I-17 south to Cordes Junction, west on Arizona 69 to Prescott Valley, north on Robert Road to Arizona 89A and east to Jerome.
Tip: This route doesn’t actually get you to Prescott, however the city is a great visit, so continue on to the city proper and then head to Jerome, or overnight in Prescott. Plan to wander around Jerome for a couple of hours too.
True Route 66 Lovers: If you are a lover of the open road and long for a road trip from days gone by, discover this stretch of the historic Route 66. You’ll explore one of the longest still remaining stretches of the highway and catch glimpses of shops and restaurants that time seemingly forgot. Thank goodness their owners didn’t – many of the places along the way are crammed full of memorabilia. Be sure to take in many of the sights in Seligman; like the Snow Cap Drive-in and Copper Cart Diner. West of the town, you’ll want to make a pit stop at the Grand Canyon Caverns and closer to Kingman,h it the Hackberry General Store, capturing the essence of the original Route.
Getting there: I-40 west to Exit 123, then Route 66 to Seligman.
Monumental Drive: This is no quickie, but a beauty when it comes to exploring way north Arizona and into Utah. Monument Valley is one of the region’s most awe-inspiring treasures and you just can’t get enough of the stunning sandstone sculptures, buttes and other geological oddities scattered about. Driving from Kayenta to Mexican Hat, Utah gets you some of the best scenery, plus takes you to Monument Valley Tribal Park for an easy sight seeing loop.
Getting There: US 89 north to Tuba City, US 160 east to Kayenta and US 163 north.
Tip: This is another good trip to build in an overnight stay. Lake Powell or Canyon de Chelly are great additional places to visit in the area.
Jacy Meyer is a graduate of Northern Arizona University, and spent about an equal amount of time in class and out hiking