The Most Scenic Drives Near Phoenix, AZ
Are you in the mood for a drive? Grab the family and get in the car, and head out on one of Arizona’s many scenic roads. You don’t have to go far from Phoenix to enjoy some beautiful landscapes, interesting sites, and even sample some delicious local wine.
Highway 89 / 89A
If you’re in love with winding roads, Highway 89 won’t disappoint. Starting at Wickenburg, 60 miles west of Phoenix, you’ll steer along curves uphill toward the Weaver Mountains and twist along through the Prescott National Forest. In Prescott, you can explore the historic downtown and grab a drink in a Whiskey Row saloon, soaking in the Wild West ambiance. The road continues through Jerome, a former mining town that currently boasts a lively arts scene. Finish your afternoon in Sedona, home of New Age vendors, gourmet restaurants, and stunning red sandstone formations.
Agua Caliente Scenic Drive
Nature lovers will appreciate the Agua Caliente Scenic Drive, about 40 miles of maintained, mostly dirt road that traverses a natural desert area bordered by the Yellow Medicine Hills and Gila Bend Mountains. If you don’t mind a short hike, you can explore Sundad, an old ghost town. On the southern part of the drive, you’ll pass over the Sentinel Plain Lava Flow and cruise past several abandoned mining sites. It’s recommended that you take this trip from October through May, avoiding the summer heat.
State Route 51 / Piestewa Freeway
This scenic drive will take you through the Phoenix Mountains Preserve, offering a stunning view of the desert valley and Piestewa Peak. The true gem you’ll find along this route, however, is Wrigley Mansion. Built in 1932 by William Wrigley Jr. of chewing gum fame, Wrigley Mansion is now a private club that offers dining and live music to its members. Non-members, however, are welcome to drive through the gates to enjoy the historic structure, a striking combination of Mediterranean and Spanish Colonial architecture, and an impressive view of the city.
Patagonia-Sonoita Scenic Road
Wine lovers will appreciate a cruise along this road, which runs between the Mexican border and the Santa Rita / Patagonia Mountains. Bird watchers frequent Patagonia Lake State Park, on the lookout for wild turkeys, great blue herons, hawks, and eagles among the grasslands and cacti. In Patagonia and its general vicinity you can enjoy a great burger or taco, then visit one or more wineries with tasting rooms.
Harquahala Mountain Summit Road
Put that rugged 4-wheel-drive truck to use on this challenging road, which leads to the highest point in Arizona. Hikers can disembark and travel on foot to the Harquahala Wilderness Area, but keep in mind the terrain is often steep and difficult. Along this drive, you can also see debris, stone ruins, and abandoned shafts from old mining operations. March through May is the best time to see desert blooms in the Sonoran Desert, along with bighorn sheep and desert reptiles.
Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover, rock hound or just enjoy a nice drive on a lovely day, the area around Phoenix, Arizona, has many interesting sites to see. So pack a cooler, fill up the tank, and rev up your engine.