A road trip from Phoenix through Flagstaff and north-west to Valle, the southern gateway to the Grand Canyon, winds through stunning forests of tall ponderosa pine and aspen. It’s a favorite tourist drive during the unbearably hot summer months when visitors can escape from the heat and find shelter among the aspen and pine forests at the higher and cooler elevations of the national park.
But the fall is a magical time of year for an Arizona road trip. The aspen tree leaves have turned a vibrant shade of gold as far as the eye can see.
Besides the golden shade of aspen trees, the San Francisco Peaks, which are the remainder of ancient volcanoes dominate the view. Depending on how many stops you make during this 380-mile round trip drive, you may find yourself driving home during magical sunset hour when animals are starting their evening activities. You will most likely see deer or enormous elk at dusk, moving through the woods by the road.
If you have a car but run out of gas, there’s a Scottsdale title loan lender so you can complete your trip.
MartAnne’s Burrito Palace: Stop for a late breakfast in Flagstaff at MartAnne’s Burrito Palace. It’s a tiny place with hordes of fans who wait patiently on the sidewalk for a table early. Order the chilaquiles made with scrambled eggs, corn tortillas, enchilada sauce, cheese and onions. But don’t forget to bring cash – credit cards not accepted.
Humphrey’s Peak: Humphreys Peak is the highest natural point in Arizona, with an elevation of 12,637 feet. Located within the Kachina Peaks Wilderness in the Coconino National Forest and part of the San Francisco Peaks, it’s about 11 miles north of Flagstaff en route to Valle. The hiking varies in difficulty from a short trail walk to more than a six-hour hike to the peak. Wear comfortable shoes and bring plenty of water.
Bedrock City: If you have a taste for quirky roadside attractions with a nod to cinema, check out Bedrock City in Valle, at the junction of US 180 and State Route 64. Bedrock City is inspired by the Flinstones, complete with prehistoric camping and a dinosaur slide. Just past Fred and Barney’s homes you’ll find a pterodactyl flying over Mount St. Wilma. Admission is $5.
Planes of Fame Air Museum: Located in Valle, the museum houses over 40 aircraft, many of which still fly. The Museum is dedicated to the preservation, perpetuation and exhibition of historical aircraft, and to the men and women, both famous and unknown, who devoted their lives to flight. Admission is $6.95.
Museum of Northern Arizona: Founded in 1928, the Museum of Northern Arizona has been the destination to view items related to biology, fine art, anthropology, and geology. Coming November first, “You Are On Indian Land.” Leading American Indian artists challenge how contemporary Native American art is presented and understood. Admission: $12 for adults, $8 for youth.
Total road trip miles: Approximately 380 miles, round trip. From central Phoenix, take Interstate 17 north to Flagstaff. From Flagstaff, take the US 180 about 50 miles northwest to Valle.