Set Your Sights on Arizona’s Best Sightseeing Excursions.
Get Your Kicks on Route 66
Summer is a great time to take a road trip on the Arizona section of the Mother Road. Start your adventure in Oatman, an old mining camp and your first stop on the longest original stretch of Route 66. Stroll the buckboard street and enjoy staged gunfights and the famous wild burros that wander the street. Head to Kingman and visit the Powerhouse Visitor Center which is also home to the Route 66 Museum. Have a bite of American Indian fare in Peach Springs, which is home to the Hualapai Indian tribal headquarters. Enjoy a treat at the Snowcap in Seligman — a Route 66 nostalgia lover’s delight and drive east to Williams, the Gateway to the Grand Canyon, park the car and take a daytrip to the Grand Canyon on the Grand Canyon Railway. When you return, visit the bears, bison and wolves (oh my) at Bearizona and continue east to Flagstaff, where the main drag is Route 66. Grab a bite at the Galaxy Diner, walk off your meal by strolling the shops in downtown Flagstaff and spend the evening country dancing at the Museum Club, a historic Route 66 roadhouse.
A Grand Adventure for the Whole Family
This year the National Park System turns 100, so celebrate by taking the family to the grand daddy of all the national parks, in our opinion, the Grand Canyon. Here are a few “kid-approved” suggestions for exploring the 7th Wonder of the Natural World. Kids love the Grand Canyon Railway’s Christmastime Polar Express, but the regular train ride between Williams and the South Rim gets high marks too. Sit back, relax, and challenge the kids to spot wildlife through the train windows. A mule ride into the Grand Canyon will be one of the most memorable adventures of your life. On the North Rim, Grand Canyon Trail Rides allows kids to experience the adventure with rides on the North Kaibab Trail. “Meet the Canyon” on a kid-friendly (six and older) South Rim guided hike with the Grand Canyon Field Institute. The hike starts at the top of Bright Angel Trail, and along the way, the guide gives short geology and history lessons. Bicyclists can pedal all of the park’s roads as well as the Hermit Road Greenway Path, and by bike or park shuttle is the only way visitors are allowed to cruise the historic – and incredibly scenic – Hermit Road. There’s a reason Grand Canyon – The Movie is the longest running IMAX film of all time: it’s awesome! Soar over the rim of the canyon and down into the roaring rapids of the Colorado River for 34-minute at the National Geographic Visitor Center.
Painted Desert Splendor
Northeastern Arizona boasts an array of national monuments, tribal parks and historical sites that are perfect road trip destinations. Just east of Winslow, experience one of the world’s largest and most colorful collection of petrified wood and archeological sites at Petrified Forest National Park. Here, 200-million-year-old fossils tell the tale of the earth and its prehistoric inhabitants. And, since you’re on a National Park roll, head north and visit Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site. Established in 1878 and the oldest continuously operating trading post in the Southwest, it showcases the original homestead and store of John Lorenzo Hubbell. Once you’re done shopping, head northeast and spend the day at Canyon de Chelly National Monument—one of North America's longest continuously inhabited landscapes. People still live in the 26-mile labyrinth below cliffs that soar as high as 1,000 feet. There’s no charge to drive the scenic overlooks, which are open all year, but to hike or drive into the canyon, a guide is required for all but the White House Ruins trail.
North Central Arizona
Montezuma Never Lived Here
For a change of scenery, you don’t have to spend hours in the car. In about 90 minutes, north of Greater Phoenix, you can be in the Verde Valley where you can experience ancient ruins, a hidden oasis, off-road tours and a vintage railroad. If you would like to see where Montezuma never lived, stop by Montezuma Castle National Monument, a five-story, 20-room cliff dwelling built by the Singua Indians 600 years ago. If you’d like to get off the beaten path and dip your toes into an oasis, consider a respite at Fossil Creek. One of two “wild and scenic” rivers in Arizona, hike, sunbathe or wade because the water remains at a constant 70° F. For another off-the-beaten opportunity, hop on a ATV with Arizona Offroad Tours and tour the trails of the Prescott National Forest. If you’d like to tour the Verde Valley but would prefer that someone else do the driving, head to Clarkdale and get aboard the Verde Canyon Railroad where you can embark on a four-hour train ride past ruins and historic sites. On select Fridays between May and September, the VCRR offers the Grape Train Escape, which features the scenic evening tour with wine and hors d’oeuvre pairings.
Nature and people at their best
Southern Arizona also has a treasure trove of beautiful scenery and natural and man-made wonders. Ramsey Canyon Preserve, near Sierra Vista, is indeed a natural wonder, but its remains so because of people. This beautiful and serene preserve is part of the Nature Conservancy International Conservation Program, and claims to be the “hummingbird capital of the U.S.” with up to fourteen species of hummingbirds. As a “sky island” the preserve has a moist, cool environment that makes it perfect for hiking and viewing a notable diversity of plants and animals. North of Sierra Vista in the town of Benson, Kartchner Caverns State Park also qualifies as both a natural and man-made wonder. Nature is responsible for creating this “live” cave with stunning limestone stalactites dripping down like icicles and giant stalagmites reaching up from the ground, and the ingenuity of people have made it possible for others to experience the cave without damaging it. All tours are guided and will take you about 1.5 hours to complete. The beautiful and lush Sonoran Desert is preserved in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, about 15 miles from Ajo. Home to its namesake, the Organ Pipe Cactus, the park also features a myriad of cacti, plants and animals as well as more than a hundred miles of scenic drives, miles of hiking trails, campgrounds, new exhibits and ranger programs. Experience this international biosphere reserve in all its grandeur.
Summer’s Short. Start Planning.
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