If you are planning a road trip from Phoenix to Flagstaff I have the perfect route for you to take. Don’t rush through on the boring interstate. The route that I will take you on will take you the scenic route from the desert of Phoenix, to the massive granite boulders of Yavapai County, to the beautiful mountains of Prescott National Forest, to the historic ghost town of Jerome, to Red Rock Country in Sedona and finally to the beautiful mountains of Flagstaff. This is a day trip that you will want to take your time on.
Starting Point: US-60W
Start your day off in Phoenix on US-60W. You will drive through the flat desert valley of Phoenix with views of the mountains and massive cacti. As you drive into Yavapai County you will drive through the small town of Wickenburg and then take US-93 until you get to Congress. When you get to Congress you will take US-89N. This is where the drive really starts to get fun.
As you make your way through the valley you will be driving towards the mountains and if you make this drive in the winter like we did these mountains will likely be covered in snow. You will climb your first mountain in Yarnell at Yarnell Hill. At this point you will have scenic views of Wickenburg.
As you descend Yarnell Hill you will find yourself in Peeple’s Valley. This is where you will drive through a valley of massive granite boulders and ranch land. You will see lots of cows, horses and other farm animals along the way.
Prescott National Forest
You will make your next climb into the Prescott National Forest. This is an especially beautiful drive in the snow. Just drive slow and watch for icy patches. You will reach elevations as high as 7600 feet when you make it to Mingus Summit. As you reach the end of Prescott National Forest you will reach the small town of Prescott where you might want to get out and stretch and grab a bite to eat.
Coconino National Forest
As you leave Prescott, you will take 89A and enter the Coconino National Forest. You will climb more beautiful mountains until you reach red rocks and the view will open up to the valley below. Your next stop will be in the historic ghost town of Jerome. You can take a short little walking tour through this old mining town.
Sedona is just a 30 minute drive from Jerome. You will want to spend a good deal of time exploring Sedona. You might even want to spend the night here at one of the quirky rental properties available. There are multiple fantastic hikes around Red Rock State Park. If you visit in the warmer months be sure to take a dip in one of America’s most famous swimming holes at Slide Rock State Park.
As you leave Sedona you will keep climbing the mountains of Coconino National Forest until you reach Flagstaff. If you drive this route in the winter I promise you will be driving in a winter wonderland. The snow of the mountains here is nothing like I’ve ever seen before. Once you reach Flagstaff you will have a ton of things to choose from to do. Visit historic route 66, take a stroll through downtown Flagstaff, visit the Lowell Observatory, or go skiing at Arizona Snowbowl.
I promise that this is a drive that you don’t want to miss. I was amazed at the rapidly changing landscapes during this drive. Take your time and enjoy this beautiful road trip. If you aren’t really up for the road trip you could always look into a party bus Riverside rental option.