Growing up in Arizona, I chalked the state up to just about that- chalk. Brown chalk. I questioned my parents endlessly on why we could not have been raised in the heart of the Colorado Rockies, on the white sand coasts of Baja or on the banks of Minnesota’s ten thousand lakes. It was not until I left to explore the many depths and breadths of beauty on this planet that I returned to the Sonoran Desert and felt its immense stillness and magnificence.
An Arizona road trip should be a life requirement. The topography of the state is vast and complemented almost everyday by this giant, cloud-free, blue sky. It rolls on for miles in every direction and patiently reminds you that they world is yours. For taking, for changing, for walking, for admiring, for whatever you desire. It is a stunning way to acquaint the earth.
I want to give you four Arizona road trip ideas outside of the Grand Canyon, assuming you have already or to plan to accomplish a trip to the Grand Canyon in your lifetime. I challenge you to complete them all.
A drive through Monument Valley is life in a movie, but better. Its mystique is unmatched and demands famine in its description. It is silent. It is vast. Occasionally cars pass through. It is palace on earth, inhabited by sky, sun and wind alone. Prepare to pull over every twenty minutes to attempt and capture its offering.
Havasu Falls sit just west of the Grand Canyon within the Havasupai tribal lands. It is some of the only naturally falling water in the state and its crisp blue against the Canyon’s red rock makes for picturesque pools created through mineralization. Camp under a blanket of stars. Picnic at the water’s edge. Hike around and find falls to dance under.
Sedona is like the Grand Canyon, but tangible. Its red rock will stain your shoes and its energy promises to stain your soul. Place your forehead to its rock vortexes and feel the overwhelming energy of the earth that so many travel to experience. Hike toward your dreams. Reach literally closer to the sky and let the soothing nature of Sedona settle in through your skin.
The Ultimate Drive-by
Road trip through Arizona. Plain and simple. You can traverse the state, south to north or north to south in a day’s sunlit hours. Start from the top, making your way through Monument Valley or the Grand Canyon, through Flagstaff and the Tonto National Forest. Watch the rock turn from green to purple and head through pines to see from great heights cliffs rolling and spotted densely with green. Make your way toward sea level and watch as the land settles into desert. Weave through Scottsdale and Phoenix, around Camelback Mountain and even downtown. Find your way to the Catalina Foothills in Tucson and continue to Bisbee. The sun should be setting and it should feel like you’ve visited at least seven swells of magic on the planet.
Arizona road trips are anything but cliché. The views and destinations will surprise you and keep you always content in their boundless colors, energy, offerings and sun tides. Time to fuel up and hit the road!