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Five Magnificent Scenic Drives/Areas to Experience in Arizona

1. Coronado Trail Scenic Byway. Located on US Hwy 191 in eastern Arizona (including the towns of Alpine, Clifton, Eager, and Springerville), this 119-mile north-south drive twists through canyons, across the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, and along the White Mountains -- and is said to contain more than 460 curves. The drive is named after Spanish explorer Vasquez de Coronado, who explored the area in the 1500s. Along the drive you will see much evidence of the state's mining history, including a stop at the Morenci Copper Mine Overlook. Make sure you also stop at the Rose Peak Lookout, taking the half-mile hike to Lookout Tower, which provides breathtaking views of the Mogollon Rim. Keep going until you reach Blue Vista Point, at 9,184 feet in elevation. You'll also pass through old forest burn areas. If looking for a peaceful night in a lodge, consider the Hannigan Meadow Lodge in the middle of the Apache national Forest. If camping, take a longer route and stay at Luna Lake, near Alpine. Watch for lots of wildlife along the way, including deer, antelope, beer, elk, ospreys, and golden eagles. You can add to your scenic driving by taking a side trip on the 55-mile White Mountains Scenic Drive.

2. Historic Route 66. Who doesn't know about getting your kicks on Route 66? The Mother Road? Located across northern Arizona, Route 66 once ran 401 miles in Arizona, connecting California with Chicago. Today, much of the roadway is under I40, but that does not deter from stopping along the many interchanges and exploring the remnants of Americana along this route. You'll get the chance to explore a plethora of scenic and historic attractions, including: Petrified National Forest, Meteor Crater, and Walnut Canyon National Monument, as well as the towns of Holbrook (and the infamous Wigwam Motel), Joseph City (and Jack Rabbit trading Post), Winslow (and sure, stand on the corner for a selfie), Flagstaff, Williams (and the Grand Canyon Railway and a stop in the Grand Canyon National Park), Ash Fork (and US Route 66 Museum), Seligman (and the Roadkill Cafe, as well as Route 66 Gift Shop), Peach Springs (Grand Canyon Caverns), Kingman (Hackberry Store and the Arizona Route 66 Museum and Kingman Railroad Museum), and Oatman (a living ghost town, with a stop outside of town for Cool Springs Station). Read more: NPS Route 66 Travel site.

3. Kaibab Plateau - North Rim Parkway. Located in north-central Arizona, this north-south 44-mile route on SR 67 described as "the most pleasant 44 miles in America," takes you from the small town of Jacob Lake to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park via the Kaibab Plateau and the Kaibab National Forest. It is a designated National Forest Scenic Byway, as well as a State Scenic Byway. Along the way, you'll travel through glorious meadows, limestone outcrops, and dense forests of evergreens and aspens (depending upon elevation), as well as two forest-fire burn areas. Expect to stop for nature photos, including a variety of animals including deer, antelope, turkey, chukars, coyotes, elk, and more. Consider some side trips onto National Forest roads. Finally, enjoy the less witnessed (and higher elevation) vista of the immense and wonderful Grand Canyon. Camp at Jacob Lake Recreation Area and perhaps splurge on a night at the Grand Canyon Lodge. Best in the summer; the road is typically closed November to May. Learn more: NPS Kaibab Plateau site.

4. Red Rock Scenic Road. This north-south All-American Road located in central Arizona is short at 7.5 miles, but intense, and starts about 40 miles south of Flagstaff at I17 Exit 298 (just north of the Village of Oak Creek) along SR 179 to Sedona. The red rocks, which are red in color because of the presence of hematite (iron oxide), actually consist of multiple layers of sediment deposited over millions of years, forming when the uplifting of the Colorado Plateau (which created the Grand Canyon) caused water to carve out the red rock. Stops along the way include the Coconino Forest Visitor's Center, Bell Rock Vista, Cathedral Rock, and the Chapel of the Holy Cross. Consider stops for hikes along the way, such as the Little Horse Trail (3-mile RT), Bell Rock Pathway (3.6 miles), Broken Arrow Trail (3.5 miles). Other nearby attractions include Oak Creek Canyon, the V-Bar-V Heritage Site, Montezuma Castle National Monument, Fort Verde State Historic Park, Tuzigoot National Monument, and Dead Horse State Park. Many trails, picnic facilities, and campgrounds abound in the area. Learn more: Red Rock Scenic Road.

5. Sky Island (Catalina Highway) Scenic Byway. Located in southeastern Arizona, about 20 miles northeast of Tucson, this 27-mile national (as well as Forest Service and state) scenic byway is considered one of the most diverse in the southwest and provides access to a fascinating land of breathtaking vistas, outlandish rockscapes, cool mountain forests, and deep canyons -- going from desert (Lower Sonoran) to mountain (Santa Catalina), from sand and scrub to dense forest, experiencing multiple climate zones. The name comes from the formations in the Coronado National Forest that rise dramatically from the desert floor to stand wreathed in clouds as twelve widely scattered "sky islands." Along the way, you'll find multiple overlooks and turnouts, campgrounds, and picnic areas, as well as dozens of hiking trails. While locals call the road Catalina Highway, it is officially designated as the General Hitchcock Highway in honor of Postmaster General Frank Harris Hitchcock. Be sure and stop at Babad Do'ag Vista, Aspen Vista, and Windy Point Vista. Besides the scenic driving, you can also find many trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. Don't forget to stop at the Palisades Visitor Center, near milepost 20, which offers interpretative information (and restrooms).

EmpoweringSites.com CEO Dr. Randall Hansen Dr. Randall S. Hansen is an educator, author, and advocate, as well as founder and CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, a network of empowering and transformative Websites, including EmpoweringAdvice.com. Dr. Hansen's latest book, Triumph Over Trauma, is available in paperback and ebook versions. Dr. Hansen has been helping empower people to achieving success his entire adult life. He is also founder of EnhanceMyVocabulary.com, MyCollegeSuccessStory.com, and EmpoweringRetreat.com. He is a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. Dr. Hansen is also an educator, teaching business and marketing at the college level for more than 25 years. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com. You can also check out Dr. Randall Hansen on LinkedIn.


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