Arizona is tailor-made for road trips. From the Southwest desert, to the red rock canyons, and on to the mountains. I find there is never a dull moment in finding beautiful and unique landscapes to capture here.
I grew up in both Alberta and Utah which are both places of open space, plenty of nature and beautiful scenery, similar to Arizona. I took numerous road trips with my family as a child throughout Canada and the US.
My father is very much into nature and my grandfather was a landscape photographer plus he loved to paint oil paintings of surrounding landscapes in Utah as a hobby. So, I would give them both credit for inspiring my love of photography.
Although, my passion for photography probably peaked 5 short years ago by chance while hiking in the beautiful red rock canyons of Utah. I have evolved my landscape photography since then and am continuing to learn new techniques and skills while keeping the integrity of the photo.
I am a cosmetologist by trade which has helped to give me the eye of transformation. Seeing a landscape and being able to visualize the end result has been very useful for my photography. I pride myself on keeping things as natural as possible.
I’ve also got the pleasure of having a supportive family who are willing participants in hikes and road trips. I love nature and the outdoors as it provides a sense of peace, balance and beauty.
My Favourite Places and Memories of Arizona
My favourite place in Arizona would be Sedona simply because the surrounding red rock and rock formations are incredible! Sedona also offers numerous hiking trails which are all so different from each other, some with stunning views and other serene areas including Oak Creek Canyon.
The Superstition Mountains and along the Apache Trail is another favorite of mine with canyon lakes, saguaros and dirt roads — it is the epitome of the Southwest! The Petrified National Forest which includes The Painted Desert can’t be beat with colors, rock formations and petrified wood!
The craziest memory I have from my time in the desert capturing photos was this past winter when a snow storm rolled in and the desert landscape became a winter wonderland! It was very surreal to walk around the saguaros and other desert plants and cacti all covered in snow. It is something that doesn’t happen very often!
Classic American Road Trips into the Wild West
As mentioned above, Arizona is made for road trips. Route 66 is a great nostalgia road, but I would say The Apache Trail is always a fun road to drive and as I explained, it is very Southwest filled with canyons, lakes and all kinds of Saguaros. The road is a little rough but you also feel like you are going on an adventure.
I also love the Bush Highway along the Salt River which is always a beautiful drive especially around golden hour and sunset. You might even be able to spot wild horses along the way. The drive from Flagstaff to Sedona is a gorgeous one especially in the fall along Oak Creek Canyon. Red rock mixed in with forest trees is always a pretty sight!
Of course, no road trip into the Wild West of Arizona is complete without classic American music. I’m a big fan of 80’s music, so I usually have a playlist from that era. Tom Cochrane – Life is a Highway is always fun to drive to. The Eagles, Journey and John Mellencamp are also high on my list.
Historical Towns and Native American Culture
Did I mention Sedona? Yes I did and aside from that, I like the towns that offer some history. Tombstone is a fun place to visit with rich Old West history. From horse stagecoach tours, gun shows, and ghost tours, it is never a dull moment. The Wyatt Earp Graveyard on the edge of town was interesting to walk through and read all the tombstones there.
Bisbee was another fun town with a lot of history. It is a mining town which offers the Queen Mine Tours that you can take which bring you through the tunnels deep into the copper mines. I also had the opportunity to stay at the Bisbee Grand Hotel which is one of the top 10 haunted hotels in Arizona and it made the stay even more exciting.
The unique thing about Bisbee is there are a lot of concrete stairs all over the town since Bisbee is built on a hill. It was fun to climb some of these stairs and see the view of the town.
There are quite a few preserved Native American ruins located in the state too which are open to the public. They tend to be very informative on how Native Americans lived and survived.
I love learning about the cultures that were present so many years ago. Canyon de Chelly was very special and authentic because the canyon tour I took was from a Native American man who actually lives in the canyon presently. To be able to hear all the stories about his ancestors that lived there in the past from him was pretty special.
Some Tips for Road Trips in Arizona
First thing I would say for travel tips to Arizona is to look at what the weather and temperature will be like during that time of year that you visit. October to April is the best weather and pretty predictable, but don’t underestimate the heat and drink plenty of water while visiting here.
Arizona has so many things to see and do on a road trip from hiking, visiting museums, jeep tours and more. Do your research and try to see as many things along the way. Do not leave the desert without seeing the golden hour and sunset. Arizona has some of the most dramatic sunsets I have ever seen.
You will not believe how beautiful the desert is as it lights up and changes colors during these hours. It is simply amazing! Hope you enjoy your road trips through Arizona!