The Northern Arizona Travel Guide is a resource for those planning a road trip in the region.
It is especially useful for trips originating in Las Vegas or Phoenix, or for those traveling on I-40.
All the popular attractions are included, such as Oak Creek Canyon, Historic Route 66, the Painted Desert,
Grand Canyon National Park, Monument Valley, Hoover Dam, Lake Powell, Prescott and Sedona, Arizona.
Many less famous destinations are also included. Details include descriptions and links to many references.
Flagstaff, Grand Canyon - South Rim, Painted Desert / Petrified Forest, Canyon de Chelly
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One of the most popular outdoor destinations for Las Vegas and Phoenix visitors is the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, an easy five-hour drive or less. Part 2 covers the South Rim of Grand Canyon and attractions convenient to I-40 from Flagstaff heading east. All destinations are within a four-hour drive of Flagstaff.
Flagstaff, Arizona, is the gateway to activities in northern Arizona, with easy access to Oak Creek Canyon,
Grand Canyon, Painted Desert and more. Route-66 runs through old downtown Flagstaff which offers
numerous shops and restaurants. The Museum of Northern Arizona covers natural history as well as the
area's early inhabitants. Arizona Snow Bowl offers skiing in the winter (weather permitting) and scenic
views the rest of the year.
Three national monuments are just outside town:
- Sunset Crater Volcanic National Monument features the remnants of a thousand year-old volcanic eruption. Highlight is photogenic Sunset Crater. Off of US-89 about 15 miles north of Flagstaff.
- Wupatki National Monument features the massive ruins of numerous Sinaguan pueblos dating back about 800 years. The area was settled and farmed after the ash of the volcanic eruption made the land very fertile. Excellent interpretive hiking trails. Adjacent to Sunset Crater.
- Walnut Canyon National Monument features the remains of cliff dwellings in a scenic wooded canyon. Off of I-40 about five miles east of Flagstaff.
Visit time: a few hours to a
day or two; good overnight stop (many motels, restaurants, services).
Grand Canyon - South Rim
Grand Canyon National Park is about 80 miles north of Flagstaff, Arizona. Most visitor activities center
on the South Rim and North Rim villages on either side of the canyon. Grand Canyon Village at the South Rim is the destination of
most visitors. The two rims are only about 10 air miles apart but 215 miles by road. Visitor services
include food, lodging and camping, as well as access to the most popular trails into the canyon.
The Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the canyon offers rental cabins, bunkhouses, and meals and snacks,
with nearby camping. Hiking to the bottom is extremely strenuous. Almost all Grand Canyon activities must
be reserved well in advance, including lodging, camping, backpacking, mule trips, and white water
rafting. Visit time: at least one day; several days if you have the time.
Winslow Area - La Posada Hotel
The popular Meteor Crater is about 20 miles west of Winslow, Arizona. The crater is the best preserved
and most obvious meteor crater in the world. Outside of town, Homolovi Ruins State Park protects the
remains of several ancient Indian pueblos. (Note: Park is currently closed - summer, 2010 - due to state's budget crisis.) Highway Arizona-87 south offers direct access to Arizona's Mogollon Rim Country, a good place to cool off in the summer. Arizona-87 north goes to the Hopi Nation and its visitor center at Second Mesa.
The historic La Posada Hotel is a highlight of downtown Winslow on historic Route 66. Originally opened in 1929, one of the last grand railroad hotels, it was designed as a 19th century Spanish hacienda. It closed in 1957 after railroad travel went out of fashion. The Santa Fe Railway took over the property, dispersing the beautiful furnishings, and brutally gutting and remodeling its interior into an office complex. The building was threatened with demolition when the railroad was done with it. Through the efforts of many, the building was saved and sold to a private party in 1997. Since then, the hotel, its gardens, and furnishings have been restored to pristine condition. A National Historic Landmark as well as a working hotel, it is open for lodging guests and for touring. Its restaurant, the Turquoise Room, is noted for outstanding dining.
Visit time: a few hours; more if you detour on AZ-87.
Petrified Forest and Painted Desert
The finest views of Arizona's Painted Desert are found in Petrified Forest National Park. The park's
scenic roads, nature trails, and vista points offer outstanding photo opportunities. The park also offers
huge fields of petrified trees, often bejeweled, remnants of a 200 million year old forest. There are also
Indian ruins and rock art. Services are available at nearby Holbrook, where Route-66 runs through
downtown, and the famous Wigwam Motel is still open for business. Visit time: one full day, with
overnight stay in Holbrook.
Canyon de Chelly
Canyon de Chelly is one of Arizona's most spectacular canyons with some of the finest Anasazi cliff
dwellings and rock art. The canyon is within the Navajo Nation; therefore access is by guided tour only. The Thunderbird Lodge has long offered tours on open six wheel drive trucks. You can also arrange to hike with a Navajo guide. The National Park Service offers a list of authorized guides and tour companies (see below).
South on US-191, the historic Hubbell Trading Post has been serving the Navajo Reservation for over 100 years and is still open for business.
(Look for beautiful Navajo rugs there.) Visit time: an hour to tour trading post, at least a half day to
tour the ruins. Driving can be slow around Chinle.
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Northern Arizona Travel Guide Index
Guides to Nearby Destinations
- Hoover Dam, Historic Route 66, Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon, Verde Valley, Grand Canyon Skywalk
- Flagstaff, Grand Canyon - South Rim, Painted Desert / Petrified Forest, Canyon de Chelly
- Indian Country, Monument Valley, Lake Powell, Grand Canyon - North Rim, Utah Parks
- Travel Itineraries
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