Driving Arizona's deserts
From Phoenix, drive 80 miles northeast on State 87 to Payson, 60 miles east on State 260 to State 377, 50 miles north on State 377 to Holbrook, and 19 miles south on U.S. 180 to Petrified Forest National Park.
From there, head about 80 miles west on I-40 to Winslow, then 180 miles farther west on I-40 to U.S. 93. Drive 107 miles south along the Joshua Forest Pkwy. (U.S. 93) to Wickenburg. Take the Carefree Hwy. (State 74) back to Phoenix.
Just want a day trip? Drive northwest about 50 miles from Phoenix on U.S. 60 to Wickenburg and U.S. 93 to visit the Sonoran and eastern Mojave Deserts.
How big: 190,000 square miles.
What grows here: Big sagebrush, Mormon tea.
What lives here: Golden eagles, mule deer, pronghorn.
Can’t-miss roadside attraction: The Wigwam Motel is a quintessential Rte. 66 experience. From $42. 811 W. Hopi Dr., Holbrook; 928/524-3048.
Stops along the way:
• La Posada Hotel. From $89; the hotel serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily ($$$). 303 E. Second St., Winslow; 928/289-4366.
• Macky’s Grill. $$; lunch and dinner daily. 1111 S. Beeline Hwy. (State 87), Payson; 928/474-7411.
• Petrified Forest National Park. 8-5 daily; $10 per vehicle. www.nps.gov/pefo or 928/524-6228.
How big: 25,000 square miles.
What grows here: Creosote bush, Joshua trees.
What lives here: Bighorn sheep, desert tortoises, kit foxes.
Can’t-miss roadside attraction: Stop for a snack at the gas station in Nothing, AZ (population: 4). But be aware that the gas station’s owner loves to share his philosophy on life.
A stop along the way:
• Luchia’s Restaurant. $; breakfast and lunch Sun-Fri. U.S. 93, Wikieup; 928/765-2229.
How big: 86,000 square miles.
What grows here: Mesquite and palo verde trees, saguaro cactus.
What lives here: Coyotes, horned lizards, jackrabbits, javelina, rattlesnakes.
Can’t-miss roadside attraction: The Hassayampa River Preserve offers a glimpse into a rare and lush desert river habitat. 8-5 Wed-Sun; $5. Milepost 14, 3½ miles south of Wickenburg on State 60.
Stops along the way:
• Desert Caballeros Western Museum. 10-5 Mon-Sat, 12-4 Sun; $7.50. 21 N. Frontier St., Wickenburg; www.westernmuseum.org or 928/684-2272.
• The March Hare. $; lunch Tue-Sat, dinner Fri. 170 W. Wickenburg Way, Wickenburg; 928/684-0223.
• Rancho de los Caballeros. From $426, including meals. 1551 S. Vulture Mine Rd., Wickenburg; www.sunc.com or 928/684-5484.