Roads, Highways and Trails

The Mogollon Rim is an escarpment that runs diagonally through Arizona from the southeast to the northwest. On the south side is basin and range country from the grasslands in the east to the drier sonoran landscape in the west. North of the Mogollon Rim are the ponderosa pine forests and the blocks of colored rock that draw people to the state, especially the area of the Grand Canyon and north of it. Below the Rim you have 110 degrees, or more, in the summer, and north of it you have road closings from snow in the winter. The Rim itself is always gorgeous, whether you are going up it or down.


8 - 10 - 15 - 17 - 19 - 40

I-8 cuts off I-10 near Casa Grande and ends up in San Diego. It winds around a little more than I-10 but is still a desert drive. It goes through Yuma which has some interesting historical sites. Somewhere in the area is a camel farm. North of Yuma is the Imperial National Wildlife Refuge on the Colorado River. Arizona is one of the major flyways for migrating birds and many of them seek out what few wetlands they can use along the Colorado.

6/98 to San Diego

I-10 has a stretch between Tucson and Phoenix that goes north and south (well, northwest, ok) and it took me several years to remember that it was an east/west interstate. It just didn't seem right. The railroad runs along I-10 from the New Mexico border to north of Tucson when it meets the Gila. From there the first railroad went along the Gila River to Yuma, similar to I-8 today. This is the same route that the Butterfield Overland Mail followed before the railroad and the Morman Battalion before them. And before them Kearney, Cooke and Graham, though they didn't follow the I-10 route east of Tucson.

The I-10 running west of Phoenix is a relatively recent stretch that served to move cars and dust bowl refugees out the California along with US-66 which is now I-40 . Along it also came refugees from tuberculosis who were sent to Arizona by their doctors to seek a cure.

1985 OKC to Tucson

5/98 Northwest Trip - 2nd Time

6/98 to San Diego

10/98 to NYC

9/99 to the Grand Canyon

June 2000 to Nevada and California

I-15 just cuts across the northwest corner of Arizona. In fact the only roads to this bit of Arizona are from Utah or Nevada. It runs through the very scenic Virgin River gorge.

5/98 Northwest Trip

From Phoenix to Flagstaff . I-17 is a beautiful drive. It climbs from the valley of Phoenix up the Mogollon rim to the high forest country near the Grand Canyon. North of Black Canyon City it has a rest stop that has been rated one of the most beautiful in the country.

5/98 Northwest Trip

9/99 to the Grand Canyon

June 2000 to Nevada and California

I-19 is a short stretch from Tucson south to Nogales . Nice country. You pass Tubac which was a Spanish colonial town and is now an artist colony, and Tumacacori National Historic Park . Nogales has the usual drawbacks of a border town and is a drug conduit as well as a major entry point for illegal aliens from Mexico. Every year a few die in the desert, crossing in desperation, or because they were deserted by their coyote.

3/6/99 trip to Tubac AZ

I-40 is the old US-66 replacement. Between Seligman and Kingman you can drive a short segment of the orignal 66, though it has been renamed to AZ-66. This is a great drive as it goes from the Colorado River in the west, passes south of the Grand Canyon, through Flagstaff, past Walnut Canyon National Park and Meteor Crater and on to the Petrified National Forest. In the east you have the Navajo nation to the north and National Forests to the south.

This is the route that most of the dust bowl refugees, the "Okies", followed to the dream of California. After them came the returned GIs after WWII determined to have a better life and to not go back to the small towns and the farms they came from.

1994 Trip

5/98 Northwest Trip - 2nd Time

9/99 to the Grand Canyon

June 2000 to Nevada and California

US Highways

60 - 66 - 70 - 89 - 89A - 93 - 95 - 180 - 191

US-60 starts at the New Mexico border just east of Eager. It goes west to Show Low and then drops off the Mogollon Rim into Globe , passes through Phoenix, makes a jog up to Wickenburg and, then, down to I-10 just before Quartzite.

The section between Phoenix and Globe is Phoenix's gateway to the White Mountains and to Lake Roosevelt, so on Friday evenings and Sunday evenings there is bumper to bumper traffic going up into the the mountains east of Phoenix. It is a beautiful drive and goes past Boyce Thompson Arboretum which features low water use plants and has a couple of very large boojum trees, which are worth the stop. This is a nice place to walk around and relax. East of Globe it climbs into the White Mountains, which is 20-30 degrees lower than Phoenix. Part of the stretch from Globe to Show Low runs through the Fort Apache and San Carlos Indian Reservations. It goes through some rocky and winding canyons. There is good skiing here in the winter, though it's not something that I know much about.

5/98 Northwest Trip

June 2000 to Nevada and California

US-66 in Arizona has been changed to either AZ-66, between Seligman and Kingman, or it's become part of I-40, I still remember driving from California to Oklahoma or Arkansas a few times in the 50's and 60's. Ah, yes, my parents and up to six kids in a 1950 Desoto. It seems like we usually did it in August, since they were taking us older ones back to school. Invariably the car overheated and we sat by the road as it cooled. This was also before airconditioning in cars and it was hot.

I've only been on US-70 while it was combined with US-191 for a few miles east of Safford.

US-89 just ain't what it used to be. Originally it went from the Mexican border to the Utah border and up to Canada. Now I-17 covers the portion from the Mexican border to Tucson and it has become AZ-79 from Tucson to Phoenix. Just west of Wickenburg it becomes AZ-89 up to Ash Fork at I-40. AZ-89A splits off north of Prescott and goes to Flagstaff. North of Flagstaff it once again becomes US-89 up to the Utah border. This is the last stretch of US-89 left in Arizona. It goes east of the Grand Canyon through desolate country made of amazing colors. It crosses the Colorado River at the Glen Canyon Dam and carries people going up to Lake Powell to explore the amazing flooded canyons.

US-89A cuts off from US-89 at Butter Springs before it reaches Lake Powell. US-89A goes west and crosses the Colorado River at Marble Canyon which is just a few miles below Lees Ferry where the float trips through the Grand Canyon are launched. It crosses an amazing bridge several hundred feet above the river. The old bridge is now just for pedestrians as they had to build a new bridge to handle the traffic going to the north rim of the Grand Canyon and southern Utah. When my daughter and I went through there in 1990 the new bridge had not been built and it was a scary drive across the old bridge.

US-89A goes west to Fredonia and then a few miles north to Utah. Halfway there is Jacob Lake which is where AZ-67 goes south to the north rim. We camped there and realized that our trip the last week of May was going to be cold as we headed up toward Zion National Park and we were right. The north rim closes several months out of the year and this is a cold alpine area. Even the squirrels run on a different schedule than the squirrels on the south rim.

US-93 starts at Wickenburg, northwest of Phoenix, and ends at the Canadian border. I'm not sure how complete it still is. In Arizona it goes diagonally to I-40 about 20 miles east of Kingman. It then follows I-40 to Kingman and once more goes northwest to Hoover Dam where it crosses the Colorado River into Nevada. I've followed it only 17 miles to where AZ-71 crosses it and runs into AZ-89 . You can also cut off only 6 miles northwest of Wickenburg where AZ-89 starts.

5/98 Northwest Trip

US-95 goes from Yuma to Quartzite and Yuma south to San Luis. I drove it in 1989 with my daughter as part of a circle from Tucson to Organ Pipe NM to Yuma to Quartzite to Phoenix and back to Phoenix. We happened on Yuma during their annual "Crossing Days" when they celebrate their frontier heritage. We toured the Yuma Territorial Prison and I decided that if this didn't deter people from crime, nothing would.

US-180 is a drive through aspens from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon. It meets up with AZ-64 at Valle (Bedrock City). I enjoy the drive as there aren't many aspens near Tucson and I think it's a beautiful tree, especially in the fall.

It also crosses the New Mexico border a few miles east of Alpine and runs northwest to I-40 at Holbrook. I've driven the part from Alpine to St Johns where it is together with US-191 . This section fruns partly through the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest through the White Mountains. Between Springerville and St Johns, it runs past Lyman Lake State Park.

9/99 to the Grand Canyon

US-191 used to be US-666 but we lost that reference to Revelations when they decided that it really wasn't an off shoot of US 66 anymore. I've travelled it from Elfrida in the south into Utah and further north. If you like pretty scenery, this is the road to take.

It comes up from the Mexican border, running halfway between Tombstone and the Chiricahua National Monument. It has the classic sonoran high desert with the hills rising right up from the flat. This is still rolling grasslands. Just south of Wilcox it goes past the Wilcox playa which is a huge dried up lake bed. When it rains, it will fill up for a few days.

At Cochise you jog west about 20 miles on I-10 till US-191 heads north on it's own again. Soon after you leave I-10 you can see Mt Graham to the west. This mountain goes up to 9,795 feet and is cool even in the summer. The University of Arizona, along with some other groups, has several telescopes on Mt. Graham and this has caused quite a bit of protest from various groups. The environmentalists don't like it because they say it endangers the gray squirrel and the native americans don't like it because they say the mountain is sacred. Actually the telescopes are not on the tallest area, which is where it is suppose to be sacred and the squirrels seem to be doing fine, but this is a ideological fight on both sides. The mountain does survive thousands of hikers and campers each year.

At Safford US-191 joins with US-70 for just a few miles then heads north again. You go through Clinton and Morenci, which are both mining towns. You can see one pit as you drive and there are tours of the mine. Both have interesting buildings and quite a bit of history. From Clinton and Morenci in the south to Springerville and Eager in the north is the Coronado Trail Scenic Byway. This drive has several good national forest campgrounds and very good hiking. When it's 110 in Tucson, it is heaven here and it's far enough away from a city that even in the summer it's not as crowded as along US-60 .

From Eager US-191 heads north till it hits I-40 just east of the Petrified National Forest. It makes a 6 mile jog west on I-40 and then continues north to Utah and beyond.

1994 Trip

AZ Highways

64 - 66 - 67 - 68 - 69 - 71 - 72 - 74 - 77 - 79 - 80 - 82 - 83 - 85 - 86 - 87 - 88 - 89 - 89A - 90 - 92 - 95 - 143 - 169 - 177 - 181 - 186 - 188 - 202 - 260

Az-64 runs north from Williams to the Grand Canyon. It meets up with US-180 halfway at Valle (Bedrock City). When it hits the Grand Canyon it makes a 90 degree turn and heads east till it runs into US-89 . From Williams to the Grand Canyon it is flat grasslands and pine forests. East of Grand Canyon City you go by several view points for the canyon and Tusayan Ruins and Museum which gives an excellent explanation of the native americans who used to live at the Grand Canyon. Once you leave the national park you drive along the Little Colorado river gorge which is worth a few stops and pictures. What can I say! Everything is scenic in this area.

9/99 to the Grand Canyon

AZ-66 from Seligman to Kingman is the remaining segment of the original US-66 in Arizona. I can remember driving through Arizona in the 50's and 60's, when it was still US-66 and before I-40 .

AZ-67 goes from Jacobs Lake, south to the north rim of the Grand Canyon. A beautiful alpine drive. Not only is the view at the end breathtaking but the drive is great. This road is closed several months each winter. When my daughter and I drove it in May 1990 you could still see patches of snow. Coming from Tucson, where it was already in the 90s, this was wonderful.

AZ-68 goes west from Kingman to the Colorado River. On the other side of the river it becomes NV-163.

5/98 Northwest Trip

AZ-69 goes from Cordes Junction to Prescott . It leaves I-17 at Cordes Junction north of Phoenix. Near Cordes Junction, on a dirt road, is Arcosanti, Paolo Soleri's new age town. I have never been there but it's quite the place to go for ecological architects. AZ 69 curves through the Bradshaw Mountains to Prescott . The last time I travelled it was a couple years ago in the fall and I ran into a pumpkin festival. The end of the road is at Prescott , one of Arizona's previous capitals till Phoenix stole it (or so those from Prescott say). This is where AZ-89A splits off from AZ-89 . Prescott is snuggled up to Prescott National Forest and is much more pleasant in the summer than Phoenix or Tucson.

AZ-71 goes north from US-60 , just east of Aguila, cuts across US-93 and ends where AZ-89 takes over. It's only about 25 miles.

AZ-72 goes northwest from Hope on US-60 to AZ-95.

June 2000 to Nevada and California

AZ-74 goes from I-10 to US-60.

AZ-77 goes from Tucson to Globe and Show Low to Bidahochi.

1994 Trip

AZ-79 goes from Oracle Junction to Florence Junction. This is part of what used to be US-89 and most of this section is designated the Pinal Pioneer Parkway scenic drive and goes through some nice desert.

AZ-80 goes from Rodeo on the New Mexico border to Douglas on the Mexican border to Benson.

AZ-82 goes from Nogales to Tombstone

AZ-83 goes from Mountain View (I-10) to south of Sonoita

AZ-85 goes from Lukeville, on the Mexican border, to Ajo to Gila Bend to I-10. Just north of Lukeville it passes Organ Pine NM.

6/98 to San Diego

AZ-86 goes from Tucson to Sells to Why. Why is Why named Why? I've several reasons. One of them is that is makes a Y in the road which was corrupted to Why.

AZ-87 goes from Picacho to Coolidge and Chandler, then Phoenix to Payson to Winslow to Second Mesa.

AZ-88 goes from Apache Junction to Lake Roosevelt (Apache Trail) and on to Globe.

AZ-89 goes from just west of Wickenburg to Ash Fork

AZ-89A goes from just north of Prescott to Flagstaff. It passes through Sedona where you can feel the vibrations, not to mention, seeing the beautiful red rock formations. There is great camping in Oak Creek Canyon, just before you climb up to Flagstaff, but you have to get there early on Friday to get one in the summer.

AZ-90 goes from Benson to Sierra Vista to AZ-80.

AZ-92 goes from Bisbee to Naco to Tombstone ?

AZ-95 is a continuation of US-95 north of I-40.

June 2000 to Nevada and California

AZ-143 is a spur road in Phoenix.

6/98 to San Diego

AZ-169 goes from Camp Verde to Dewey

AZ-181 goes from Chiricauha NP to Sunizona.

AZ-177 goes from Superior to Winkelman.

AZ-186 goes from Wilcox to Chiricahua NP.

AZ-188 goes from AZ-88 south of Payson to Lake Roosevelt.

AZ-202 is a spur road in Phoenix

6/98 to San Diego

AZ-260 goes from Cottonwood to Payson to Showlow to Springerville.

US Forest Roads

3 - Catalina Highway

NF-3 goes from Flagstaff south to AZ-87.

Catalina Highway goes from Tucson to the top of Mt Lemmon. It goes up to over 8000 feet and drops in temperature. On the top of Mt Lemmon is the southernmost ski slope in the US. In the summer the mountain is packed.

© Rachel Aschmann 1998, 1999, 2000.
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