az road trip

5 Summer Arizona Road Trips

Did you know that planning a trip is actually good for you? Nearly every respondent (97 percent) to a recent travel survey said having a trip planned makes them happier overall. Plus, 71 percent also reported feeling greater levels of energy knowing they had a trip planned in the next six months. Since everyone loves something extra to smile about, the Arizona Office of Tourism designated 2021 as Arizona’s Year of the Road Trip.

To encourage Arizonans to plan fun, safe road trips to communities and destinations across our state, AZRoadTrips.com was born, which puts the power and excitement of planning an Arizona road trip directly in the hands of travelers.

“We’re lucky to live in a place with so many amazing state and national parks to explore, small towns to visit and experiences to have,” says Debbie Johnson, director of the Arizona Office of Tourism. “Arizona was built for road trips and there isn’t a better time to set out for some summer fun.”

Here are just a few of the great Arizona summer road trip ideas waiting to be discovered, according to Arizona Office of Tourism. Where will you explore next?

No. 1: Savor in Southern Arizona

Head south from the Valley on the I-10 toward the picturesque rolling, grass-covered hills of Sonoita-Elgin, one of the state’s most iconic wine-producing regions.

Visit the Dos Cabezas WineWorks tasting room in Sonoita, where Todd and Kelly Bostock and a small family of WineWorkers turn high-quality fruit from Southern Arizona into an amazing array of award-winning wines. Sampling the wine is just the start of this great experience.

Located on the patio of the Dos Cabezas tasting room is Pronghorn Pizza, which serves an evolving menu of wood-fired pizzas for every taste. Just like the wines, these pies are also crafted with locally sourced ingredients, making for perfect pairings. After sampling the vino and pizza, visitors can stay the night by reserving the Casa or Casita NextDoor which, as you probably guessed, are literally next door to the Dos Cabezas tasting room.

No. 2: Water Recreation at Roper Lake State Park

Head east on the US-60 toward Miami/Globe before catching the US-70 E toward Safford. Arizona’s Salsa Trail runs right through town, so be sure to take the opportunity to sample some authentic Mexican food before heading south on the short drive to Roper Lake State Park.

From the official Arizona State Parks Family Campout Program on weekends to the officially designated swimming area with a sandy beach on the day-use island, the serene 32-acre Roper Lake offers something for everyone.

No gas-powered motorboats are allowed, so Roper Lake is an ideal spot to enjoy a day playing in the water, kayaking or canoeing on its smooth waters or even trying your luck on catching a fish or two! If you go, note that this park is under Stage I fire restrictions with no wood or charcoal fires permitted.

Quartzsite

No. 3: Three Days on the Southwestern Loop

With Arizona offering so many amazing places to go and things to do, it can be a challenge to decide exactly where to visit.

From the Valley, head northwest toward Wickenburg. Before you arrive, stretch your legs at the Hassayampa River Preserve, which offers a lush, impossibly green riparian area known for its dense mesquite woodlands and birdwatching. Continue through Wickenburg and follow the signs for Vulture City Ghost Town for a socially distanced tour of the site around what was once one of Arizona’s most productive gold mines.

Continue west toward Quartzsite, which has seen a recent spike in recognition since being featured in the 2021 Academy Award-winning film, Nomadland. Fans of the film may want to visit the Quartzsite Yacht Club, a real bar and grill on Main St. featured in the film, but they’ll have to wait until October of this year when it reopens.

Head south to Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park, a fun family stop offering a 3,600-sq.-ft. museum, a great ghost tour and a gift shop that kids will love. From Yuma, round out the loop by heading east back toward the Valley!    

No. 4: Rugged Getaway in Willcox

Head south on the I-10 and follow it all the way around as it heads east through Tucson and Benson. Take the 15-minute detour on the US-90 S just before getting to Benson to visit Kartchner Caverns State Park to tour the amazing living limestone caves (which sit at an average of 70 degrees year-round) and explore the Discovery Center. You’ll be glad you did!

As you head back toward Willcox, you’ll notice that the surrounding Southern Arizona wilderness makes an ideal backdrop for enjoying farm-fresh eats and remote camping. Once you arrive in town, Apple Annie’s is perfect to grab picnic-friendly goodies such as fruit, nuts, sandwiches and slices of made-from-scratch apple pie. Or you can dine-in!

After securing sundries, head over Pillsbury Wine Company‘s 100-acre vineyard. It’s rustic – no hook-ups, bathrooms or water – but you can set up your RV or camper and catch the sunset and spend the night under the stars. Be sure to call at least 24 hours in advance and check-in at the tasting room upon arrival.

Lake Powell

No. 5: Bucket List by the Lake

Whether you’re local or visiting from the other side of the world, Arizona is a destination for adventurous travelers. Road-trip excursions and bucket-list experiences beckon from every corner of the Grand Canyon State. At the end of 2020, country music artist Mitchell Tenpenny filmed the video for his song Bucket List exclusively in Arizona, featuring some of our most amazing destinations.

For those looking to spend a few days on a road trip, we recommend taking the drive to Northern Arizona to visit Page and Lake Powell, just like Mitchell did. It’s a great summer trip since the temperature rarely breaks 100 degrees and the 186-mile lake features nearly 2,000 miles of shoreline, 96 major side canyons, sapphire blue water, towering red sandstone cliffs and sandy beaches. 

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