The route climbs in steep, graceful curves from the desert floor northeast of Tucson to the fir-forested heights of the Catalina Mountains. Roadside sights range from giant cacti along lower stretches to sheer granite cliffs, beckoning woodlands and a mountain village near the top.
Grand gardens of stone - pinnacles, towers, mesas and more - make it difficult to keep your eyes on the road as you drive north from Kayenta on U.S. 163 into the heart of majestic Monument Valley. The vistas, which fairly shout out "Old West," served as a backdrop for classic Western movies by director John Ford.
Oak Creek Canyon
Slip onto Arizona 89A just southwest of Flagstaff and prepare for a sort of scenic symphony as you ride the route deep into Oak Creek Canyon en route to Sedona. Red rock formations, verdant forests, and sparkling Oak Creek will have you pulling off for frequent photo stops.
This long, serpentine route - extending for 123 miles on U.S. 191 from Clifton to Springerville in eastern Arizona - is a dream drive through winsome landscapes of mountains, meadows, forests and rivers. The trip also takes in colorful small towns and a gargantuan open-pit mine.
Get into go-slow-and-savor mode when you set out on the Apache Trail, which follows Arizona 88 from Apache Junction east of Phoenix to Roosevelt Lake. Lovely lakes, big views of the Superstition Mountains and the funky hamlet of Tortilla Flat invite a leisurely drive.
- Selected by Doug Kreutz