Phoenix-Area Daytrips?
October 18, 2007 10:20 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for ideas for day/weekend-trips to interesting outdoors places around but outside the Phoenix, AZ metro area.

Last weekend, my girlfriend and I drove up to the Montezuma Castle/Well national park in Camp Verde. Getting out of the city for a day was a wonderful experience, and we decided we'd like to commit to doing it together at least once a month. Unfortunately, we're both relatively new to this area and don't know what's outside the city that well. We both enjoy day-hiking and photography (and photographing interesting things while hiking) but other activities/types of places are interesting too, so long as they aren't in the city of Phoenix.

Any thoughts?
posted by Alterscape to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

It's about two hours away from Phoenix, but man oh man is it beautiful. There are plenty of hiking trails and amazing photographic opportunities. It's also cooler there than it is in Phoenix, so outdoor activities are possible for more time out of the year.
posted by Ms. Saint at 10:31 AM on October 18, 2007

Have a 4X4? Superstition Wilderness.
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 10:31 AM on October 18, 2007

Canyon Lake

Tubing or rafting on the Salt River (in season). The Lower Salt is totally mellow.

You should check out Jerome, Bisbee, and of course Tombstone. Cool old mining towns with a lot of history.

And definitely carve out a weekend to go down and explore Tucson. Stay at the historic Hotel Congress downtown, it's cheap, there's a bar with live music, and the restaurant's pretty great too. Yes, it's trading one city for another, but believe me, Tucson's like a different world.
posted by padraigin at 10:56 AM on October 18, 2007

I highly recommend the Saguaro National Park in Tucson. There are trails to walk around on - it's really just awesome. There are plenty of giant cactus photo opportunities.

If you do decide to go down to Tucson - one of my favorite places in the South west is nearby: the San Xavier mission. I'm not a Christian/Catholic or anything, but the place is very beautiful and very peaceful.

Bisbee is nice if you want to buy some turquoise, you can find some very high quality stones there. Tombstone is super touristy - but just a kick. It also has the world's largest rose bush.
posted by Craig at 11:46 AM on October 18, 2007

Sky Venture AZ in Eloy. You can just go and have a picnic while you watch the sky divers (there will be hundreds of jumps on a weekend day with good weather) or if you want to try something a little different you can fly in the wind tunnel. Reservations required and its harder than it looks.
posted by cyclopz at 12:00 PM on October 18, 2007

I know it's geographically close (Scottsdale) but Taliesin is a great stop.

(2nding the San Xavier!)

If you're OK with dropping some cash for an overnight, try a night at the Arizona Inn. Summer rates == much better.

Also, mark your calendar for All Souls 2007. Do. Not. Miss. This!
posted by bhance at 12:40 PM on October 18, 2007

Apache Trail

It stretches from just outside of Phoenix to Globe. We did this before ending our Nevada/Arizona vacation a couple of years ago.

It takes a couple of hours to drive. It's fun - but for me, coming from Florida where the highest thing around is a sand dune, it was quite nerve-wracking driving on dirt roads that wound around a mountainside with hundreds of feet of dropoff.

It's a bit desolate but there's pretty scenery, something to say you've done, and there's a few places to stop in between, specifically the 'old west' town of Tortilla Flats, a few different lakes (with campgrounds too, if that interests you) and Roosevelt Dam at the end.

One you hit the charming mining town of Globe you can head back to Phoenix on Rte 60 (unless you want to go back the way you came, I know I needed a stiff drink when I finally hit paved road!)
posted by MarkLark at 12:56 PM on October 18, 2007

Oh, and I also second Sedona - awesome place. And if you're looking for a weekend getaway, Flagstaff is a great base of operation - you're an hour away from the Grand Canyon and there's a ton of other things to do in the area (Meteor Crater, Sunset crater, Wupatki national monument, etc)
posted by MarkLark at 12:58 PM on October 18, 2007

I enjoyed Prescott and Jerome. Which are older towns. I sort of like interesting historic small towns, but if that doesn't sound good, it's not for you. Prescott is like this perfect midwestern town square dropped in AZ.

I've always been interested in going to the Southeast part of Arizona, where they actually filmed Oklahoma. More info here.

My favorite thing I ever did in Az was a ride on the Salt River, just outside Phoenix. Saw bald eagles and wild horses and beautiful scenery. The river is seasonal.

Also, I'm pretty sure there is a whole magazine for this. And it's a good one, Arizona Highways or something? Maybe check it out at the library. I find photographs inspiring, if I see a cool photograph I want to go to that place.
posted by Mozzie at 1:41 PM on October 18, 2007

Taos. It's an 8-hour drive from Phoenix but it's crazy, wonderful little place. Might be nicer for a long weekend.

I'm also partial to Cloudcroft, about the same distance but in the southern part of New Mexico. My great-great grandfather helped build the railroad trestle there. About an hour west is Alamogordo and White Sands, which is really, really cool, and about an hour east is Ruidoso, which has horse races and lots of antiques.

Sorry I can't think of any place closer.
posted by Brittanie at 5:16 PM on October 18, 2007

As bhance said, Do. Not. Miss. the All Souls Procession in Tucson. You watch the procession pass by, and you are welcome to join in or drop out at any time. There were ten to twenty thousand there last year. The grand finale when they light the urn is something else.

This is a bit of a long day, so you might split it up into two days - Take AZ87 to Payson (about 2 hours). Then take AZ260 to Show Low (another 2 hours.) From Show Low, take US60/AZ77 to Globe. From Globe, take US60 back to Phoenix. On the first leg you'll see some great saguaro forests, and then climb up into the pinon pine forests around Payson. Then, on AZ260, you'll climb into some of the best pine forest Arizona has to offer, and climb above the Mogollon Rim. Awesome, just awesome stretch of road. Heading out of Show Low, you get some more pine forests, and then the Salt River Canyon, which is often referred to as the mini Grand Canyon. Once you leave Globe, you'll follow a stretch of US60 that climbs into some beautifully wooded areas, and then follows Queen Creek for a ways before going across a great steel arch bridge and then dropping down into Superior. This is one of the best roads in the state, IMO. (In Superior, stop by The World's Smallest Museum if they're open!) After Superior you get some neat desert hills that then drop back into saguaro forest with great views of the Superstitions. Along the entire route, there are many, many opportunities for hiking and many places for good photos.

Sedona is gorgeous as well. I recommend Oak Creek Terrace if you stay overnight. It's in beautiful Oak Creek Canyon, and they have rooms with Jacuzzis at pretty good rates. Those Jacuzzis come in handy after a day of hiking. Be forewarned, however - Sedona is expensive as hell.

If you come down to Tucson, I can suggest a fair bit of stuff here as well. Email in profile.
posted by azpenguin at 5:23 PM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

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