Ahh, Arizona. I love this state. It’s got everything: A big city, if you want it. Mountains, huge desert skies and and small towns surrounded by pine trees. Big sweeping plains and The biggest and most spectacular canyon in the world. It doesn’t have an ocean, but if need that, 90 minutes to south of the border you can hit the gulf of California and a cheap vacation.
Yeah, I love Arizona.
I’ve ridden Arizona for the last 35 years, and here’s my take of the best roads in the state:
#10: the Apache Trail, up to Tortilla Flat: Originally a stagecoach trail, this road reeks of killer Arizona history. It’s Arizona’s original road; Plus, its a beautiful ride. It’s a short, 30 mile round trip ride from Apache Junction, but a killer one. There’s a couple old single lane bridges and the road has been recently re-paved. It’s a great ride.
Try it on new years day: Upwards of 500 bikes take the twisty roads to Tortilla Flat and have breakfast and lunch there. It’s never announced, it just happens. That, is a beautiful thing.
Bonus Roads: There is an additional 10 miles of paved road past Tortilla Flat. Its cool. Try it.
#9 – US 60/Arizona 77 from Globe to Show low: US 60 used to be one of two main routes into Phoenix back in the day, and this stretch is a pure joy to ride. Lots of twists, some scenic canyons, some historic bridges and long flat stretches you can open up the throttle on.
Spend a minute at the Salt River Canyon rest stop.
A great ride.
#8: Highway 89a through Oak Creek Canyon: This is a short trip, but a beautiful one. From Sedona up through the twisty Oak Creek Canyon. One of my most memorable rides was coming off the High Desert of Sedona up into the Ponderosa Pines of Flagstaff Arizona.
This one almost isn’t optional. Ride it: hell, both ways 🙂
Bonus Mileage: Hit route 66, west of Flagstaff.
#7: The Kaibab Plateau: Ride from highway 89 and split into 89A. great little vistas, some killer historic bridges and stone buildings. Stop and enjoy every single one, and get some pictures. It rises from the desert floor up over the Kaibab, and down again into Fredonia. See the Desert, Smell the pines. It’s a great ride.
There are restaurants at Marble Canyon, but a little ways up the road you can eat at Cliff Dwellers.
Bonus Mileage: Ride south at Jacob Lake, and go see the north Rim of the Grand Canyon (Way better than the south Rim, and less crowded) You’ll love it.
#6 Arivaca Road: This one may seem out of sorts. I love it anyway. Arivaca is a funky little town, just a few miles north of the Mexico border. It’s kind of a hippie little town, but a great ride. It’s one of my favorites to loop through. It’s not on the way to anywhere, but a great road anyway. It’ll give you a feel of old Arizona. Just Ride it.
Bonus Mileage: Run down to the tiny border town of Sasabe, and grab a beer at the bar down there. Its a cool little town.
#5 Indian Road 15 through Ak-Chin: Google maps will never give you this route; its not the fastest or best road to anywhere, but I love the hell out of it.
And It’s a little different. Never busy and has some great pic of Saguaro Cactus forests against some great volcanic backdrops.
I dig this road. Plus, its a shortcut to Ajo, Arizona, which is another great little Arizona Town.
Bonus Mileage: Head West, and South down through Organ Pipe National Monument. Its worth riding.
#4 Highway 82 Between Nogales and Sierra Vista: This road is really interesting, it starts in one of the bigger Arizona border towns (with some killer Mexican food) and winds toward Patagonia, and up through the high plains. I love this road. It’s got a whole lot of flavor of what you’d expect from Arizona, and some you wouldn’t expect.
Bonus Mileage: take the 35 miles to go see Bisbee. Its the most interesting town in Arizona.
#3 Old Highway 80: This one is kinda tricky to ride, since its broken up into pieces; it goes through the lower half the state, and is chopped up by interstate. You’ll have to figure out how to ride the whole thing, but here are my favorite parts of this historic road:
Bonus Miles: if you ride the whole thing, I promise… you’ll find your own bonus miles to enjoy.
#2 Route 66: Route 66 needs no explanation. If you haven’t ridden it, just stop right now and swear to yourself that you will. I’ve travelled route 66 for a long while now, and I dare say that Arizona has the best stretches.
Hit up all you may have read about. It’s a great road. The part between Crookton road and Oatman is the best. Ride that whole thing, and enjoy every mile. In fact, find something new. That’s what Route 66 is all about. It’s almost a living, breathing thing. Enjoy.
Bonus Mileage: From Oatman, head down to Laughlin Nevada. Gamble a bit, take in a buffet, and check out the Colorado river.
#1 Route 191 (old Route 666): This is the finest road in the state. Lots of History, twisty as hell and the scenery is outstanding. It’s just damn fun to ride. it’s also out of the way of everything, which adds to its enjoyment; It also never gets a lot of traffic.
Explore a little of Clifton Arizona: it’ll give you that feel of an old Arizona Mining boom town, without a lot of touristy bullshit. From there, wind up through giant copper mines, and into the Apache-Sitgreaves national forest.
A couple of great places:
Alpine Arizona: Hit up the Bear Wallow Cafe, and order anything on the menu. It’s all good.
Eagar Arizona: John Wayne’s 26 bar ranch. John Wayne actually had ranches in Arizona; one south of Maricopa AZ, and one in Eagar. Duke spent several Christmases at the 26 bar, and is still an active Cattle ranch.
A great road. Hell, for my money… its the best road in the best riding state in the Union.
Bonus Mileage: double back through New Mexico 180. You won’t regret it; Its a great ride as well.