• Nov 30th 2008 at 2:07PM
  • 13
Click the map above to view this week's Sunday Drive

This week, Autoblog steps out of California for the day, heading due east towards Arizona. That's right, we're headed to Phoenix, and this is the time of year to do it. It may be unbearably hot all Summer, but the Fall and Winter are the reasons why Phoenicians call the Valley of the Sun home. Trust me. There are plenty of good places to point your car in Arizona and we'll be taking a look at a few of them as this series progresses. Today, we head due South for a three-hour tour of great roads and rugged terrain.

We've started our day's journey at the South Mountain Park Scenic Drive, which, at 16,500 acres, happens to be part of the world's largest park. At its peak, the drive will take you 2,330 feet skyward and you'll have an excellent perch upon which to view the fifth-largest city in the United States. All right, we can appreciate the nice surroundings, but we're here to drive. Let's got going.

After a rather boring stretch of about 18 miles East across US-60, you are nearly to the start of our adventurous trip. If it's hot out, we definitely recommend bringing a camera with you, as nearly every single automaker in the world uses the upcoming stretch of highway for hot-weather testing. Keep an eye out for oddly camo'd cars; the last time we drove this road, a fleet of future Audi's roared past us with spy photog's in tow. It's more important to keep your eyes on the road, of course, as the twisties lie dead ahead.

What we're after is the 40-odd miles of AZ-88 (also the name of a nice little bar in Scottsdale) that stretches between US-60 and AZ-188. Along the way, your eyes will be diverted towards some stunning scenery, including two single-lane bridges crossing over Canyon Lake, an abundance of mountains (those would be the Superstitions) and plenty of cacti (those gigantic Saguaro's are native only to this part of the Sonoran Desert in the United States). For the last four miles, you'll be driving alongside the water, headed for Roosevelt Dam. In fact, you'll pretty much drive right over it. When you get there, you've completed our journey. You can turn around and do it in reverse, but if time isn't on your side, you can avoid it all by using the highways to get home.

As always, drive safely. And in Phoenix, it's a good idea to bring plenty of bottled water, sun glasses and sun screen.

Got any good drives of your own? Share the lobe by submitting your own drives in Google Maps format by sending a link to your route to autoblogsundaydrive -at- gmail -dawt- com. Have fun out there!

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      Your route has nothing on Manhattan, turn right of FDR, turn on your favorite music and listen to it while moving 5 MPH.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Great drive... Used to go there all the time when I lived in AZ... Hopefully they'll tackle Yarnell Hill at some time and head into Prescott from there... Beautiful roads!
      • 6 Years Ago
      you actually missed one of the best points only a few miles away.

      when you get to Roosevelt Dam, turn right (south) on Highway 188, towards Globe. about ten miles on your right, you will come to the Rio Salado Indian Ruins. these are cliff-dweller caves, and are very interesting. you can see for over 100 miles from the caves. it is run by the National Park Service.

      from there, just continue south on 188 to Globe. make a right on Highway 60, and you're headed back to Phoenix. this part of Highway 60 is a two lane road, and is absolutely breathtaking.

      • 6 Years Ago
      I did this a few times when I lived in AZ. I was drivining a '93 300z 2+2 at the time. Lots of fun. I have a '08 335i Coupe now and want to take it back there. I remembered it as the run to Tortilla Flat.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Probably because you can't get very far past Tortilla Flat before it turns into the already-mentioned nasty dirt road.

        All of the paved bits are great in anything that can turn, but once you get to the dirt, smaller cars with stiff suspension will rattle your teeth out. All of the pickup trucks you passed on the twisties five miles earlier will be making you eat their dust when they blow by you.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I do this run for fun on a regular basis, its amazing. If you really want a fun one, head down the Coronado Trail in any sports car.. You will be sore by the time its over, and it is truly one of the most amazing runs I have ever done! It is between Springerville and Morenci, AZ approx 190 miles of switchbacks in the aspens of the White Mountains - and very, very low traffic the entire time.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Maybe you should call it Sunday Drive: Southwestern Region or something because I never see one which shows another part of the United States.

      Can anybody submit another region for a Sunday drive? Like say...Northeast or Southeast possibly? I just moved to the Northeast and am still new to the region so i'd love to know if anyone knew a well-known driving road up here.
      • 6 Years Ago

      this blog seems to have some sunday drive information as well for California.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I too live in the metro area and have driven this route numerous times. It's easily one of the most scenic roads in the country.

      Be forewarned though, the road in the summer months is usually clogged with RVs and boaters, even in the one lane areas.

      If you also like the paintjob on your car you might not want to take your ride on this road. Over half of it is rutted dirt and gravel and it can be pretty rough on a car. Each time I've driven it I've done it in my beater.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I drive the Apache Trail everytime I visit Arizona. Pics from my October visit start here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/brent1210/2946372044/in/set-72157608010912533/
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