ยป The best scenic drives in Phoenix

Phoenix, Arizona, is not only known for its vibrant city life and stunning desert landscapes but also for its scenic drives that offer breathtaking views of the surrounding natural beauty. Whether you are a local looking for a weekend getaway or a visitor exploring the area, these scenic drives will take you on a journey through picturesque landscapes, majestic mountains, and serene desert vistas. So, fasten your seatbelts and get ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure through the best scenic drives in Phoenix.

1. Apache Trail

The Apache Trail is a historic and scenic drive that takes you through the heart of the Superstition Mountains. This 40-mile route starts in Apache Junction and winds its way through the Tonto National Forest, offering stunning views of canyons, lakes, and desert landscapes. Along the way, you can stop at the Goldfield Ghost Town, a reconstructed mining town that provides a glimpse into Arizona’s Wild West history. Don’t miss the breathtaking views from the Apache Lake Overlook and the iconic Roosevelt Dam. The Apache Trail is a must-visit for nature enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

2. South Mountain Park Scenic Drive

South Mountain Park is one of the largest municipal parks in the United States, and its scenic drive offers panoramic views of the Phoenix skyline and the surrounding desert. The drive takes you up to Dobbins Lookout, where you can enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the city and the vast expanse of the Sonoran Desert. Along the way, you can also explore hiking trails, picnic areas, and the Desert Classic Trail, which is popular among mountain bikers. The South Mountain Park Scenic Drive is a great option for those looking for a quick escape from the city without venturing too far.

3. Sonoran Desert Loop Drive

The Sonoran Desert Loop Drive is a 27-mile loop that showcases the unique beauty of the Sonoran Desert. Starting at the Desert Botanical Garden, the drive takes you through the Papago Park area, where you can see iconic landmarks like the Hole-in-the-Rock and the Phoenix Zoo. As you continue on the loop, you’ll pass through the scenic McDowell Sonoran Preserve, known for its diverse flora and fauna. The drive offers opportunities for wildlife spotting, hiking, and photography, making it a favorite among nature lovers.

4. Tonto National Forest Scenic Drive

Tonto National Forest is a vast expanse of rugged mountains, deep canyons, and pristine lakes, making it a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. The scenic drive through the forest takes you along the Bush Highway, which offers stunning views of the Salt River and the surrounding desert landscape. Along the way, you can stop at Saguaro Lake, where you can enjoy water activities such as boating and fishing. The Tonto National Forest Scenic Drive is a perfect choice for those seeking a peaceful retreat in nature.

5. Bartlett Lake Road

Bartlett Lake Road is a scenic drive that takes you to Bartlett Lake, a popular destination for boating, fishing, and camping. The road winds through the Tonto National Forest, offering picturesque views of the desert landscape and the lake. Along the way, you can stop at various viewpoints to take in the beauty of the surrounding mountains and canyons. If you’re lucky, you might even spot some wildlife, such as bighorn sheep or bald eagles. Bartlett Lake Road is a hidden gem that provides a peaceful and scenic escape from the city.


1. How long does it take to drive the Apache Trail?

Driving the full length of the Apache Trail can take around 4-5 hours, depending on the number of stops you make along the way.

2. Are there any entrance fees for South Mountain Park?

No, South Mountain Park is free to enter. However, there may be fees for specific activities or facilities within the park.

3. Can I see wildlife on the Sonoran Desert Loop Drive?

Yes, the Sonoran Desert is home to a variety of wildlife, including desert tortoises, coyotes, and various bird species. Keep your eyes peeled and respect their natural habitat.

4. Are there any camping facilities near Bartlett Lake?

Yes, there are several campgrounds near Bartlett Lake where you can enjoy a night under the stars. Make sure to check availability and make reservations in advance.

5. Can I swim in Bartlett Lake?

Yes, swimming is allowed in Bartlett Lake. However, be aware of any posted warnings or restrictions, and always practice water safety.


Phoenix, Arizona, offers a plethora of scenic drives that showcase the natural beauty of the surrounding landscapes. From the historic Apache Trail to the panoramic views of South Mountain Park, these drives provide an opportunity to escape the city and immerse yourself in the stunning desert scenery. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, history buff, or simply looking for a peaceful retreat, these scenic drives in Phoenix are sure to leave you in awe. So, hop in your car, roll down the windows, and embark on an unforgettable journey through the best scenic drives in Phoenix.

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