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A Perfect Northern Arizona Road Trip: An Epic RV Adventure on Route 66 and Beyond

A Perfect Northern Arizona Road Trip: An Epic RV Adventure on Route 66 and Beyond

Sara and I, complete novices in RV travel, decided to take the plunge and embark on a Northern Arizona road trip along the legendary Route 66, exploring national parks and immersing ourselves in the region’s beauty. After flying into Mesa, Arizona, to pick up our Cruise America RV, we loaded up and set off on an adventure that would introduce us to stunning landscapes and countless memories. This blog post will guide you through our journey, providing practical tips and insights that will inspire fellow RV enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers to hit the road.


Starting Point: Mesa and Lost Dutchman State Park

Our adventure began in Mesa, where we picked up our trusty Cruise America RV. Excited and nervous, we headed straight to Lost Dutchman State Park in Apache Junction.

The park’s beautiful saguaro landscape was a sight to behold. As beginners, we found the park accessible to navigate and spent two delightful nights there.


During the day, we explored Mesa’s downtown, savored delicious meals at local restaurants, and rode horseback at Saguaro Guest House Ranch.


Visiting Goldfield Ghost Town

Just minutes away from Lost Dutchman is Goldfield Ghost Town, a reconstructed 1890s attraction that offers gold-panning, zip-lining, a train ride, and an Old West gunfight show. Though cheesy, it’s a must-visit for its Instagram-worthy scenery and fun activities.

Sara and I couldn’t resist the charm and spent a few enjoyable hours there.


The Joys of Spontaneous Stops

One of the best parts of our trip was the freedom to make spontaneous stops whenever something caught our eye. We took breaks to admire art installations, pretty flowers, vintage signs, and quaint shops. Factoring in time for these impromptu adventures added an extra layer of joy to our journey.


A perfect example of a spontaneous stop was when we spotted the Frank Lloyd Wright Spire at The Promenade in Scottsdale from the highway. Sara and I are fans of Wright’s architecture, so we had to brake for this roadside find.

We also discovered Taliesin West, one of Wright’s famous residences nearby, adding more excitement to our trip.

Fun fact: You can stay in the last remaining Frank Lloyd Wright Hotel in Mason City, IA.


Sedona: A Red Rock Wonderland

Next, we hit the open highway toward Sedona, a place I had visited before and couldn’t wait to show Sara. The 2.5-hour drive on Route 17 North was filled with anticipation as the landscape gradually changed, revealing the stunning red rocks around Camp Verde.

Arriving in Sedona, we were challenged to find RV-friendly parking. After 90 minutes of searching, we decided to move on. However, we made the most of our time by taking advantage of pullovers and capturing photos at Courthouse Butte and Bell Rock, each magically striped in red and white.


Scenic Drive: Sedona to Flagstaff on Highway 89A

The drive from Sedona to Flagstaff via Highway 89A (Oak Creek Canyon) was an unforgettable experience. Known for its hairpin turns, elevation climbs, and the breathtaking beauty of the scenery, this drive was the most scenic part of our trip.

The majestic pine trees and natural springs framed the windy 23-mile road, keeping us in awe the entire way.


Despite seeing numerous elk crossing signs, we didn’t spot any elk. Yet, the journey, surrounded by nature’s wonders, was an adventure we cherished.


Welcome to Williams: Gateway to the Grand Canyon

Williams, located on Old Route 66, is known as the Gateway to the Grand Canyon. Thousands of visitors come here to take the Grand Canyon Railway train ride. The town has classic cars, soda fountains, neon signs, and Route 66 memorabilia.


Grand Canyon Railway RV Park

We stayed at the Grand Canyon Railway RV Park, which offered swimming pool access, clean shower houses, a hot tub, and a laundry facility. Although we arrived late and left early, we appreciated the amenities available. The park also offers pet boarding, a great asset for RV travelers.

Exploring Downtown Williams

Downtown Williams is walkable and charming. We parked near the railway and enjoyed shopping at local stores. I savored a coffee from Brewed Awakenings, and later, we had a delicious meal at Pine Country Restaurant. Their famous homemade pies were tempting, but we were too full to indulge.


Bearizona: A Wildlife Adventure

One of the highlights of our trip was visiting Bearizona Wildlife Park a year-round drive-through wildlife park in Williams. Navigating through the park in our Cruise America RV, we were delighted by sightings of bears, donkeys, white bison, Arctic wolves, and bighorn sheep, among others.

The walk-through area, featuring a petting zoo, prairie dogs, otters, bobcats, and birds, was equally enchanting.

We loved the loops in the most popular places, allowing us to circle through as many times as we wanted.


Embracing History in Flagstaff

After exploring the Grand Canyon (which we’ll cover in a separate post), we headed to Flagstaff. Known from songs like Route 66 by Depeche Mode and Nat King Cole, Flagstaff had always intrigued us. The town offers numerous hotels, motels, and historic restaurants right along Route 66.


We were eager to check out the Flagstaff visitor center, but unfortunately, the parking lot wasn’t RV-friendly. It was surprising, given the number of travelers visiting Arizona’s national parks in motorhomes and trailers.


Our spirits were lifted when we indulged in a delightful breakfast at the Toasted Owl Restaurant, a charming place adorned with hundreds of kitschy owl items. The menu, with its upscale offerings, was a true delight.

Sara and I decided to share the Flagstaff Omelette, a culinary masterpiece featuring lemon-herb chicken, avocado, cheddar cheese, bacon, onions, and a creamy balsamic drizzle.


Our night at the Flagstaff KOA Holiday campground was comfortable. The clean shower house with plenty of hot water and high-speed WiFi made our stay pleasant and convenient. I like knowing I’ll have great service and everything I need for my RV adventures at the trusty KOA.


Standing on a Corner in Winslow

Yep, you got that right, everyone stops in Winslow, another Route 66 town, to have their picture made and sing or hum a few lyrics from the song made famous by The Eagles. It’s an adorable town, with cute shops and restaurants, plus great photo ops.


I can never resist going into the La Posada Hotel, Fred Harvey’s Last Great Railroad Hotel, and dream of staying there.


National Passport Stamps: Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki

Sara and I collected new stamps in our National Passport books throughout our trip. Our favorite stops were Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and Wupatki National Monument.


Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

We admired the lava fields and wildflower blooms while driving through the 34-mile scenic loop at Sunset Crater. The diverse landscape, ranging from desolate grounds to thick, healthy trees, captivated us.

Wupatki National Monument

At the end of the loop road is Wupatki National Monument, connected to Sunset Crater. Nestled between the Painted Desert and ponderosa pines, Wupatki features vivid red rock ancient pueblos once inhabited by the ancestors of the Hopi and Zuni people.

With over 800 ruins throughout the property, this site was a highlight of our Northern Arizona adventure.


Conclusion: Memories of a Lifetime

As our journey ended, we returned the Cruise America RV in Mesa and prepared to fly home the following day. Our Northern Arizona road trip was nothing short of spectacular. Traveling in a Cruise America RV allowed us to see the sights, save on hotel costs, and bond over shared experiences.


For novice RV travelers, this adventure proved that anyone can embark on such a journey. The memories we created are countless, and we can’t wait to share more about our experiences in future posts.

Ready to create your own adventure? Book your Cruise America RV today and start exploring the wonders of Northern Arizona or anywhere the road takes you! To read more about our Grand Canyon adventures, go to this post.


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