Driving through Arizona

As part of a ten-day vacation through the southwestern United States, my husband and I spent two days driving through Arizona (also see my journal about Flagstaff, Arizona.)


Driving through Arizona

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Amy Travels on December 30, 2000

While in the Phoenix area we spent some time at Lost Dutchman State Park, had a late lunch/early dinner at Canyon Lake Marina, and drove along the scenic Apache Trail. Then, after spending the night in Holbrook, we explored Petrified Forest National Park and the Painted Desert.${QuickSuggestions} If I had to do it over again, I would visit this area earlier in the spring. By the time of our trip (late May) the temperature was in the 100s. We weren't able to do a lot of the hiking we had planned because it was just too hot.${BestWay} Driving is the best way to travel between attractions. However, it's nice to park the car and do some hiking in the various state and national parks.

Super 8 Motel

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Amy Travels on December 30, 2000

The rooms at the Holbrook Super 8 were typical of other Super 8s we have stayed at. The rooms were clean and more than adequate. We have stayed at several Super 8s across the country and have always been satisfied with the price and consistency.

This particular Super 8 has an outdoor pool and whirlpool. Toast and coffee were available in the lobby area for breakfast. However, we opted for breakfast at the Roadrunner Cafe, which was located down the street from the Super 8.

Note: Holbrook is a good base from which to explore Petrified Forest National Park and the Painted Desert.

Equivest Avenue Plaza & Pro Spa
2111 St. Charles Ave.
New Orleans, Louisiana, 70130
504/566-1212

Canyon Lake Marina Restaurant

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Amy Travels on December 30, 2000

Canyon Lake is located in the Tonto National Forest, approximately 14 miles northeast of Apache Junction, Arizona. We never expected to see a clear blue lake in the middle of the desert, so it was quite a nice suprise.


The restaurant looks out onto the lake. There is a deck off of the restaurant, but we prefered to eat in air-conditioned comfort. We arrived for a late lunch/early dinner, so we ordered cheeseburgers/sandwiches. We had plenty to eat, the service was prompt, and the prices were less than $10/person.


If you have time, "Dolly's Steamboat" departs from the marina and takes tourists for a sightseeing cruise on Canyon Lake. There is a separate charge for this.


If you are spending time at Lost Dutchman State Park and wish to get something to eat, I recommend driving to Canyon Lake Marina Restaurant. It is located within a short drive from the park, along State Route 88.


Roadrunner Cafe

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by Amy Travels on December 30, 2000

The Roadrunner Cafe was recommended to us by the staff at the Super 8 Motel. I had breakfast there, so I really can't comment on lunch and dinner. Even though the Super 8 serves coffee and toast in the morning, we like to eat a large breakfast before a day of sightseeing. At the Roadrunner Cafe we received plenty of food (more than what I can eat) to start our day. The service was also quick and friendly, and the food good.

Lost Dutchman State Park

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Amy Travels on December 30, 2000

Lost Dutchman State Park is located approximately five miles northeast of Apache Junction, Arizona, off of State Route 88 (also known as the Apache Trail.) Apache Junction is located just east of the Phoenix area.

The park is located at the base of the Superstition Mountains and is filled with scenery you can only see in this part of the country, such as Saguaro Cactus. (I had to see a Saguaro Cactus before leaving the state of Arizona!)

The park normally charges admission. I believe it was $5/car. However, on the afternoon we arrived in the park it was 109 degrees. So, the park ranger waived the fee, saying that due to the heat we probably wouldn't be spending much time there anyway. There were a lot of hiking trails in the park, but I wouldn't recommend hiking on a day like that. We basically just drove through the park, stopping to take pictures of the desert scenery.

Even though it was too hot for hiking, we enjoyed our time at the park. If you are staying in or driving through the Phoenix area, it would make a great excursion.

Lost Dutchman State Park
5 miles ne of Apache Junction off State Route 88
Apache Junction, Arizona, 85219
480-982-4485

Petrified Forest National Park/The Painted Desert

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Amy Travels on December 30, 2000

Petrified Forest National Park is located near the town of Holbrook, Arizona. If you are approaching the park from the west and wish to continue east, I recommend entering the park from Highway 180 on the south end. If you are approaching the park from the east and wish to continue west, I recommend entering the park from I-40, exit 311. This is to avoid back-tracking.

Since we were approaching the park from Holbrook, which is to the west, we entered at the south entrance, off of Highway 180. If you are entering the park this way, I recommend fueling up in Holbrook, since Highway 180 is pretty desolate.

We stopped at the Rainbow Forest Museum and Visitor Center upon entering the park. This gave us a good background on how the petrified wood came about. Giant Logs Trail is located behind the museum/visitor center. This easy trail takes you through one of the highest concentrations of petrified wood in the park. I recommend this trail.

Other points of interest in the park are Agate Bridge, the Badlands area, the Tepees. You can also find petroglyphs at Newspaper Rock and Puerco Pueblo areas of the park.

On the northeastern end of the park (near I-40 entrance) are the Painted Desert overlooks. While there were at least five overlooks, we only stopped at two because it looked pretty much the same from both. The Painted Desert Visitor Center is located in this area of the park.

The entrance fee for the park is $10 per private vehicle. This is good for seven days. Or, if you have the National Park pass, admission is included. Removing petrified wood from the park is illegal. While at the Rainbow Forest Museum, we enjoyed reading letters from visitors who experienced lots of bad luck after removing petrified wood from the park. Instead, purhase petrified wood at the gift shop located across from the Rainbow Forest Museum. This petrified wood was removed from private land.

Painted Desert

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

Drive along the Apache Trail

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by Amy Travels on December 30, 2000

After eating at Canyon Lake Marina, we decided to continue along the Apache Trail (Route 88) on our way to Holbrook, Arizona, where we would spend the night.

First, a few words of caution. If you are going to drive along the Apache Trail, it's best to drive from west to east. That way, you are on the lane closest to the mountainside, rather than on the edge of a cliff. Also, I would never drive along the Apache Trail in the rain or in the dark. In addition, I don't recommend the Apache Trail if the driver is inexperienced with mountain driving.

Once you pass the town of Tortilla Flat (a little past Canyon Lake), the Apache Trail becomes gravel and remains gravel for another twenty or so miles. We didn't see many other cars on this road, which made me kind of nervous. I was afraid we would get a flat tire and be stranded in the middle of nowhere waiting for another car to pass by.

All of this said, I am still glad we took the extra time to travel by the Apache Trail. While on the trail, we had views of mountains, deserts, lakes, and canyons. There were a few overlooks where you could safely park your car and take in the scenery. We stopped at an overlook above Apache Lake. There is a road nearby that leads down to Apache Lake State Park. Another site we saw along the trail is Roosevelt Dam.


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