Home DESTINATION SPOTLIGHT Five Exciting Day Trips From Phoenix, Arizona
Five Exciting Day Trips From Phoenix, Arizona PDF Print E-mail

Phoenix is the capital city of Arizona, and can serve as the perfect hub for day trips of from four to ten hours’ travel around the state. December and January weather averages low 70s days and mid 40s nights, with about an inch of rainfall and rarely any snow per winter month.

1. If you’re visiting Phoenix and fail to visit the Grand Canyon, you’ll miss one of the world’s most breathtaking sights. The South Rim of the Canyon is a 200-mile drive from Phoenix. If you get going by 6 am, you can be there by noon. Stick around for a night or two, because at dawn and sunset, you’ll be stunned by the enormous walls of the Canyon gradually changing from dark browns to scarlets to purples. It requires considerable walking along canyon trails, so bring a flashlight, water and snacks. Wear comfortable clothes and hiking shoes. Parking fee at the South Rim is $25 per car. NPS, Highway 64 North, Grand Canyon AZ 86023, 928-638-7888, www.nps.gov

2. Tucson is 110 miles south of Phoenix, and home of the University of Arizona. Next to Davis-Monthan U.S. Air Force Base is the Pima Air and Space Museum, with hundreds of retired combat aircraft dating back to World War II.

A visit to the Saguaro National Park near Tucson can be a great experience. Nowhere else in the world are there more examples of the stately giant cactus, some more than a century old and 100 feet high. Other forms of cactus thrive in the park, as well as animals and birds that live in the summer’s 110º daytimes.

If you hike in summertime Tucson’s desert areas, be out before sun-up and in by 9 a.m. Stay on trails, and avoid some of the nastier critters, such as rattlesnakes, coyotes, bobcats, hawks and javalinas. Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau, 100 S. Church Ave.,  Tucson, AZ 85701, 1-888-2-Tucson, www.visittucson.org

3. Sedona is 95 scenic miles north of Phoenix. Because of million-year-old deposits of iron, the town is surrounded by beautiful stands of bright red rock cliffs and hills. Take a Sedona jeep trip to such colorful hills as Coffeepot, Cathedral and Thunder Mountain.

Sedona is also known as a center for artistic and photographic works. There are many galleries, motels, spas and other attractions throughout the town. Visitor Information Center, 331 Forest Rd., Sedona AZ 86336, 800-288-7336, www.visitsedona.com

3. Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch is at Picacho Peak, 40 miles south of Phoenix. The site is the only place in Arizona where an 1860s Civil War battle was fought.

The name is from the old John Wayne movie, “True Grit”, about the gruff marshal who strutted around. A highlight is a meet-and-greet with the character dressed as Rooster Cogburn, with black eyepatch and six-shooters on hips.   

Along with ostriches, there are miniature horses, emus and exotic birds. Buy feeds for $2 and get close-up with the animals. Bring cameras and smartphones to get family videos with Cogburn and other critters.

Rooster Cogburn Ranch also puts on holiday events, including monster truck and motor sport events. Entry is $10 for adults. 17599 E Peak Lane, Picacho AZ, 520-466-3658, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

4. Montezuma Castle National Monument is 80 miles north of Phoenix, a historic reminder that native tribes thrived in Arizona for thousands of years. The five-story castle is a community of cliff dwellings. It had irrigation systems, farms and water from nearby Beaver Creek.

The Castle was abandoned 400 years ago, and there’s no clue today of what happened to the people who lived there.
Admission is $10 for adults. 2800 North Montezuma Castle Rd., Camp Verde AZ 86322, 928-567-3322, www.go-arizona.com       

5. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is a National Park Service location 100 miles south of Phoenix. Organ Pipe cacti grow to heights of 25 feet. They’re in groupings and, as the name implies, resemble rows of cathedral organ pipes.

Many exotic species of plants and animals there grow only in that Arizona location. Desert heat often reaches 110 degrees in summer. There’s camping, hiking, biking, horseback riding and kid info programs. Charges are $10 per car. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument,  10 Organ Pipe Dr., Ajo AZ 85321, 520-387-6849, www.nps.gov/orpi

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