Colorado Travel Getaway #2

Denver to Phoenix AZ by car.

Almost every single year, the weather in Colorado warms up in March, and we all put away our winter clothes, thinking that Summer is close by. Then the weatherperson will point toward the northwest part of the country and a series of cold fronts that are lined up and determined to sink down into the Rockies and dampen our spirits.

In past years we’ve traveled down St. Pete’s Beach, Florida, or out west to Hawaii this time of year. But this year is a bit different, so maybe a car trip would be fun. When I think of car trips, it brings back many memories from my childhood. Back then, my parents would load all 4 of us kids into my mom’s 1972 Buick station wagon, and we’d hit the road to one of our relative’s homes. Sitting in the back of the car, I’d watch the landscape for an hour and then quickly become bored.

That’s when we’d pull out the cassette tape recorder one of us got for Christmas, and we’d invent an interview show. For me, I was a Sportscaster at the Olympics, interviewing my sister and brother who got to choose what sport they played. I guess you could say I came up with the idea for ESPN 7 years before it became a show. My sister was more like Oprah.

Invariably my father would always sense when everyone was getting hungry, and he’d pull into a McDonald’s, which would put everyone except him into a food coma.

So, after a week of 70 and 80 temperatures in Denver, the weather map once again is forecasting cold and snow. This is good for all of my snow skiing friends, but for the rest of us, the thought of warm sunshine is pulling us south.

A quick search on Google tells me that there are multiple driving routes from Denver to Phoenix that range from 12 -14 hours driving time, so you might want to plan a night in a motel to break up the trip. In past years I’d take the easiest route, which is I-25 south to Albuquerque, then west on 40 to Flagstaff, and then south on 17 to Phoenix. You can also go west on I-70 to Utah and then drive south all the way to Phoenix, but I’ve never gone that way, and if there is snow, it could turn out being far longer.

A good spot to spend the night in is Gallup, New Mexico, which is more than halfway to Phoenix. There are at least 10-15 good hotels to stay in there, and the prices are very reasonable.

Day 2

After a good night’s sleep, you’ll want to have breakfast and then head west on I-40 toward Flagstaff, Arizona. Along the way, you’ll pass by Winslow, Arizona, which will be a good spot to start listening to your favorite Eagles CD and the song Take it Easy.

If you want to get to Phoenix quicker than the route that takes you to Flagstaff and you’re getting tired of the scenery, you can take highway 87 to highway 260 over to Camp Verde, AZ, and this will put you in some forest country along the way. Also, if you’d like to visit Sedona, it’s about half an hour from Camp Verde and is worth the time with its amazing red rock formations.

As you drive farther south along I-17, which is a popular highway on weekends for people wanting to escape the heat of the valley and head up north to the high elevations, you’ll start seeing cactus and the desert landscape. With the decreasing altitude, the temperatures will rise, and you can toss your jacket into the backseat.

Once in Phoenix, there are many things to do, including hiking in the desert or renting a mountain bike to take on one of the many trails. Like all large cities, there is plenty to do and see.

Take care and Happy Travels.