Arizona is a beautiful state, rich in history and natural wonders. Phoenicians looking to explore what this great state has to offer, won’t have to travel far to find something interesting and picturesque. Arizona day trips are just a car ride away to learn about the history and unique stories along with breathtaking views each stop has to offer. We’ve divided the best trips from Phoenix into two routes. The Northern route takes you up near the Grand Canyon and the Southern route will take you toward the Tucson area.
Two Guns Route 66
Located just off Interstate 40 between Flagstaff and Holbrook lies a town with a sad, cursed history. In the mid-1920s, Earle and Louise Cundiff purchased a large amount of acreage to turn the area once named Canyon Lodge to a nice place for travelers to relax and stretch their legs. By the late 1920’s Route 66 was a bustling highway that drew travelers from all over the country.
Canyon Lodge gained more traffic from weary travelers in search of food, gas, and lodging. All this new business attracted the attention of Harry Miller, a Spanish-American War Veteran. The Cundiff’s agreed to lease a portion of their land to Miller for ten years. Harry “Two Guns” Miller claimed to be of Apache heritage and turned Canyon Lodge into a tourist trap, renaming the town Two Guns. He opened a zoo featuring mountain lions and other fauna. He began offering tours down into the Apache Death Cave and exploited the tragic history, renaming it the Mystery Cave. It is believed that his exploits, along with a string of bad luck, contributed to the downfall or curse of Two Guns. Miller was accused and acquitted of the alleged murder of Earle Cundiff but was soon punished in other ways. He was twice attacked by his mountain lions and bitten by a Gila monster. Finally, in 1929, the trading post endured a massive fire and an expensive and drawn-out legal battle of ownership between the widow Cundiff and Miller ensued. After his loss, Miller left town.
Though Miller was gone, the curse remained. Not long after, Route 66 was rerouted into a different direction along with travelers’ interest in the town. Two Guns has changed hands a few times, but the proceeding owners suffered from the curse in their own ways. Two Guns has been uninhabited since the early 1970s and remains an abandoned ghost town. Slight remains of the zoo, gas station and lodge still stand. The cave is still accessible with caution.
Just 30 miles east of Flagstaff on the Navajo Nation, in the Painted Desert, you’ll find waterfalls that look as delicious as they sound. Aptly nicknamed Chocolate Falls, chocolate-looking waterfalls flow like those in a fantasy belonging to a chocolate aficionado. Many tiers of water run down the falls created from volcanic runoff from Merriam Crater which produced a lava dam. Water flows as a result of melted snow and rain from the White Mountains into the Colorado River. The best time to visit Grand Falls is around March or April and towards the end of monsoon season, during particularly rainy seasons. Visitors will marvel at the 181-feet tall falls and the breathtaking rainbows from the mist of the flowing waters. Picnic tables and gazebos are available to enjoy a picnic with a view. No services are available so packing food and water along for the ride is a must. Up for an adventure? Hike down into the gully below. The hike is less than half a mile but is mildly treacherous as there are loose rocks along the way and sticky mud at the bottom, dress accordingly. No permits are required to hike, but camping, alcohol, and ATVs are strictly prohibited. Ample parking is provided at the end of IR70.
Located at mile 212.9 along the Colorado River, at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, this area is only accessible by boat. Along the river lies a rather large gourd-looking vegetable formation, made of limestone, at the base of the canyon. Water pours into the top of the pumpkin, overfills the spring and dumps into the river below. While some springs are relatively safe to soak in, this pumpkin is just for the eyes. This spring is considered far too dangerous for humans to drink or bathe in as there are extremely high levels of arsenic, lead, zinc, copper, and other metals. Plan your trip to visit Pumpkin Spring by contacting a Grand Canyon River Rafting company.
This eye-catching footbridge built in 2002, looks like a colossal rattlesnake lying just above Broadway Boulevard and Euclid just east of downtown Tucson at Ironhorse Park. Designed by local artist, Simon Donovan, one end is shaped like the mouth of a diamondback rattler with fangs used as support beams. The body of the snake is covered in metal mesh and painted in colors that mimic the look of a real rattler. At the end of the bridge, or tail end, a sculpture protrudes from the ground reaching to about 30 feet, adorned with the rattle at the tip of the tail. Listen closely as you exit the bridge to hear the sound of a rattle from concealed speakers.
Just south of Tucson, in Amado, Arizona, is a manmade structure resembling a large long-horn cow skull resting on a boulder. Built in the 1970s the 30-foot-tall horns are made up of concrete, rebar, and stucco stretched above. This iconic structure has been featured in a couple of movies such as “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” (1974) and more recently, “Boys on the Side” (1995). This building has seen many owners and businesses come and go throughout its history. The building was once a bait shop, clothing store, roofing company, restaurant, and event space. After 2013, the structure sat empty, save for a few events, on a rare occasion. That’s all history now, though. The building was recently purchased by restauranteurs and set to open by the end of April 2019 for breakfast and lunch. Bar and dinner service are scheduled for late summer. The menu will consist of all kinds of fare fit for any budget from steaks and fish to burgers, sandwiches, and salads.
Rose Tree Museum
Located in “The Town Too Tough to Die,” Tombstone, lies the rich and beautiful history of a 133-year-old rosebush, any tree. Tombstone has a reputation of being a rough, tough, rootin’-tootin’ kind of place, but it has a softer side thanks to this Silver town’s rosebush turned tree. Planted in 1885, Ripley’s Believe It or Not declared the Lady Banks Rose as the largest rose bush in the world. Just 90 years later, the Guinness Book of World Records confirms, it’s still the largest. After all, this tree covers 8,000 square feet, supported by a wood and metal trellis. She produces lovely white clusters of blooms every spring for six weeks. This Shady Lady, as she’s referred to, has been cared for and tended to by six generations of the Robertson-Macia family. Current descendants believe the Lady Banks Rose endures because prior to Tombstone’s addition of indoor plumbing, sewage was directed to an old mine shaft that reaches the roots of the bush, providing adequate fertilizer. Weddings, teas, and other events are hosted under her shade as well as the Tombstone Rose Festival’s annual crowning of the Rose Queen. Visitors who wish to view the rose tree, are welcome through the Rose Tree Museum. Admission is just $5.00 and is open every day except for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The museum provides information on how the rose tree traveled from another country and settled her roots in Tombstone. Artifacts and memorabilia from long ago that contribute to the history of Tombstone, as well as the Robertson-Macia family, are also featured.
With so many different and exciting points of interest in Arizona, which route will you choose: The Northern route featuring stunning views near the Grand Canyon or The Southern route for a taste of the Old West? No matter which route you choose, make sure your vehicle is ready for one of the best day trips in Arizona by stopping by a Sun Devil Auto before you leave. Then, choose your route and set your GPS for destination adventure!