Road trip planning guide with day trip ideas by car, motorcycle, bicycle, or RV, highlighting vacation stays at beautiful Bluegreen Resorts.

"A man who couldn't make things go right could at least go." - W. Least Heat-Moon, Blue Highways

San Francisco Peaks: 31 Mile Flagstaff to Grand Canyon Road Trip

This week we're continuing on our Arizona road trip from Bluegreen Resorts Cibola Vista, and are heading from Sedona through to the Grand Canyon. There's plenty to do while in Flagstaff, and if you've made a stop, the road adventurer and nature photographer in you is about ready to continue and find out what's around the next bend.

Let me introduce you to the San Francisco Peaks Scenic Road. You're not going to be disappointed.

Take a peek: 

Head north on route 180, to the 31 miles of roadway that comprises some of the most scenic you'll find in this corner of the Colorado Plateau.  Though you've left the desert just a few hours ago, you'll now be treated to the sight of snow-capped mountain peaks as you make your way through juniper and pine forests.  Three peaks come into view here, Humphrey at 11,940 feet, Agassiz topping out at 12,300, and Fremond at 11,940.   These are the mountains the Navajo believe mark the tribe's rightful western boundary, and both the Hopi and Havasupai also consider the mountains sacred, to be looked upon with awe and reverence.  It's a point of view not difficult to imagine.

Stops along this road to your Grand Canyon destination can include the Riordan Mansion State Park where you'll find the estate of a couple of lumber barons Michael and Timothy Riordan, or the Lowell Observatory.

There's so much to do on an Arizona road trip, you may want to book some extra time for your Cibola Vista stay!

Next week:  The one and only, Grand Canyon.

Photo Credit:  Durand1035 on DeviantArt

Wikipedia Page on San Francisco Peaks
Arizona Scenic Road Trip Planner
Riordan Mansion State Historical Park


Oak Creek's Amazingly Lush Stretch of Arizona Roadway

Arizona Road Trip Part II - Oak Creek Canyon

One of the most scenic roadways in Arizona is found along the drive North from Sedona, but you'll come up on it well before you gaze down into the dizzying miles of awe-inspiring Canyon we've named Grand.  To imagine it, think of the Grand Canyon turned inside out and peppered with forest.  This is a place that'll have you turning your face upwards in wonder rather than craning your neck downward into unimaginable depths. 

This is the stunning leg of your Arizona road trip that is Oak Creek Canyon.  A contrast to the red rock of Sedona, the roadside is painted in lush forested green.  Here, you'll begin to get a sense of the kind of scenic variation that makes this state so unique.  If you've love to get around on two feet, whether it's backpacking or camping and hiking, there are few better stops along your ride.

At this point in your day trip, you've left Bluegreen Resorts Cibola Vista approximately 2 hours south and made the stop in Sedona.  Ready to head out and log more miles, continue North on 89A toward Flagstaff, straight into the Coconino National Forest.  Even the name sounds serene.  Rand McNally has named this one of the top 5 scenic drives in America, so you'll want to take your time.

The Canyon is 15 or so miles in length and about a mile wide, and its deepest point is about a mile and a half.  You'll climb up and down switchbacks on this road, so pay attention and plan on frequent stops so drivers can take it all in safely.  Depending upon the time of year you'll catch views of fiery foliage, and even in inclement weather you're in for a treat - cascading waterfalls. 

Natural Attractions:
Slide Rock State Park - A natural water slide 7 miles North of Sedona on 89A.  Don't bring swimwear.  Wear shorts and a pair of tennis shoes to enjoy sliding down the smooth rock of this water chute.

West Fork Trail - This is where you can enjoy the area on foot, taking in the rock formations and striking overhangs.  The trail is marked for the first three miles, and the area offers picnic tables sites and toilets.

The amount of time you stay in the area is entirely up to you, and if you've brought equipment, Coconino National Forest offers campgrounds and rental cabins.  It's just 17 or so miles to North Flagstaff and a few hours back South to your poolside retreat at Cibola Vista, but there's plenty here to make you want to stay a while or at least take the road real slow.

Next week, we'll continue on 89A to Flagstaff and The Canyon.

Photo credits: 
Oak Creek Canyon, OneJumpJohnny, Deviantart
Cibola Vista Bluegreen's ColorfulPlaces

Trip Planning Resources:
Arizona Leisure - Oak Creek Canyon
Dream Sedona - Oak Creek Loop
Trip Advisor Oak Creek Canyon
The American West Travelogue
US Forest Service - Coconino National Forest West Fork


AZ Road Trip: Red Rocks Aflame in a Museum Without Walls

There are no shortage of road trip possibilities in Arizona and you could spend a month on the road loosening the cobwebs in your work-addled brain.

I'd have to have an entire series to cover everything you ought to see and do around Bluegreen's Cibola Vista Resort and Spa in just outside of Scottsdale, but I'd bet you'd still come up with side roads and hidden places I'd missed.

For that reason, I'm going to start with the obvious, but not to be underrated.  This is the stuff road trip movies are made of, the kind of trip that makes you want to drag out your old photography books and journals just to brush up on how to record every aspect of the flaming-rock journey through what's commonly called a museum without walls.

Phoenix to Sedona - 2 hrs

If you've never been to Sedona, you're in for an experience, one that'll either grab your imagination or leave you with the simple but lasting memory of a wonderfully scenic day trip.  It's all about rock formations and bursts of plant life, about contrasting an arid and fiery landscape with the cool tones of eyepopping greenery.  The combination's not unheard of elsewhere in the US, but the rich iron oxide deposits set the landscape on fire with orange and red hues unmatched outside of the area.  There's a whole lot to see there, but I'll save that for the guidebooks.  Here, it's about the Journey.

From the Phoenix area, take I-17 N.  There's a lot of see along the trip in this two hours, but if you're looking for a little diversion, take Exit 260 West and spend an extra 20 minutes on the road to get to the unique little town of Jerome, "The Largest Ghost Town in America".  Jerome is a historical town with a free-spirited feel, a place that's described a very down to earth version of the spirit of Sedona.  I'm told that if you're hungry you should grab a delicious burger meal at the Haunted Hamburger before continuing on your way.   Route 89A 27 miles out of Jerome will take you into Sedona.

We'll continue our Arizona Tour next week....

Photo Credit:  Bluegreen's Colorfulplaces.comResources:

Arizona Central Phoenix to Sedona Arizona Rides
Google Maps Cibola Vista to Sedona Map
Haunted Hamburger Reviews


Tasty Road Trips: Virginia's Prize Shenandoah Vineyards

Buckle up, folks, and this time make sure you've appointed a designated driver.

Did you know that Virginia is home to 150 wineries, 250 vineyards, and "dozens upon dozens" of medal-winning wines"?  Neither did I.  That's partly because I'm not up on wineries and usually think of the rolling hills of California or daydream about sipping lucious reds in Tuscany.  While I can't afford a trip to Italy this year, I can certainly find my way to Shenandoah Valley, Virginia.  

Within an hour's drive of one of our two Virginia resorts, Bluegreen's Shenandoah Crossing, I can take in twenty-five wineries and lots of beautiful scenery right outside my Yurt.

One terrific and easy option for taking a driving wine tour starts at the town of Sutter Creek, a place I had a hard time finding on Google Maps.  That was the first good sign that I'd be in for a scenic and unhurried experience.

I located a set of directions and map provided by Wine Country Getaways and found it's an easy drive to loop the roads leading to the Sierra Foothills Wineries.  They boast some of the top wineries on the Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail, but traveling this suggested route can be just the beginning of a great wine region experience.

Some of the vineyards available on this tour:

• TERRE ROUGE and EASTON – Rhone wine specialist + 4 Zinfandels

• Karly – Best kept secret in the Shenendoah Valley

• Amador Cellars – Unique winery and tasting room facility

• Renwood Winery – Zinfandel, and more Zinfandel

• Shenandoah Winery – gift shop and best organic wines

• Deaver Winery – Best picnic spot on a lake with view of vineyards

• Amador Foothill Winery – Best view, great wine values

Like I said, though, be sure to get yourself a driver.  25 wineries is a lot of stops, and many provide full tours so you'll get the complete winemaking experience.  You'll want to be sure you've had a full meal, too.  J & D's Steak House tops the list of recommended Sutter Creek restaurants, but a full list can be found here

Virginia's often written about as both an up and coming and serious wine producing region.  Just ask VirginiaWine where you'll find a complete listing of wineries by region.   After this road trip, and if you're not already, you'll become quite the aficionado by the time you get back from your next Shenandoah vacation.

Salud!, and stay safe in your travels.

Photo credit:  Bluegreen's Colorful Places to Live and Play!

Directions from Shenandoah Crossing
Virginia's Wineries
Wine Country Getaways
Winery Road Map
Virginia Wine's Shenandoah Winery Full Listing
What's a Yurt?!


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