Are you in need of a journey? Are you longing to trade in that desk chair and computer monitor for a driver's seat and a ribbon of highway? It's almost summer, and almost time for to once again take part in the great American tradition of the road trip. The West's most scenic stretch of road, U.S. Route 89, offers an amazing voyage that will feed your need to take to the open road.
Crank up the radio and sing along during the panoramic, 3.5-hour drive from Las Vegas to Flagstaff, Ariz. Remember to pull over and make your first stop at Hoover Dam after a brief jaunt through historic Boulder City, Nev. The city, founded in in 1928, was born out of the nation's mission to build the ultimate dam. During the dam's construction, more than 7,000 men, women and children called it home. You'll see two man-made wonders, the dam and its O'Callaghan-Tillman Memorial bypass bridge, the world's highest concrete arch bridge, spanning the Colorado River and connecting Arizona to Nevada. Jump back in the car, travel to Kingman, Ariz., and enjoy a short drive along the Mother Road, Route 66. Travel Tip: Don't forget to stop on Beale Street to scour through the quaint antique shops.
Climb back behind the wheel, and you'll pick up Highway 89 on the eastern edge of Flagstaff. There is so much to see along this stretch of road, we hardly know where to start!
Pay a visit to Walnut Canyon, where you can walk back in time to 300 A.D. when the Sinagua people called this area home. Hiking trails located just 10 miles southeast of Flagstaff near Interstate 40, lead you to 25 ancient cliff dwellings where the Singagua people lived for a thousand years. Did You Know: Singagua means "without water"? Much to the surprise of this ancient culture upon first arriving at Walnut Creek, the mountains held no running streams.
If you'd like to elongate your meanderings around this area, make a stopover at Meteor Crater 35 miles east, where you can say you stood at the edge of the best preserved meteor impact site on earth. It makes for interesting cocktail party conversation.
As you leave "Flag," as the locals call it, travel north a short way on Highway 89. Take a must-do detour on State Route 64 to make a pilgrimage to the Grand Canyon. For a breathtaking way to experience this natural wonder, climb aboard Maverick Helicopters' Canyon Spirit tour and let someone else do the "driving" for a change. This nearly hour-long helicopter tour of the South Rim is the only way to fully appreciate the granduer of the canyon.
Once you decide to say goodbye to the national park, there will be more decisions to make, as Highway 89 will soon lead you to the proverbial ... and literal in this case ... fork in the road. Would you rather enjoy some aquatic activities or more canyoneering? One fork takes you to Lake Powell for some water fun. You can rent a kayak or motorboat for a fun-filled day trip. The other fork takes you to Grand Canyon's North Rim for a hike along Bright Angel Point Trail, the most popular long-distance hiking trail in the park. Spend the night at either stop and wake up refreshed and ready to continue your exploration.
When leaving the north rim, you'll be traveling toward Page, Ariz. Don't forget to stop at Antelope Canyon. This subterranean natural work of art is just east of Page on ancient Navajo land. Highway 89 pilgrims will need to make a reservation to visit this beautiful slot canyon. Its absolutely stunning colors and rock formations are only accessible with a guided tour. Budget your time wisely. You just might overstay looking at all the incredible scenery.
Continue north along Highway 89 until you reach Bryce Canyon in Utah. The road into the national park is enough to take your breath away. Stopping at the scenic pullouts along the way is a must for shutterbugs. It's similar to the Grand Canyon in enormity, but it's truly unique thanks to the dense population of hoodoos, red rock formations created millions of years ago. The Bryce Canyon Amphitheater is truly a sight to behold.
Mind you, there are other places to visit as you leave Utah. For instance, Sevier Valley or Logan Canyon National Scenic Byway at Cache Valley, a picturesque forest-lined drive, are great spots for a picnic. Travel Tip: Plan a fall trip to see the changing colors of the foliage.
Once you're out of Utah and travel briefly through Idaho, you'll end up in Wyoming. Pause at the "Mountains of the Imagination," ordinarily known as Grand Teton National Park. These mountains are surrounded by pine tree stands, a plethora of wildlife and the awesome Snake River. This winding tributary is Columbia River's largest and home to everything for the outdoor enthusiast, including fly fishing, whitewater rafting and scenic float trips.
The last place to visit on Highway 89 is Yellowstone National Park. Full of every adventure an outdoorsman could dream up, like watching Old Faithful Geyser erupt or riding all-terrain vehicles through the massive forests. There is enough to do here to fill two more vacations. Simply standing still and soaking in the spectacular scenery is worth the drive.
From the deserts of Arizona to the mountain ranges of Wyoming, traveling along the West's most scenic highway, far from the daily grind and out from behind your desk, is a great way to wind your way through remarkable sights with a little bit of history thrown in! Now that's what we call a road trip! Share your summer road trip photos with us on Facebook and subscribe to our blog for more fun travel advice and recommendations.