I-17, Flagstaff to Phoenix, Arizona
Michael Turek

Think “interstate highway” and you’re likely to think “ hours of monotony punctuated by the occasional Stuckey’s.” But America’s ribbons of open road tie together some truly dazzling roadside scenery. Here are seven stunning drives that don’t require you to risk life and limb on hairpin turns.

AARP MEMBER DISCOUNTS SEE MORE

Subscribe to the AARP Travel Newsletter

1. I-17, Flagstaff to Phoenix, Arizona

This isn’t just a road; it’s a movie, a narrative that winds, in a few hours, from the ponderosa pine-studded Colorado Plateau just south of the Grand Canyon, past grand valley vistas, through a red-rock wonderland, to the exclamation-pointed landscape of saguaro-cactus forests north of Phoenix.

Things to Do Along the Way

Look Up

Before you leave Flagstaff, take a moment to drive up tree-lined Mars Hill Road to the Lowell Observatory, where Pluto was discovered in 1930.

See Red

The red-rock monoliths of Sedona, just six miles from the highway at Exit 298, change their hue as the sun moves across the impossibly blue sky.

Get the Points

Most of those saguaro cacti that stretch to the horizon near Phoenix were around before your great-grandmother was born. If a cactus has five or more arms, it’s probably 200 years old.

Stretch Your Legs at: Exit 289

It was dubbed Monte­zuma Castle in the 1860s, but the Aztec king never saw this 1,000-year-old cliff dwelling.