City Escape: Phoenix, Arizona

Text: Tim Kessel • Photography: Tim Kessel

This figure-eight ride northwest of the Valley of the Sun links a series of significant roadside attractions on a truly enjoyable route. A wide array of road types, including view-filled straights, ultratight hairpins, and long, sweeping corners, keep the ride lively and interesting. To cap it off, one of the state’s most powerful and touching tributes to heroism punctuates the midpoint of the route. This is a ride best taken in the spring and fall, but it’s passable most of the year.

Length

Approximately 240 miles

Meet-up Spot

Kneaders Bakery & Café, 14183 W Bell Rd, Surprise, AZ

Lunch Stop

Like most of the small-town eateries in the area, the Ranch House Restaurant has limited days of operation, so check their website during your preride preparation. Find it at 23225 Broadway, Yarnell, AZ.

Scenery (4 out of 5)

While desert vistas and long views define the southeastern legs of the ride, the northwestern portion of the route from Congress to Highway 93 winds up and through the rugged and rocky mountains of central Arizona. This stretch offers statuesque stone formations, varied ecosystems, and elevated views of the Arizona landscape.

Difficulty (4 out of 5)

It is important not to let the long straights and gentle sweepers of the early ride lull you into inattention when you get to the coiled mountain portion of the route. It is easy to carry too much speed into the deceptively tight hairpins if you don’t remain vigilant. 

Road Conditions (4 out of 5)

As in any desert region, sand may be present, especially in the lower over-the-road washes. Asphalt conditions are consistently well-paved and pothole-free on the entire route. In the hills, the tarmac shoulders are narrow and the drop-off can be abrupt.