(a 5 minute read)

Arizona Happy Trails is a themed road trip itinerary featuring the state’s Coronado Trail, Salsa Trail, Fresh Foodie Trail®, Apache Trail, and much more.

Happy Trails!: An Arizona Road Trip 1

The Arizona Office of Tourism invited a group of international journalists on a 5-day loop road trip across several of the state’s scenic and themed trails, an itinerary that would highlight many off-the-beaten-path destinations in the southeastern part of the state.

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The diverse group of journalists who joined the Arizona Happy Trails road trip included (L to R) Marjorie Magnusson (trip leader), Christian Ruf (Germany), Lu Yang (China), me (USA), Patrick Brennan (Canada), Cindy Agustín Flores (Mexico), Daniele Guido Gessa (Italy/UK), and Ernie Lozano (our driver, pictured below).

I was the only domestic journalist joining the group and the first blogger ever hosted by the Arizona state tourism board.

This post is a round-up that links to all five articles in the Arizona Road Trip series. The featured images and summaries below are listed sequentially in the order of our loop itinerary, but the direction could easily be reversed for an alternate route through the state.

A click on the images below will carry you to the article you seek.

Part 1: Phoenix to Tucson to Safford


The first day of our Arizona Happy Trails road trip carried us from Phoenix to Tucson to Safford. The day’s packed schedule began with a Tucson Bike Tours excursion across the iconic Rattlesnake Bridge, through the colorful El Presidio neighborhood, past the offbeat El Tiradito Shrine, and to many other local sites of note. We stopped for lunch at the amazing Pizzeria Bianco, undoubtedly the best pizza I have ever had. Continuing our drive to Safford, we stopped by Coronado Vineyards for a wine tasting, and later dined at a couple of stops on the Salsa Trail.

Part 2: Safford to Pinetop-Lakeside


On day two, we drove from Safford to Pinetop-Lakeside. Before leaving town, we toured Discovery Park atEastern Arizona College, a science museum that features interactive experiences relating to astronomy, history, culture, and local environment. Next we headed north on the Coronado Trail, National Scenic Byway also dubbed “The Devil’s Highway” due to its treacherous route and drastic changes in elevation. We stopped for a view of the vast Morenci Copper Mine, lunched at the cozy Hannagan Meadow Lodge, and toured the Casa Malpaís Archaeological Park.

Part 3: Pinetop to Whiteriver to Greer

Pinetop to Whiteriver to Greer An Arizona Road Trip

A day trip from Pinetop to Whiteriver to Greer took us through the White Mountain Apache Reservation. During the morning, we visited the Fort Apache National Historic Landmark and toured the nearby Kinishba Ruins. Later, we took in the amazing views from the ski lift at the native-owned Sunrise Ski Park and finished the day with a hike and cookout at the White Mountain Nature Center.


That evening, our multi-national team gathered for another group photo. (L to R): Marjorie Magnusson (trip leader), Christian Ruf (Germany), Daniele Guido Gessa (Italy/UK), Cindy Agustín Flores (Mexico), Ernie Lozano (our driver), me (USA), Lu Yang (China), and Patrick Brennan (Canada/not pictured).

Part 4: Pinetop to Salt River Canyon to Mesa

Happy Trails!: An Arizona Road Trip 2

Driving from Pinetop to Salt River Canyon to Mesa made for a long, but totally worth it day. The views of Salt River Canyon Wilderness were breathtaking, and I highly recommend dedicating some time to exploring the rest area environs. In Mesa, we embarked on the Fresh Foodie Trail®, with stops at Queen Creek Olive MillSchnepf Farms, and Agritopia®, all worthwhile farm-to-table destinations.

Part 5: The Apache Trail

Happy Trails!: An Arizona Road Trip 3

A Day Trip on the Apache Trail is a perfect excursion when visiting the Phoenix metro area. On our final day in Arizona, we drove this route through the scenic Superstition Mountains. Along the way, we stopped to visit the Superstition Mountain Museum and Goldfield Ghost Town. Then, we ate lunch and visited the shops at Tortilla Flat before cruising Canyon Lake aboard the Dolly Steamboat.

The diverse themes, scenic routes, and fun activities on our Arizona Happy Trails road trip itinerary all conspired to make our brief visit forever memorable. When planning your Arizona road trip, be sure not to overlook these lesser-known, yet equally impressive backroad drives and destinations!

Click here for Arizona road trip lodging options on TripAdvisor!

Map It!

Design Your Own Arizona Road Trip

Arizona Road Trip Itinerary featured

For more Arizona destination information and road trip planning resources, navigate to our Design Your Own Arizona Road Trip round-up post, or use the links below for direct access to additional stories and guides:

Things to Do on a Drive from Phoenix to Flagstaff, Arizona

Take the Train to Grand Canyon National Park: An Insider’s Guide

3 Magnificent Flagstaff National Monuments

Tour Flagstaff Attractions On Your Own

Drive the Painted Desert & Petrified Forest National Park

Tons of Fun Things to Do in Winslow, Arizona

3 Stunning Sedona Scenic Drives

Ride Arizona’s Verde Canyon Railroad

7+ Amazing Attractions in Verde Valley AZ

Explore the Geological and Cultural Diversity of Southeast Arizona

We Would Love to Hear From You

We enjoy dialogue with our readers, especially when they share off-the-beaten-path destinations and useful travel tips. Have you ever done an Arizona road trip ? If so, we would love to hear about your experience. We invite you to leave your comments and questions below, and we always respond!

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Arizona Happy Trails is a themed road trip itinerary featuring the state's Coronado Trail, Salsa Trail, Fresh Foodie Trail®, Apache Trail, and more.

Happy Trails!: An Arizona Road Trip 4
Howard Blount is founder and editor of the travel web site Backroad Planet. He has traveled internationally since boyhood and lived abroad in Mexico, Chile, and Paraguay. Now his passion is navigating the roads-less-traveled of this amazing planet in search of anything rare and remote. On the stuffy side, “Mr. Blount” has been a writer, consultant, and published author with the likes of Simon & Schuster and McGraw-Hill. Recently retired from a 35-year career as a middle school teacher, Howard enjoys spending his time on anything that includes mountains, waterfalls, dachshunds, gospel choirs, books, restored classic movies on Blu-ray, HDTV, autumn, sandhill cranes, hot springs, Florida springs, rain and other gloomy weather, log cabins, cracker shacks, abandoned sites, unearthed history, genealogy, museums, documentaries, To Kill a Mockingbird, scenic and historical sites, castles, cathedrals, the Civil War, cold sheets, National and State Park Passports, quotes, the Rambos, Dionne Warwick, Steely Dan, Doobies, Diet Pepsi, Fish City Grill, anything Apple, all things British, Jesus, and lists. And on a random note, Howard is a fourth cousin once removed to Truman Capote.