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  1. #1

    Default phoenix to LA via sedona

    Hi all,
    I will be traveling with my family (husband & 2 kids: ages 9 & 15) from Phoenix to LA in August. I've already found a lot of great information on this forum (about things to see and do & interesting side trips) in the phoenix, sedona & flagstaff areas..BUT, more to the point, my question is:

    Why, when I visit mapping/ planning sites do they always send me back to phoenix & along us 10 instead of 40.

    It looks to me like there are lots more interesting things to see & do along 40 than along 10.

    Is 10 a better road? Bigger? higher speed limit?

    We actually had not planned to go to arizona at all....this trip is a result of bizzarre airline pricing (we could go from hawaii to la to phoenix for $300, or hawaii to la for $800-1100)...and no, they will not let us just take the flight to LA.

    Now, I would LOVE to see more of Arizona, but, I have a medical condition with heat 110 degrees does not sound all that inviting.

    Anyway, the bottom line is that we need to get ourselves from phoenix to LA (and back again for our return flight). I've found a lot of things which look fun & interesting between phoenix & flagstaff and also along route 40.

    Is there a good reason to take us 10 instead of 40?
    What is the difference in travel time?
    We have already been to Joshua tree and stayed in palm desert- so that's the only part of this area we have already seen there anyplace else to stay to break the trip up or other interesting things along 10?

    Thanks in advance for any tips or pointers.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Artificial Intelligence(?)

    Welcome aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    One of the problems with mapping software is that it is always looking for the shortest route. Typically this is shortest in terms of time, but depending on the precise algorithms that a particular software package is using, they may take mileage into account. The fact is that you can, with a little effort, force most software to take you the way you want to go, and in any event, you can always just map out your route the old fashioned way, with paper maps and highlighters.

    In your case the shortest route that takes you from Phoenix to Sedona and then on to L.A. does indeed come back down through Phoenix, and covers a total of 598 miles. If you continue up to Flagstaff and use I-40/I-15 to Los Angeles instead, you will cover 612 miles. The software insists on saving you this 14 miles! There is not that great a difference in mileage, and the two roads cover pretty much the same type of terrain, and clearly you will want to use I-10 to return to Phoenix from L.A. So, I'd say by all means use I-40 for the westbound portion of this trip.

    A couple of possibilities for 'extra' stops along I-10 would be Mojave National Preserve and Lake Havasu City on the Colorado.


  3. #3


    Thanks so much! That really tells me what I needed to know. 14 miles is not a huge difference, and with a budding rock-hound and jr. archeologist on board, I40 does seem like a more interesting route for us.

    I think lake Havasu also sounds like a nice stop for us- all of this very different terrain from Hawaii (where 1 hour is a huge road trip- nearly spanning the length of the island :lol:).

    I'm also interested in seeing the sky islands, if possible- is that a huge diversion?
    Thanks again & aloha,

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Rock-hounds and Archaeologists

    OK, a few things. You do realize that if you're going through Flagstaff, you're going to be coming within 75 miles of the Grand Canyon, don't you? And for the archaeologist, just a few miles east of town, there's Walnut Canyon National Monument. 'Sky Island' is just a term for the mountain ranges of the Basin and Range Province that you'll be driving through. Higher up the mountains, the temperatures are cooler and the rainfall more plentiful than in the deserts of the basins below. You will be able to see this change in microclimates and vegetation as you progress from the Red Rock country of Sedona up through Oak Creek Canyon (AZ-89A) and onto the Mogollon Rim at Flagstaff, You'll also have the opportunity to hike a sky island north of Flagstaff in the San Francisco Peaks


  5. #5


    Thanks for all the tips. I know very little about the sky islands- they just sounded cool (in more ways than one ;) )

    I had a great conversation with a woman at aaa today & she suggested nixing phoenix altogether and just heading up to the sedona/ flagstaff area. that would give us time to see the grand canyon: maybe take the rail tour (rather than just getting a quick peek & photo op). Also to use it as a base and spend a day heading east towards Holbrook to see the petrified forrest. I'm starting feel a lot better about accidentally winding up in Arizona. I think this trip will be great fun.

    Thanks for all the help.

  6. Default A couple more suggestions..

    Flagstaff to Petrified Forest National Park, is about 2-3 hours travel time. Visiting the Petrified Forest is going to be about an all day trip. If you do, there are a couple of interesting things you might also consider. Of course, you can't collect any petrified wood at the National Park, but if you come out of the south entrance to the park and head back to Holbrook, there are several large rock shops along the way, which sell very good samples of petrified wood collected from private property around the park. You can get up to 4' across table tops (for thousands of dollars) down to $1 specimens. for a budding geologist, its pretty cool.

    You'll also pass Meteor Crater along I-40 between Flagstaff and Holbrook. Its privately owned and a bit expensive per car (like $25-30), but its an amazing example of a meteorite impact.

    Depending upon what you want to see at the Grand Canyon, I may not recommend the train trip, unless you really like trains. Its a cool trip, on an old train from Williams to the Grand Canyon, but it only spends a very short time near the Grand Canyon at one spot (near the Grand Canyon Village) before heading back to Williams. Riding a steam train is always fun, but you don't see a lot of the Grand Canyon.

    Depending upon time, and what you'd like, an alternative (but longer day) would be to head north from Flagstaff, past Sunset Crater Volcanic National Monument (interesting in itself, if you have a budding geologist) then past Wupatki Ruins National Monument where you walk through some old dwellings (for the budding archeologist), and enter the park from the east, near Cameron. You'll come up to the park along the south rim, and drive along the south rim for about 10 miles. Very spectacular, with multiple amazing places to stop and gaze at the grand canyon.

    From Grand Canyon Village you'll turn south to Willaims and then west again on the I-40 towards the California border. This is doable in a day I know -- I did the reverse a couple of years ago from Williams to Grand Canyon, out to the east, then through Wupatki and Sunset Crater, and then east to to spend the night in Holbrook.

    Another option you might find interesting (depending upon time and inclination) is to take the "National Trails Highway" west from Needles instead of I-40. This is the old Route 66 through the Mojave. While you may not have the time to visit, you'll pass the Trilobyte collecting area near Cadiz, but also past the Amboy volcanic crater (a near historic volcanic cinder cone about 1/4 mile off the road west of Amboy).

    There's also the option (depending upon time) to cut south from Amboy to 29 Palms and Joshua Tree National Park.

    Or you could stay on I-40 and attempt a visit to the Mojave National Preserve, or the Mitchell Caverns in the Providence Mountains State Recreational area inside the Mojave Natural Preserve (its about 20 minutes from I-40, but the tours book up fast to the Caverns). One easy to to get to location from I-40 within the Mojave National Preserve would be the sand dunes near Kelso, for example.

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