If you’re visiting Arizona we highly recommend visiting Sedona. There is really no place like it. You could spend your entire vacation here, but it is also a great day trip from Phoenix. If you’re making the drive from Phoenix to Sedona you may wonder what is there to see along the way?
We love road trips. I like the spontaneity of it, but the planner in me also wants to know – what are must see stops along the way. There is so much to see and do on the way to Sedona. How many stops you want to make is up to you.
Phoenix to Sedona Routes: Fast or Scenic?
You can choose one of two routes from Phoenix to Sedona. Do you want the fastest, easiest route or the longer more scenic route? For this post we will focus on the fastest route. In our next post we will focus on the scenic route to Sedona.
The fastest route from Phoenix to Sedona is Interstate 17.
- How long will the drive take?
- How is the Drive between Phoenix and Sedona? What to expect on your drive
- Where can you make pit stops?
- Top 6 spots to visit on your way to Sedona
Fastest Route Interstate 17: How Long is the Drive?
If you want the easiest fastest route to Sedona from Phoenix take Interstate 17 north. Sedona is just over a hundred miles this way. If you drive straight there you will arrive in about 2 hours.
From Phoenix take Interstate 17 north for about an hour and a half. You will exit at exit 298 to AZ-179 making a left you’ll follow 179 into Sedona. The route from the interstate exit to Sedona is an additional 20 miles.
What You can Expect for a Drive
If you take this route the road is pretty level until you reach the outskirts of the city. As you leave the northern part of Phoenix into New River and Black Canyon City you will start driving uphill with about a 6% grade. This part is the most dangerous portion of your drive due to people driving the wrong speed for conditions.
Due to the high grade of this portion of the road this is often where traffic will slow or even stop. If driving a holiday weekend leave early. All it takes is one accident and this part of the interstate becomes a parking lot.
Once you reach Sunset Point rest stop area the road will level out. As you near the Prescott exit AZ-69. The drive will then drop down into Camp Verde. The grade is steep in this section too, but it is also some of the best scenery on this route. From Camp Verde it is just over 3.5 miles to the exit for Sedona.
Take exit 298 for 179 Sedona. At the stop sign you’ll take a left. Follow this all the way to Sedona.
Are we there Yet? Pit Stops
If you are driving from Phoenix city center it is about 35 miles to New River, this is the last area to get gas or visit a Tesla Super Charging station before you begin your journey.
Sunset Point Rest Area
Sunset Point Rest Area is about 20 miles from New River. It is southbound on interstate 17, but you can access if you’re driving north. This is the next spot to stretch your legs or use the restroom. Sunset Point Rest Area also has scenic views and picnic tables.
If you’re looking for a gas station your next choice is 12 miles north at Cordes Lake. Here there are several gas stations right off the interstate and a McDonalds. At the Pilot Travel Center Truck stop there is also a Tesla Supercharger. Arcostani is a short drive from here.
The next pit stop is 26 miles away at Camp Verde. This exit will have a few more fast food choices, gas stations and several hotels. Take this exit if you want to visit Out of Africa Wildlife Park. Cliff Casino and Montezuma’s Castle is one exit north of here.
From here the next place to make a pit stop is about 20 miles when you reach the Village of Oak Creek. You will find gas stations here and right after the first round about in Oak Creek there are Tesla Supercharging stations on the left.
6 Stops Along Interstate 17: Phoenix to Sedona
- Out of Africa Wildlife Park
- Montezuma’s Castle
- Montezuma Well
- Red Rock Ranger Visitor Center
- Village of Oak Creek
Stop 1: Arcosanti
Arcosanti’s Visitor Center is open to the public 7 days a week. This unique stop is Paolo Soleri’s prototype of an arcology. If you enjoy architectural design and are interested in urban design fusing with elements of ecology you will enjoy this unique spot in the desert. There are around 80 people who live and work at Arcosanti. If you want a tour you’ll need to plan ahead. Tickets can be purchased at Arcosanti’s website. You may also be interested in visiting Soleri’s studio in Paradise Valley. They sell beautiful windbells.
Stop 2: Out of Africa Wildlife Park
Where you stop will depend on how much time you want to spend on detours. One option is to stop at Arizona’s Out of Africa Wildlife Park in Camp Verde. It is just off exit 260. Allow at least three hours for this activity. Out of Africa Wildlife Park is home to lions, tigers, servals, giraffes, lemurs, zebras, reptiles, birds and many more mammals. Watch the Tiger Splash show, take an African Bush Safari in Arizona.
Stop 3: Montezuma’s Castle & Montezuma Well
Don’t miss a visit to Montezuma Castle. You can see some of the best preserved cliff dwellings built by the Sinagua people. This apartment style dwelling is thought to have been abandoned around 1400 C.E. The site is easily accessible for anyone. Paths are paved and wide for strollers or wheelchairs. Take exit 289 for Montezuma’s Castle. Montezuma’s Well is off exit 293.
Stop 4: Red Rock Ranger Visitor Center
On your first trip to Sedona it is really helpful to stop in at the Red Rock Ranger Visitor Center. The friendly people here can help you plan out your activities, provide maps and explain how to use the Red Rock Pass. Hint: If you plan on hiking or parking your car to take in the views you’re going to need a Red Rock pass or a America the Beautiful pass. You can purchase daily, weekly or annual passes. Like all of Sedona there are some great views here too.
Stop 5: Village of Oak Creek
With Bell Rock as a backdrop the area is a beautiful introduction to Sedona’s red rocks. The Village of Oak Creek is predominately a residential area, however there are several hotels, cafes, restaurants and shopping options available. They also have some great hiking trails such as Jack’s Canyon. If you are looking for a sweet treat or a glass of local wine stop by the Collective Sedona shopping area.
Continue driving on 179 and take in all of the natural beauty Sedona offers. With Bell Rock and the Chapel of Holy Cross on your right and Cathedral Rock on your left your first trip to Sedona will keep you trying to look everywhere at once. Welcome to Sedona.
Would You Rather Take the Scenic Route?
Check out our post- Phoenix to Sedona Scenic Road Trip: