Arizona road trips: 5 top questions, answered

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Cate Starmer, one of the brilliant editors at Fodor's, has answered some common questions about vacationing in Arizona…

What is the weather like in Arizona?

Phoenix and Tucson average about 60°F to 70°F in the daytime in winter and between 100°F and 115°F in summer. High elevation in places like Flagstaff, Sedona, and the Grand Canyon can mean cooler temperatures, especially at night. Remember to layer your clothes, and be prepared with hats and sunscreen for the desert sun. Happily, dress codes are informal, thanks to extreme climates and Western informality. You can go almost anywhere in Arizona in a pair of jeans and a casual top.

How can I experience the desert without roughing it?

In Phoenix, the Desert Botanical Garden showcases more than 4,000 different species of desert flora sustained on 150 acres. There's also the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, which isn't really a museum but a zoo and botanical garden featuring the animals and plants of the Sonoran Desert. Plus, there are many drives in which you can see the wide expanses from the comfort of your car, like U.S. Highway 93, south of Wikieup in Northwest Arizona.

What is a vortex and where are they found?

Sedona has long been believed to be a center for spiritual power because of the vortexes—funnels created by the motion of spiraling energy. New Agers believe there are four major vortexes in Sedona: Airport, Cathedral Rock, Boynton Canyon, and Bell Rock. People come from all over the world to experience these energy forms, hoping for guidance in spiritual matters, health, and relationships.

How long is the drive to the Grand Canyon?

Arizona's distances are surprisingly vast. If you're driving to the Grand Canyon from Phoenix, allow at least two full days, with a minimum drive time of four hours each way. You can always anticipate slow-moving traffic on Interstate 17, but in the afternoon and evening on Friday and Sunday lengthy standstills are almost guaranteed, something to remember if your plans involve getting back to Sky Harbor Airport to catch a flight out.

What are some of Arizona's biggest winter and spring festivals?

Nearly every weekend from January through March is filled with outdoor festivals. Wings over Willcox celebrates birding in Southern Arizona in January. February brings the rodeo to Tucson with the La Fiesta de los Vaqueros. And in March there is the Heard Museum's Indian Fair & Market, Tempe Music Festival, and the Scottsdale Arts Festival.


Pick up a copy of Fodor's 2010: Arizona & the Grand Canyon. Or check out Fodor's Phoenix-Scottsdale online travel guide.

Check out Budget Travel's suggested road trip itinerary through Arizona's Navajo Northwest.

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