Whether you are visiting the area during Arizona Auction Week, are planning a vacation, or are on a business trip, everyone deserves a moment to escape the city’s hustle and bustle and take in the surrounding breathtaking landscapes. While you’re there, you may as well, right? Hop in the driver’s seat and enjoy these scenic Scottsdale drives.
Cave Creek to Bartlett Lake Marina
Two of the area’s most scenic roads begin just 25 miles north of Scottsdale in Carefree, a quaint western-style town that makes for a great shopping or restaurant stop before or after your drive into the mountains. The first option is the most vehicle-friendly: Take North Cave Creek Road to Bartlett Dam Rd. and navigate around the twisty roads heading toward the Bartlett Lake Marina. Pause for the lakeside view nestled in the mountains before looping back around. The drive was exceptionally fun in this turbocharged 1986 Porsche 944.
Carefree to Seven Springs Campground
The second available route heads North from North Cave Creek Road instead of turning on Bartlett Dam Rd. You’ll pass the Desert Mountain Golf Course and Tonto Hills before making a left-hand hairpin turn toward the Sears Kay Ruins, where the road soon merges into N. Seven Springs Rd. Be forewarned: This road turns into gravel, however the views are absolutely breathtaking. You could rent a rugged vehicle like this classic Toyota FJ to get you there in style. The last time we took the route, the road was decently smooth, and stock daily-driver sedans drove up with ease. If you don’t mind a little dust, keep heading north to the Seven Springs Campground to admire the untouched rolling desert landscapes, wildlife and intriguing cacti growth.
Fountain Hills Loop
This loop will take you through the northern outskirts of Scottsdale, then bring you back by way of Fountain Hills, a town in Maricopa County known for its impressive fountain.
Let’s say we begin this drive at the cross-section of N. Scottsdale Rd and Dynamite Blvd. Heading east on Dynamite Blvd. will take you through hilly neighborhoods with scenic acreage, then will end at a stop sign where the road will continue on Rio Verde Dr. Drive on until you reach Forest Rd, then turn right. In a couple of miles, you’ll turn right onto McDowell Mountain Rd, which turns into Fountain Hills Blvd. Stop and admire the huge fountain, perhaps grab a bite to eat(LINK), and then take Shea Blvd. West back to central Scottsdale.
Apache Junction 88 to Tortilla Flat
This route gives visitors a great opportunity to visit the ghost town of Goldfield, and perhaps even take a mine tour. Beyond Goldfield, the very scenic Apache Trail (AZ 88) is paved to Tortilla Flat. Beyond Tortilla Flat, the Apache Trail is unpaved for approximately 20 miles. Depending on Mother Nature, the road could be wash boarded, but the trek is worth the view if you don’t mind some dust and jostling. You’ll end this drive at Lake Roosevelt with a nice visitor center. You can head back to Scottsdale via 188 and 87.
Note: If you don’t want to make the full loop or prefer to stay on pavement, you can drive back from Tortilla Flat to Apache Junction. The paved part already is very scenic, anyway.