10 great desert drives in the U.S.

You’d be hard-pressed to find scenery more spectacular and awe-inspiring than the American desert. According to Stewart Green, author of several books on scenic drives, including “Scenic Driving Arizona” and “Scenic Driving Colorado,” the United States has five main — and very different — deserts: the Chihuahuan, the Sonoran, the Mojave, the Great Basin and the Colorado Plateau. All are characterized by different rock formations, cactus and color. One thing’s for certain: All are stunning and unique to the American West.

Text by Tricia Romano | Photo editing by Connie Ricca

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10Comments
Feb 26, 2013 10:36PM
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one drive that is overlooked is the hwy nogales az to sierra vista az....you have lake Patagonia about 15 minutes outside of nogales, which then leads through a beautiful canyon and winds into Patagonia...Patagonia is a small artistic town with a pleasant park in the middle of town...continue on and the scenery changes to long views of grasslands in Sonoita...Sonoita has small wineries and breathtaking views...you can continue on to sieera vista a great place to grab a bite to eat...that then takes you to a fork to either Bisbee and old mining town with an artistic flair or the world famous tombstone...all in all a great drive with a ton of history and things to see
Feb 23, 2013 10:42PM
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We have traveled half of the tours identified and just truly enjoyed all that we seen, especially the White Sands.  I can only say after reading the comments, Bobby needs to find a dark hole in the yard and crawl in and pull the dirt in behind you, we will miss you

 

DennyJ Knoxville Iowa

 

Feb 23, 2013 10:11PM
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A highway that definitely should have made the list is Highway 12 in southeast Utah. It goes over Boulder mountain and takes you to the Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument. Which gives new meaning to amazing desert views. It will take you all the way to Bryce canyon. With Calf Creek falls and Hell's Back bone and many other fantastic sites on the way. If your ever in southeast UT take this drive I guarantee you won't regret it!
Feb 23, 2013 10:04PM
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Drive I-10 from Las Cruces, NM to Tucson, AZ. 300 miles of wonderfully changing desert as you move from the Chihuahuan Desert to the Sonoran Desert.

 

Another great drive is Tucson's Ajo Way . Exit Ajo Way off I-17 South and head west to Why, then north to I-8 and Gila Bend.

 

The article did not mention the Salton Seaway from Borrego Springs to Salton City.

 

Also, drive SB SR 111 from Coachella to Brawley along the North Shore of the Salton Sea.

Feb 23, 2013 5:42PM
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Well this article is about DESERT DRIVES.   That's why you don't see the PHC Bob!   I like the Rock Loop and am suprised to not see any New Mexico drives.   Love that high desert coming into, and leaving Albuquerque.
Feb 23, 2013 4:27PM
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To Bobby Watts Having traveled the Apache Trail several times in both directions, I would have to say the only MORON would be someone who who would deny the sublime natural beauty and make derogatory statements about the area. Perhaps those terrible animals that nature provides scared the moron . The lack of guard rails that makes one slow down and drive carefully (which does allow more scenery to be enjoyed) might cause some morons fear and concern because of their lack of driving skills. Myself, I love the drive.

Feb 23, 2013 2:24PM
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Morons clearly haven't driven PCH. or highway 1 in CA
Feb 23, 2013 2:22PM
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That road sucks I've driven it. A crap load of cyclists in the way and shitty cacti plus animals that run in front of you. If you find yourself in this area I'd recommend killing yourself.
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