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A Drive From Mesa to Sedona Arizona, With a Photo Album

Don has been an avid traveler and motorhome owner for most of his life. He shares his experiences along with valuable tips for RV owners.

Driving in Arizona with a Camera

My wife and I love Arizona, if for no other reason, than for the natural beauty that you see almost everywhere you go.

On this day, we drove from Mesa to Sedona and back in one day, just to have a nice lunch and be surrounded by great scenery.

The day was beautiful and the sky was clear, and we had a fantastic time.

The pictures you see here are some of the ones that I took on that day. I hope you enjoy them!

The View entering the City of Sedona

Entering Sedona

Entering Sedona

The Drive from the Low Desert to the High Desert

We left Apache Junction around 8:00AM, after a light breakfast.

As we often do, when we are going for a day drive of exploration, we had packed a small cooler with a few Sodas and some Water on ice. We also carried along a bag of pretzels and some peanuts which are my favorite snack. You see, driving back roads is a lot of fun, but the further you get from "civilization", the more rare are the potential rest stops and food and drink sources.

The Garmin took us a little north of Mesa/Phoenix using a back road, and placed us on US-17N.

The traffic was heavy, but it was heavy going into Phoenix at this time, and we were obviously heading out.

So we made good time all of the way out of the area.

Having been here the previous year, we had learned a few things about the area we were heading into, so let me bring you up to speed.

First, according to the Arizonans (Arizonians? whatever!), Phoenix is in the "Low Desert". while Sedona and the surrounding area is in the "High Desert".

The Phoenix area is at an altitude, on average of 900-1100 feet, while the area around Sedona is at an altitude of 3200-3800 feet.

Both areas are considered Desert Climates, but they are quite different environmentally.

This fact alone makes the trip worthwhile. It's a wonderful experience to enjoy the variety and differences in the landscape of places so close to each other.

So,for us, the drive itself was just over 2-1/4 hours, not counting; rest stops, and several scenic view stops for more pictures, as we drove along.

The picturesque Low Desert as seen along US-17

Low Desert #1 - Cactus on a hillside

Low Desert #1 - Cactus on a hillside

Low Desert #2 - Mesas are everywhere on the horizins

Low Desert #2 - Mesas are everywhere on the horizins

Low Desert#3 - Great Rock formations are beautiful

Low Desert#3 - Great Rock formations are beautiful

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Low Desert#4 - Cuts in the rocks along the road show interesting colors.

Low Desert#4 - Cuts in the rocks along the road show interesting colors.

A book on Sedona Arizona

Camping in Apache Junction Arizona

Apache Junction, itself is flat desert country, with the occasional Mesa (or mountain according to the locals) on the horizon to give the traveler a little optical perspective when they are driving.

Our campground is actually in the town of Apache Junction itself, and is only 4.5 miles from the historic and famous Superstition Mountain.

I have a great picture of my RV with the Superstition Mountain right behind it. I love that shot and use it often as a reminder to me of our trip.

I can't remember seeing a building in Apache Junction over two-stories tall, so where ever you are, you quickly learn to navigate by your relationship to the Mesas.

Personally, I like this, having come from the Hills of Virginia, and being used to traveling this way using landmarks on the horizon.

Apache Junction itself ,is a small suburban town with a dozen or more RV/Retirement communities sprinkled around the town.

These communities were once just campgrounds, but over the years, many of them have been bought up by major Resort management companies.

These companies provide discounted camping privileges to members, and also, pay the bills by installing "Park Model" homes on many of the sites. They will sell you a new Park model home, which is usually 12-14-feet wide by 35-40-feet long.

These manufactured homes, located throughout the many local campgrounds, have a screened-in porch, a nice parking area for your car, and usually space for your golf cart.

They make their money by renting you the site your Park Model sits on, with an annual lease. And, for many people, this turns into a very nice and cheap way to live when they retire. I'm writing another article on this world of Retirement homes soon, so I will stop on the subject right here.

Anyway, if you drive up SR-88, it goes right past the old Gold Mines that were worked during the Arizona Gold Rush era in American History, and although these mines have been commercialized, so far they still have unique loace charm and have not been overly commercialized.

Also in Apache Junction, there are plenty of quaint, out-of-the-way restaurants, stores, and shops for visitors to explore and enjoy during their time camping there.

And one of the great things I liked about Apache Junction is its proximity to Mesa. You have the convenience of driving down the road for 5 miles or so to Mesa and you have all of the major chain restaurants, shops and department stores available that we are all so used to frequenting.

Overall, we have been here for over 2 weeks and I would recommend this area to anyone that wants a nice desert vacation, whether in the Summer or Winter.

Apache Junction views

My RV sitting in my campsite with the famous Superstition Mountain in the background

My RV sitting in my campsite with the famous Superstition Mountain in the background

Even in the desert you will fond surprising beauty, such as this Blooming Cactus

Even in the desert you will fond surprising beauty, such as this Blooming Cactus

Sedona is a Beautiful Tourist Town

Back to our trip.

We drove along, with an occasional stop for pictures, etc. and were in Sedona right on time to shop a little and then look for a place for lunch.

Sedona, as a town, is an obviously well managed community.

Some call it an Artists community. Some call it a rich mans enclave. And, some just call it a tourist trap with high prices.

I call it well managed.

When you drive into a town, from any direction, almost every building and home is an architectural delight, from its design to its placement on the land along with the awesome landscaping, You can't help but recognize that this place has money.

Every building you turn to fits perfectly into the surrounding environment, including the hotels and shops.

Even the coloring of buildings is selected to fit with the awesome background of Red Rock Mesas and mountains.

It is just, a fantastically beautiful town to behold and spend a few hours of your life in.

Around every turn, your eyes are stunned by yet another beautiful scene of Nature's sculpture at its best.

We wandered through some very nice shops for a while, and finally I needed food. So we looked around and finally walked over to a very nice looking Grill, with outdoor seating, where we could eat and stare at the awesome backdrop of rock formations.

We just sat and talked while we enjoyed a glass of a very nice wine, and a large salad. Afterwards, just sat there for a while and let our food settle, and the sights sink in before we got up and continued our explorations.

Sedona's Top Ten Hikes

Lunch at L'Auberge in Sedona

Finally, we got on our feet and shopped for another hour or so. Eventually, it being late afternoon, we started looking for a certain Hotel/restaurant that we had heard of from some friends of ours.

Years ago, they had stayed fro several days at a Hotel called L'Auberge.

It is an upscale establishment, but anyone can walk around to their outdoor lounging cafe area and have a glass of Wine or whatever.

That is, if you can find the place. It is a well hidden hotel for the outsider, but after getting directions from several different natives, we were driving in our Jeep and almost accidentally tripped over the entrance.

Se drove down a twisting street, and ended up at the Lobby.

The Valets immediately took the Jeep and parked it, and showed us to the restaurant, and outside seating.

The outside seating is right on a beautiful mountain stream that any Trout fisherman would fall in love with.

A narrow stream of rushing clear water, racing over large worn rocks, all set under tall and majestic trees that are just starting to get a little Autumn color. We knew we were there for a couple of hours at least, just from our appreciation of the view.

The staff appeared and took our wine orders, and they were quite knowledgeable in their suggestions. Well, Halfway through our glass of wine, we ordered a very nice Cheese and Fruit tray, and eventually one more glass of wine.

We did end up sitting there and enjoying the beauty of the location, for over two hours, but we knew that we had a long drive back, so we reluctantly left this lovely out-of-the-way place, got our Jeep, and parked up on top of the hill for a little more exercise.

We walked around and looked in shops for an hour or so to burn the wine and food off, and finally we hit the road back to Apache Junction.

Because we stayed longer than planned we did lose a little over a half-an-hour stuck in thick traffic, when we neared Phoenix, but we eventually got home to our RV, tired and excited at the same time.

This was why we RV!

We had just spent a day in a beautiful place, that we would remember for the rest of our lives.

I looked and we had taken over 300 pictures, just on this little day trip, so I spent several hours the next day culling out the bad, and performing some judicial editing of others (removing power lines, roads, cars, etc.). I finally ended up with over 100 very good shots, and here are some thumbnails of some of my favorites for you to enjoy yourself.

Great photos of the natural beauty in and around the little town of Sedona

Sedona Pic#1

Sedona Pic#1

Sedona Pic#2

Sedona Pic#2

Sedona Pic#3

Sedona Pic#3

Sedona Pic#4

Sedona Pic#4

Sedona Pic#5 Typical shops

Sedona Pic#5 Typical shops

Sedona Pic #6

Sedona Pic #6

Sedona Pic#7

Sedona Pic#7





The outdoor dining area at the famous L'Auberge restaurant in Sedona







The VORTEX of Sedona

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Terrie Lynn from Canada on January 01, 2017:

Love your hub. This is the area I want to see next time I am there. It's beautiful.

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on June 30, 2013:

INFJay- Thank You for the read and comment on my article and myphotography.


Jay Manriquez from Santa Rosa, California on June 30, 2013:

Great pics! I've enjoyed many of the drives and places you've mentioned.

paulgc on November 21, 2010:

Hello Don, its great that you took so many pictures and hilarious that you had to do so much cropping due to bugs etc, maybe next time a photo of the splattered windshield would be an amusing little snippit of your travels lol. I look forward to seeing more of your work, thanks Don.

WordCustard from Scotland on November 09, 2010:

This looks like a wonderful trip, thanks for sharing your memories and all the great photos.

Don Bobbitt (author) from Ruskin Florida on November 08, 2010:

Thanks Paul. On this drive, I didn't take my "real gear", instead I recently purchased a Nikon S-8000. It has a 14.2 Mp CCD, and also 10x Optical Zoom. We knew that we only had a short time there, in Sedona, so I wanted bulk photography, so to speak. On the way up to Sedona, I drove, and my wife shot everything that she could. Once in town, we continued shooting like mad, and as you can tell the L'Auberge pics are from my iPhone. Of course when we got back to the RV, and I dumped the pics to my PC, I obviously had a lot of work to do. I used PhotoShop, and eventually I turned almost 400 pictures into almost 100 decent cropped and edited Pics.

One thing we ran into though, as you drive the number of bugs committing suicide on your windshield increase to the point that shooting on-the-go is limited to opening the side windows. Also, you will notice that the file sizes vary greatly. Often, I had to crop as much as 50-75% pf the total pic away due to; Bugs, window glare, manmade roadside items, etc. Oh Well. These aren't my best shots, I saved those, but they are pretty good considering. I have a better opinion of this sturdy and versatile little camera than I did before.

Thanks again for the nice comment, and keep on with your photographic odyssey yourself, I really enjoy your stuff.

paulgc on November 08, 2010:

Excellent work Don, love the pictures,so crisp and clear, can't wait to see more, thanks for sharing, Paul.

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