Next stop.....Arizona!

Gallup 176 miles - 2.5 hours
phoenix 281 miles - 5+ hours

We left New Mexico and set off for Arizona. We made a brief stop in Gallop New Mexico, before heading to Phoenix, Arizona. This was the most stunning part of Route 66 in my opinion. The scenery is vast, expansive and photogenic. We stopped in Flagstaff for dinner. This beautiful and quaint town was a treat to stop at. You should note that its nearly 7,000 feet in elevation so you may feel the effects. Flagstaff has its roots in the historic pioneering days of the west. Walking through downtown Flagstaff you'll feel like you've stepped back in time, with the turn-of-the-century buildings and the never-ending freight trains that pass right through the middle of town.

As a Brit living in America I was excited to see many restaurants had European influenced dishes on their menu. There is even a Cornish Pasty restaurant with vegan options!

The Grand Canyon is just 1.5 hours from Flagstaff. We decided not to go this time because I want to go with my Mum when the US/UK borders re-open.

We then drove through the mountains towards Phoenix. The drive from Flagstaff to Phoenix was along scenic I-17. Interstate 17 connects the desert landscape of Phoenix to the northern mountain city of Flagstaff. Both my husband and I have travelled a lot. We agreed that the views along this route were some of the most impressive and beautiful we have ever seen. However the many scenic vistas come with fluctuations in elevation and terrain that can, at times, result in tricky road conditions. You will descend from the high 7000 ft elevation of Flagstaff to the 1000 ft of Phoenix. At times I felt like my knuckles were white from gripping the steering wheel so tightly. But the incredible view was vast. I have never seen such tall cacti and SO MANY of them. Hundreds and hundreds of 20+ ft cacti.

countless cacti.  Smaller types at the front of the image.  Taller more traditional ones in the middle and a large hill

We stayed at Sheraton Desert Oasis Villas, Scottsdale. It was a lovely place to stop. My 4 year old son loved the pool with the waterfall. I loved that the room came with a washer and dryer! It was a great opportunity to catch up with laundry which is a struggle on road trips!

Before we left we stopped at the Desert Botanical Garden. I was awe struck by the cacti that we saw on our way to Phoenix, so I was keen to take the opportunity to take some unique photos with the cactic at the botanical gardens. I wore a new dress I had been waiting to wear for good family photos. Almost immediately I knew it was going to be tough to keep it on all day. The temperature was over 110F at that point. So I put some shorts in my bag and we headed to the gardens. Worth noting is that military benefit from free admission. As soon as we entered the gardens I was in awe of the magnitude of the cacti. Situated on 140-acres in Papago Park, the Desert Botanical Garden features cactus, agave and other desert plants of the Sonoran Desert and the world. Our timing was the worst. It was mid day and the blazing sun and heat was difficult to bear. My four year old was miserable. So my husband took him off to the restaurant where it was air conditioned whilst I ran around as much of the gardens as I could. We then swapped out so he could do the same. I would suggest visiting very early in the morning so that you can enjoy the gardens before the heat becomes unbearable.

woman in long floral dress with back to the camera, but looking backwards at camera stood in middle of many tall cacti
close up image of arm of cacti plant, spikes can be seen
close up image of hundreds of cactic