Scottsdale‘s beautiful desert scenery makes it the ideal road trip destination. You’ll want to drive with the top down to see the stark landscape dotted with saguaro cacti, desert flowers and towering mountains.
For your trip, make Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star The Canyon Suites at The Phoenician your home base. Aside from offering The Centre for Well-Being spa and 27 holes of championship golf, the resort is giving out complimentary Porsche drives to guests who stay there through December 13. A partnership among the hotel, Forbes Travel Guide and the legendary automaker, Porsche Destination Drives lets you get behind the wheel of a 2014 Panamera S E-Hybrid, 911 Carrera S Cabriolet or Cayenne GTS for up to two hours.
To see the city at its best, follow our itinerary. We revved up the Cayenne GTS, an impressive and responsive SUV that’s loaded to the gills with every convenience (a Bluetooth cell phone connection, a CDR audio system with seven-inch touchscreen color display, 10 speakers with speed-sensitive volume control). Once you have all your gauges figured out, pop open the sunroof, put on some good tunes and get rolling.
Take a right out of Canyon Suites onto Camelback Road and head west. The resort is located at the base of Camelback Mountain; the iconic landmark will be on your right. There are gorgeous homes on the side of the mountain, but keep a look out for “Camelback Castle” (the official name is Copenhaver Castle), a well-known attraction inspired by Moorish structures in Spain. Go right at the light onto 44th Street. The street eventually changes to North Tatum Boulevard as you wind around the mountain and drive into Paradise Valley.
You’ll head north up through more spectacular homes. Pause for the wonderful high-up view of Scottsdale on your right, and be careful with the Cayenne’s 4.8-liter, V-6 engine through here — the town of Paradise Valley regularly uses photo radar vans. Once you’re through that area, things get a little snoozy. We promise the view will get better. Continue north on Tatum through more neighborhoods and retail areas. After about 20 minutes, you will come to Cave Creek Road, where you’ll take another right.
We said there would be more Instagram-worthy vistas, no? Once you wind your way into Cave Creek, you will have plenty of them. The area is known for its Old West feel, mountain scenery, Western bars and art shops. Seeing as how you’re also at roughly 2,100 feet elevation, the place should be known for its crisp fall air as well. Keeping your time in mind, stop at the retro Big Earl’s Greasy Eats to grab a burger and peanut butter shake on the roadside patio. Once you finish, venture out again and hang a right back onto Cave Creek Road.
You will see more great mountain views and pass some interesting places, including Buffalo Chip Saloon and Steakhouse, which has live professional bull riding on Wednesday and Friday nights. Go right onto North Tom Darlington Drive and head south. As you pass by buttes made from huge boulders, the street turns into North Scottsdale Road (also known as the Desert Foothills Scenic Drive). The aptly named area is mostly open desert featuring various forms of cacti, including the famous saguaro that can live for more than 100 years.
Once you get to Arizona State Route 101, take a left onto 101 East. As you head south on the highway, passing the McDowell Mountains along the way, you will have the best chance to get a feel of the Cayenne’s 420 horses. There’s no direct exit from the 101 to Camelback Road, so get off on the Chaparral Road exit and go right. Head to Hayden Road and take a left at the stop light. Drive to Camelback Road and make a right. You’ll travel through Old Town Scottsdale, past the Scottsdale Fashion Square and be back at Canyon Suites before you know it.
Unfortunately, this is the end of the road trip. But if you’ve followed these directions pretty closely, you should have a few lasting memories from your one-of-a-kind drive through the picturesque Sonoran Desert.