Interstate 17, the road from Flagstaff to Phoenix, is surely one of the most scenic freeways in the United States. From the pine forests surrounding Flagstaff to the cactus forests near Black Canyon City, from the city lights of Phoenix to the dramatic escarpments of the Mogollon Rim, I-17 winds through several distinct climate zones, all within the state of Arizona.
If you're traveling with a family along I-17, you may find yourself wanting (or needing!) to stop for a picnic, take a short break from driving, or just to let the children run around. To help, we've identified ten of the best parks along Interstate 17. Your road trips will never be the same!
From south to north, without further ado, here's our list of the Top 10 Parks Along I-17:
- Encanto Park in Phoenix, just east of I-17 and just south of Thomas Road, is a large grassy urban park with a 4.5 star rating. There's even a mini-amusement park inside the greater park itself, with a train that's always fun for the kids. You can fish, play sports, or just let the kids run wild on the playground.
- Conocido Park in North Phoenix lies just west of the interstate off Greenway Road. This park is rated 3.5 stars and features a playground, disc golf course, and picnic tables.
- Paseo Highlands Park in far north Phoenix is rated over 4 stars! Reviews include "The kids love the playground with a climbing wall. I enjoy kicking the soccer ball around in the open spaces," and "Really nice park with many large sports fields, a large, widely spaced playground..." From I-17, just take Pinnacle Peak Road west to Paseo Highlands Park.
- Anthem Community Park, close to New River, is rated 4.5 stars, and is easy to get to from the interstate -- just take Anthem Way east. With sports fields, play equipment, a splash pad and more, this park has it all. In the words of one reviewer, "This park just has so much to do that you can spend hours here!!!"
- High Desert Park in Black Canyon City lies just west of the interstate, off the Black Canyon City exit. This park features a playground, basketball, volleyball, horseshoes, a baseball diamond, picnic shelters, restrooms, and more -- just minutes from I-17!
- Henry Cordes Park in Cordes Junction offers a playground, basketball court, picnic shelter, and restrooms. This great place for a rest stop is located just east of I-17 off the Cordes Junction exit.
- Butler Park in Camp Verde is the town's largest park, with a playground, tennis court, baseball diamonds, picnic tables, and restrooms. To get to Butler Park from the freeway, take the Montezuma Castle exit, and continue on the Montezuma Castle Highway to Camp Lincoln Road. Take Camp Lincoln Road west to the park.
- Montezuma Castle National Monument, while not a city park, is nonetheless an excellent stop along I-17. Marvel at the ancient cliff dwellings, learn at the educational visitors center, and take an easy walk on the paved path to a perennially-flowing river (a rarity in Arizona). Montezuma Castle is a 5-star park, and is located just east of the interstate on Montezuma Castle Road.
- Sycamore Community Park is a great place for a picnic down by the riverside. The park, which offers picnic tables, play equipment and restrooms, lies right next to the Verde River. From I-17, take the Montezuma Well exit and follow Beaver Creek Road to Montezuma Avenue, and continue until you cross the river -- the park is on the left!
- Bushmaster Park in Flagstaff boasts a playground, dog park, horseshoes, tennis, and more!