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RoadEyePie 12-01-2019 09:19 PM

Mesa to Holbrook to I-40 East
What is the best route from Mesa to Holbrook, AZ? I'm trying to avoid Flagstaff due to the elevation difference. Rt. 60 looks like there is a nasty set of switch backs around the Salt River. How bad are they? Planned time of travel around April 1st.

rk911 12-01-2019 09:47 PM


done it several times in our 35' and now 40' gas MH towing our jeep suv. some climbs and descents but doable. figure 2-2.5 hours. way faster than i-17. your gps or google maps will guide you.

PJStough 12-01-2019 10:14 PM

I, personally would not recommend going through the Salt River Canyon. I would go up through Payson.

rk911 12-01-2019 10:20 PM

agree. that's the route i suggested.

twogypsies 12-02-2019 12:37 AM

We've gone all above ways... I-17, Hwy 87 and Salt River Canyon.

We really enjoy Salt River Canyon.

... not sure what your concern is of 'elevation' of Flagstaff. All three routes have you going 'up'. :)

akeagle 12-02-2019 01:55 AM

We had no problems at all navigating I-17 from Phoenix to Flagstaff. Yes the elevation at Flagstaff is considerably higher than Phoenix, but for the most part its a gradual climb and our Class C did just fine.

By the way, there is an RV campground about an hour south of Flagstaff called Distant Drums that is incredibly nice with lots of amenities and very reasonable prices. Its on our list of the best campgrounds we've ever stayed at.

RoadEyePie 12-02-2019 07:48 AM


Originally Posted by twogypsies (Post 5059935)
We've gone all above ways... I-17, Hwy 87 and Salt River Canyon.

We really enjoy Salt River Canyon.

... not sure what your concern is of 'elevation' of Flagstaff. All three routes have you going 'up'. :)

suggested route 87.... cuts 1 hour based on Google maps and also concerned about snow the higher up I go.

twogypsies 12-02-2019 01:47 PM

In April you won't have snow at Flagstaff - would be very, very rare. We've boondocked in April.

If you haven't spent time in Sedona that would make a nice stop. Dead Horse Ranch State Park is awesome and makes a nice short day trip to Sedona.

Regardless, any route is good. Enjoy!

DbleDutch 12-04-2019 10:59 PM

All routes take you up to 7,000'+ elevation. 17 keeps you on interstate multi lane roads. Payson route from Heber to Holbrook has some very narrow 2 lane with no shoulders. Salt River route is windy. All are doable, just pick your favorite poison.

tomclayton1 12-12-2019 02:13 PM

Mesa to Holbrook
87 through Payson is our exit route from the valley to northern MN. Sometimes a little sketchy navigating through Payson. We have a 38 PDQ HR with the 8.3 Cummins ISC, the exhaust brake makes the long, sweeping downhill near Scyamore Creek more comfortable.

bigchick 12-13-2019 07:41 AM

as mentioned several times take the route through payson (87 to 260 to 277 to 377 to 77 and then i-40). this route is about 100 miles shorter than i-17 to flagstaff to i-40.

from mesa to payson az-87 is a full 4 lane divided hwy. the rest of the route is two lane but it has passing lanes as required.

about the elevation. phoenix is about 1300 feet. flagstaff is over 7,000 feet. forest lakes on route 260 is over 7,000 feet. no way around it. you will be going up in elevation!

route 87 between mesa and payson has one pretty good downgrade after you crest at mt ord. it is several miles of 6-7% downgrade. just drive it safely and use your lower gears. it is not a 'white knuckle' ride.

by the way this route is used by every type of rv ever built and by semis 24 hours per day as it is the shortest route from mesa to i-40 east.

one last comment. az-87 has a posted speed limit of 65. there are cops on the road all the time looking to give out tickets to those that exceed the speed limit, and many do.

GoneToTheDog 12-13-2019 01:06 PM

I agree with bigchick. Mesa/Payson/ I-40 is fewer miles, and much less stressful than I-17 can be. We have done it many times over the years. Take your time, enjoy the scenery. You will top out at roughly the same elevation somewhere along the way, taking either route.

And yes, definitely watch your speed on 87 between Mesa and Payson. Those highway patrol cars find new and sneaky places to hide.

ByeTheWay 12-16-2019 04:21 PM

I'd suggest Mesa to Payson and make a choice of Pine/Winslow or Heber/Holbrook. Forest Lakes, the highest elevation on Highway 260 mirrors Flagstaff weather .

Options are a friend. I did not expect Snow at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon last year in May, but there was snow collecting on the roadway.

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