Take the backroad to Vegas

A double rainbow forms above Wickenburg train tracks after a quick rainstorm. (Photo by: Bailey Finegold, ASN) authentic Arizona.

There are two types of people in this world, those who try to get to their final destination as soon as possible, and those who take the backroads, enjoying what these tiny detours have to offer such as unusual tours, quick snacks, or even maybe a visit to an alpaca farm.

The six-hour long road trip from Tucson to Las Vegas can be boring and uneventful, so, take the backroads and discover some

authentic Arizona.

Take U.S. 93. You pick it up after some meandering outside of Phoenix by following U.S. 60.

Continue that trek about 65 miles until you come across a tiny little roundabout in the middle of this small, 6,000-person cowboy town, Wickenburg.

Rancho Rio is the perfect place to stretch your legs and explore.

The ranch hosts a multitude of equestrian events and is home to many snowbirds.

The massive bulls standing right at the entrance to the 55-acre ranch will immediately catch your eye when you drive by. There can be a rodeo going on just couple hundred feet away from the road as well.

Hop back on US-93 heading north. You’ll drive 74 miles through the Joshua Tree Forest Scenic Rd., still US-93 but for the drive through Joshua Tree it has a different name. An absolutely beautiful alternative to any busy highway that gets you there faster. Trust me, these views are well worth the extra 30 minutes.

A closeup look at the route drivers take to Las Vegas, this is the map before getting onto the 93. (Credit: Google Maps)

Get back on the 93, your next stop on the road trip is Luchia’s Restaurant and Jewelry in Wikieup.

Tall yellow signs with blue and red accents urge cars to pull over and enter to grab a world famous pie and check out Indian and South American jewelry.

Small statues, peacocks, and paintings on the exterior walls surround the place.

The owner of Luchia’s greets guests with an ear-to-ear grin, encouraging visitors to take a gander at the artifacts they offer.

If you’re craving something sweet, you have definitely come to the right place. Luchia’s offers homemade pies and desserts. If you’re looking for breakfast, their “Denver Omelet” is its most famous dish.


Once back on the highway, the view is the same for miles, dirt roads and eerie looking dead trees line the edges of the highway.

Another look at the route once you enter Nevada. (Credit: Google Maps)

The town of Kingman sits just 54 miles north of Wikieup, another place to get out for a quick walk to stretch your legs and get a breath of fresh desert air.

Old Trail Tours is located in Kingman, providing visitors with a two-hour tour on the Mohave County history. The two-hour tour is only $20, and free for children under the age of 16.

The tour company provides different tours from a Grand Canyon helicopter tour to a historic Route 66 tour. The tours leave from Ramada Hotel, just off the freeway. 

Another quick yet adventurous stop in Kingman is “Alpacas of the Southwest.”

This alpaca farm is home to hundreds of alpacas, waiting for roadside visitors to stop and give them a quick snack before continuing their voyage.

Drive for precisely 70 miles from Kingman back on US-93. This interesting pit-stop is the Grasshopper Junction Mini Mart in Golden Valley.

The exterior of this roadside stop is slightly run-down and may not be as welcoming as others along the drive, but the food inside and the people are well worth getting dust in your shoes.

A painting of a lime green grasshopper dressed as a sheriff welcomes all.

Not only does the Grasshopper Junction minimart offer a surplus of goodies, the women who work there also know almost any tourist attraction known to man in the state of Arizona. They are familiar with the nearest hikes, old town secrets, and haunted stories.

Rumor has it, the original owner of the Grasshopper Junction minimart was murdered, and now the joint it haunted. Both owners were shot and killed several decades ago, and now the Grasshopper Junction is an interesting place to pull off at due to its “haunting” aroma.

For the next 60 miles, you will see a whole lot of nothing. Nothing, meaning there are hardly any restaurants, gas stations or places to pull off and use the restroom.

Speaking of Nothing, there is a town along the drive actually named “Nothing.” Can you guess the population? At its peak, the small ghost town had a population of four, and no one seemed able to explain why.

Willow Beach RV Park is just 30 minutes south of Boulder City, 45 minutes south of Las Vegas, but still in Arizona. The park offers stunning views of the Colorado River, breathtaking desert landscapes and a variety of water activities  on both Lake Mead, and Lake Mohave. Along these lakes are trails for hiking and a recreation area to sit back, relax, and forget about your long road trip for just a few moments.

The Hoover Dam right along the Arizona/Nevada border will catch your eye as you slowly begin to approach sin city.

Once you’re in Vegas, take a moment to reflect on your long scenic detour, although you were fashionably late to your weekend getaway, at least you got to go through Nothing!

Click here for high-resolution photos.

Bailey Finegold is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News Service, a service from the School of Journalism with the University of Arizona. Contact her at baileyfinegold@email.arizona.edu


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