Tucson is a beautiful city located in southern Arizona. It is best known for having sunshine nearly every single day of the year. Nicknamed “The Old Pueblo”, it’s part of the Sonoran Desert. When you’re there, you’ll be able to see a variety of different types of cacti and unique vegetation. One of the best things about Tucson is the sunrises and sunsets thanks to the towering mountains. The sun rises and sets behind mountains and paints the sky shades of blue, pink, purple, and orange. Making a beautiful background to downtown Tucson, Sentinel Peak is a sight for sore eyes. Looking at it from a distance, you might notice that the base is darker than the summit.
While this is a stunning city, there is plenty more to see by heading north to Montana. Did you know that you can easily rent a camper van for the whole family to enjoy a road trip from Tucson to Missoula? The drive itself is less than 1,000 miles and it’s a great way to see a lot of the west in one trip. But what’s a road trip without a few points of interest along the way? Check out eight options below.
Before you leave Tucson and head north to Missoula, you should check out Picacho Peak State Park. This place is a great area to get in some exercise before your trip officially begins. You’ll be able to see some beautiful views in Arizona, especially if you stay for sunset. There is something for everyone to enjoy during their stay here. One of the top locations in Picacho Peak State Park is a unique cave.
While you can explore the cave, many people enjoy hiking in the surrounding area as well. You can even go riding on a four-wheeler if you bring one with you. There’s space to take it out and enjoy an afternoon of riding around at this amazing park. It’s understandable that a long day outdoors can be exhausting, especially here. You won’t have to search for a place to stay. You can easily park the camper van that you rent at Picacho Peak State Park overnight.
A road trip isn’t a road trip without stopping at a zoo. It’s a short drive away from your starting point and is something that everyone can enjoy. With over 1,200 animals, the Phoenix Zoo is a great place to stop if you’re traveling with friends, family, or even by yourself. This zoo is located in downtown Phoenix and is surrounded by amazing restaurants.
The Phoenix Zoo has beautiful tigers, ferocious lions, towering giraffes, stunning wolves, and plenty more animals. There are themed exhibit trails to make it as easy as possible to see your favorite critters if you’re on a time crunch! You’ll also be able to see classic farm animals including chickens, pigs, and cows. You can grab a bite to eat at the zoo food court before stopping by the gift shop to get something to remember the trip by!
After a day at the zoo, it’s time to break away from the crowds and visit the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Established in 1996, this place has nearly two million acres of land for visitors to explore. While you’re there during the peak season, you’ll be able to enjoy an afternoon of hiking. If it’s hot outside, consider taking a dip in the Calf Creek Falls. You can have a picnic and even spend the night under the stars.
Seriously, this is the perfect place for stargazing once the sun goes down! You can take photos in the petrified forests or under the natural stone arches. Many visitors like to spend an hour at the Devil’s Garden during their stay. If you’re visiting during the off-season, check out the museum! Feel free to park overnight here and get some sleep before your next stop.
If you’re looking for a unique stop that is as relaxing as it is beautiful, consider making a pit stop at the Mystic Hot Springs. Located in Monroe, Utah, these hot springs will allow you to kick back and relax after a long day of driving. There’s no denying that road trips can be boring when you’re not entertaining yourself at pit stops.
Make sure to pack a bathing suit, so that you can enjoy your visit to the Mystic Hot Springs. Also known by the names Monroe Hot Springs and Cooper Hot Springs, you’ll find hot mineral water that emerges from the spring at around 170-degrees. Then, the water separates into two smaller pools where you can sit back and allow your muscles to soak in the heat. The smaller pools have a lower temperature that falls between 92 and 102-degrees.
If you didn’t get a chance to stop at the Phoenix Zoo, consider taking the time to explore this next one. Hogle Zoo is full of cool animals that you may have never seen before. This is an awesome way to spend an afternoon and get a break from the road. Hogle Zoo consists of over 40-acres, giving you plenty of room to stretch your legs. There are a variety of unique ecosystems to see as you make your way around the zoo.
You’ll catch a glimpse of classic zoo animals including, lions, giraffes, elephants, bears, and more during your visit. There are several exhibits to see while you’re there as well. The African Savanna is where you can see lions, tigers, zebras, and more. There are also the Rocky Shores and Asian Highlands exhibits as well. After a long day seeing wild animals, it’ll be time to kick back and relax.
Keeping with the theme of animals, the perfect way to spend the last third of the road trip is to check out an aquarium.The East Idaho Aquarium is a non-profit organization that has been around for almost ten years. Upon visiting, you and your friends will be able to learn all about different aquatic animals and see them right in front of your eyes when stopping here. This aquarium has several different ecosystems throughout, thanks to the exhibits and education programs the aquarium offers.
If you’re traveling with people who are brave, they may get a kick out of the interactive displays where they can hold starfish and pet sharks. With carved out cave-like dens, you’ll feel like you’re underwater with the creatures. There are also non-water based animals at this aquarium as well. Overall, it’s an entertaining and educational place to stop on your way to Montana.
As you approach your final destination of Missoula, it may be worth your time to make a pit stop in Butte, Montana. Butte is home to the World Museum of Mining. The main purpose of the museum is to preserve a segment of American history which at one point, was forgotten about. The Museum of Mining first opened in 1965 and has been offering visitors education and entertainment ever since.
One of the coolest things about this museum is that they offer an underground guided mine tour that allows you to explore old mines. With plenty of artifacts from when everything was up and running, you’ll feel as if you’ve taken a trip back in time. If you need to get some rest after a long day, there are plenty of places in the area to stay!
With one final museum stop on your list, you’ll be in your destination. While Missoula is a piece of art itself, the Missoula Art Museum is a sight to see. One of the best things about exploring this museum and seeing what it has to offer is that it won’t require you to open your wallet. Admission is free and we all know how expensive road trips can be. At the Missoula Art Museum, you’ll see several works by contemporary Montana artists.
There are exhibits that change throughout the year that have work from artists from all over the world! This is a great reason to look at the calendar online to see what’s going to be there on the date you expect to visit! The museum also offers art classes for those interested in learning more! You can get some rest at the Missoula KOA Holiday where you can park for the remainder of your time in Missoula!
Whether you want to spend a day at the Bitterroot River or you want to strap on the skis and explore the Snow Bowl, Missoula is full of fun and entertaining activities for all visitors. You can hike up Sentinel Mountain or just enjoy an evening indoors at an art exhibit or restaurant.