Friday Flashback: Curviest Highway Drive

Odometer:  508,528

We made it to Friday in just a few hours!

My good friend Matt took delivery yesterday of a nice looking Nissan 370Z.  This 6-speed, Sports package-equipped cruiser is begging to tear up the local mountain roads. It’s not an Acura, but it’s a fine ride and pretty dang fun to drive.  I was behind the wheel when the odometer ticked over to 200 miles last night!  Quite the polar opposite of my seasoned Acura.

Matt was asking me today if there were any stretches of road in particular that I recommended.  One road popped into my mind almost instantly:  Coronado Trail.  This road has 500 separate curves within about 100 miles.

When most people think of a “Sunday drive,” they think of a drive to church, to the park, or to Grandma’s house.  I did a Sunday drive in the Legend in October 2009 that involved driving for 12 hours in one stretch.  I have already shared this on my blog in a prior post with a link to an AcuraConnected article highlighting my Top 10 Roadtrips, but since that article didn’t get into detail and only had one picture, I thought this would be a fun one to reminisce about today.

My friend Kevin and I set out in a 398,000 mile Legend for what has been called “The Curviest Highway in America.”

AZ Central Newspaper Article

AA Roads Article

Following are the pictures and captions I shared on the forums back then.

I can honestly say that the road lives up to its reputation. Kevin and I traveled the road from the north end to the south end. Here’s the map (road in the black box I drew is the road).

As we approached the start of the highway, we were greeted by a warning sign that basically says, if it’s nighttime, a weekend, or a snowstorm, GOOD LUCK!

The first 22 miles or so were pretty tame; I was wondering what all the fuss was about. We took a brief pit stop at the only trace of civilization along the trail: Hannagan Meadow. Gas pumps are dry.

Pretty soon the road narrowed and from there on out, it was a total roller coaster. Hairpins, steep grades, switchbacks, you name it. Vehicles over 40 feet are restricted (and for good reason). I thought I could get away with using one hand to take pictures and one hand on the wheel. Not a chance! There is one section of the road where a sign says “10 MPH Next 11 Miles.” If I hadn’t been behind the wheel, I would have needed a barf bag!

Traffic was minimal. We passed 12-15 cars going the opposite direction the whole stretch of road, and had to pass two trucks with trailers, but that was it. We had the road to ourselves for the vast majority. I had so much fun – I can only imagine what it would have been like to drive this road in a sports car.

Fall colors were just pas their peak but still pretty amazing.

Stopped briefly in the old mining town of Clifton, Arizona. The main street looked and felt like a ghost town.

On the way back into Phoenix, we took a small detour over a place called Coolidge Dam. It involved taking a side road that has been decommissioned since the late 1950’s when it was bypassed by the current Highway 70.

We would guess the last time this road saw fresh pavement was in the 1970’s. It is (huge) pothole city for 27 solid miles! And there are many parts of the road where the weather has taken its toll over the years – it’s essentially dirt, wish washboard ruts and everything. I was stirring up a cloud most of the way in. This was one of about 15 narrow bridge crossings – the road in this section was in far better condition than the rest.

Finally we got to Coolidge Dam. WOW! Amazing 1930 construction. We drove right over the top of it. The road was very narrow but the architecture of the dam was intricate. It was totally worth the side trip, even though it probably added 30 minutes to our day trip and took a hefty toll on the car’s suspension.

Various shots from around the dam.

Ending mileage after that trip:

Hope you enjoyed the trip down memory lane as much as I did.  Can’t wait for similar upcoming travels this year!

6 Responses to “Friday Flashback: Curviest Highway Drive”

  1. Tyler S. Says:

    Looks like waaaay too much fun to pass up, Tyson. When I plan that trip southward, I’ve gotta include this!

    • Definitely, Tyler! There are so many destinations to explore. And half the fun of a road trip like this is when you don’t even have a destination at all! Look forward to having you visit sometime soon.

  2. nice road trip

  3. I recall your post on this trip Tyson.. Many people would be afraid to venture off on a road like that in a new 4×4.. let alone a 400k mile car! Props!

    • Thanks Marc! Come along for the ride sometime. Hopefully you guys have some roadtripping weather soon out there in the northeast so you can get the coupes out and exercise them.

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