About Scenic Drive



The 6 1/2 – mile long Scenic Drive, is located on Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale, Arizona. The southern end of the Scenic Drive is located at the intersection of Happy Valley Road and Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale. The northern end of the Scenic Drive is at the intersection of Carefree Highway and Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale. The northern end of the drive is the boundary between Carefree and Scottsdale.

urban_sprawl_caroonMotivation for Creating Drive

The 6 1/2 – mile long Scenic Drive, stretching from Happy Valley Road to Carefree Highway, showcases desert plants and connects Scottsdale with the desert communities of Carefree and Cave Creek. In 1963, residents established the Scenic Drive to create a special road and protect roadside vegetation and vistas. They feared motels and gas stations with neon lights would crowd the remote desert roadside as was happening in nearby communities. That never happened and the Scenic Drive example contributed to the establishment of Scenic Corridors along other roads in Scottsdale and the Valley of the Sun. Today, it’s a landmark on the front line in the effort to reduce  creeping normalcy.

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“Creeping normalcy refers to the way a major change can be accepted as normality if it happens slowly, in unnoticed increments, when it would be regarded as objectionable if it took place in a single step or short period.”

“Jared Diamond has invoked the concept in attempting to explain why in the course of long-term environmental degradation, Easter Island natives would, seemingly irrationally, chop down the last tree: Gradually trees became fewer, smaller, and less important. By the time the last fruit-bearing adult palm tree was cut, palms had long since ceased to be of economic significance. That left only smaller and smaller palm saplings to clear each year, along with other bushes and treelets. No one would have noticed the felling of the last small palm.”

From Wikipedia, 2013 


Entry Sign at Northern Entrance to Drive

Entry Sign at Northern Entrance to Drive

Entry Signs

Large stucco entry monuments mark the southern and northern entries to the Scenic Drive. The southern entry sign is located just north of Happy Valley Road on the east side of Scottsdale Road (apologies there is a creosote bush partially blocking the view of the sign that we don’t want to remov). The northern entry sign is located just south of Carefree Highway on the west side of Scottsdale Road.


Plant Identification Signs

The Scenic Drive makes it easy for visitors to learn the names of cacti, trees and other plants that thrive in this uniquely beautiful area. Small redwood signs identify more than twenty species of native plants on both sides of Scottsdale Road. Residents have selected plants that are easy to see from a vehicle in motion and that also represent the flora that are indigenous to the area.


Exhibit Area

A small outdoor exhibit area on the east side of Scottsdale Road, approximately 3/4 – mile from Happy Valley Road, provides a quiet place where visitors can park and walk a short distance to view desert flora, identified by the same type of redwood signs found along the Scenic Drive. There are also monuments with plaques that provide information about the history of the Scenic Drive, Sonoran climate, and local flora, and fauna.



Grand Prize Winner, 2013 Summer Fun Tony Nelssen What's Worth Preserving Contest, "Rio Verde Duce" by Dave Forrest

Grand Prize Winner, 2013 Summer Fun Tony Nelssen What’s Worth Preserving Contest, “Rio Verde Duce” by Dave Forrest