(between AZ 89 and Cottonwood, AZ)

Trucks over 50' in length prohibited.  This road is narrow and winding with sharp curves and very tight hairpin turns.

About 7½ miles south of Jerome Arizona 89 Alt. comes to a summit.  The southbound descent from the summit is about 4½ miles of 6-7% grade with many 20 and 30 mph curves and a 15 mph hairpin near the top.  There are about 2 miles of 4% grade after the steep section.

The northbound descent is about 12 miles of 6% grade with narrow road and many 20 mph curves and several 15 mph hairpin turns.  The town of Jerome is about 7 miles down from the summit.  Jerome is perched on the side of the mountain and the road is very narrow through town and includes a very sharp 10 mph hairpin turn and a short section of very steep (10-12%) grade.  After leaving town there are 3½ miles of 6% grade with sharp turns.  The grade eases when AZ 89 Alt. turns southeast toward Cottonwood.  Use caution on this hill.


(North of Flagstaff, AZ)

About 10 miles north of the Flagstaff city limit there is a northbound descent on US 89.  Near milepost 431 there is a sign for northbound traffic – “6% grade next 4 miles.”  The last mile or so may be less than 6%.


(between Kearny and Superior, AZ)  

There are rolling hills between Superior and Kearny, but none of them last very long.  There are 10% grades posted for both northbound and southbound traffic, but none over 2 miles in length.

About milepost 161 there is a hill posted “10% next 2 miles” for southbound traffic and “10% next 1 mile” for northbound traffic.  About milepost 158 there is a hill posted as “10% for 1 mile” in both directions.  About milepost 154½ there is a hill for southbound traffic that is posted as “10% for 2 miles.”  There is almost no descent on the north side.


(between Heber and Payson, AZ)

There are two descents of some length for westbound traffic on this part of 260.  At milepost 282 there is a brake check area and warning sign – “Trucks – vehicles pulling trailers check brakes and equipment.”  This is about 22 miles west of Heber.  The grade is steady 6% for 5 miles with 45 mph curves.  The road is four lane during the descent.

The other long hill starts at milepost 265 and is 3½ miles of 6% grade.  There are some places where the grade eases for short stretches.  There are 40 and 45 mph curves and the road is two lane.  There are plenty of other 5 and 6% hills along this road but they are usually short.

5. I-40

(near Ash Fork, AZ)

About 10 miles east of Ash Fork there is a brake check area for westbound traffic (near milepost 155½ and some warning signs—"Trucks—vehicles pulling trailers check brakes and equipment—use lower gear" and "6% grade next 6 miles."  The first two miles are 6% followed by about 1½ miles of 4-5%, then 1½  miles of 6% grade.


(between Arizona highway 87 and Camp Verde, AZ)

About 14½ miles west of the junction of highways 87 and 260 there is a sign—"6% grade next 9 miles."  The westbound descent begins ¼ mile later at milepost 238.  The first 3¼ miles are steady 6-7% grade with 45 and 50 mph curves.  The grade eases for about ¾ mile and then goes back to 6-7% for almost 5 miles and then eases to 3-4% for 1 mile.  The grade then goes back to 6% for 1 mile and flattens out about milepost 227, which is 11 miles down from the top.  There are 45 mph curves all the way down.  It is a good two lane road.

This hill is long and steep—use caution in large or heavy vehicles.  There are no escape ramps on this hill.  This descent is as dangerous as many hills that do have escape ramps.


(between US 93 and Prescott, AZ)

Not recommended for trucks pulling trailers over 40' long.

Just south of Yarnell, Arizona there is a descent for traffic going south on 89.  The descent is about 5½ miles of 5-6% grade with many 25 and 30 mph curves and a couple of 20 mph hairpin turns.  The road is four lane at the top but soon splits—northbound and southbound are at different elevations—and the downhill side becomes one lane until the bottom of the hill.

Farther north on 89 is the town of Wilhoit, Arizona.  From Wilhoit to Prescott the road has many curves that are too tight for large trucks.  The guardrail is damaged at almost every curve (where there is a guardrail.)  The grade is up and down for the entire 15 mile stretch.  Some of the grade is in the 6% range—both up and down—but it never does last for very long.  The curves do last—all the way across there are 20 and 25 mph curves—hardly a straight stretch at all.  We are advised that the local road through Kirkland, Skull Valley, and Iron Springs is a good road with fewer curves and lighter traffic.


(between Threeway, AZ and Mule Creek, NM)

This road is posted—"Curves—mountain grades—trucks not recommended."

Highway 78 is a narrow, winding road with 15 mph hairpin turns and many 20 to 30 mph curves.  The summit of the hill is about milepost 168½ (about 5½ miles west of the state line.)  The westbound descent starts with about 4 miles of steady 7-8% grade with 25 mph curves.  After that it's a roller coaster descent for about 7 miles with grades that vary from 4-7% and almost constant 25 mph curves.  The eastbound descent rolls up and down with short 5 and 6% grades and numerous 20 and 25 mph curves.


(between Page and Bitter Springs, AZ)

Southbound traffic out of Page, Arizona will encounter some warning signs near milepost 528—"Trucks—vehicles pulling trailers check brakes and equipment" and "use lower gear next 5 miles."  About ½ mile later there is a brake check area and the grade starts down at about 6% with 45 mph curves.  The grade is 4 miles of steady 6%.

There is a runaway truck ramp about milepost 524½ which is about 3¼ miles down from where the 6% grade started.  The escape ramp exits to the right and goes slightly downhill.  The grade eases about ½ mile past the escape ramp near the junction of highways 89 and 89 Alt.


(between Flagstaff and Phoenix, AZ)

Camp Verde, Arizona is in a valley and the descent is long and steep from both north and south on I-17.  There are runaway truck ramps on both of these hills.  There is also a steep descent for southbound traffic near Black Canyon City between mileposts 251 and 244 on I-17.


About 26 miles south of the junction of I-40 and I-17 at Flagstaff there is a sign for southbound traffic—"6% grade 2 miles ahead."  About ½ mile later there is another sign—"Trucks—vehicles pulling trailers check brakes and equipment—use scenic view."  At milepost 312 a sign warns—"6% grade next 13 miles" and ½ mile later the 6% begins.  The first 3 ½ miles are fairly steady 6% grade.

There are several breaks in the descent where the grade eases.  The first two breaks are only ¼ to ½ mile long and then between mileposts 306 and 304 the grade is about 4%.  Between mileposts 304 and 298 the grade is pretty steady at 6% (almost 6 miles.)  There is a runaway truck ramp just before milepost 300.  The ramp goes off to the right and is almost level.  There are several warning signs as you approach it.

About milepost 298 the grade goes uphill for a short distance and then flattens as you approach the rest area.  If your brakes are hot this may be a good place to cool them because it is still 9 miles to the bottom of the hill at Camp Verde.  Not all of the 9 miles are downhill—in fact there is a mile of uphill included—and most of the downhill is 4-5% from the rest area to Camp Verde.


At milepost 280½ on I-17 there is a brake check pullout and then a sign for northbound traffic—"6% grade next 7 miles" and "Runaway truck ramp LEFT 2¼ miles."  The 6% grade starts down at milepost 281 and is steady for all but a little of the 7 miles.  The runaway truck ramp is at milepost 283.  The road curves to the right and the escape ramp goes straight from the left lane and uphill.  The grade eases to 4-5% for the last mile into Camp Verde.


At milepost 253 there is a sign for southbound traffic—"Trucks—vehicles pulling trailers check brakes and equipment—use rest area."  After coming out of the rest area there are signs stating—"winding road" and "6% grade next 5 miles."

At milepost 251 the 6% grade begins with 60 mph curves.  After 2½ miles the grade eases for ½ mile and then goes back to 6% for 2 miles.  It eases again for about ¾ mile and then is 4-5% for another mile or so to the exit for Black Canyon City.


(on US 93 between Kingman, AZ and Boulder Dam)

US 93 between Kingman and Boulder Dam has been improved to an excellent four lane highway. There is a 2 mile 6% northbound descent beginning about milepost 6, which is 6 miles south of the dam. Since the new bridge was built just below the dam, normal traffic is not allowed to go over the dam and must use the bridge. Evidently, wind is a problem on the bridge because as you approach it there are signs saying: "High profile vehicles not advised" and "High profile vehicles use left lane 1 mile ahead" and "High profile vehicles use left lane nest 2 miles."

12. EL CAPITAN PASS elev. 4983'

(on Arizona highway 77 between Globe and Winkelman, AZ)

The summit of El Capitan Pass is about 8½ miles south of the junction of US 70 and Arizona 77 (about milepost 162½.)  There is a brake check area at the top.  There are warnings posted for traffic in both directions—"Trucks—vehicles pulling trailers check brakes and equipment."

The northbound descent begins with a sign—"8% grade next 3 miles."  The grade eases some after 2 miles but starts down at about 6% a mile later.  The 6% lasts for about a mile for a total descent of about 4 miles.  The road rolls along the top of the pass for about 1½ miles and the southbound descent begins about milepost 161.  There is a brake check area following the usual warnings about checking equipment.

The southbound descent begins with a sign—"7% grade next 7 miles."  The last 2 miles of this hill are posted at 8% grade.  The descent is fairly steady with 45 mph curves.  There are two runaway truck ramps.  The first is at milepost 156 and the second is 1½ mile farther down the hill.  They are 4¾ and 6¼ miles down from the top of the pass.  In both cases the road makes a curve to the left and the escape ramp exits straight ahead.  The 8% grade continues for about 1 mile after the second escape ramp.  There are some rolling hills after that with a few short 5-6% descents.


(and US 60 between Show Low and Globe, AZ)

The northbound trip from Globe to Show Low on US 60 includes several long uphill grades and one long descent.  There are many short hills scattered along the way.

The long northbound descent is into Salt River Canyon.  It begins at milepost 284 with a sign—"6% grade next 3 miles."  What the sign doesn't tell you is that after a one mile break in the grade there is another sign—"6% grade next 5 miles."  So you have a total of 8 miles of 6% grade going into the canyon.  The grade is steady except for the one mile break and there are 50 mph curves during the first 3 miles and 25 and 35 mph curves during the last 5 miles.

The southbound trip from Show Low to Globe has four long, steep descents and the long pull out of Salt River Canyon.  About 32 miles south of Globe at milepost 307½ a 7 mile descent begins.  The grade is mostly 5-6% and is not steady.  The grade stair steps down with short flat spots or sections of lesser grade.  You want to avoid overheating your brakes during this section because about 2 miles after it bottoms out the descent into Salt River Canyon begins.

About milepost 298½ there is a brake check area and the 5½ mile 6% grade into the canyon begins.  It is steady 6% except for a ½ mile section of 3-4% in the middle.  There are many 25, 30, and 35 mph curves.  After you have climbed out of the canyon on the south side there are two more long descents before reaching Globe.  Near milepost 279 there is a sign for southbound traffic—"6% grade next 8 miles."  There are three short sections where the grade eases.  The longest is about a mile of 4-5% in the middle of the grade.

The last long hill begins about milepost 262 where there is a sign—"6% next 3 miles."  The grade is closer to 5 miles long but is not steady.  The grade stair steps down with 6% alternating with 4%.


(between Phoenix and Long Valley, AZ)

The community of Payson is about milepost 253 on highway 87.  Just south of Payson at milepost 250 a descent begins for southbound traffic.  There are two short sections of 6-7% grade during the next 2 miles and at milepost 248 there is a sign—"Trucks—vehicles pulling trailers check brakes and equipment ¼ mile."  There is a brake check pullout and then 5 ½ miles of 6-7% grade with only a couple of short breaks in the grade.  There are 45 mph curves.  After the steep section a mile or so of 3% grade takes you into Rye, Arizona.

Between Rye and Phoenix there are many 5, 6, and 7% grades with climbs and descents whichever way you are traveling.  There is a 3 mile 7% hill and a 4 mile 6% hill and a 2 mile 7% hill and everything in between.  It is a good two lane road with passing lanes on most of the climbs.  The road is four lane for about 30 miles south of Payson.

There is another long descent on this road.  About 24 miles north of Payson is the junction of 87 and 260 highways.  About 1½ miles south of the junction a descent begins for southbound traffic.  The first 2½ miles are mostly 3-4% downhill.  At this point (milepost 274 ½) there is a brake check pullout.  Then the grade starts down at about 6% for 4 miles into the town of Strawberry.  There are 20, 30, 35, and 40 mph curves.  After passing through Strawberry the grade resumes for another 3 miles to the town of Pine.  Between Pine and Payson there are short ups and downs in the grade—some steep but short.  There are also some short and steep hills for about 10 miles north of the junction with 260.

15. TELEGRAPH PASS elev. 800'

(on I-8 east of Yuma, AZ)

The eastbound descent from the summit (milepost 19) of Telegraph Pass is 6% grade for 2 miles with a truck speed limit of 45 mph.  There are 45 mph curves.  The westbound descent from the summit is also about 2 miles of 5-6% grade.

16. UNION PASS elev. 3600'

(on Arizona highway 68 between Kingman and Bullhead City, AZ elev. 675')

Arizona 68 is now a very good four lane highway all the way from Kingman to Bullhead City, but the grade remains long and steady.

The westbound descent from the summit of Union Pass is almost 12 miles of 6% grade with a 45 mph curve at the bottom that is on the outskirts of Bullhead City.  Use caution on this hill.  At the top of the hill there are signs saying, "Trucks - Vehicles pulling trailers - Use lower gears" and "Truck escape ramps 6 miles ahead and 10 miles ahead" and "Stop light at the end of the grade 11 miles ahead." The grade continues another 1 1/4 miles past the last escape ramp and begins to flatten out about the time you go through the 45 mph curve. (There is a drop in elevation of almost 3000' from Union Pass to Bullhead City.)

The eastbound descent from Union Pass summit is about 1 mile of 6% grade followed by about 4 miles of 4% grade.


(between Flagstaff and Sedona, AZ)

"Trucker's notice—AZ 89 A not recommended for heavy trucks."  (Some signs designate this road as a US highway, some as a state highway.)

From the junction of I-17 and AZ 89 A just south of Flagstaff, the road rolls up and down and descends gradually for about 8½ miles.  At this point (about milepost 390½) there is a sign for southbound traffic—"7% grade next 3 miles."  There are many curves, including several 15 mph hairpin turns.  The road is also very narrow.  After the 3 miles of 7%, the grade is variable and rolling but continues to descend gradually for about 11 miles.  There are some 5 and 6% sections but they are usually short.  The road continues to be narrow and winding.

18. US HIGHWAY 191 – formerly known as US 666

(between Clifton and Alpine, AZ)

From 5 miles south of Hannagan Meadow to the north side of Morenci is prohibited to trucks over 40' in length.  There is also a tunnel just north of Morenci with a 12' 7" vertical clearance.  This road is not suitable for large vehicles from Morenci to just south of Hannagan Meadow.  The grades can be as steep as 8 or 9% but they are usually short.  The road is extremely narrow in many places with an incredible number of 10 and 15 mph hairpin turns, not to mention many 20 and 25 mph curves.  The first 20 miles north of Morenci takes over an hour in a car.

About 6½ miles south of Hannagan Meadow there is a steady 6% southbound descent for about 5 miles with 20 mph curves.  There is a short 6% descent from Morenci to Clifton and a 2 mile 6% climb out of Clifton going south.


(between Miami and Superior, AZ)

There is very little flat road between Miami and Superior.  There are 6 and 7% descents for traffic in both directions.  There is a tunnel with 14' 0" vertical clearance about 2 miles east of Superior.  About milepost 236 there is a sign for eastbound traffic—"6% grade next 7 miles."  This descent toward Miami is not steady 6%.  There are several places where the grade eases and there is a 1 mile uphill stretch.  There is still enough 6% descent to require caution on this road.  There are 45 mph curves and heavy traffic.  The town of Miami is at the bottom of the hill.

The westbound descent from milepost 236 starts with about 2 miles of 3-4% grade  and then 2 miles of 6% grade.  At this point there is a ½ mile 6% climb before beginning a descent of 1 mile of 5% followed by 3 miles of 7% grade.  There are 50 mph curves all the way down and a runaway truck ramp at milepost 228.  It exits to the right and goes uphill.  About 1¼ miles of 7% grade remain after the escape ramp.  This brings you to the edge of Superior where the grade goes to 4% right through town.

NOTE:  If you are traveling eastbound there is a sign near milepost 231½ that says—"6% next 12 miles."  Evidently this includes uphill grade as well as down because after going downhill for about ½ mile the grade is uphill for 4½ miles and then downhill for 7 miles into Miami.


(south of I-40 in western AZ)

There is a great deal of traffic on this road—including a lot of truck traffic.    Between I-40 and Wikieup, Arizona there are rolling hills.  From Wikieup, about milepost 123, south to milepost 160 there are many 5-6% grades both uphill and downhill.  These grades are not usually steady but stair step up or down and can add up to a considerable length—as much as 5 or 6 miles.  This section is also quite curvy.  The state of Arizona has marked fatal accident sites with white crosses and there are a number of them on this road.

From milepost 161 to milepost 172 is a long straight pull for southbound traffic or a long descent for northbound traffic.  Most of the grade is 3-4%.

21. ARIZONA HIGHWAYS 88 and 188

(near Lake Roosevelt, AZ)

If you want to go to Lake Roosevelt, the best road with least grade is 188 from the north.  From the junction of highways 188 and 87, highway 188 descends gently for 6 miles to the valley floor north of the lake.

Between Apache Junction and Lake Roosevelt, highway 88 includes 24 miles of gravel road that is steep, narrow, and winding.  It is not recommended for vehicles over 22' in length.

If you approach the lake from Globe, highway 88 is paved but includes a summit a few miles south of the lake.  The descent toward the lake is 6 miles of 9% grade with 25 and 30 mph curves.  The descent toward Globe is 3 miles of 9%, a short break and then 2 more miles of 9% grade with 25 mph curves.  This is a mediocre road that is rough in places.


(north of the Grand Canyon)

The area around Jacob Lake is an oasis of pine forest surrounded by treeless desert and remarkable changes in terrain.  The northbound descent from Jacob Lake begins with several miles of rolling hills and then about 6 miles of 6% grade.  It is a curvy road but the curves aren't terribly sharp.

The southbound descent is nearly 10 miles of 5-6% grade with 35 mph curves and several 30 mph switchbacks near the bottom.  There are some long drop-offs but it is generally a good road.

23. SITGREAVES PASS elev. 3600'

(on old Route 66 west of Kingman, AZ)

"Trucks over 40' in length prohibited."  It is hard to believe this was once a major highway.  The top of Sitgreaves Pass is about 4 miles east of Oatman.  The westbound descent toward Oatman includes 7-11% grades, extremely narrow road, extremely sharp switchbacks, long steep drop-offs with little shoulder, vertical rocks right at the edge of the road, and rough surface.  The eastbound descent is similar except the grade is 6-8% for about 3 miles.

As the "highway" passes through Oatman it is very narrow and very congested with tourists, vehicles, burros, etc. so go very slowly.  To avoid Sitgreaves Pass, one can reach Oatman from the west or south.  From the west, Boundary Cone Road (just north of Needles) is a long mild climb to Oatman.  From the south, Old Route 66 is a long mild climb from Topock, AZ.  Earlier versions of this book described this part of Old Route 66 as gravel but it is paved from Topock to Oatman.


(near Bisbee, AZ)

This summit is just west of Bisbee.  The west side is 4 miles of 5-6% grade with mild curves.  The east side is 5 miles of grade that is mostly 5-6% but does include 1 mile of 8-9%. The grade continues past the main part of Bisbee and ends at a traffic circle on the edge of town.


(north of Tucson, AZ)

About 35 miles north of Tucson there is a northbound descent on highway 77.  It is posted "7% next 12 miles" but it is not a steady grade.  The 7% sections alternate with sections of mild grade.  Even so, heat can build up in brakes on such a grade so use caution.  It is a good two lane road with occasional climbing lanes and mild curves.