The Ultimate Pet-Friendly Road Trip In Arizona and New Mexico

There’s nothing quite like packing up the car and heading out on a road trip. And when four-legged friends are involved—it’s even better!

Sure the logistics can get a bit more confusing with an animal in tow, but thanks to handy apps like BringFido and the magnitude of pet-friendly hotels out there (La Quinta for the win!), it’s never been easier to travel with furry friends.

I consider myself a bit of an expert in the “pet as my co-pilot“ life thanks to the fact that I moved across the country three times in a span of two years and my 125-lb Great Dane Odie is not quite fit for commercial air travel.

On my longest road trip with Odie, my husband and I went from Virginia Beach all the way to Los Angeles (then we all flew to Hawaii, but that’s another story!). The stretch through New Mexico and Arizona was definitely a highlight of the trip—for the humans and the canine companion.

The author and her dog on a road trip.
Photo credit: Lucia Giles

Landscape
Photo credit: Lucia Giles

Sante Fe, New Mexico

We drove into New Mexico by way of I-40 in Northern Texas. While driving I-40 gave us a good opportunity to stop at some classic roadside attractions—like Cadillac Ranch—it was definitely a relief to drive into Sante Fe and feast our eyes on something a bit less kitsch. 

We booked a room at the dog-friendly Las Palomas and couldn’t have been more pleased with the setup. Our ground-floor casita had a private entry which made me feel like I was walking into my own little condo. The room featured a bedroom and a separate living room area with a cozy wood-burning fireplace—it created the perfect ambiance for a pup nap. 

We did eventually force ourselves away from the fireplace to check out downtown, which was just a quick walk away. It wasn’t hard to find dog-friendly dining options as many locations had outdoor patios and seating. The Burger Stand was an easy and welcoming choice, and just steps away from a pet-friendly wine bar we discovered called Noisy Water Winery

The next morning it was time to get back on the road. We made a quick stop at nearby Frank S. Ortiz dog park and then said our goodbyes to Sante Fe.

Sedona, Arizona

Odie enjoying a pet-friendly hotel.
Photo credit: Lucia Giles

The drive from Sante Fe, New Mexico to Sedona, Arizona is about 6.5 hours. After the long haul on the highway, you turn onto Rte 89A and get some picturesque views in the Coconino National Forest—which also offers plenty of easy places to pull off for a potty break. Camping with your dog in the National Forest is definitely an option, though I didn’t do that myself.

Once the route took us into Sedona, we skipped the campy downtown and went right to Mesa Grill. The outdoor seating area is pet-friendly (though we had to order inside) and the restaurant is right next to the small Sedona Airport. The outdoor seating area gets you up close and personal with the airport runway, which is uniquely positioned on top of a mesa with views of red rocks all around. As you dine, you get to watch Cessnas land and take off right in front of you—something I hadn’t experienced at any restaurant before! Odie was definitely confused about the noises and flying machines at first, but settled in after one or two take offs.

Tempe, Arizona

After a bite to eat we were off to Tempe, which is a quick two-hour drive from Sedona. Downtown Tempe was full of restaurants and bars and it was easy enough to find some dinner with outdoor seating after taking the dog for a stroll. We stayed the night in a La Quinta, which is always an easy, pet-friendly option to fall back on when you’re on the road. 

The next morning we were happy to find a lot of local dog parks (thanks to BringFido) in the residential neighborhoods of Tempe. We let the dog stretch his legs then drove over to Old Town Scottsdale (about a 15 minute drive from Tempe) for another scenic stroll. We got some ice cream at Sugar Bowl and my husband and I took turns walking into some of the shops while the other stayed outside with Odie. 

We hit the road soon after to continue our cross-country travels, but our stint in Sante Fe, Sedona and Tempe stuck out to me as the most pet-friendly portion of the trip. Between the wide-open (and beautiful!) spaces, outdoor restaurants, and easily navigable roadways—this stretch has everything you need for a good pet-friendly road trip.

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