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Author/photographer Rick Quinn stands in front of Cathedral Rock at Red Rock Crossing near Sedona, Arizona. “Try to focus on the journey rather than the destination,” he advises. “Don’t miss opportunities to get off-route.” Courtesy photos
ColumnsHit the Road

Hit the Road: Scenic side trips focus of new travel book

Interstates are for getting there as fast as possible. But if you’ve a bit of time to spare, there is plenty to see not far off these well-traveled, wide ribbons of concrete.

That’s the premise of Rick Quinn’s just-published “Arizona and New Mexico: 25 Scenic Side Trips.” The author/photographer has organized the guide using Arizona’s Interstates 10 (east-west) and 17 (north-south), and New Mexico’s Interstates 40 (east-west) and 25 (north-south) as entry and exit points for side trips.   

“My goal was to identify 25 alternative routes — scenic detours that begin and end at interstates — that can turn a boring speed run into a memorable road trip without adding very much time,” explained Quinn, a native Arizonan and retired senior post office executive who resides in Phoenix. To put the book together, “I drove 11,000 miles, took 7,000 photos, took copious notes and researched for 18 months.”

Rick Quinn drove 11,000 miles, took 7,000 photos and researched for 18 months to put together RoadTrip America’s “Arizona and New Mexico: 25 Scenic Side Trips.”

The result, published by RoadTrip America, is a solid tome with more than 300 full-color photos. There also are 26 custom, highly detailed, easy-to-read maps that designate not only towns and roads but sights; historic monuments; land forms; preserves; and national parks, forests and wilderness areas.

The maps also include restaurants that serve the unusual, like green-chile and pinon apple pies in Pie Town, New Mexico; lesser-known-but-spectacular attractions like southeast Arizona’s Kartchner Caverns; and oddities like the Cold War-era intercontinental ballistic missile still buried deep in the earth just 20 minutes south of Tucson. (Don’t worry; it’s decommissioned.)

Quinn’s educational training is in archeology, but one thing led to another and he eventually spent 35 years with the United States Postal Service. His love for photography dates back several decades to a time when he was living and working in Washington, D.C.

“I would get up early to photograph the city,” he said. “D.C. is such a beautiful place.”

The author has logged many thousands of miles throughout North and South America, both in his early years and more recently during retirement. And his training in archeology has propelled his love for the Southwest’s canyons, mesas, mountains, cliff dwellings and pueblos.

“Rather than retire and kicking back and playing golf, I’m doing the things I wanted to do when I was younger,” Quinn said. “(Retirement) can be the absolute best years of your life.”

And while you’re at it, try challenging yourself to explore areas that you might not otherwise visit, and that can be rewarding. “If you stick to your comfort zone, that’s not necessarily the best way to lead life,” Quinn said.

The author also is a regular contributor to RoadTrip America (, a website that “offers advice, inspiration, resources, and camaraderie to all those who hear the call of the open road.”

“When you fly somewhere, it’s like the space in between doesn’t exist,” Quinn said. “Road trips are far and away the best way to see the world.” To see more of Quinn’s exquisite photos, visit

Want to share an adventure? Email me at [email protected].

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