Arizona Highways

Arizona Highways magazine wins 17 awards for excellence

Arizona Highways magazine wins 17 awards for excellence

I-17 101 traffic interchange

Arizona Highways magazine wins 17 awards for excellence

Arizona Highways magazine wins 17 awards for excellence

June 9, 2023

ADOT publication honored by International Regional Magazine Association

PHOENIX – Arizona Highways, the world-renowned magazine highlighting Arizona’s scenery and stories, earned a total of 17 awards for excellence in visuals, writing and production at the recent annual conference of the International Regional Magazine Association.

The magazine, published by the Arizona Department of Transportation, won four first-place Gold Awards, including Matt Jaffe as Writer of the Year and Bernhard Michaelis for Single Photo. 

“Receiving recognition for the work in Arizona Highways magazine is always a thrill,” Publisher Kelly Mero said, “Although it is also a bit humbling because we are reminded of the high standards of breathtaking photography and editorial excellence that have been the hallmarks of this magazine for over 98 years.”

The nonprofit International Regional Magazine Association is comprised of 25 regional magazines from across North America. A panel of magazine industry experts judges its annual awards competition. 

Arizona Highways received the following awards:


  • Column: Editor’s Letter

  • Travel Feature: “Parashant: It’s Easier Said Than Done”

  • Single Photo: Bernhard Michaelis, “Northern Arizona”

  • Writer of the Year: Matt Jaffe


  • Digital: Special Feature or Website

  • General Feature: Matt Jaffe, “The Tale of the Donkey”

  • Hed & Dek: Robert Stieve, “The Tale of the Donkey”

  • Illustration: “The Tale of the Donkey”

  • Nature and Environment: “Flying Into the Face of Danger”

  • Photographer of the Year: Claire Curran

  • Portrait Photo: David Zickl, “Ramona Button”


  • Photo Series: John Burcham, “Shima’s Legacy”

  • Profile: Celebrating the Visions

  • Special Focus: “Arizona’s State Parks”


  • Art and Culture: “An Artist in the Canyon of Death”

  • Essay: “The Grandmother of All Ponderosas”

  • Food Feature: “The Mexican Food Capital of the World and Elsewhere”

Founded in 1925, Arizona Highways is dedicated to promoting travel to and through the state of Arizona. In addition to the world-renowned magazine known for spectacular landscape photography, Arizona Highways publishes travel guide books, calendars and other products to promote travel in Arizona. The magazine has subscribers in all 50 states and more than 100 countries.

Learn more at and

ADOT's Flickr page reaches milestone: 10 million views!

ADOT's Flickr page reaches milestone: 10 million views!


ADOT's Flickr page reaches milestone: 10 million views!

ADOT's Flickr page reaches milestone: 10 million views!

By Laurie Merrill / ADOT Communications
August 1, 2022

Most of us can only dream of getting 10 million of anything.

ADOT (Arizona Highway Department) Archives: Highways Pre-1950

10 million! In numeric terms, that's 10,000 thousands, 100 million dimes or 40 million quarters. 

It’s positively mind boggling!  

But ADOT’s Flickr page recently attained the milestone of 10 million page views. That means that there were 10 million times that people clicked on our page, which has dozens of photos albums and nearly 15,000. 

There’s something magical about Arizona’s highways and that magic translates magnificently into our Flickr account. Many beautiful miles, stunning vistas and every manner of fauna and flora is represented. As well as before-and-after photos of highway construction projects large and small with intricate details many of us might miss.  

The account went live in 2011, but it wasn’t until 2013 that ADOT’s Emmy Award-winning Video Services Team began populating it in earnest. 

Now, 10 million views later, the site’s popularity is a delightful mystery to John Dougherty, Video Services supervisor and a main contributor to the account.

Keams Canyon Boulder Removal (July 2021)

Perhaps it’s because of the key words inserted into photo descriptions of images, Dougherty said, terms like ADOT, AZDOT, Arizona Department of Transportation, freeways and safety, in addition to specific descriptors, like I-17 and flex lanes. 

“Or maybe there’s 10 million transportation geeks out there,” he joked. “I cannot explain ADOT’s Flickr popularity, but I like it.” 

In a state where each new bend in the road reveals a new feast for the senses, Dougherty’s team shoots multiple photos of every project, resulting in many different views that are equally eye catching, followed by an intricate, several step editing process.

“Photos on Flickr are the best-of-the-best photos,” Dougherty said.

The photographs aren’t just aesthetically pleasing works of art, they are also historically significant. The photos are grouped into albums representing highway and bridge project from across Arizona, litter pick-up efforts and other important events. 

Are you a history buff? You can check out one of the ADOT Archives albums with photos spanning decades, including a Highways 1970 to 2000 album.

Do you miss the old Pinto Creek Bridge? There are three albums, including the most recent showing construction of the new bridge.  We have plenty of photos of both the old and the new structures. 

We have albums filled with relocating the chuckwalla, saving saguaros, highway art, landslide and sinkhole repairs, wrong way signs, public officials, boulder removal, Adopt a Highway volunteers, snowmobiles during blizzards, and so on.  

Interstingly, the most popular photo, with nearly 8,000 views, isn't so much beautiful as it is newsorthy: It's a photo showing a blocked off road from the US 89 landslide repair from March 2015.

You'll have to give our page a visit soon. Once you do, you’ll probably keep coming back and ADOT’s Flickr page will be faster on its way to 20 million page views!

ADOT debuts podcast

ADOT debuts podcast

I-17 101 traffic interchange

ADOT debuts podcast

ADOT debuts podcast

May 19, 2022

Digital historians may remember when the Internet was informally known as the “information superhighway.” Now the Arizona Department of Transportation is turning that idea into reality by offering information about highways and much more, as ADOT debuts its “On the road with ADOT” podcast. 

The podcast will explore everything from the operation of freeways and highways to “Arizona Highways”, the internationally-known award-winning magazine published by ADOT. But even more than that, we will give people a glimpse into how seriously we take our responsibility to the environment, explain new technologies to build and maintain roads, offer the hows and whys of the Motor Vehicle Division and many other topics. The first podcast is now available and features ADOT Director John Halikowski.

Each podcast runs approximately 20 minutes and is available on multiple platforms including Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, iHeart, Google Podcasts, Pandora, Spotify and Stitcher, among others. New podcasts will be released several times each month. To find and listen to the podcast, search for “On the road with ADOT” in a podcasting platform of choice.

For more information: 

Arizona Highways Magazine again glitters with awards of gold, silver and bronze

Arizona Highways Magazine again glitters with awards of gold, silver and bronze

I-17 101 traffic interchange

Arizona Highways Magazine again glitters with awards of gold, silver and bronze

Arizona Highways Magazine again glitters with awards of gold, silver and bronze

October 14, 2021

The accolades keep rolling in for Arizona Highways. The magazine published by the Arizona Department of Transportation has earned more recognition for its excellence in design, visuals, outstanding writing and production.

In its annual awards program, the International Regional Magazine Association (IRMA) awarded Arizona Highways a total of 22 honors in categories including excellence in feature writing, photography, art direction, Writer of the Year, Photographer of the Year, among others. 

This is the seventh straight year that Arizona Highways has received at least 16 IRMA awards. 

“Arizona is known for its unique beauty, robust and diverse mixture of colorful personalities and incredible stories that we are privileged to bring to the world every month,” said Kelly Mero, Publisher of Arizona Highways. 

“The real stars are the state and its people, and they make it possible for us to receive awards like these. They deserve this recognition as do the talented people inside and outside of ADOT who collaborate to make Arizona Highways come alive every month.”

IRMA is a nonprofit association of 25 regional magazines from across North America. This is the 41st annual awards competition, and entries are judged by a panel of magazine industry experts from outside of IRMA. 

Arizona Highways received the following awards:


Gold award winners:

Profiles: Meet the Master | September 2020 | Kelly Vaughn

Column: August 2020, December 2020, March 2021 | Robert Stieve

Single Photo: Navajo Dancer | May 2020 | Mylo Fowler

Portrait Photo: Greg Wildman | January 2021 | Joel Grimes

Portrait Series: I Just Want to Go Home | May 2020 | David Zickl

Magazine Photographer of the Year: Jack Dykinga


Silver award winners: 

Public Issues: At the End of Their Ropes | January 2021 | Noah Austin

Historic Feature: The Exodus Trail | May 2020 | Annette McGivney

Nature and Environment Feature: Ho, Ho, Ho … Green Giants | March 2021 | Tyler Williams

Essay: Breathing Space | July 2020 | Craig Childs

Photo Series: The Evolution of Landscape Photography | April  2020 | Edited by Jess Kida 

Illustration: The Exodus Trail | May 2020 | Davide Bonazzi

Special Focus: The Great Escapes | July 2020

Cover: May 2020


Bronze award winners: 

Travel Feature: A Trip to Remember | August  2020 | Willis Peterson

General Feature: Salvage Operation | March 2021 | Annette McGivney

Headline and Dek: Beadlemania | November  2020 | Robert Stieve

Art Direction SIngle Story: There’s Gold in Them Thar Hills | October 2020 | Keith Whitney

Magazine Writer of the Year: Kelly Vaughn

Travel Package: The Great Escapes | July 2020 | Edited by Robert Stieve


Award of Merit:

Art and Culture Feature: The Fruits of Her Labor | May 2020  | Kelly Vaughn

Recreation: In for a Bumpy Ride | June 2020 | Chel Knorr


Founded in 1925, Arizona Highways is dedicated to promoting travel to and through the state of Arizona. In addition to the world-renowned magazine known for spectacular landscape photography, Arizona Highways publishes travel guide books, calendars and other products to promote travel in Arizona. The magazine has subscribers in all 50 states and more than 100 countries.

Learn more at and

Salome founded by larger-than-life character

Salome founded by larger-than-life character


Salome founded by larger-than-life character

Salome founded by larger-than-life character

By Laurie Merrill / ADOT Communications
October 6, 2021

In Arizona, it seems like a never-ending trail of legendary, larger-than-life figures added their own brand of mischief and mayhem to the state's colorful past.

One of these was Iowa-born Dick Wick Hall, who moved to our state in 1898 to live with the Hopi in northeastern Arizona and learn their snake dance.

You can read a bit about this character on an historical marker in Salome on US 60 some 60 miles west of Wickenburg.

It says:

“Salome, where she danced. This desert town was made famous by the humor of Dick Wick Hall, health seeker and operator of the Laughing Gas Station."

“Hall’s publication, the Salome Sun, was filled with extravagant tales of the desert’s adaptation of a species. He told of a frog that was seven years old and never learned how to swim.”

If you want to know more about this character, there’s probably no better source than the McMullen Valley Chamber of Commerce, which has an entire website page dedicated to him and his place of importance in what the website calls “the heart of Arizona’s Outback.”

For starters, Dick Wick Hall, born Richard Deforest Hall, changed his name after falling in love with Wickenburg.

Miner, prospector, speculator, newspaper publisher, humorist and businessman, Hall became one of Salome’s founders in 1904.

He and fellow founder Charles Pratt called the area “Happy Valley” before settling on a name. It was during this time that Pratt’s wife, Salome Pratt, attempted to walk on the hot desert sand in her bare foot and wound up “dancing” to her destination.

“There and then Dick Wick Hall named the town 'Salome, where she danced, Arizona.’ The founder of Salome is honored with both a historical marker on Highway 60 and Center Street, and the historical gravesite near the site of his old office and home, located at the intersection of Center and Hall Streets,” the website says.

In addition to his newspaper, he opened the Laughing Gas Station, where he covered the walls with signs making fun of Arizona’s weather. Among these were one proclaiming “Free hot air” and another saying, “Smile, smile, smile. You don’t have to stay here but we do.”

Credited with being Arizona’s most famous humorist, Hall’s widely popular syndicated column was published in 28 newspapers from New York to California.

And of course, there was Hall’s famous “Salome Frog,” who never learned to swim because Salome was so hot, dusty and dry. Hall wrote a poem about his swim-less amphibian, which concludes: “I’m an Old Bull Frog, dang my hide, I can’t swim because I never tried.”

Poor, misunderstood roundabouts

Poor, misunderstood roundabouts


Poor, misunderstood roundabouts

Poor, misunderstood roundabouts

By Laurie Merrill / ADOT Communications
September 20, 2021

I'll be the roundabout.
The words will make you out 'n' out.
I spend the day your way.
Call it morning driving thru the sound and in and out the valley.
-- the band Yes from the song, "Roundabout."

Poor,  misunderstood roundabouts. Long beloved by motorists in France and Britain, they have yet to become universally appreciated by American drivers.

This, despite the fact that with a roundabout, you don’t have to stop and be at the mercy of a traffic light. Because you keep moving, you reduce traffic backups, save money on gas and cutback on pollution.

Also, you can’t get lost. If you miss your turnoff, you can simply circle back. You know, like Chevy Chase’s character did in “National Lampoon’s European Vacation,” where he circled so much around a London roundabout that everyone in the car fell asleep.

This week, the third in September, is 2021 National Roundabouts Week, designated as a yearly event by the Federal Highway Administration. The agency wants to promote the significant benefits of roundabouts as proven safety countermeasures.

Here are some of those benefits, according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety:

  • 90 percent reduction in fatal crashes
  • 75 percent reduction in injury crashes
  • 30-40 percent reduction in pedestrian crashes
  • 10 percent reduction in bicycle crashes
  • 30-50 percent increase in traffic capacity
  • Reduction in fuel use and pollution
  • No signal equipment to install and repair
  • Quieter neighborhoods

Did you know that the French love roundabouts so much that they have 30,000 of them? And, Britain is right behind with more than 22,000?  

Arizona has about 80 roundabouts, more than a dozen of which are in the Sedona/Oak Creek Canyon area. The United States had more than 7,100 as of a 2019 tally.

They say the U.S. is usually a step or two behind European fashion, so this isn’t surprising.

But the green lights are on: Roundabouts around Arizona help traffic keep moving!

Along Arizona's highway system, you can find roundabouts at the Estrella Parkway interchange along South Mountain Freeway, on State Route 88 at Superstition Boulevard, and on Interstate 8 at Araby Road in Yuma, just to name a few recent additions.

You can learn more roundabout safety facts and navigation tips on this dedicated page on our website. 


'Big Foot' former director left big transportation legacy

'Big Foot' former director left big transportation legacy


'Big Foot' former director left big transportation legacy

'Big Foot' former director left big transportation legacy

By Laurie Merrill / ADOT Communications
May 4, 2021

He was a hearty man with a winning style and warm smile.

He was beloved by his employees, who called him “Big Foot” for his height and size: 6 foot, 4 inches tall and some 240 pounds.

But history will most likely recall the late Justin Herman, Arizona Highway Department director from 1956 to 1973, as the energetic leader who shepherded in the modern state freeway system, including the Black Canyon (Interstate 17), Superstition (US 60) and Maricopa (Interstate 10) freeways.

“During his tenure of office, some of the most important and mammoth advances and improvements in the history of Arizona road building, dating back to the date of Statehood in 1912, have been initiated and completed,” the Arizona Public Employee publication said of Herman in March 1970.

Here are some of those mammoth advances, according to our 2012 Arizona Transportation History report

"Work began on the Maricopa Freeway in 1958, and soon contracts for both new freeways were being issued on a regular basis. By 1961, more than six miles of the Black Canyon were open to traffic, from McDowell Road to Northern Avenue, and work was proceeding at a rapid pace. In late 1964, the combined Black Canyon–Maricopa freeway was dedicated from 16th Street to just north of the Carefree Highway. At a cost of $33.5 million for 30 miles of roadway – more than a $1 million per mile – it was by far the most expensive highway built in Arizona up to that time.”

You can see Herman, second from the left in the photo above, at that 1964 dedication of the combined Maricopa and Black Canyon highways.

Herman was the first and only director of the Highway Department, as before him the chief transportation official had been the state engineer. He served 17 years under five governors, being appointed three times to five-year terms before his retirement in 1973. By then, he had notched 42 years of public service, including 32 with the department.

The next year, 1974, the department he formerly headed became the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Larger than life character

Herman’s 93-year-old son – also named Justin Herman – described his dad in a recent interview as a larger-than-life character with contagious enthusiasm and a drive to get things done.

“He was an all-around great person, one of those people whom others liked immensely, a good-natured and highly intelligent man,” he recalled. “His big mission in life was to help people in any way he could.”

ADOT’s Spotlight bulletin echoed this sentiment in an article about Herman receiving a plaque for his service.

“Herman’s style of ‘personal diplomacy,’ marked by a friendly smile, a ready, powerful handshake, and a kind word to all, made him one of the most widely known state officials in Arizona,” it said.

To get a sense of how widely known Herman was, his son shared about the time he was renewing his license at the Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles, when the woman behind the counter recognized Herman’s name.

“I want to tell you a story,” she told him.

She was only a temporary employee at ADOT, she said, when her husband died of cancer. Around the same time, she was notified that her position would end and she would be let go after that Christmas. She told her supervisor how desperately she needed a job, and he urged her to see the director.

When she went to meet with Herman, he didn’t even know her name. He would meet with anyone regardless of position. She told him her situation, and the next day she was offered a job as a full-time employee.

“He was beloved,” his son said.

Just another cowboy

There was also the time when Herman met with the producer of a movie being shot in Sedona, who was requesting another road for equipment and vehicles.

That producer was John Wayne. And the road, which ADOT built, led to a cottage industry of westerns getting filmed in Sedona, his son said.

Justin Herman, center back, watches then-Gov. Jack Williams declare "Highway Week"

What did Herman think of John Wayne?

“He’s just another cowboy,” he told his son.

Another time in 1950, Herman, his wife and son were on a trip up north when the car broke down.  Herman had to wait hours for another car to come by and give him a lift to a telephone.

He telephoned his employees for help, since at the time he was Superintendent of the Shops. His colleagues were so amused by the irony that they put up a sign at the breakdown location called “Herman’s Crossing.” The site was even on the map for a while, the younger Herman said.

Years later, the younger Herman’s own son, Dan Herman, retrieved the sign – which had become riddled with bullet holes – and put it on his college dorm-room door.

Dan Herman has heard plenty of tales like these about his grandfather, but he was also was privy to his domestic side.

“He puttered in the yard, read Zane Grey novels and cooked sausage and eggs for us on Sundays,” he said.  

If this seems like a long time ago, it was. But the past came to the surface recently when Herman’s granddaughter, Luciana Herman, spotted a photo of him on ADOT’s Twitter feed. The photo at the top of this post, in fact. 

“Such a proud day for my grandfather back in 1964,” Luciana tweeted. “I-10 took up a lot of space in his head in those years as director.”

The second photo on the right shows Gov. Jack Williams signing a proclamation about "Highway Week" in Arizona. while looking on behind him, from left, are William Price, state highway engineer; Herman, and Lew Davis, chairman of the Arizona State Highway Commission. 

Perhaps Herman’s most lasting legacy will be his passion for his job and the people of the state.

His son said: “He just loved his job and the people so much!”

Arizona Highways plays big role in state tourism

Arizona Highways plays big role in state tourism


Arizona Highways plays big role in state tourism

Arizona Highways plays big role in state tourism

By Lori Baker / ADOT Communications
March 15, 2021

Showcasing Arizona’s beauty, diverse culture and rich history with stunning photography and compelling articles, Arizona Highways magazine (AHM) plays a major role in boosting the state’s tourism economy, as detailed in a new research report.

The world-renowned monthly publication brings more than $43 million annually of direct tourism revenue to Arizona, according to subscriber surveys and economic modeling analyzed as part of a new ADOT research study. The study was conducted by a team at Arizona State University under the direction of the ADOT Research Center. For every $1 spent by Arizona Highways, at least $3.74 enters Arizona’s economy from out-of-state subscribers whose travel decisions were influenced by the magazine.

“The study confirms the importance and impact the magazine and brand have on the tourism community throughout Arizona. It also confirms the exceptional work the entire Arizona Highways team does each and every day,” said Arizona Highways Magazine Publisher Kelly Mero.

The “Economic Impact and Contribution of Arizona Highways Magazine to State Tourism” study, published in December 2020, describes how Arizona Highways magazine, its ancillary products and brand influence travel and tourism decision-making, along with the spending habits of Arizona travelers and outof-state visitors.

The study points to how travel spending generates taxes for state and local governments and pumps tourism dollars into communities across the state, particularly in places featured in the magazine and its branded products. In-state expenditures by Arizona residents are important to many rural communities, where the tourism market includes residents from the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas.

People are loyal to the Arizona Highways brand across multiple platforms as Arizona Highways magazine subscribers, AHM Facebook page users, Arizona Highways TV show viewers and Arizona Highways retail product purchasers, the study’s researchers reported. Highlights of the report include:

  • About 87% of subscribers keep their magazines for trip planning months or even years later.
  • Facebook users primarily seek information about sightseeing, day trips and recreation from the AHM Facebook page.
  • About 77% of shoppers at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport AHM gift shop subscribe to Arizona Highways magazine.
  • Focus groups of Arizona Highways TV viewers indicated that the show informs their travel decisions.

The research study, funded partially by the Federal Highway Administration, is the latest in a series of studies conducted about every seven years to assess the impact of the AHM brand. While Arizona Highways magazine is part of ADOT, it does not receive state funding and is financially self-reliant.

Student photographers have chance for Arizona Highways fame

Student photographers have chance for Arizona Highways fame

I-17 101 traffic interchange

Student photographers have chance for Arizona Highways fame

Student photographers have chance for Arizona Highways fame

February 4, 2021

One of the most unique publications in the world, the ADOT-published Arizona Highways magazine, is offering student photographers a rare chance to have a nature photo published in an upcoming issue.

The publication, in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy and COX Communications, is sponsoring the 2021 Adventures in Nature Student Photo Contest, which is open to Arizona students between the ages of 13 and 18. 

The competition is open through Friday, April 16, and winners will be announced on May 6. Submissions of high-resolution nature photos must be submitted via

A total of $10,000 in cash prizes await the top 10 winners and the overall winning entry will be published in Arizona Highways, which is renowned for its outstanding images taken by world-famous photographers. 

Contestants can find more information on submission requirements at or

Unwrap Arizona Highways Magazine from December 1978

Unwrap Arizona Highways Magazine from December 1978


Unwrap Arizona Highways Magazine from December 1978

Unwrap Arizona Highways Magazine from December 1978

By John LaBarbera / ADOT Communications
December 17, 2020

Arizona Highways magazine has been delighting readers in the state (and around the world!) for more than 99 years, in some shape or form.

Every issue is chock full of gorgeous pictures and wonderful pieces of writing that really capture the zeitgeist of our state.  So you can imagine how delighted we were to stumble across the season’s greetings issue from December 1978. And the timing just couldn’t be better!

This installment stands out from the very first page. While a seemingly normal cover at first glance, it pulls out to reveal a spectacular shot of the Grand Canyon in all its wintry glory. Photographer Josef Muench captured this fantastic shot of the natural wonder of the world, with snow-dusted pine trees glistening in the foreground.

The theme of this issue is “A Symphony in Four Movements.” Stunning images of Arizona’s diverse ecological landscape across all four seasons are accompanied by a lovely poem about each weather interval. Spring speaks of “awakening and rebirth;” summer “rides on a chariot of fire;” autumn proclaims “(t)he seeds entrusted to Mother Earth have been watched, watered and weeded;" and finally winter declares itself “the birthday of the sun which led people from darkness.”

And since winter is where we find ourselves these days, let’s take a look at some of the snowy scenery included in this issue:

  • A Joshua Tree finds itself in unfamiliar territory as the Mojave Desert receives a rare snowfall. Photograph by Pete Essick.

  • A flock of sheep and their shepherd navigate the snow-blanketed terrain of Monument Valley. Photograph by Bob Bradshaw.

  • The snow-capped San Francisco Peaks bask in the background among the glorious Ponderosa Pines. Photograph by Peter Bloomer.

And finally down below, a familiar site perhaps, to the desert dwellers of our fair state: A saguaro cactus decked out in holiday lights stands majestically at a resort in Scottsdale. Photograph by Dick Dietrich.

Overall this edition provides a fun trip back in time, but also reminds us of the charm and grace that have always resided right here in our exquisite State 48. 

The Arizona Highways December 1978 issue: On newsstands everywhere … 42 years ago.

Christmas Lights Adorn a Saguaro Cactus by Dick Dietrich