Phoenix is Arizona's state capital and largest city, located in the south-central region of the state with major highways including I-10 (east-west) and I-17 (originating downtown and heading north).
The city is in the middle of a large, desert valley and surrounded by many suburban cities. When someone mentions Phoenix they are sometimes referring to the entire valley, which includes the cities of Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, Scottsdale, Glendale, Peoria, and others. Temperatures rarely get below freezing in the winter, but watch out in summer! Afternoons in late June and July can be as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit, but usually in the 110s.
Tempe is a popular hangout in the winter for street kids and other travellers, due to the university nearby and several places to stealth camp, such as Papago Park, a large urban park with hills and caves. Mill Avenue is the main drag, and while it has become much more yuppified over the years, you will still see a lot of travelling folks along the street and in the coffee shops.
Hitchhiking out of the Phoenix area means getting to an outlying suburb by bus ($1.25 fare), then planting yourself at a major truckstop exit or nearby highway on-ramp.
Hitchhiking Exit Points
I-10 Westbound, California Bound Exit 137 at 67th Avenue. From downtown Phoenix, take local Bus #17 west, get off at 67th avenue and walk 1/2 mile south. Two truckstops here- Flying J and Danny's-A Big Rig Resort. Between the two is a public road that all trucks must pass to get back onto the highway. Stand here at the corner with a sign stating your destination ("I-10 WEST", for example).
I-10 Eastbound, Tucson or New Mexico Bound Exit 162 at the Gila River Casino/ Firebird Raceway entrance. There is no local bus that goes all the way to this location, but from downtown Phoenix you can take the #1 north bus (get a free transfer ticket when you board) to the #56 south bus, to the end of the line at Chandler Blvd, then try to hustle a local ride just 5 miles further south (south is eastbound on this stretch of I-10). Once there at Exit 162, Love's Travel Stop is a new truckstop nearby and the highway on-ramp is large enough for a truck to stop. This hitchhiker has received several rides from here, from cars heading to the area of Casa Grande. Just past Casa Grande is the I-8/ I-10 junction, with several large truckstops. You should not have to accept any ride going a shorter distance than this. If you hold out, you may make it all the way to Tucson in one ride.
I-17 North, Sedona or Flagstaff Bound It is unsafe to hitchhike an I-17 on-ramp until at least as far north as Bell Rd or Deer Valley Rd. Ideally, you want to be outside the city at Carefree Highway before starting to hitchhike, but unless you can hustle a local ride this far, try this: From downtown Phoenix take bus #27 north to the Metrocenter Transit Center. Get a free transfer ticket when you board. Take #35 north bus to the end of the line (tell the bus driver to let you off closest to the furthest I-17 on-ramp, Deer Valley Road). This on-ramp is not ideal, but there is room for a car to safely pull to the shoulder. If you find yourself waiting long, make a sign that says "Carefree Highway". It is only about 10 miles further north, and many drivers getting on the highway are going at least that far. If dropped off at Carefree, stick out your thumb and smile. You should have a long ride soon. No need to accept any ride less than to Cordes Junction (about 50 miles). Avoid taking a ride to New River (suspicious locals due to upscale housing, possible cop hassle as a result). Black Canyon City may be an interesting stop with some good cafes in town (Rock Springs Cafe, Four Bees Cafe), but you may have a hard time getting out.
State Route 87, Payson Bound If you want to try your luck northeast along the Beeline Highway to Payson and Eastern Arizona, you will need to get out to Fountain Hills past the city of Scottsdale. Local bus service using bus #106 north will only take you part of the way, to Shea Road at 134th street. You will need to go another 10 miles or so past upscale residential areas before beginning to hitchhike without major hassle. There are many drivers en route heading for Fort Mcdowell casino and if you can catch a ride that far you can begin hitchhiking soon after. Try walking along the sidewalk with your back to traffic and your thumb out until you get far enough to really lay on the hitchhiking persuasion.
Hitchhiking is at the very least discouraged within the Phoenix metro area and may be outright illegal. For this reason, always get to the far city limits, as mentioned in the exit points above, before attempting to hitchhiking. Otherwise, expect cop hassle and possibly a warning citation or fine. Also, nearly all of the Phoenix metro area is within Maricopa county and so is under the jurisdiction of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, called "America's Toughest Sheriff". His deputies are encouraged to uphold this tough stance, so be aware of your surroundings and consider that the laws will be interpreted and upheld to their fullest extent. Read about [:digi:usa320.html Arizona hitchhiking laws on digihitch.com.