I've taken each way described... I-17 south of is the easiest, but least scenic. going through Holbrock/Payson is a beautiful drive, but like mentioned, weekend travel is horrible. the other option is go south out of Albuquerque on 25, to 60 west @ Socorro, then through Pie Town, Globe, and Show Low and into the Mesa area at Apache Junction. its also a very beautiful drive, but two lane, and fairly slow going.
no matter the way you go, the south west is beautiful. and expansive. carry extra fuel, it a long ways sometimes between station. If you run a diesel, be sure to have a good clean fuel filter before you leave, take a spare with you, and only buy at large truck stops. ive gotten bad fuel at little gas stations twice now when i had to buy due to being low, then get the double screw of high price for crap fuel.
2012 Ram 3500 DRW G56