For a 2 day drive, you probably want to stick to a straightforward route:https://www.trippy.com/drive/Phoenix-to-Denver
If you leave Denver
on Wednesday, then I'd probably stay in Albuquerque
on Thursday, and get back to Phoenix
Albuquerque has an amazingly clean downtown that's nice to walk through, with the mountain view around you. For simple, cheap New Mexican classics, try Frontier Restaurant
. If you want something nicer, try Los Poblanos Inn & Cultural Center
for an interesting stop and fine dining.
You could also try Santa Fe
as the midpoint stop.
Going from Phoenix to Denver, the main recommendation I would have is Colorado Springs
and Pikes Peak