With a dazzling array of amazing sights, Arizona’s desert climate is home to some astounding geological formations and canyons that are well worth exploring. The Grand Canyon, for example, is one of the United States’ most famous sights, while the impressive Monument Valley certainly gives it a run for its money. With Indian reservations making up almost a quarter of Arizona’s area, there are many interesting archaeological, historical, and cultural sites relating to Native American culture for tourists to enjoy. The state cities are fun and friendly places to stop by, and there is some great nightlife to boot.
Here’s a look at the best places to visit in Arizona:
Number 10. Antelope Canyon.
The winding, twisting cracks of Antelope Canyon are mesmerizing to wander around as sunbeams enchantingly snake their way along the sandstone walls, illuminating and bathing the soft red tones in glorious light. A beautiful sight to behold, the two different parts of Antelope Canyon are both well worth visiting; their distinctive features have led them to be respectively nicknamed ‘The Crack’ and ‘The Corkscrew.’ While they each have their unique look, the rock appears to be flowing in both parts, thanks to the shapes created by the erosion of the rock.
Number 9. Horseshoe Bend.
Located just outside of Page, the awe-inspiring Horseshoe Bend lies within Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in the north of Arizona. Formed over the millennia by the Colorado River, it is named for its distinctive horseshoe shape, which sees craggy cliffs curve around the roaring river below. Horseshoe Bend is very popular among tourists, and many people hike the short distance to its prominent viewpoint. Towering more than 300 meters above the river, this offers stunning views of the natural marvel, with sunset being the best time of day to view Horseshoe Bend in all its glory.
Number 8. Meteor Crater.
Set just 37 miles to the east of Flagstaff is the massive and majestic Meteor Crater Natural Landmark. Billed as the ‘best-preserved meteorite crater on Earth,’ it’s now a popular attraction, with sightseeing tours, a discovery center, and a 4D experience room. Stretching over 4,000 feet in diameter and reaching a depth of 570 feet, the captivating crater certainly makes for an impressive sight. Formed around 50,000 years ago by a mighty meteorite, its rugged rim towers above the arid plains of the Arizona desert that lie around it.
Number 7. Flagstaff.
Lying alongside Route 66 with the splendid San Francisco Peaks looking out over it, Flagstaff is a charming and laid-back place with many different aspects. While wandering around town, you’ll find lots of old architecture that dates back to when the city was an important railroad town, as well as atmospheric coffee shops and bars catering to Flagstaff’s large university population. With some great hiking and skiing in the country’s largest ponderosa pine forest. Combining nature, this college town is well worth stopping by when in Arizona or on your way to the Grand Canyon.
Number 6. Canyon de Chelly.
One of the most visited national monuments in the country, Canyon De Chelly, has been inhabited for over five thousand years. The canyon walls protect and shelter some amazing old buildings that date back to the days of the Ancestral Puebloans. Since the Navajos began calling it home in the 1700s, the canyon has tragically been the site of numerous massacres, with both the Spanish and US Army having persecuted the Native Americans. Nowadays, the site is owned and run by the Navajo, and there are several great trails and horseback tours available to visitors.
Number 5. Monument Valley.
Iconic in look, Monument Valley’s incredible geological features have starred in TV commercials, featured in films, and appeared in magazine ads. As such, they are instantly recognizable around the world. Surrounded by a desolate and featureless desert that stretches almost continually, the massive sandstone buttes rear impressively towards the heavens, their vivid reds and oranges standing out against the blue sky. Beautiful to behold, the ‘Valley Between the Rocks’ – as dubbed by the Navajo – is a must-see place when visiting Arizona.
Number 4. Petrified Forest National Park.
Famed for its amazing scenery, Petrified Forest National Park can be found in eastern Arizona, not far from the New Mexico border. Founded in 1906, the park preserves the remarkable remains of the ancient trees and logs, after which it is named. Dating back a scarcely believable 225 million years, the kaleidoscopic colors of the petrified trees are bewitchingly beautiful, particularly when they shimmer in the sun. While they are the park’s standout sight, the beguiling badlands are home to incredible archaeological sites and pretty petroglyphs. At the Painted Desert Visitor Center and Rainbow Forest Museum, visitors can learn about the area’s interesting history, geology, and nature.
Number 3. Havasu Falls.
In television shows and magazines, Havasu Falls ranks as one of Arizona’s most photographed attractions. Owned by the Havasupai Tribe, this stunning waterfall consists of one cataract that plunges 120 feet into a natural swimming pool of blue-green water that stands in striking contrast against a background of a red canyon wall. Shady cottonwood trees and picnic tables surround the waterfall, where visitors can relax and picnic. The experience of getting to the site is every bit as fantastic as the waterfall itself. To reach it, visitors can opt for an 8-mile hike or take a helicopter ride to Supai village.
Number 2. Sedona.
While the jaw-dropping red sandstone formations are the undoubted highlight of what Sedona has to offer, there is lots more to see and do.
Nestled amid the beautiful rock formations, Sedona is considered sacred by Native Americans, and people come here to heal themselves and seek spiritual enlightenment. Many shops sell alternative medicines and lots of spas for visitors to relax in. With lots of great restaurants and numerous art galleries to explore, the town can get a bit busy during summer, although the stunning scenery more than makes up for it.
Number 1. Grand Canyon.
Renowned throughout the world, the Grand Canyon is awe-inspiring to visit, and the beautiful panoramas are simply breathtaking. Gigantic in size and scale, the views from the edge of the canyon are incredible as you look out over the rock face dropping away below you and the dramatic vista stretches towards the horizon. The arid and desolate terrain is peaceful yet picturesque and a powerful place to explore. A simply incredible place, the Grand Canyon is undoubtedly the highlight of what Arizona has to offer.