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ARIZONA TRAVEL GUIDE

the Wave, Arizona Buckskin Gulch, Arizona Horsehoe Bend, Arizona

Welcome to the bigroads.com travel guide to Arizona! Hopefully this page helps provide some inspiration and tips to help you plan your next trip to Arizona.

Take note that I build and maintain this website as both a hobby and public service. I take joy in performing travel research and sharing my experiences and adventures. I do not make any profit from this website, and you will see no ads on it. Your constructive feedback about this site and its content is encouraged. Please email me if you have any suggestions or ideas for improvement.

Author/Contributor: Greg Parsons


OVERVIEW



Arizona is famous for its heat and desert beauty. Travelers from all over the world come here to soak up the desert scenery in places like Scottsdale, Sedona, Tucson, and the Grand Canyon. Tourism is big business all over Arizona, and so you'll find great attractions all over the state. If you enjoy the great outdoors, there are few states that offer prettier desert landscapes.

5-STAR ATTRACTIONS IN ARIZONA



Here is my opinionated list of 5-star attractions in Arizona. I believe each of these attractions should be on your Arizona bucket list since they are all noteworthy from a national perspective:

Northern Arizona (including Flagstaff, Page, and both the South Rim and North Rim of the Grand Canyon)
Antelope Canyon-Lower Canyon, near Page - one of the world's most beautiful slot canyons; Navajo guided tour required
Antelope Canyon-Upper Canyon, near Page - one of the world's most beautiful slot canyons; Navajo guided tour required
Bearizona Wildlife Park, Williams - one of the best drive-thru zoos in the U.S.
Canyon de Chelly National Monument - beautiful canyons & outstanding archaeological sites; guided tours available but not required
Canyon X - one of the world's most beautiful slot canyons; Navajo guided tour required
Coal Mine Canyon - gorgeous desert scenery; a Navajo or Hopi Native American guide is likely to be required
Four Corners Monument - the only spot in the U.S. where four states border each other; Note: not everyone appreciates the novelty of this
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area - amazing boating & hiking opportunities; includes Lake Powell
Grand Canyon Greenway - paved path along a portion of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon; the trail also heads south to Tusayan
Grand Canyon National Park, North Rim - most famous canyon in the world; the quiet, less developed side of the Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon National Park, South Rim - most famous canyon in the world; tons of lodges, hiking trailheads, and tourist services
Grand Canyon Railway, Williams - take a historic railroad journey to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon
Grand Falls, near Flagstaff - giant seasonal falls that roar with a chocolate color after heavy rains
Havasupai / Havasu Falls - features two of the top 10 waterfalls in the U.S.; permits required (and they are very hard to obtain)
Hoover Dam - the most famous dam in the U.S.; several different viewpoints exist
Horseshoe Bend, near Page - beautiful natural bend of the Colorado River; short hike required; one of the 10 best scenic views in the U.S.
Humphreys Peak - Arizona highpoint; a challenging but rewarding day hike
Lake Mead - famous boating spot
Lake Powell - famous boating spot; houseboat rentals are a popular activity
Lava River Cave, Flagstaff - tour an underground lava tube (bring a headlamp and sense of adventure)
Meteor Crater, Winslow - the largest meteor impact site in the U.S.
Moenave Dinosaur Tracks, Tuba City - see real dinosaur tracks in the ground; Navajo guides are on site and can help point out the spots
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park - famous wild west scenery; the iconic rock formations of the American West (featured in many movies)
Mystery Valley, near Monument Valley - hire a Native America guide to see beautiful desert scenery, including hidden natural arches
Navajo Bridge, Marble Canyon - one of the prettiest bridges in the U.S.; connects two canyon walls
Petrified Forest National Park - colorful badlands plus petrified wood stumps
US 163 / Forrest Gump Highway - famous views of Monument Valley; if you've seen the Forrest Gump movie, you'll remember this scene
Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, near Page - wild & colorful rock formations, including Coyote Buttes North (The Wave) & White Pocket
Walnut Canyon National Monument, near Flagstaff - interesting cliff-dwellings & ruins (some of which you can enter)

Central Arizona (including Phoenix, Prescott, Scottsdale, and Sedona)
4x4 driving in Sedona - many guided tours are available in the downtown area
Airport Mesa, Sedona - one of the most scenic views in one of the most scenic towns in the U.S.
Butterfly Wonderland, Scottsdale - one of the best butterfly exhibits in the U.S.
Camelback Mountain - famous mountain in Scottsdale; hundreds of people hike it every day
Chapel of the Holy Cross, Sedona - tall church set among gorgeous red-rock scenery
Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix - excellent desert gardens
Downtown Sedona - famous tourist area; tons of restaurants, shops, and art galleries; make sure to take a Pink Jeep tour
Golfing in Scottsdale - many world-class golf courses to choose from
Heard Museum, Phoenix - excellent American Indian art & history museum
Indian Bend Wash & Camelback Greenbelt, Scottsdale - series of excellent paved cycling and walking paths
Kayaking the Salt River (guided tours available) - best kayaking in central Arizona
Lost Dutchman State Park - some of the best scenery in central Arizona; 30 minutes west of Phoenix
McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Scottsdale - beautiful desert habitat; great hiking
Montezuma Castle National Monument, Camp Verde - short walk to impressive overhead cliff-dwellings
Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix - widely considered the best music museum in the U.S.
New River Trail - 16.5 mile paved rail trail from Glendale to Peoria
Oatman - historic town with wild donkeys that roam the street (you can feed them)
Out of Africa Wildlife Park, Camp Verde - one of the best wildlife parks in the U.S.
Prescott Peavine National Recreation Trail - beautiful 6.0 mile unpaved rail trail in Prescott; passes by attractive Watson lake
Red Rock Scenic Byway (AZ 179) - gorgeous Sedona-area scenery
Slide Rock State Park, Sedona - one of the best swimming holes in the U.S.
Taliesin West, Scottsdale - famous Frank Lloyd Wright architectural design
Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, Pine - impressive natural bridge
Watson Lake, Prescott - giant boulders surround this exceptionally pretty lake
Western Spirit: Scottsdale's Museum of the West, Scottsdale - excellent art, culture, and western history museum
Wupatki National Monument, near Flagstaff - several clusters of ground-level ancient ruins

Southern Arizona (including Bisbee, Tombstone, and Tucson)
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson - world-renowned desert gardens plus an impressive zoo & museum
Bird Cage Theatre, Tombstone - historic wild west museum; guided ghost tours
Chiricahua National Monument - interesting & unusual vertical rock formations
Copper Queen Mine, Bisbee - tour a copper mine
Downtown Bisbee - artsy, hip town with shops and restaurants; consider tackling the Bisbee 1000 step challenge
Kartchner Caverns State Park, Benson - excellent cave tours in one of the US's best caves; make reservations well in advance (they sell out)
Mission San Xavier del Bac, Tucson - historic Spanish Catholic mission
Mt. Lemmon Scenic Byway, Tucson - rewarding scenic drive near Tucson (although the top is anti-climatic)
O.K. Corral, Tombstone - historic gunfight site
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument - US/Mexico border scenery plus impressive cactus
Pima Air & Space Museum, Tucson - one of the finest aviation museums in the U.S.
Rattlesnake Bridge, Tucson - highway bridge in the shape of a giant rattlesnake; one of Arizona's best "roadside attractions"
Saguaro National Park - highest concentration of saguaro cactus in U.S.: has an eastern and western district
Titan Missile Museum, Green Valley - tour a Cold Way ICBM missile site
Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park, Yuma - historic prison tours

Are you aware of any other 5-star attractions in Arizona? If so, please email me at gparsons66@hotmail.com.

TOP 10 ATTRACTIONS IN ARIZONA



Are you short on time or struggling to choose something to do or see in Arizona? Here are my selections for the top 10 attractions or experiences in Arizona, in no particular order:

Visit the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, ideally staying in a lodge or campground on or near the rim for a few nights
Spend at least 3-4 days exploring the beautiful red-rock country of Sedona
Take a guided tour of one or several slot canyons in Page (e.g. Lower or Upper Antelope Canyon)
Explore these two amazing museums in Tucson: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and the Pima Air & Space Museum
Drive through the wild west scenery of Monument Valley (highway US-163)
Backpack down to the marvelous waterfalls of Havasupai
Hike to Horseshoe Bend near Page
Take a cave tour in Kartchner Caverns State Park
Go golfing at one of the 50+ golf courses in the Scottsdale area
See some of the largest cactus in the country within the western section of Saguaro National Park

If I could pick only one place to visit in Arizona, I would choose the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Havasupai and Sedona would probably be next.

BEST TOWNS & CITIES TO VISIT IN ARIZONA



These towns and cities in Arizona are generally regarded as the most interesting to travelers:

Bisbee - historic buildings; boutique shops; copper mining history; Copper Queen Mine; tackling the "Bisbee 1000: the Great Stair Climb"
Flagstaff - mountain scenery; skiing/snowboarding; hiking trails; breweries; gateway to Grand Canyon National Park & Mt. Humphreys
Jerome - historic buildings; mining history; Jerome State Historic Park; a few boutique shops
Lake Havasu City - the famous London Bridge; water sports; "Jet Ski capital of the world"; popular spring break destination
Oatman - historic buildings; wild burros (donkeys) in the street
Page - desert scenery; boating/kayaking on Lake Powell; guided tours of slot canyons; hike to Horseshoe Bend; lots of hiking nearby
Prescott - historic downtown; "Whiskey Row"; Watson Lake; Prescott Peavine National Recreation Trail (biking/walking path)
Sedona - red rock desert scenery; New Age centers; vortexes; 4x4 driving; spas; hiking trails; tourist shops and art galleries
Scottsdale - upscale resorts and shopping; tons of golfing; desert scenery and fun hiking (e.g. Camelback Mountain)
Tombstone - wild-west history; historic buildings; boutique shops; historic museums
Williams - Route 66 history & attractions; various family attractions; gateway to Grand Canyon National Park
Winslow - large route 66 sign; "standing on a corner" statue (great photo opp related to lyrics written by The Eagles)

My favorite city in Arizona is Scottsdale - I recommend that first-time visitors spend at least 1-2 nights here
My favorite small town/city in northern Arizona is Flagstaff - I recommend that first-time visitors spend at least 1-2 nights here
My favorite small town/city in central Arizona is Sedona - I recommend that first-time visitors spend at least 3-4 nights here
My favorite small town/city in southern Arizona is Bisbee - I recommend that first-time visitors spend at least 1 night here

If you like hiking, visit Flagstaff, Sedona, and/or Scottsdale.
If you like craft breweries, visit Flagstaff and/or Phoenix.
If you like golfing, visit Scottsdale.
If you like wild west history, visit Tombstone.
If you like mining history, visit Bisbee or Jerome.
If you like museums, visit Phoenix and/or Tucson.
If you like shopping and fine dining, visit Scottsdale.
If you like route 66 attractions, visit Holbrook, Winslow, Williams, Seligman, Kingman, and/or Oatman.
If you want to visit the Grand Canyon, try to stay in the actual park or in a nearby town (e.g. Tusayan, Grand Canyon Junction, Flagstaff, or Williams).
If you want to see some of the prettiest canyons on earth, visit Page.
If you want to see world-class red rock desert scenery, visit Sedona.
If you want to rent a houseboat, visit Lake Havasu City or Page.

Click here if you'd like to see a complete list of towns and cities that I find interesting across the entire U.S.

WHAT IS ARIZONA FAMOUS FOR?



Here are some things that Arizona is famous or well-known for:

4x4 driving
ATV/ORV driving
artistic designs of highway bridges/overpasses
astronomy / stargazing
boating
canyons / slot canyons
copper mines / copper mining
dams (e.g. Hoover Dam, Glen Canyon Dam, etc.)
date nuts
desert landscapes
geology / rock formations
ghost towns
golfing / golf courses
helicopter tours
hot air balloons / hot air ballooning
hot temperatures (e.g. average temperature in Phoenix in July is 106 degrees)
national monuments
Native American culture and history
organ pipe cactus
petrified wood
red rocks
sandstone buttes
saguaro cactus
slot canyons
Spanish missions
turquoise gemstones
water reservoirs (e.g. Lake Mead, Lake Powell)
waterfalls (e.g. Havasu Falls, Mooney Falls, Grand Falls)
wild west history

Click here if you'd like to learn what other U.S. states are famous for.

NATIONAL PARKS IN ARIZONA



There are many national parks and other federally-managed parks and properties in Arizona, including:

National Parks
Grand Canyon National Park - desert scenery; hiking; backpacking; mule-riding; helicopter tours; historic lodges
Petrified Forest National Park - desert scenery; hiking; petrified wood
Saguaro National Park - desert scenery; hiking; cactus everywhere (you can't miss them)

National Monuments
Aqua Fria National Monument - desert scenery; archaeological sites; off-trail hiking; primitive camping
Canyon de Chelly National Monument - desert scenery; rock formations; archaeological sites; Native American cultural sites
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument - archaeological site
Chiricahua National Monument - desert scenery; fascinating geology/rock formations; 17-miles of day-use hiking trails; developed camping
Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument - desert scenery; 4x4 driving; primitive camping
Hohokam Pima National Monument - archaeological site; NOT open to the public
Ironwood Forest National Monument - desert scenery; cactus; 4x4 driving; primitive camping; off-trail hiking; historic mines
Montezuma Castle National Monument - impressive archaeological ruins/cliff dwellings
Navajo National Monument - impressive archaeological ruins; camping
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument - desert scenery; beautiful organ pipe cactus; 4x4 driving; hiking; developed & primitive camping
Pipe Spring National Monument - historical sites; home tours; Native American history and culture
Sonoran Desert National Monument - desert scenery; cactus; 4x4 driving; hiking trails; horseback riding; developed & primitive camping
Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument - ancient lava flows; volcanic scenery; hiking trails
Tonto National Monument - impressive archaeological ruins/cliff dwellings
Tuzigoot National Monument - archaeological sites/ruins; short hiking trails
Vermillion Cliffs National Monument - outstanding desert scenery; geologic attractions; 4x4 driving; hiking (on and off trail); backpacking
Walnut Canyon National Monument - archaeological sites/ruins; short hiking trails
Wupatki National Monument - archaeological sites/ruins; short hiking trails

National Recreation Areas
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area - boating; kayaking; camping; fishing; 4x4 driving; hiking trails; mountain biking
Lake Mead National Recreation Area - boating; kayaking; camping; fishing; 4x4 driving; hiking trails; horseback riding; hunting; scenic drives

National Forests
Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest
Coconino National Forest
Coronado National Forest
Kaibab National Forest
Prescott National Forest
Tonto National Forest

National Historical Parks / Other National Parks
Coronado National Memorial
Fort Bowie National Historic Site
Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site
Tumacacori National Historical Park
Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area

My favorite national park in Arizona is, of course, Grand Canyon National Park. I prefer the South Rim over the North Rim since it has more services and better day hikes. I personally wouldn't bother visiting both the South Rim and North Rim of the Grand Canyon on the same trip. Instead, I would visit them on separate trips. This is primarily because it is a 4-hour drive between the two rims. Additionally, there are other nearby attractions you can visit when visiting each rim (e.g. you can combine Zion National Park with the North Rim). The South Rim has many more visitor services and is open year-round. The North Rim is quieter, but has limited services and is only open seasonally (generally May to October). The South Rim offers far better day hikes, but the crowds can be very heavy.

My favorite national monument in Arizona is Vermillion Cliffs National Monument. Other personal favorites include Canyon de Chelly, Chiricahua, Montezuma Castle, and Organ Pipe Cactus.

Here are my recommendations for the minimum amount of time a first-time visitor should spend at each of Arizona's national parks:
  • Grand Canyon National Park, North Rim - 1-2 days (typically open May to October; closed in winter)
  • Grand Canyon National Park, South Rim - 2-3 days
  • Petrified Forest National Park - 1-2 days
  • Saguaro National Park - 1-2 days
For more information on Arizona's national parks, visit the Arizona page of the National Park Service. For an overview of all U.S. national parks, click here.

STATE PARKS IN ARIZONA



Arizona has more than 30 state parks. Many would agree that these represent Arizona's finest state parks:

Flagship / Premier State Parks:
Kartchner Caverns State Park - cave tours (including "wild" cave tours)
Lost Dutchman State Park - desert scenery; day hiking; RV and tent camping
Slide Rock State Park - desert scenery; swimming holes and natural waterslides
Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park - tour a historic prison

Other Notable State Parks:
Catalina State Park - desert scenery; day hiking; horseback riding; RV and tent camping
Picacho Peak State Park - desert scenery; day hiking (tip: bring gloves for the steel cables if you want to hike to the summit)
Red Rock State Park - desert scenery; hiking trails
Tonto Natural Bridge State Park - natural bridge; very short hiking trails

My favorite state park in Arizona is Slide Rock State Park. The swimming holes and natural waterslides are an absolute blast. The state park can get insanely crowded though, and water quality can be iffy at times.

If you want to visit Kartschner Caverns State Park, you should attempt to make reservations well in advance. Those cave tours seem to always sell out.

To see my list of the top 100 state parks in the country, click here.

BEST WATERFALLS IN ARIZONA



Arizona has more than 100 natural waterfalls. Here are some of the best waterfalls in Arizona:

Beaver Falls - Havasupai; permits required (and they are very tough to get)
Cibecue Falls
Deer Creek Falls - Grand Canyon National Park
Fossil Creek
Fossil Springs
Grand Falls/Chocolate Falls
Havasu Falls - Havasupai; permits required (and they are very tough to get)
Mooney Falls - Havasupai; permits required (and they are very tough to get)
Navajo Falls - Havasupai; permits required (and they are very tough to get)
Ribbon Falls - Grand Canyon National Park
Seven Falls
Tanque Verde Falls
Water Wheel Falls

For a listing of all known waterfalls in Arizona, visit the World Waterfall Database website.

BEST SCENIC DRIVES IN ARIZONA



This section coming soon!

BEST RAIL TRAILS IN ARIZONA



Here is a list of some of the best rail trails (or similar cycling paths) in Arizona:

Indian Bend Wash Path
Grand Canyon Greenway - paved path along a portion of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon; the trail also heads south to Tuscayan
New River Trail - 16.5 mile paved rail trail from Glendale to Peoria
Prescott Peavine National Recreation Trail - beautiful 6.0 mile unpaved rail trail in Prescott; passes by attractive Watson lake
Rillito River Park Trail

For detailed information on all known rail trails in Arizona, visit the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy website.

BEST AMUSEMENT PARKS / THEME PARKS IN ARIZONA



There are only a few amusement parks in Arizona (probably because it's too hot there in summer). These parks are generally small and other than the new Mattel Adventure Park, I personally don't think any of them are nationally significant.

Castles-N-Coasters, Phoenix
Enchanted Island Amusement Park, Phoenix
Golfland Sunsplash, Mesa - 20 minutes east of Phoenix
Funtasticks Family Fun Park, Tucson
Mattel Adventure Park, Glendale - expected to open in 2023!; 20 minutes northwest of Phoenix
Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, Glendale - 20 minutes northwest of Phoenix
Waylon's Water World, Yuma

BEST MUSEUMS IN ARIZONA



Arizona has some of the finest museums in the United States. In fact, I would say there are only a handful of states that offer a better assortment of museums than Arizona. The best museums in Arizona include:

Northern Arizona (including Flagstaff, Page, and both the South Rim and North Rim of the Grand Canyon)
Historic Route 66 Museum, Kingman
Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff
Museum of Northern Arizona, Flagstaff

Central Arizona (including Phoenix, Prescott, Scottsdale, and Sedona)
Arizona Museum of Natural History, Mesa
Commemorative Air Force Museum, Mesa
Heard Museum, Phoenix
Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix
Penske Racing Museum, Scottsdale
Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix
Western Spirit: Scottsdale's Museum of the West, Scottsdale

Southern Arizona (including Bisbee, Tombstone, and Tucson)
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson
O.K. Corral, Tombstone
Pima Air and Space Museum, Tucson
Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park, Yuma

In my opinion, the very best museums in Arizona are the Musical Instrument Museum (Phoenix), Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (Tuscon), Heard Museum (Phoenix), and the Pima Air & Space Museum (Tucson).

BEST DAY HIKES IN ARIZONA



Arizona has thousands of miles of hiking trails, and there is good hiking to be found all over the state. Here are some of the best day hikes in Arizona:

Northern Arizona (including Flagstaff, Page, and both the North Rim and South Rim of the Grand Canyon)
Arizona Hot Springs - Lake Mead National Recreation Area; 6.0 miles round-trip; typically closed 5/15 through 9/30 due to extreme heat
Blue Mesa Trail - Petrified Forest National Park; 0.9 mile loop
Bright Angel Trail - Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim); minimum of 3.0 miles round-trip (longer hikes are possible)
Cape Final - Grand Canyon National Park (North Rim); 4.0 miles round-trip
Coyote Buttes North/The Wave - Vermillion Cliffs National Monument; 5.5 miles round-trip; permits required!
Grandview Trail - Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim); minimum of 2.2 miles round-trip (longer hikes are possible)
Horseshoe Bend - Glen Canyon National Recreation Area; 1.5 miles round-trip
Humphrey's Peak/Humphrey's Trail - Coconino National Forest; 9.0 miles round-trip (longer hikes are possible)
Liberty Bell Arch - Lake Mead National Recreation Area; typically closed 5/15 through 9/30 due to extreme heat
North Kaibab Trail - Grand Canyon National Park (North Rim); 3.6 miles round-trip (longer hikes are possible)
Rim Trail (paved) - Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim); up to 13 miles each way (I recommend hiking at least 3-4 miles round-trip)
South Kaibab Trail to Cedar Ridge - Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim); 3.0 miles round-trip (longer hikes are possible); shuttle required!
White House Ruin Trail - Canyon de Chelly National Monument; 2.5 miles round-trip
White Pocket - Vermillion Cliffs National Monument; up to 2 miles round-trip; high-clearance 4x4 vehicle required!
Wildcat Trail - Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park; 3.2 miles round-trip

Central Arizona (including Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Sedona)
Bear Mountain Trail - Coconino National Forest near Sedona; 4.8 miles round-trip
Camelback Mountain - Echo Canyon Recreation Area in Scottsdale; 2.4 miles round-trip (longer hikes are possible)
Cathedral Rock - Coconino National Forest near Sedona; steep scrambling required!
Devil's Bridge/Devil's Bridge Trail - Coconino National Forest; 4.0 miles round-trip (shorter w/high clearance 4x4 vehicle)
Flatiron/Siphon Draw Trail - Lost Dutchman State Park; 6.0 miles round-trip
Piestewa Peak/Summit Trail - Phoenix Mountains Preserve; 2.4 miles round-trip (longer hikes are possible)
Weaver's Needle/Peralta Trail - Tonto National Forest; 4.8 miles round-trip (longer hikes are possible)
West Fork Trail/Oak Creek Canyon - Coconino National Forest; 8.0 miles round-trip, which includes 1.5 miles of hiking in the river
Wilson Mountain - Coconino National Forest near Sedona; 6.4 miles round-trip

Southern Arizona (including Bisbee, Tombstone, and Tucson)
Heart of Rocks Big Loop/Echo Canyon - Chiricahua National Monument; 9.5 miles round-trip (although shorter hikes are possible)
Hugh Norris Trail/Wasson Peak - Saguaro National Park; 9.8 miles round-trip (longer hikes are possible)
Hunter Trail/Picacho Peak - Picacho Peak State Park; 4.0 miles round-trip (longer hikes are possible)

My favorite day hikes in Grand Canyon National Park, South Rim - Rim Trail, Bright Angel Trail, South Kaibab Trail
My favorite day hikes in Petrified Forest National Park - Blue Forest Trail, Blue Mesa Loop Trail, Crystal Forest Loop
My favorite day hikes in/near Page - Lower or Upper Antelope Canyon (guide required), Canyon X (guide required), Waterhole Canyon (guide required), Horseshoe Bend, Skylight Arch, Toadstool Hoodoos, Wahweap Hoodoos
My favorite day hikes in/near Sedona - West Fork Trail, Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock, Devil's Bridge, Bear Mountain, Wilson Mountain
My favorite day hikes in/near Scottsdale - Camelback Mountain, Pinnacle Peak, Piestewa Peak, Tom's Thumb Trail, Flatiron (in Lost Dutchman State Park)

The highpoint of Arizona is Humphrey's Peak (12,637'), and it's a fun but challenging day hike to reach the top. The general hiking season is June through October. Watch out for afternoon thunderstorms!

To find more hikes in Arizona or to learn more about the hikes I've listed above, I recommend purchasing hiking guidebooks on Amazon (or from your local retailer). Another option is using alltrails.com, but you have to be very careful when using that website as its information is often wrong or incomplete. Published hiking guidebooks will likely always be significantly better than the information you find online.

BEST BACKPACKING TRIPS IN ARIZONA



Arizona offers several outstanding backpacking opportunities. Some of premier backpacking routes in Arizona include:

Buckskin Gulch/Paria Canyon
Escalante Route in Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim)
Grandview/Tonto/Bright Angel Loop in Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim)
Havasu Falls/Mooney Falls in Havasupai
Hermit/Tonto/Bright Angel Loop in Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim)
Rainbow Bridge in Rainbow Bridge National Monument
Rim to Rim in Grand Canyon National Park (shuttle or two vehicles required)
South Kaibab/Bright Angel Loop in Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim; park shuttle required to get to South Kaibab trailhead)
Superstition Wilderness (e.g. White Rock Springs)

Backpacking in the Grand Canyon is a world-class backpacking experience. Permits can be difficult to obtain and you should expect extremely difficult (and often very hot) hiking conditions.

For a comprehensive guide to hiking Havasupai, click here.

CLASSIC OUTDOOR ADVENTURES IN ARIZONA



Arizona offers many excellent adventures, including these classics:

4x4 driving in Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park - a high-clearance 4x4 vehicle is often but not always required (conditions are variable)
4x4 driving in Grand Canyon National Park (e.g. drive to Toroweap)
4x4 driving in Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument
4x4 driving in Sedona
4x4 driving in Vermillion Cliffs National Monument (e.g. White Pocket, South Coyote Buttes) - a high-clearance 4x4 vehicle is always required
ATV/ORV-ing in Cave Creek
ATV/ORV-ing in Page
ATV/ORV-ing in Sedona
Backpacking Buckskin Gulch/Paria Canyon - permits required!
Backpacking Grand Canyon National Park - permits required!
Backpacking Havasupai - permits required!
Backpacking Superstition Mountains / Superstition Wilderness
Caving in Kartchner Caverns State Park - guided tours required! make reservations well in advance
Caving the Lava River Cave in Coconino National Forest in Flagstaff - bring good/strong headlamps
Cycling the Grand Canyon Greenway - paved path along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon; the trail then heads south to Tuscayan
Cycling the New River Trail - 16.5 mile paved rail trail from Glendale to Peoria
Cycling the Prescott Peavine National Recreation Trail - beautiful 6.0 mile unpaved rail trail in Prescott; passes by attractive Watson lake
Day hiking Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale
Day hiking Coyote Buttes North/The Wave in Vermillion Cliffs National Monument - permit required!
Day hiking Grand Canyon National Park
Day hiking Humphrey's Peak near Flagstaff
Day hiking to the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park - extremely difficult!
Day hiking Rim-to-Rim in Grand Canyon National Park - extremely difficult!
Helicopter tours in Sedona
Helicopter tours over the Grand Canyon
Hot air ballooning in Phoenix and Scottsdale
Hot air ballooning in Sedona
Kayak Emerald Cove
Kayak Horseshoe Bend
Kayak Watson Lake
Mountain biking Black Canyon - has an IMBA "Epics" designation
Scramble up Bell Rock in Sedona
Scramble up Cathedral Rock in Sedona
Scramble up Picacho Peak between Tucson and Phoenix
Slot canyons in/near Page
Whitewater rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon
Whitewater rafting the Salt River

BEST SKI RESORTS IN ARIZONA



Arizona has only three actively-operating ski resorts:

Premier Ski/Snowboard Resorts:
Arizona Snowbowl - 55 trails; 2,800ft vertical drop; 11,500ft summit
Sunrise Park Resort - 65 trails; 1,800ft vertical drop; 11,100ft summit

Other Notable Ski/Snowboard Resorts:
Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley

ARIZONA TRAVEL TIPS



For offbeat and unique Arizona attractions, visit one or both of these amazing websites: Atlas Obscura and Roadside America

If you want to visit Arizona for the first time, and you have two full weeks to spend, I would consider this plan/route (in this exact order):
Start in Phoenix
Tucson - 1-2 nights
Bisbee/Tombstone - 1-2 nights
Phoenix/Scottsdale - 2-3 nights
Sedona - 3-4 nights
South Rim of the Grand Canyon - 1-2 nights
Page - 1-2 nights
Finish in Phoenix

There are a few great towns and attractions that are within 1-2 hours of the Arizona border that are also worth visiting. This includes:
Durango, Colorado
Goosenecks State Park, Utah
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah
Kanab, Utah
Las Vegas, Nevada
Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Many areas in Arizona can get insanely hot from May through October. Over 110 degrees is common in many low elevation desert areas (like Phoenix and Tuscon). However, elevations do vary widely in the state, and so you should research average monthly temperatures for the areas you hope to visit. High-elevation areas like Flagstaff are usually very enjoyable in summer.

Southern Arizona is one of the best places for winter travel in the United States. This is a great time to visit places like Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tucson, and Bisbee.

At some point in your life, you simply must catch a sunrise or a sunset at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. If you can, try to stay at one of the national park lodges.

Pay attention to where wildfires are currently burning in Arizona; they are an annual occurrence, with dozens of fires usually burning in the spring and summer.

The whole world now knows about the fabulous waterfalls of Havasupai, and so obtaining permits is next to impossible. Make sure you try to score permits the second they go on sale. Take note that the tribe has closed Havasupai due to COVID, and it is unclear when (or if) they will reopen.

UNIQUE / SPECIALTY FOODS TO TRY IN ARIZONA



Here are some unique / specialty foods to try while you are in Arizona:

carne seca
cheese crisp
chilis rellenos
coctels del elote
date nuts / date shakes
fry bread
horchata
huevos rancheros
Navajo tacos
piki bread
pork chimichanga
posole
prickly pear margarita
Sonoran hot dog
tamales
topopo salad

For a list of unique foods and mom-and-pop type eateries and restaurants in Arizona (or any other U.S. state), visit the Roadfood.com website.
For a list of unique foods to try in each of the 50 U.S. states, click here.
For a list of the top-rated beers to try in Arizona (or any other U.S. state), visit the Beer Advocate website.

OTHER KEY ARIZONA INFORMATION



Capital = Phoenix
Major airports = Phoenix Sky Harbor and Tucson; take note that many people will fly into Las Vegas, NV and then drive into Arizona
Largest cities = Phoenix (1,640,641), Tucson (547,131), Mesa (517,302), Chandler (283,959), Gilbert (279,810)
Primary U.S. interstates = I-8, I-10, I-15, I-17, I-19 (Note: I-19 may ultimately be renamed as I-11), I-40
State highpoint = Humphreys Peak (12,637'); a challenge day hike is required to reach the top
Professional sports teams = Arizona Diamondbacks (baseball), Phoenix Suns (basketball), Arizona Cardinals (football), Arizona Coyotes (hockey), Phoenix Mercury (women's basketball)

Take note that in general this travel guide intentionally excluded restaurants, lodging/hotels, breweries, wineries/vineyards, and certain other types of attractions (like arcades, ax-throwing, bowling alleys, and escape rooms). These types of places tend to come and go, and keeping up with that would be too challenging. I encourage you to use Google Maps, Tripadvisor, Yelp, and other travel sites that have reader reviews to find the latest and greatest places that I haven't covered here.


The Wave, Arizona
The Wave, Arizona

Buckskin Gulch, Arizona
Buckskin Gulch, Arizona

Horseshoe Bend near Page, Arizona
Horseshoe Bend near Page, Arizona

South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim), Arizona
South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim), Arizona

Hole-in-the-Rock, Papago Park in Phoenix Arizona
Hole-in-the-Rock, Papago Park in Phoenix Arizona

Montezuma Castle, Arizona
Montezuma Castle, Arizona

views in Sedona, Arizona
views in Sedona, Arizona

Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, Arizona
Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona, Arizona

hiking near Sedona, Arizona
hiking near Sedona, Arizona

Slide Rock State Park in Sedona, Arizona
Slide Rock State Park in Sedona, Arizona

Meteor Crater, Arizona
Meteor Crater, Arizona

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, Arizona
Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, Arizona

Watson Lake near Prescott, Arizona
Watson Lake near Prescott, Arizona

Williams, Arizona
Williams, Arizona

dinosaur footprints near Page, Arizona
real dinosaur footprints near Page, Arizona

Monument Valley, Arizona
Monument Valley, Arizona

Spider Rock, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona
Spider Rock, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona

Wupatki National Monument, Arizona
Wupatki National Monument, Arizona

Upper Antelope Canyon near Page, Arizona
Upper Antelope Canyon near Page, Arizona

road to Monument Valley (US 163), Arizona
road to Monument Valley (US 163), Arizona

Saguaro National Park, Arizona
Saguaro National Park, Arizona

Havasu Falls, Havasupai, Arizona
Havasu Falls, Havasupai, Arizona

the Wave, Arizona
the Wave, Arizona

Chiricahua National Monument, Arizona
Chiricahua National Monument, Arizona

Sagauro cactus near Tucson, Arizona
Saguaro cactus near Tucson, Arizona

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

Saguaro National Park, Arizona
Saguaro National Park, Arizona

Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, Arizona
Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, Arizona

MORE U.S. STATE TRAVEL GUIDES



Did you enjoy this travel guide? If so, here are links to more U.S. state travel guides:

Alabama  |  Alaska  |  Arizona  |  Arkansas  |  California  |  Colorado  |  Connecticut  |  Delaware  |  Florida  |  Georgia  |  Hawaii  |  Idaho  |  Illinois  |  Indiana  |  Iowa  |  Kansas  |  Kentucky  |  Louisiana  |  Maine  |  Maryland  |  Massachusetts  |  Michigan  |  Minnesota  |  Mississippi  |  Missouri  |  Montana  |  Nebraska  |  Nevada  |  New Hampshire  |  New Jersey  |  New Mexico  |  New York  |  North Carolina  |  North Dakota  |  Ohio  |  Oklahoma  |  Oregon  |  Pennsylvania  |  Rhode Island  |  South Carolina  |  South Dakota  |  Tennessee  |  Texas  |  Utah  |  Vermont  |  Virginia  |  Washington  |  Washington DC  |  West Virginia  |  Wisconsin  |  Wyoming

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