When most people think of Arizona, the first thing that comes to mind is the Grand Canyon. Ten miles wide and 277 miles long, its one of the most impressive natural features on Earth. The park is only a tiny part of the state, however. It contains the remains of ancient pueblo societies, Spanish settlements, and wild west boom towns. It has striking desert drives past real life saguaro cactus, road runners, and coyotes. It has large Native American reservations preserving ancient ways of life. It has some of the most luxurious resorts in the United States, a welcome escape during the cold months of winter. Arizona is the stark beauty of the desert in all its forms.
Highlights from Arizona
- The Grand Canyon: One of the world's great natural wonders, a huge gap in the earth. The size is simply incomprehensible. Layer after layer of rock appears on the walls, almost a billion years of exposed geology.
- Monument Valley: Instantly recognizable desert plain filled with red buttes in all shapes and sizes. For many, this specific place is the entire west, thanks to the hundreds of films made here over the decades.
- Tuscon: Old Spanish settlement surrounded by desert mountains and saguaro cactus, plus some of the best luxury resorts in the United States
- Navajo and Hopi Reservations: Large Native American reservations containing stark landscapes and remarkably unchanged ancient cultures
- Canyon de Chelly Narrow desert canyons on the Navajo Reservation containing ancient Pueblo ruins, modern Navajo farms, and extensive history.
- Tombstone The myths of the wild west come to life at the town too tough to die, site of the famous Shootout at the OK Corral
Hints and Tips for Arizona
- Southern Arizona is incredibly hot in the summer. Northern Arizona sees snow in winter and mountain roads may close
- Lodging Reservations should be made six months in advance for southern Arizona in winter, and near the Grand Canyon in summer. Reservation should be made three months in advance in both areas spring and fall.
- Major cities and the Grand Canyon can be reached by train or bus. Everywhere else requires a private vehicle or organized tour
- When hiking in canyons, the initial descent is easy but the climb back out is brutally difficult. Turn around after one third of the planned time.
- All activities at the Grand Canyon other than day hikes require reservations or permits, which should be applied for as much as a year in advance
- When driving outside cities, carry at least one gallon of water per person. When hiking, carry at least a half-gallon of water, and food
- Arizona does not observe Daylight Savings Time, but the Navajo Nation does. Always ask the time zone when getting the time for anything