When people think of the American Southwest, they can’t help but think of Arizona with its quintessential Southwestern scenes filled with mesmerizing landscapes and natural attractions. While the state does have its endless stretches of flat, tumbleweed-strewn regions, the state also boasts spectacular geological sights and features that you’ll want to check out. Here are 10 of the most scenic spots in Arizona.
1. Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is a site like no other, which is why it is visited by thousands of world travelers each year. Carved over millennia by the mighty Colorado River, this canyon is the ideal place for sightseeing, Southwestern style. You can also book a river rafting trip or hike into the canyon with a guide or on burros. Make sure you view the canyon at dawn and dusk, as the light play from the rim is breathtaking at those times.
Sedona has a mystical reputation with its towering red rocks, energy vortexes and majestic starry skies. Sedona is a culturally rich setting filled with art galleries, funky restaurants, soothing spas and unique shops. The lands surrounding town are perfect for hiking and exploring. Be sure to check out the red rock formations around sunset when they seem to glow with the setting sun.
3. Glen Canyon
Located in the Vermilion Cliffs area of Northern Arizona, Glen Canyon was carved by the Colorado River – like its more famous cousin, the Grand Canyon. Glen Canyon was home to ancient native peoples and various artifacts are still being discovered there. The canyon is known for its breathtaking beauty and tourist-friendly campsites.
4. Havasu Falls
Havasu Falls and its azure blue pool might be the most enchanting of the scenic spots in Arizona. Hiking to these falls is well worth the effort. Located near the Grand Canyon, the falls are remote, which may be why they retain their pristine air. While there are various other cascades along Havasu Creek, these are by far the most picturesque.
5. Antelope Canyon
Located near Page, Arizona, Antelope Canyon is a famous slot canyon located on Navajo lands. The canyon is one of the most photographed natural attractions in the state. This unique canyon was formed by erosion due to flash floods that occurred over time. In fact, flooding still occurs here, necessitating the closure of the site until the waters subside.
6. Petrified Forest
Arizona’s Petrified Forest is a unique location that is strewn with the fossilized vegetation of an ancient forest. The trees of the region completely transformed into stone over time owing to the climate changes that took place in the region millions of years ago. People come to visit from all over the country to witness this stunning natural setting.
7. Saguaro National Park
If you are traveling to Tucson, you’ll definitely want to visit Saguaro National Park with its stately stands of Saguaro cacti. The park boasts two visitor centers where you can learn about the landscape and the best places to hike. Backcountry hiking isn’t advisable during the summer owing to the intense heat. However, you can visit the park throughout the year to enjoy this cactus-strewn desert wilderness.
8. Canyon de Chelly
Canyon de Chelly National Monument is located on Navajo lands and draws many visitors to its marvelous setting. Having been the home of Native American peoples like the Navajo for centuries, the region is culturally rich as well as scenically beautiful. Visitors will want to photograph Spider Rock as well as the ancient cliff dwellings that Native Americans carved many moons ago.
9. Lake Mead
As the largest reservoir in the country, Lake Mead is a popular tourist destination in Arizona. Located on the Colorado River, Lake Mead is a popular recreational hub for boating, swimming, and waterskiing. The lake is divided into several sections that are fun to explore by boat.
10. Monument Valley
Located within the Colorado Plateau, Monument Valley is the site of sandstone buttes that are clustered within the same vicinity. This vast natural “architecture” is a scenic wonder, which is why many films have been shot here. The park lies within Navajo lands, making it a culturally rich setting as well.