The Natural Wonders of Arizona
Collected by Joseph Cyr , AFAR Local Expert
Arizona is "The Grand Canyon State," and yes, nothing else in the world is quite like Arizona's most famous natural wonder. But you'll also find other types of spectacular natural beauty: alpine tundra, evergreen forests, riparian canyons, snow-capped peaks, and flower-carpeted flatlands. Just be sure to time your visit with the seasons, and your dreamscapes will forever after be infused with Arizona's natural wonders.
Marble Canyon, AZ 86036, USA
Bordered on the south by its eponymous deep-red cliffs, the national monument is home to broad plateaus, endangered California condors, and some of the oldest petroglyphs in the United States. But the area’s greatest hit is the Wave, a...
Page, AZ 86040, USA
I saw this place in so many photos before but when I got there and saw it in person it was such an overwhelming experience. Getting there is easy. You take the Interstate 89 South from Page and after 7 minutes you get to the parking lot. The road...
Lake Powell, United States
My uncle and I stood with my tripod on the lakeshore behind our houseboat, trying desperately to capture the massive red rock wall before us. It was one of my first lessons in night photography, and it wasn't going great: there just wasn't enough...
1185 Airport Rd, Sedona, AZ 86336, USA
Escaping the lower elevation heat of a southern Arizona summer, my wife and I headed up to the mile-high red-rock country around Sedona. This was the view from our hotel: red rocks all around... Sky Ranch Lodge is perched on the summit of...
Oljato-Monument Valley, UT 84536, USA
Nuzzled up against the Arizona border about 100 miles west of Four Corners are some 30 square miles of the most iconic scenery in the American West. Monument Valley is one of those places that you’ll recognize as soon as you see...
11570 N Oracle Rd, Tucson, AZ 85737, USA
There's more than sand in the southern Arizona desert. Come mid-winter through spring, or after the mid-summer monsoon rains, and you'll find flowing water and reflecting pools among the cacti-studded hills. On the northwest flank of the Santa...
E Bonita Canyon Rd, Willcox, AZ 85643, USA
If, like most visitors, you head for Tucson between Thanksgiving and Easter, you're probably seeking sun and warmth while the rest of the country deals with the winter blahs. And you'll most likely find what you're looking for. There's a reason...
Payson, AZ, AZ, USA
Driving between Globe and Show Low in the White Mountains east of Phoenix, US 60 curves and descends dramatically into the Salt River Canyon. Some call it the 'mini Grand Canyon.' The highway snakes down some 2000 feet before climbing back up......
11570 N Oracle Rd, Tucson, AZ 85737, USA
When the southern Arizona desert gets just the right mix of rains at the right time in fall and winter, the following spring can produce a riot of wildflowers. People around Tucson said that the spring of 2010 was one of the best displays in...
Catalina Hwy, Arizona, USA
Downpours are isolated but intense during a Tucson summer. The mid- to late-summer "monsoon" in the Desert Southwest of the U.S. can be the most uncomfortable time to visit, if you're only considering the thermometer. So often, though, the vast...
5700 N Sabino Canyon Rd, Tucson, AZ 85750, USA
Many who have not visited Arizona think that its saguaros grow in a Sahara-like setting...but the mountainous desert around Tucson hides many lush spots, like this riparian canyon on the NE edge of the city. Late fall paints the cottonwoods along...
Hohokam Road, Tucson, AZ 85745, USA
Just beyond the western edge of Tucson, you'll find these Hohokam petroglyphs in Saguaro National Park. No one knows precisely when they were carved into the rocks, but Hohokam settlements in the Sonoran desert date back almost two thousand years....
Flagstaff, AZ, AZ, USA
As Phoenix heats up, many locals are desperate to escape the desert's barren landscape and head north to Sedona. Only a two-hour drive from the city, on average, Sedona sees about 60% local valley traffic over the weekends. Route 89A, leading up...
US 188, Payson, AZ 85541, USA
Hit the trails at the Cave Creek hiking area, about 30 miles north of town in the Tonto National Forest, to see the rare crested saguaro cactus in its fantastic fan shapes. Trail number 4 meanders alongside Cave Creek for most of the 10-mile trek,...
4070 S Avenida Saracino, Hereford, AZ 85615, USA
Last April, I spent a morning hiking along the San Pedro River, just NW of Bisbee, AZ; the caterpillars were astoundingly abundant. When I stopped, I could hear them munching on leaves all around--a surround-sound of crunching, the aural fecundity...
Mt Lemmon, Arizona 85619, USA
On the northern edge of Tucson, you can drive through a condensed version of western North America's ecosystem in about half an hour. On the way up the Mount Lemmon Highway (also known as "Catalina Highway" or "Sky Island Scenic Byway"), you...
Romero Canyon, Arizona 85619, USA
One of the best day-hikes from Tucson is just north of town, on the 'back side' of the Santa Catalina Mountains: Romero Canyon. Drive up to Catalina State Park for the trailhead, and you'll begin trekking through mesquite woods and towering...
2400 N Gemini Rd, Flagstaff, AZ 86004, USA
Flagstaff, Northern Arizona's winter-playground-college-town, is often overlooked as visitors drive through it on their way to or from the Grand Canyon. But if you have time to linger, this town will reveal its charms. In recent years, it's become...
27 E Ramsey Canyon Rd, Hereford, AZ 85615, USA
Crazy symphonies of prickly arms--nowhere else in the United States can you find these unique living sculptures, Unlike their more well-known Saguaro cousins, Organ Pipe cacti branch out from ground-level. They can grow to the height of nearly a...
Camelback Mountain, Phoenix, AZ 85018, USA
With two hiking trails ascending 1,280 feet to its peak, Camelback Mountain is a great option for nature-fiends who like a challenge. Both the Echo Canyon and Cholla trails exceed a mile in length and are accented with steep grades. Average hiking...
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