What to see in Arizona: nature and history
And it’s not over with a guide that ranges between Indian reservations and very modern cities such as Phoenix. But also 27 parks including some of the most famous ones in the world. Though, in the end, all must bow before the majestic grandeur of the Grand Canyon which is obviously the main tourist attraction. But certainly not the only one.
Trying to list the things to see in Arizona, in fact, one cannot forget its great natural beauties such as the aforementioned Sonora desert and the Sagauro National Park, a shaggy palette of canyons, red cliffs and sandstone pinnacles, coyotes and rattlesnakes. Or the Painted Desertthe magnificent sandstone spiers of the Monument Valleythe spectacular Red Rock Country of Sedona and the mountains and the Flagstaff forests.
Land of adventurers and cowboys
And when we talked about Far West it was not by chance: this was land of cowboys and indians, gold diggers, gamblers and dusty cities, the ideal setting for epic tales that have by now become myths such as that of the famous shootout at the OK Corralwhich took place on the October 26, 1881 near Tombstone. That was a city then, populated by over 7000 miners in search of fortune. While today cities like Phoenix And Tucson they are models of 21st century modernity. And as an oasis in the desert they deliver golf courses and trendy shopping malls enveloped in the air-conditioned bubble.
The land of the natives
Outside the cities, i Native Americans who have lived in Arizona for centuries they still constitute the majority of the population, and more than a third of the territory is enclosed within Indian reservations. Northeast Arizona is in fact known as Indian country, where the Navajo and groups Hopiand that’s where the beautiful are found Canyon de Chelly with numerous of ancestral cults. The apache they live in southeast mountains and were the last tribal group to succumb to the rule of the United States.
His Majesty the Grand Canyon
Among the attractions more famous throughout the United Statesand at the top of the list of things to see in Arizona, there is definitely the Grand Canyon. Which, not surprisingly, is also one of the Unesco heritage. The Canyon is a sort of wound in the earth about 450 km long and deep beyond 1800 meters which in some places is only 500 meters wide while elsewhere it reaches 29 km wide. A wound in the rock created by the slow erosion of colorado river flowing at the bottom. We said “slow” and not by chance, given that it is estimated that the river took at least five million years. Even if by analyzing the rocks in its bowels we go back in time to the origin of the Earth.
A park much loved by tourists
For thousands of years, Native American tribes Hualapai, Havasupai and Navajo they inhabited these lands and sheltered in the crevices of its mountains while today the park, protected by the National Park Servicewelcomes beyond five million visitors each year. This is to say that despite being immensely large there are annoyingly crowded points. In principle it can be said, however, that the park area is divided into two: the South Rim and the North Rim which are respectively the margins of the large stone fissure and which are not far apart as the crow flies. But to go from one to another can also take five hours of non-stop driving to get across the river.
The South Rim
The South Rim, the part most accessible and popular in the park, is open all year round and guarantees stopping points for visitors, accommodation, trails and dozens of scenic areas to stop. With its proximity to Arizona cities such as Flagstaff – an hour and a half – or Sedona – two and a half hours – is an ideal destination that can be reached in five hours even from vegas. However, expect quite a lot of people especially during the high season. the north rim, open from mid-May to mid-October, is the most remote part of the Park – there’s a visitor center, hikes, mule rides and rafting; however, the roads close during the winter. It can be reached by vegas but also from Salt Lake City in six hours of driving.
People come to the canyon to see theirs unique landscapes and having time to indulge in walks, trekking but also rafting or boat tour, on horseback or by helicopter. If you’re short on time, head straight to the South Rim which is the easiest part to see and the best equipped. Just go to the State 74 to skirt the canyon, stop at viewpoints, or walk a bit along the trails equipped with catwalks where it seems to fly.
A stop in Sedona
After so much nature our guide of things to see in Arizona takes us to the city of Sedona, about 200km from Phoenix. Surrounded by red mountains it is a pleasant destination perfect for those who want to devote themselves to sport such as mountain bikes but also simply walking in nature. One particular detail: Sedona is said to be the focus of particulars magnetic fields and for this reason it is one of the capitals of the New Age with curators, crystal shops and other extravaganzas along with native handicraft emporiums. For the rest, all you have to do is walk around the small center and relax before going to discover the surroundings in the Red Rock County.
What to see in Arizona: Monument Valley
If the surroundings of Sedona are suggestive, the next destination is unique and extraordinary: that is, the Monument Valleya valley that has been the scene of who knows how many films with features jagged rock formations like spiers carved by the wind.
It is about 500 km from Phoenixon the border between Arizona And Utah and is part of the territory of Navajo people, an area of almost 7 million hectares. This explains why the park is not state owned but belongs to the natives that they can make you from guide for a visit that combines the culture of its people with natural beauty. The most obvious starting point is the visitor center where there are services and some permanent exhibitions and from where the guided tours depart.
Here, you can immediately enjoy a special view of the three most famous rock formations in the park: West Mitten Butte, East Mitten Butte and Merrick Butte. From there it then starts Valley Drive which winds for 27 kilometers through the park on a road that is certainly not excellent but still passable by most vehicles without problems.
Along the way, splendid panoramas are revealed with natural sculptures with evocative names, such as theElephant Butte and the Totem pole while in the most famous rest area, obviously called John Ford’s Point, Navajos sell jewelry, pottery, and other handicrafts at wooden stalls. To take pictures, remember that the best moments are those of sunset or before sunrise, when the sun rises behind the buttes, which stand out against a dark blue and then pink sky. If you want, you can also sleep in the park: the View Hotel it’s a luxury facility Navajo-run on the edge of the valley. And it’s an experience you won’t forget.
A journey through time
Sounds like a long journey? But the path between the things to see in arizona it’s not finished yet. If up to now we have been driving in movie scenarios now we come to a place where we move in time. 225 million years ago to be precise. The trees that give the name to the tree date back to this period Petrified Forest National Parkwhich is located near the city of Holbrooknear the border with the New Mexico. This 600 square km park is formed by an expanse of steppe, badlands, deserted hills, ancient petroglyphs, wild animals and even flowers and is dotted with the remains of these trees that have come down to us.
The panorama is truly staggering although it is perhaps even more so going north when you get to the so-called Painted Desert, a desert area where nature has chosen a rough palette of rocks and hills. And he painted it with an endless series of different colors. To catch them just follow the park road which from the top of a hilly area offers a view of the desert. There are regular intervals rest areas marked with names such as Tiponi Point, Tawa Point and which lead back to the old layout of the Route 66 where you can stop for a snack and take pictures.
A stop in Phoenix and Tucson
But not only nature: you cannot say that you have followed the guide of things to see in Arizona without having stopped in its cities. Phoenixon the other hand, is a great base for exploring the state, but it’s also the perfect place for anyone who wants to the heat And play golf in one of many fields. The city for the rest is modern and allows during the day to do walks and trekking in the surroundings and in the evening choose a elegant place or a restaurant to eat steak in true western style.
And then there is Tucson, one of fastest growing city in the country and one of the must-see destinations. It is in the center of Sonoran desertsurrounded by Santa Catalina Mountainsand combines the conveniences of one modern metropolis with the atmosphere of a small town almost always kissed by the sun, with a dry climate and where architecture and cuisine are influenced by the near the border with Mexico.
The myth of Tombstone
From Tucson you can take a day trip to Tombstonethe western city for excellence. To get there through the Sonoran desert with its famous saguaro cacti and the pipe organs: the former seem to be candelabra, the latter appear to be groups of green arms outstretched to the sky. All together they form the classic da image cowboy movie. And then here Tombstonethe city of the challenge toOkay Corral, founded in the 1870s to house silver seekers and then became a sort of metropolis with theatres, saloons, brothels and transgression.
Today, the inhabitants are 1500 and everything has remained as it was: there is the Main Street, that is called Allen Streetthere are wooden houses to eat nachos, the courthouse is now a museum and everyone brings wide-brimmed hats and boots. And above all there are shootings and movie scenes on every corner. For heaven’s sake: now no one dies and in the end we go to the saloon for a beer. And this too, after all, I’m old West and Arizona.