From Saguaro cacti to Douglas fir trees, from mountains to canyons, Arizona has a diverse landscape that includes the desert and so much more. The Grand Canyon State is best known for its namesake, the Grand Canyon, one of the world’s seven natural wonders. However, Arizona also boasts over 20 National Park Service national parks and monuments and is home to numerous incredible luxury resorts.
Arizona is also rich in culture—one quarter of the state is made up of Indian reservations, including the Navajo Nation, the largest in the United States with over 300,000 citizens.
Whether you're looking for adventure, like a visit to a ghost town or a hike through the Grand Canyon, or you just want to relax with a round of golf and a day at the spa, Arizona has it all. With wonderful weather year-round, there's never a bad time to visit the Grand Canyon State.
Best Places to Visit in Arizona
Grand Canyon National Park is 277 river miles long and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors come from around the world to marvel at its beauty, and hike, bike, camp, or even ride a mule down into the gorge.
The South Rim: Open year-round and 24 hours a day, this is the most developed of all the Grand Canyon rim areas. Take a hike down the Bright Angel or South Kaibab Trails, learn about the canyon from a ranger, or enjoy a helicopter tour, railway tour, or even go river rafting.
The North Rim: This side of the Grand Canyon is only visited by 10% of the all Grand Canyon visitors. Highlights include Bright Angel Point, Point Imperial, and Cape Royal, which are all visible on a scenic drive. This side is closed in the winter because of the snow.
The East Rim: The most difficult rim area to access is home to the Little Colorado River, which flows with blue water in the summer months and blood red water for the rest of the year.
The West Rim: The West Rim of the Grand Canyon is located on reservation land owned by the Hualapai Indian Tribe. The tribe commissioned a Grand Canyon Skywalk, a horse-shaped glass walkway that towers 4,000-feet above the Grand Canyon. This is not part of the National Park and requires the purchase of a separate tour package for entry.
Cities in Arizona
With such a diverse geography and population, there is something here for everyone-- whether it's basking in the healing energies of Sedona, enjoying the kitsch along Route 66, or admiring the artisans of First Mesa.
The different regions of Arizona feature many of the classic aspects of the Southwest: stunning state and national parks, rich Native American culture and remnants of the wild west.
Phoenix: Arizona's capital is the fifth most populous city in the U.S. Famous for its golf courses, the 50-acre Desert Botanical Garden, and the Phoenix Zoo. Further east is the suburban city of Mesa, where you can enjoy golfing in addition to beautiful hiking and horseback riding through the Sonoran desert.
Scottsdale: Adjacent to Phoenix and just north of Mesa, Scottsdale is known for hosting Spring Training baseball since the 1940s. Catch a game and then check out the lively nightlife in Old Town Scottsdale. Or, relax in one of the area’s many serene spas.
Flagstaff: When you think of Arizona, you probably think of desert. However, you'd be surprised by the great skiing you'll find in Flagstaff and the fishing and hunting you can do in nearby Pinetop-Lakeside. The Northern Arizona region also features the forested mountains of Ponderosa Pine and Aspen, Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend near Lake Powell, and Monument Valley.
Tucson: Year-round sunshine makes Tuscon perfect for hiking, biking, horseback riding and mountain climbing. Approximately 90 miles southeast of Tucson, you’ll find Bisbee, a free-spirited old mining town with a thriving arts and music scene. Just 20 miles north is the town of Tombstone, rich with the spirit of the Wild West.
Sedona: A spiritual and wellness destination boasting luxury resorts and spas, organic eats, artisan crafts, and adorable gift shops. Visit one of its famous vortices—swirling centers of energy that are thought to have healing powers and be conducive to meditation and self-exploration. Sedona’s best-known vortices are Airport Mesa, Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, and Boynton Canyon.
Arizona State and National Parks
- Petrified Forest National Park: Famous around the world for its petrified logs, you can also hike into the backcountry and see fossils, ancient petroglyphs, wildlife, and explore vast vistas.
- Saguaro National Park: Home to the majestic saguaro cacti, which are found only in a very small area in the United States.
Popular Tourist Attractions in Arizona
Lake Havasu: A party town which borders neighboring California. Revelers come in the summer to party on boats on the lake.
Hoover Dam: On the border of Nevada and Arizona in the Colorado River lies this concrete arch-gravity dam, which was built during the Great Depression.
Yuma Territorial Prison: On the far South West corner of the state is the lesser known town of Yuma. It is not your typical tourist destination, but is actually a state historical park. No longer in operation, the prison provides a glimpse into the wild world of the old west.