Arizona is the home of some of America’s most iconic natural landmarks, but its lively cities prove that there is more to the state than its canyons and valleys.
Lookdown into the depths of the Grand Canyon,up to the red rocks of Sedona or allaround at the prickly saguaro cacti to appreciate the range of Arizona’snatural beauty. Several large cities offer contrasting interests of modernconveniences and Native American culture.
The ColoradoRiver winds through northern Arizona, etching a path 1 mile (1.6 kilometers)deep through colorful sedimentary rocks to create the Grand Canyon. Visit thisnational park north of Flagstaff.It’s particularly striking to observe the sunrise, with the walls graduallylighting up as the sun rises above the horizon. Reserve in advance to stay in the rustic Phantom Ranch lodge at the river level and hike or ride a mule downthe steep switchback trail.
Near Holbrook, see very old artifacts in Petrified Forest National Park and the PaintedDesert: dinosaur fossils and petrified wood that are more than 200 millionyears old along with more than 13,000 years of human history at 350 NativeAmerican sites.
Go toPhoenix for big-city excitement witha laidback style. Enjoy diverse attractions that include museums forfirefighting and musical instruments, castle and pueblo architecture and abotanical garden in this unlikely desert location. Arizona State University-West Campus, with over 60,000 students,offers an incredible college sports scene and a renowned public art collection.
Drivefurther south to Tucson for greatgolf. Here you’ll find Saguaro NationalPark and other outdoor spots with the tall tree-like cacti and desertwildlife. The Mexican border is just an hour’s drive south. Sample Arizona’sunique cuisine of authentic Mexican salsas, prickly pear cactus cocktails andbaked goods made with sweet mesquite flour.
Summersin Arizona are very hot and dry. The rest of the year is pleasant, making thestate a popular spot for people seeking an active retirement or a relaxingvacation. Watch the desert come alive with bright flowers after a rare rainshower. In winter, you can even go snow skiing in Flagstaff and Williams.