Arizona is one of the most popular states in America for tourists. It has numerous sights of interest, most of which are notable because of their natural beauty. Here are my choices for the best of this southwestern state.
1. Grand Canyon National Park – Perhaps the most dramatic and eerily beautiful natural area on earth, the Grand Canyon can be seen from space. The most rewarding visits include a walk down into the canyon.
2. Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park – This classic scenery of the West has been featured in numerous movies. The breath-taking vistas of buttes and mesas are visible around every turn on the dirt valley road.
3. Rainbow Bridge National Monument – The largest natural bridge in the world, this impressive structure lies deep in the canyon occupied by Lake Mead and must be reached by boat or by a very long and arduous hike. The area is sacred to Native Americans and should respected by visitors.
4. Meteor Crater – Fifty thousand years ago, the flat Arizona desert exploded from the impact of a comet or asteroid. The crater remains and is a somber reminder of the potential devastation which can be caused by small solar system objects.
5. Petrified Forest National Park – This national park has two different but related attractions. The petrified trees for which it is named are found throughout the park — their amazing transformation from living thing to rock is preserved in the dramatic colors and shiny features of the logs. The northern part of the park displays the Painted Desert, an area of sandstone badlands which vibrant reds and whites and grays.
6. Canyon de Chelly National Monument – This Navaho tribal land preserves for visitors an area once inhabited by native Americans amid the stark, desert landscape.
7. Red Rock Canyon and Sedona – The ride through Oak Creek Canyon passes numerous unusual sandstone formations which give the area its name. The town of Sedona has long been known as a place for artists, adventurers, and other avant-garde members of society.
8. Saguaro National Park – This park, actually two separate areas on either side of Tucson, features the world’s largest cactus which grows only in this region. Many other plants are found on the premises as well as beautiful mountain and desert scenery.
9. Mission San Xavier del Bac – The "White Dove of the Desert" is a classic Spanish mission located in the desert near the city of Tucson. The interior of the church needs maintenance but is nevertheless interesting to visit.
10. Lake Mead National Recreation Area/Hoover Dam – The Hoover Dam, straddling the border between Arizona and Nevada, is considered one of the most significant engineering achievements of the Twentieth Century. Lake Mead, which was created when the dam was built, is now a fabulous recreation area for all sorts of water sports and activities.
Other sites considered:
Walnut Canyon National Monument
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument