Although Arizona can be one of the hottest states in the US, it’s also known for its beautiful snowy mountain peaks, deep-set waterfalls hidden in luscious canyons, and, of course, the impressive saguaro cacti.
The Grand Canyon State is more than just its wildlife and nature, though. Arizona is one of the only two states in the country that don’t follow Daylight Savings Time (Hawaii is the other).
The state also tries to stay modern, focusing on green solar energy and tech industries. Other newer policies include updated legislation supporting medical marijuana for those with MMJ cards (available through companies like Veriheal) and for recreational purposes.
If you’re lucky enough to live in this majestic state, you may explore a fraction of what it offers. But if you’re visiting or otherwise on limited time, you want to find the places with the best views. Here are four of Arizona’s most picturesque locations you won’t want to miss.
With 4,166 named mountains across the state, you’re sure to find at least one in your area. But if you get the chance to visit Mount Lemmon, don’t pass it up!
Here, you’ll find an outdoor recreation area open all year. In addition to the panoramic vistas giving you an excellent view of the Coronado National Forest and Santa Catalina Range, you’ll also enjoy hiking, camping, rock climbing, and picnics.
It’s a popular hangout in the dog days of summer because it’s always about 30 degrees cooler than the lower-level cities. During winter, this temperature difference attracts snow- and adventure-seekers to the Ski Valley and SkyCenter at Mount Lemmon.
Saguaro National Park
Iconic images of Arizona frequently include the notorious saguaro cactus, the largest cacti in the country. Native to the state’s Sonoran Desert, this plant is abundantly found in the sprawling deserts around Tuscon.
Take a day trip to Saguaro National Park and explore the various trails found throughout the area. You’ll see the scenic wonder of Garwood Dam, hike the nearly six-and-a-half miles of Wildhorse Tank, and experience the cacti ecosystem along Wild Dog Trail. You can even tent camp in the backcountry wilderness for an immersive experience under the open starry skies.
The park is open all year, but hiking is discouraged during hot summer months due to a lack of natural shade. Bring your own hydration and snacks, as only water fountains are available at the visitor centers.
Explorers of the well-known Havasu Falls need a permit before starting this adventure, but it’s a bucket list item for many. (Note: Sycamore Falls is an excellent alternative if you can’t get into Havasu.)
A trip to Havasu Falls is only available in one-night or longer reservations. The Falls are located on the Havasupai Indian Reservation, so permits are sold by the Havasupai Tribe. Permits are sold starting February 1 of each year and are first-come, first-served.
Visitors may stay at the campground or sleep at Havasupai Lodge. The hike itself takes you into the remote canyons and valleys, giving you some shade along the way.
As with all self-guided or group hikes, you’ll need to bring plenty of water and provide your own meals. Once you get to the bottom of the canyon, you’ll have the opportunity to swim in the crystal-clear Havasu Falls.
With a name like Painted Desert, you automatically expect a colorful experience and won’t be disappointed.
Spread across over 950,000 acres that stretch from Grand Canyon National Park through the Petrified National Forest, you can explore the Painted Desert nearly anywhere in Arizona.
The name refers to the bold, rich pink, red, and lavender colors that encompass the natural landscape created by millions of years of floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. Some people say the striped colors look like Neapolitan ice cream.
Visitors can’t resist the scenic wonder of the multi-colored hills interspersed with mesas and buttes that, over 200 million years, have created the Chinle Formation. The area’s name came from Francisco Vazquez de Coronado, an explorer in the 1540s who fell in love with the colors and called it El Desierto Pintado.
If you’re limited on time, you can get the most impact in a short period by driving through Main Park Road and pulling to the educational vista areas along the way. Should you opt for one of the trails instead, be sure to watch out for coyotes and other wildlife.
Arizona is easily one of the most beautiful states in the country, full of various ecosystems all within a few hours’ drive of each other. Whether you’re looking for mountainous peaks or deep canyons and waterfalls, you’ll find it here. Visiting these four picturesque locations is the tip of the iceberg, but it will give you a good idea of the state’s magnificent geography.