Things to see in Arizona beyond the Grand Canyon.
There so many things to see in Arizona beyond the mile-deep gorge in the ground known as the Grand Canyon. A whopping 6.3 million people came to Arizona last year (2017) to visit the Grand Canyon (up 2 million from just 10 years ago), but other things to see in Arizona include: historic native American sites, fascinating geological landscapes and true western culture.
Arizona is one of the most diverse states in the country. The weather in the lower half of the state, much of which is located within the Sonoran Desert, is absolutely spectacular from October through April. May through September, the northern part of the state is a great place for a reprieve from the heat of the desert. Here are some of my favorite things to see in Arizona beyond the Grand Canyon.
Monument Valley — one of the many incredible things to see in Arizona
One of the most iconic road trip scenes in the Southwest is Monument Valley. A view completely different than that of the Grand Canyon, but equally as impressive. Nature is the most prolific artist mankind has ever known, this is no more evident than at Monument Valley. Click the following link to see a guide to visiting Monument Valley.
Joshua Tree Parkway
When it comes to Joshua Trees, many think of the national park in California, however, one of the many things to see in Arizona is the Joshua Tree Parkway, which runs along U.S. 93, north of Wickenburg and South of Kingman. The Joshua Trees become the focal point of this drive around milepost 162. By milepost 169, the forest of Joshua Trees is brimming and you’ll see a sign that says, “Joshua Trees Parkway.”
One of the most unique things to see in Arizona is the landscape of the Painted Desert
The Painted Desert is known for its brilliant and varied colors, that not only include the more common red rock, but shades of lavender and other varying colors. There are many places to see the Painted Desert as it encompasses a large area, but one of the most concentrated is along HWY 89 heading north toward Page, or east on 160 toward Tuba City.
Jerome is an interesting and eclectic artist community that draws tourists form around the world for its history, haunted hotel, mine museum, art galleries and photographic opportunities. One of my favorite places to visit in Jerome is the Gold King Mine & Ghost Town–this place is a cornucopia of interesting cars and artifacts from yesteryear.
Sedona is a magical place with a scenery that is simply mesmerizing. Art lovers and recreational enthusiasts will rejoice. There is so much to see and do in Sedona, from various Jeep tours, meditation and walking tours, to shopping, gallery hopping, hiking, biking and dining at wonderful restaurants to playing in the crystal clear waters of Oak Creek.
This is an urban laboratory experiment located in the middle of the high desert just northeast of Cordes Junction, Arizona. This unique facility was the brain child of the famed architect, Paolo Soleri, the last remaining disciple to study under Frank Lloyd Wright. Click the following link to read more about Arcosanti.
Tombstone is the famous Wild West town known for the shootout at O.K. Corral. You can walk the very same streets that Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, Johnny Ringo, Ike Clanton and a host of other Western Legends walked over 130 years ago. You can just feel the history in as you stroll the streets. This is probably the most authentic Western Town left in the United States! This Arizona Road Trip is just an hour and a half southeast of Tucson.
Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monument
Visiting Sunset Crater is an unearthly experience. This is an extinct volcano where colorful cinder cones formed and large expanses of lava and ash, mostly obscured by vegetation, are showcased against the landscape with its deep black color. Many visitors drive through the 34-mile scenic loop that winds from Highway 89 through Sunset Crater Volcano, eventually leading to the Wupatki National Monument. The scenic loop leads from a high Ponderosa Pine forest, down nearly 2,000 feet in elevation to the red rocks and painted desert vistas of Wupatki.
Antelope Canyon in Northern Arizona
Antelope Canyon is one of the most popular things to see in Arizona. The smooth, wave-like walls of Antelope Canyon have been shaped by years of occasional flash flooding and wind, eroding the sandstone into the natural wonder we see today. Click the following link to read all about visiting Antelope Canyon, including a video of the experience.
Horseshoe bend is one of the most popular things to see in Arizona
Horseshoe Bend is one of the most iconic things to see in Arizona. It’s located just a few miles from Page Lake Powell and does require about a 1.4 mile round trip walk through sand. Click the following link to read all about visiting Horseshoe Bend.
Canyon De Chelly is one of the most underrated places in Arizona
Canyon De Chelly is a place where wind, water and time have etched a landscape masterpiece. While Canyon De Chelly may be considered a stepchild of the Grand Canyon, its beauty is no less spectacular. The area is made up of a series of sandstone canyons, some span for many miles. The views from the various overlooks each provide a different, but equally awe-inspiring scene. Take for example the lookout at Spider Rock—in the middle of this vast area, walled off by sheer cliffs that plunge some 700 feet to the valley floor. Or, the dramatic scene from the canyon floor where giant rock formations soar to the heavens. Canyon De Chelly is likely one of the most underrated things to see in Arizona.
Kartchner Cavers highlights the incredible diversity of the Grand Canyon State. Kartchner is one of the largest and most well-preserved living caves in the country…if not the world. If you’ve never been inside a cave before, this is the one you must see. Painstaking effort not only went into preserving the cave for generations to come, but also for making it the most comfortable cave for tourists to explore. Paved trails run throughout the cave system, making it easy for folks of all ages and abilities to explore. Click here to read more about Kartchner.
This is just a sample of the amazing things to see in Arizona. If you’d like to read more, click the following link to read about my top-25 Arizona Road Trip Destinations. If you have any questions about visiting Arizona, please leave a comment below, we’re happy to help you find your way through this wondrous state. Click the following link to see some travel videos on Arizona.