Best places to explore in Arizona

Top 18 of the most beautiful places to visit in Arizona

Land of sprawling burnt red and orange deserts and other-worldly rock formations that have to be seen to be believed, Arizona is seemingly made for lovers of the great outdoors and scenic road trips. It’s also home to villages dating back thousands of years of history, sacred sites, world-famous protected areas, and endless skies, yep this US state has soul! Here are my favorite best and most beautiful places to visit in wonderful Arizona…

The Grand Canyon National Park – one of the best and famously most stunning places to visit in Arizona

The beautiful Grand Canyon

I’d have to start my Arizona list with one of the most popular and famous national parks to visit in the country. This beautiful national park is the home to the majestic Grand Canyon which houses layers and layers of red rocks. These divulge in millions of years of geological history.

Some of the popular viewpoints which will give you a stunning and up-close view to the Grand Canyon are Mather Point, Yavapai Observation Station, and also the renowned architect Mary Colter’s Lookout Studio and her Desert View Watchtower as well. Another stellar viewpoint you should not miss would be the Lipan Point, which will give you a direct view of both the canyon and Colorado River. I’d also give you a heads-up on trying to either catch the sunset or sunrise in this beautiful place to visit in Aronizia.

Monument Valley – a beautiful and an iconic symbol of the American West

Monument Valley Arizona

Grand Canyon - best attractions in Arizona

This extraordinary red-sand desert region located on the border of Arizona-Utah is famous for its jaw-dropping and highly photogenic tall and gigantic sandstone buttes. The Monument Valley is located within the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park and is famous for being the shooting locations for several Hollywood movies over the years.

John Ford’s Point is one viewpoint that gives you a sweeping view of the slopped Mittens buttes. There are several stories behind this monument valley and if you are someone who likes to visit a place and know more about its history, then definitely visit this wonderful natural attraction in Arizona!

Antelope Canyon – a surreally beautiful and jaw-dropping place to explore in Arizona

The best places to visit in Arizona

Antelope Canyon - best places to explore in Arizona

Easily one of the best places and most popular places to visit in Arizona, this unique and surreally beautiful natural attraction is located Navajo Reservation near Page, a city in Coconino County. It’s a slot canyon which includes two separate sections which are equally as scenic – the Upper Antelope Canyon (knows as The Crack), and Lower Antelope Canyon (known as The Corkscrew).

Being located on scared land, it also has a very important spiritual significance and so can’t be toured without a guide (and you’ll also have to obtain a park permit). It’s most definitely worth it though due to its extraordinary beauty – there really is no other place on earth quite like this!

Cathedral Rock – one of the most-photographed sights in Arizona

Cathedral Rock Arizona

Oak Creek Canyon - places to visit in Arizona

This incredible natural sandstone butte which soars upwards on the Sedona skyline and has the accolade of being one of the most-photographed sights in Arizona. It also offers one of the most scenic hikes in the US and people flock for miles to hike and climb the wonderful landmark.

The views from the top are just beautiful! Although please be warned the 1.5-mile round trip can steep in some places and requires some climbing along the way. Visit and sunset though and you really won’t be disappointed!

Sky Island Scenic Byway – one of the most scenic road routes in Arizona

Sky Island Scenic Byway

The drive over the Sky Island Scenic Byway in Arizona (otherwise known as Mt. Lemmon Highway) comes with a height of 6,000 plus feet and it begins with the forests in the Sonoran Desert. Located in Pima County in southern Arizona, the skyway ends with the cool and evergreen forests of the Santa Catalina Mountains.

The climate change within the stretch of this stunning byway is as different as it would be from driving to Southern Arizona from the North of Montana. It is said with the climb of every 1000 feet in this byway is your chance to explore all four seasons in one day!

Vermilion Cliff National Monument – easily one of the best places to go in Arizona

Vermilion Cliffs - stunning places to visit in Arizona

Easily one of the most beautiful places to explore in Arizona this wonderful national monument is located in the northern Coconino county of Arizona. It protects the Vermilion Cliff, Coyote Buttes, Paria Canyon, and Paria Plateau. You can drive by the U.S Highway 89A between Jacob Lake and Marble Canyon in the state to reach this picturesque location.

You can enjoy a weekend out here hiking and exploring with your family and bring your pets out with you too! Some of the top sights to check out include White Pocket, Buckskin Gulch, Waterholes Canyon, Navajo Bridge, and The Wave.

Sedona – a desert town surrounded by stunning scenery and hiking  trails

Sedona - best places to visit in Arizona

This desert town located in the state of Arizona is located near Flagstaff and is surrounded by red-rock buttes, deep canyon walls, and unending stretches of pine forests. Sedona is popular for its mild climate and a vibrant community for arts and culture.

The Red Rock State Park is located on the outskirts of this quaint town and the numerous scenic trail-heads include Devil’s Bridge Trail, Cathedral Rock Hike, and Doe Mountain Trail. Planning a trip with your pooch? We also have a post on the best dog-friendly hotels to visit in Sedona and the best pet-friendly hotels to visit in Flagstaff.

Oak Creek Canyon – known as the smaller cousin of The Grand Canyon

Oak Creek Canyon

This beautiful river gorge in the northern part of the Arizona state and is wedged in between the towns of Flagstaff and Sedona. It is nicknamed the ‘smaller cousin of the Grand Canyon’ for the sheer scenic beauty it possesses and makes a fantastic place to visit in the state.

There are several options for a tourist to explore and they include the Art Mart Gallery, Sedona Arts Center, and West Fork Hiking Trail. It is just a 13-mile drive from the town of Sedona so I would definitely recommend a visit!

Grand Falls Navajo – often known as ‘Chocolate Falls’ due to its unique color

Grand Falls Navajo

This natural waterfall system is situated 30 miles from the northeast of the town of Flagstaff. The Grand falls are a part of the Painted Desert on the Navajo Nation.

Definitely one of the most stunning places to explore in Arizona, the color of the waterfalls has given it a direct nickname – Chocolate Falls and is said to be taller than the Niagara Falls at a height of 185-feet. The Little Colorado River receives snowmelt or seasonal rain dump from the waterfalls.

Saguaro National Park – the stunning national park is one of the best places to visit in Arizona

Saguaro National Park Arizona

This national park is located towards the south of Arizona State and has two sections located on the two ends of the city of Tucson. The beautiful park – which is one of the top attractions in Arizona – is named after the large saguaro cactus which belongs to the desert environment.

The western end of the Tucson Mountain District is the Signal Hill Trail which leads you to the ancient Hohokam people. They are the natives who have been living here for centuries. You shouldn’t miss out on the Cactus Forest Drive which is a loop road and offers jaw-dropping views of the desert landscape!

Petrified Forest National Park – a scenic protected area named for its large deposits of petrified wood

Petrified Forest National Park

Arizona State is a fantastic place to visit for several national parks and stunning landscape views. The Petrified Forest National Park is in the northeastern part of the state and towards the south of it is the Rainbow Forest Museum and is one of the best places to go in the state.

The museum is the home to priceless paleontology exhibits and is the access to several trial points. The center of the park is the home to the ruined remains of the Puerco Pueblo village and petroglyphs of Newspaper Rock.

Tombstone – the Arizona town famous for its ‘Wild West’ history

Tombstone Arizona

This wonderfully unique town located on the southeastern side of Arizona is extremely famous for its Wild West history. It is just a 90-minute drive from the city of Tucson and there are several interesting spots to cover if you decide to visit.

One would be the historical spots from the ‘Wild West’ era and several enactments of the gunfight happen at the OK Corral. History buffs, you know this is your town! Some of the spots to check out from this city would be The Bird Cage Theatre, Good Enough Mine Tour, Old Tombstone Western Theme Park, and Tombstone Courthouse State. A fantastically fun and interesting place to go in Arizona.

Apache Lake – one of the most beautiful lakes in Arizona

Apache Lake Arizona

It is one of the four reservoirs that are built along the branches of the Salt River in Arizona. This popular destination is within the Tonto National Forest and is famous for its hiking trails along the lake. There is a resort for tourists to stay at and enjoy a couple of days at the stunning lake.

There are many species of fish found in the lake including yellow bass, crappie, sunfish, walleye, and carp. Some of the top and most beautiful sights in the Apache Lake include Crabtree Wash, Davis Wash, Horse Mesa Dam, and Roosevelt Lake Bridge.

Camp Verde – a popular resort town where you can enjoy endless outdoor recreation

Camp Verde USA

This quaint little town is located in Yavapai County in Arizona. It is extremely popular for its yearly corn festival conducted in July which is organized by the Hauser and Hauser Farms. It’s also a great place to get learn about American Indian history and the science of archaeology.

The rural farming and ranch community in the town will welcome you with their friendly nature. It is your go-to place to visit in Arizona if you want to have a relaxing countryside vacation. There are many great family-based and outdoor activities for you to enjoy here and some of the top sights at Camp Verde are the Fort Verde State Historic Park, Predator Zip Lines, and Verde Hot Springs.

Meteor Crater National natural landmark – one of the best-preserved meteor craters in the world

Meteor Crater National

This truly magnificent meteor crater is located around 37 miles to the east of Flagstaff, an Arizona town. It is known as one of the world’s best-preserved examples of a meteor crater and is a fantastic and really fascinating place to visit.

The interesting part about this Arizona attraction is that it’s privately owned but is open to the public, it’s recognized as a national natural landmark and is one of only two known meteor sites in the country. Wonderful!

Canyon Lake – a fantastic place to visit in Arizona for watersports and camping enthusiasts

Canyon Lake Arizona

This is another reservoir that was formed by turning the Salt River into a dam. The other we mentioned in this list is Apache Lake! The weather here is great for water sports throughout the year and tourists flock to this lake to try all sorts of fun water activities.

Camping lovers will also enjoy this lake due to the pleasant weather. All in all a lovely place to visit in and explore in Arizona.

Canyon De Chelly National Monument – for gorgeous one-of-a-kind landscapes

Canyon De Chelly - beautiful places to explore in Arizona

This vast and very beautiful national monument is situated on the northeastern side of the state of Arizona and sits on Navajo tribal lands. One and important and awe-inspiring feature of Canyon De Chelly is the Spider Rock Spire which is a whopping 800-foot tall sandstone cliff and this surrounds a beautiful and verdant canyon.

Many Native American people reside around here and the area has prehistoric rock art. The Mummy Cave and White House Ruins house the remains of the centuries-old Pueblo villages. One of the best spots in Arizona to explore for both nature loves and history buffs!

The San Francisco Peaks – a stunning and scared volcanic mountain range in Arizona

San Francisco Peaks Arizona

Ths volcanic mountain range is both a beauty spot and a sacred Native American site. Located in north-central Arizona, not too far from the popular city of Flagstaff so this makes a great day trip if you’re staying overnight there.

It’s also home to Arizona’s highest point, Humphreys Peak, stands at a huge 12,633 feet in elevation. A lovely place to visit in Arizona, the beautiful mountain range offers visitors many outdoor activities. There are many hiking trails offering pretty scenery, a few campsites and you can also play golf, go skiing, snowboarding, take the Skyride lift up Mt. Humphreys from Snowbowl, or just go for a scenic drive.

Of course, it’s hard to mention every fantastic place to visit in this incredibly stunning US state, other great places to explore in Arizona include Phoenix the capital and most populous city in Arizona which is known for its year-round sun, Tucson with its thriving cultural scene and stunning natural surroundings, Scottsdale a desert city in Arizona known for its spa resorts and golf cour, the increasingly cool desert city of Flagstaff, and of course sin city itself, Las Vegas!

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Michael Anderson

Ever since he was knee-high to a grasshopper Michael has always been a sucker for an adventure. As a kid he was lucky enough to live for many years in some exotic far-flung locations and since then he’s developed a taste for new cultures. So much in fact he now travels the world as a trading digital nomad, exploring the sizzling street markets of Bangkok to yoga retreat dotted Sri Lanka and everything in between! He also has a special fondness for exotic cuisine and fine wine and definitely knows his clarets from his chiantis. He counts Cuba, Tanzania, Amsterdam, Laos and Cambodia as his favourite destinations.

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