Arizona bucket list: take a look at these top 10 best things to do in Arizona that are guaranteed to satisfy your wanderlust!
Arizona – Wild Wild West and a state that delights with landscapes is the dream of every traveler.
It is often called the Grand Canyon State because of the natural wonder located in its area. Famous for the saguaro cactus, vast deserts, slot canyons, and unusual rock formations, Arizona is a great blend of Native American, Western, and Mexican cultures.
However, it pays to be well-prepared when planning an Arizona road trip itinerary. Some places are not easily accessible or may require a permit.
This article features the 10 top things to do in Arizona – the most beautiful places in Arizona that should not be missed.
Top 10 Best Things To Do In Arizona, USA
Arizona is indisputably one of the world’s great travel destinations; here are the top 10 best attractions that are guaranteed to satisfy your wanderlust!
Enjoy Sunset Over The Toroweap Overlook
There is one place on the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River where you will be speechless. When you stand over the canyon’s rim, a shiver will run down your spine. This place is called Toroweap Overlook (aka Tuweep).
Although it is part of Grand Canyon National Park, it is not easy to get here. It is far less popular than the famous South Rim or North Rim. The drive to this viewpoint takes over 3 hours one way on a bumpy, rocky, and gravel road.
The fastest way to get there is from the town of Kanab. But a high-suspension car, preferably a 4WD, and good driving skills are mandatory. In addition, the national park authorities have introduced a system of compulsory reservation of permits for access to the Toroweap Overlook, which also does not make the visit easy.
There is no water, gas, food, lodging, or phone service. At 3,000 vertical feet (915 m) above the Colorado River, the sheer drop from Toroweap Overlook offers a breathtaking view.
Catch The Lights Beam In Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon is a magical, almost unrealistic rock formation hidden by nature beneath the rocky surface of the Arizona desert.
You must book a tour with a licensed guide to reach it because these formations are located on the land of the Navajo Tribe near Page. It is worth booking the trip in advance because it is one of Arizona’s top things to do and one of the most visited and photographed canyons in the US.
Antelope Canyon is also known as Corkscrew Canyon and is a slot canyon. It was formed over millions of years when sandstone was washed away by flash floods.
The canyon actually consists of two parts. It is divided into the upper (Upper Antelope Canyon) and the lower (Lower Antelope Canyon). Each canyon has its entrance and exit, and there are separate tours for each as well.
If you book the time around noon, when the sun is at its highest point in the sky, you might have a chance to catch spectacular beams of light shining through the narrow slits to the bottom of the canyon.
Admire The Symmetry Of The Horseshoe Bend
One of the most fantastic attractions in Arizona, Horseshoe Bend, is located near the town of Page.
The Colorado River, flowing from Lake Powell directly into Colorado Canyon, bends into picturesque Glen Canyon, forming a unique horseshoe shape. It’s hard to believe that nature created such a perfect and symmetrical shape. It’s one of those views that will stay with you forever.
It’s also one of the best destinations in Arizona, mainly because getting there is easy and can be done by anyone. The trail to the cliff’s edge is short (3/4 mile) and easy. You walk on a wide paved path the entire time. But, of course, you must be careful when you reach the lookout.
The Horseshoe Bend viewpoint is the work of the Colorado River, which meandered through the shale and sand cliffs of the Colorado Plateau for thousands of years, creating this place.
From the edge of the cliff, we have a view of the canyon as it winds in a beautiful arc (270°) around the Colorado River. It descends 1000 feet (305 m) into the river. So, do not go too close to the edge, and be careful not to slip into the abyss!
Step Into A Western Movie In Monument Valley
Monument Valley is undoubtedly one of the most majestic and photographed sights in the United States. This gigantic valley is located on the border between two states, Utah and Arizona, and is overwhelming in its beauty and majesty.
Fractured red sandstone buttes, the most gigantic of which rise 1,000 feet (300 m) above the valley floor, form unique formations. What’s more, it is in Navajo Tribal Park, a sacred place where Native American families have lived for generations.
John Ford, fascinated by this place, eagerly shot his movies here. The best and most famous westerns of all time were shot here.
The first Western by John Ford set in a Monument Valley landscape was the 1939 film Stagecoach, with John Wayne as the lead actor. Other John Ford classic western movies shot here are The Searchers, Fort Apache, How the West Was Won, and The Rio Grande. Monument Valley was also the setting for famous modern films such as Easy Rider, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Forrest Gump.
In total, more than 100 feature films have been shot in Monument Valley. So be sure to put on a cowboy hat and take a picture from this most famous Western movie set!
Take A Helicopter Flight Over the Grand Canyon
Some people come to Arizona to see this one attraction – the Grand Canyon, one of the most recognizable places in the USA.
The Grand Canyon was carved by the Colorado River and is the most spectacular canyon in the world. It cuts through the Grand Canyon National Park. A visit to the Grand Canyon is an adventure of a lifetime.
Its horizontal layers trace the geological history of the last 2 billion years. There are also prehistoric traces of human adaptation to a particularly harsh environment.
Its vastness is breathtaking. The 1.5-kilometer (0.9-mile) deep canyon ranges from 500 meters to 30 kilometers (0.3 miles to 18.6 miles). It winds 276.5 miles (445 km). The buttes, towers, and mesas in the canyon are actually mountains that you look down on from the rims.
You can explore the Grand Canyon in many ways. Some viewpoints are effortless to reach, and the views are spectacular. There are short and long hiking trails. However, one of the top things to do in Arizona is a helicopter flight over the Grand Canyon. Only from this perspective will you feel and see the true power of nature. You will find the largest selection of tours in Tusayan, the closest to the Grand Canyon South Rim.
Stand On The Devil’s Bridge In Sedona
Sedona is the city between the red rocks and is considered one of the most beautiful in the USA. Therefore, it is worth planning your stay, as finding accommodation in the high season can be challenging.
The city itself is fascinating and worth stopping in for art galleries, beautiful architecture, and excellent food. But the best is waiting for you outside.
There are hundreds of fantastic hiking trails around Sedona, one of the most exciting being the hike to Devil’s Bridge. The trail itself is not challenging. It’s 3.9 miles round trip. But once you reach this largest natural arch in Arizona, it takes courage to climb Devils Bridge. If you suffer from a fear of heights, you can, of course, admire it from a safe distance. The path leading to the center of Devil’s Bridge is very narrow. At its narrowest point, it is only around 10 feet/3 meters wide. The chasm of 65 feet (20 m) can effectively scare the most experienced hikers away.
Take A Picture With The Giant Saguaro Cacti
Saguaro National Park in suburban Tucson is home to 1.8 million saguaro cacti. No fewer than 25 species of cacti grow in this park. But the most important and largest is the saguaro, which grows only in part of the Sonoran Desert. It is one of the symbols of Arizona and can be seen on the state’s license plates.
In the beginning, saguaro cacti grow very slowly. It can take up to 70 years for them to grow out their arms! At about 150 years, these cacti reach their full height, 39-49 feet (12-15 m). The largest specimens, however, reach over 65 feet (20 m) tall. Some of them can live up to 250 years.
Saguaro National Park offers excellent driving trails, exciting hiking trails, and spectacular sunsets over the giant cacti.
Get Your Kicks On Route 66
One of the top things to do in Arizona, besides admiring natural landscapes, is visiting the remains of towns on the famous Route 66.
U.S. Route 66, also known as the Mother Road, opened on November 11, 1926. It was a 2,448-mile (3,939 km) road in the United States that connected Chicago with Los Angeles.
Local businesses thrived along this route in the 1930s and 1960s. Unfortunately, the construction of the new Interstate 40 freeway led to the collapse and depopulation of towns along Route 66. However, some sections of U.S. Route 66 that run through the states of Illinois, New Mexico, and Arizona were designated a National Scenic Byway called Historic Route 66 in 2005.
If you are in Arizona, you should visit at least a few towns along this road. The best Route 66 towns in Arizona are Williams, Flagstaff, Saligman, and Hackberry. When visiting Williams, be sure to go for a drink in a stylish Sultana Bar.
Route 66 has been an inspiration to many creators. John Steinbeck described the exodus of settlers westward in the 1930s in his novel The Grapes of Wrath. In 1946, Bobby Troup wrote the song Get Your Kicks on Route Sixty Six. The Rolling Stones and Depeche Mode recorded their own versions of this song. The 2006 animated film Cars, directed by John Lasseter, also references the Route 66 legend.
Take A Backpacking Hike To Havasu Falls
Havasu Falls is the hidden gem of Arizona. Tucked away at the base of the Grand Canyon is a green oasis with five breathtaking Havasu Creek Waterfalls. The place is every adventure seeker’s dream.
Getting there requires months of preparation. It’s located on the land of the Havasupai Indian tribe, which only issues a minimal number of travel permits. Once you manage to get your permit, you are in for a long and challenging 10-mile trek through the desert.
When you arrive at the campsite, there is no electricity, utilities, internet, or amenities. However, you will find yourself in true paradise on earth.
You will have three days to explore this eerie terrain with five waterfalls. To reach two of them (Beaver Falls and Mooney Falls), you’ll have to do another challenging hike. At the others, you can wade in the water or swing in a hammock and relax.
Stand In Two States At Once On Hoover Dam
Las Vegas is often chosen as the starting and ending point for a road trip through Arizona. Although it’s in Nevada, it’s a great base for exploring the Southwest, especially since it has excellent international flight connections and reasonable rates on rental cars.
If you choose this option, be sure to include Hoover Dam in your itinerary. It is an unusual structure located on the Arizona-Nevada border. If you choose to walk along the dam, you can be in both states at the same time!
The concrete dam on the Colorado River was built in the 1930s. It is named after the 31st U.S. president, Herbert Hoover.
The dam is currently one of the ten largest hydroelectric dams in the world. But when it was completed in 1936, it was both the largest hydroelectric power plant and the largest concrete structure in the world.
In 1981, the dam was added to the National List of Historic Places, and in 1985, it became a National Historic Monument of the United States. Hoover Dam forms Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States by volume at full pool.
This impressive structure is an excellent place for a stop, as it offers stunning views and exciting water activities.
About The Author Of “Top 10 Best Things To Do In Arizona That Will Satisfy Your Wanderlust”
Agnes Stabinska is a photographer, SEO expert, content writer, and co-owner of The Van Escape. Together with her partner Chris, they travel around America and share their experiences. On their blog, you’ll find ready-made itineraries, tips, and essential tools to prepare for your unforgettable journey. Their most extended road trip by RV from Alaska to Florida took eight months, and they covered 26000 miles and explored fabulous places. Arizona is one of their favorite states in the southwestern US, which they have visited many times.
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