Home to ghosts towns, mountain ranges and the omnipresent Grand Canyon, Arizona is more than just painted desert. Nicknamed after one of the original seven wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon State has several large bodies of water, rivers, lakes and lush forests and shares the largest reservoir in the U.S., with Nevada. The Grand Canyon State is a melting pot of various cultures from its days of the wild west, including several Native American tribes, early settlers and cowboy mythology.
The state's namesake attraction is unquestionably one of America's biggest attractions, and for good reason. The spectacular landscape carved by eons of the Colorado River powering along the canyon’s wall is a marvel that simply must be seen. The canyon walls sparkle with brilliant colors of red orange and yellow in the late-afternoon sunshine. Most of the best vantage points are found along the canyon's South Rim, where there is a paved road and walkways that run along the canyon's edge. During the busy season the road is closed to auto traffic, but a free tram runs along the road every 15 minutes. Many charter bus companies offer trips for groups.
The 100-foot tall Havasu Falls, with its pools of bluish-green tinted water, is located on the Havasupai Indian Reservation. A tributary of the Colorado River, Havasu Creek has carved out numerous swimming basins in the travertine rock. In this idyllic valley a small band of Havasupai Indians, which means "people of the blue-green water", live a fairly-secluded life living off their small farming activities.
Phoenix, the capital of the Grand Canyon State, is the states largest city with a population of 1,537,058. Phoenix is actually the anchor of an expansive metropolitan area known as the "Valley of the Sun". The city is known for its golf resorts with golf courses designed by golfing great Jack Nicklaus and its professional sports teams, including the Cardinals football team, the Diamondbacks baseball team, the Phoenix Suns basketball team and the Coyotes hockey club. However, Phoenix has more than the typical big-city attractions. The Desert Botanical Gardens offer visitors a chance to experience the magnificent beauty of the Arizona desert in the heart of the city. Evening flashlight tours are given in the months when the desert fauna blossoms are in high bloom.
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
A stunning desert landscape surrounded by towering stone walls and covered in blue water, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is home to one of the biggest man-made lakes in the U.S., Lake Powell. Built between 1956 and 1964 to block the mighty Colorado River, the area encompasses Glen Canyon, Lees Ferry and Antelope Canyon. Because the area includes so many attractions, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is great place for a large group to organize a bus rental tour.
Visit the Old West
On the outskirts of Tucson, the state's second-largest city with 527,972 residents, Old Tucson is an active movie studio where such notable films as "Young Guns", "Little House on the Prairie" and "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" were filmed. However, Old Tucson is more than just a movie studio, but an actual old-west town from when the state was just a territory. While there are guide tours, as well as wild-west shows, visitors can roam the town on their own exploring structures that were built when the west was settled.
Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park spans the Utah and Arizona border. The impressive landscape looks like something out of an old-west movie with towering jagged-rock formations, spectacular buttes and massive sand dunes. Visitors are welcome to take a self drive-tour or guided tours, offered by the Navajo tribe are available.
Hoover Dam is regarded as one of the great engineering marvels in the world. Built during the great depression, the massive dam crosses over the Colorado River, linking the Grand Canyon State with Nevada where US 93 route crosses the 726 foot high dam, and offering several pullouts for viewing.
Set on the mountainside high over the desert floor, the old mining town of Jerome has not been forgotten. Jerome has become an area legend and is now a revamped old-west ghost town. The main street through town is a steep hill traversed with switchbacks where visitors can explore the old buildings that now holding interesting shops and restaurants. While many of the old-wooden buildings have been refurbished, some have been left standing as ruins to create an interesting contrast. The Gold King Mine Museum and Jerome State Historic Park provide a prospective into town's past. The Sliding Jail, originally built around 1928, was constructed on clay soil, so its quickly began sliding down the hill and now rests 2,500 feet further down the hill from its original location.