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The Best Places to See in Arizona, the Desert State

by Admin 1. June 2009 01:04
On the border with Mexico, the sunny state of Arizona is primarily known for its desert-like terrain, though there are also a number of microclimates that are lush and green. The arid-temperatures in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona's largest cities, reach into the 100s during the summer, but are balmy throughout the winter. The Northern parts of Arizona are mountainous. Among these peaks the climate is cool and mild during the summertime, which gives rise to richer vegetation and extensive pine forests. However, in the winter months these summits play host to snowboarders and skiers.

Located at the northernmost part of the state, the main tourist destination in Arizona is the impressive Grand Canyon. Formed over 6 million years ago and spanning 277 miles, it is one of the most breathtaking natural landmarks in the world. The South Rim of the Grand Canyon has most of the activity centers and historical buildings, such as the Desert View Watchtower, but to get the best vistas overlooking the gorge, most visitors head to the North Rim. The Grand Canyon Skywalk, a 20-meter ledge of glass protruding over the edge of the canyon, also offers fantastic views, and the dizzying illusion of being suspended 1,200 meters above the floor! There are hundreds of things to do in and around this destination alone including whitewater rafting, hiking, visiting the museums, camping, and taking tours by coach or by air.

Flagstaff lies just south of the Grand Canyon at the foot of the San Francisco Peaks, the highest mountain range in the state. This easy-going town, full of activities and cultural interests, is the home of Northern Arizona University which adds to the friendly atmosphere. The acclaimed Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra holds concerts from September through April for classical music lovers, while folk and acoustic fans will enjoy the many annual music festivals that take place during the summer. Flagstaff is a great place for outdoor enthusiasts, campers, skiers, climbers, and mountain bikers.

In the heart of Arizona is Sedona, a beautiful mountain setting. Visitors come to this peaceful city primarily for the amazing sunsets over the Red Rocks. The naturally formed features of the unique red sandstone have garnered names such as "Coffeepot Rock", "The Mittens", and even "Snoopy", after the Peanuts comic strip. The wonderful backdrop serves to enhance the experience of hiking and camping in the area. Another of Sedona's claims to fame is its reputation as a "spiritual Mecca" for healing and insights. People come from all over the world to feel the energy that is said to flow through the area.

Though surprising to some, Arizona has an active wine country, with around 16 wineries and 650 acres of vineyards. There are several wineries that offer tastings and places for picnics.

Looking for the road less traveled? Check out some of the hidden gems that Arizona has to offer: The infamous city of Tombstone is site of the historic fight between the Earp family and the McLaurys; the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. It contains the graveyard "Boot Hill", where victims of the gunfight are buried. Also in the city is the world's largest rosebush, covering 8,000 square feet.

If you have time and want a unique sight, Texas Canyon has some of the strangest landscapes imaginable. Located near Tombstone in Cochise County, the canyon is often called "Land of the Weird Rocks" by locals due to the large number of oddly-shaped granite boulders peppered throughout the area, resembling a set of the Flinstones.
And, of course, there are cacti. National and State Parks are centered around the assorted cactus-types, showcasing the impressive Saguaros. Around these parks the months of July and August are known as "monsoon season" for the terrific lightning storms that drench the region. The "Grand Canyon State" offers PGA golf tournaments, bicycling for both street and mountain, and an opportunity to experience a land rife with history and scenery.

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