Wander. Explore. Dine.

Beautiful of Arizona

Explore The Beauty Of Arizona

Arizona is a big state with lots to see and do. But where should you start? We have your answer!

NATURE: Arizona’s vernal pools dry up in summer, but for a few weeks each year, they are a haven for fairy shrimp and other aquatic species.

Have you ever seen a fairy shrimp?

Fairy shrimp are tiny crustaceans that live in vernal pools during the spring and summer but dry up in summer heat. If you find yourself in Arizona during spring, check out some of these amazing pools and see what’s floating around.

NATURE: The state’s official bird is the cactus wren, which often nests in saguaros — between the spines, where predators can’t reach them.

CREDIT: DCA88 | DEPOSIT PHOTOS

You’ve probably seen the cactus wrens that inhabit the deserts of Arizona. These small, round-headed birds with long tails are known for their beautiful songs and for nesting in saguaros — between the spines, where predators can’t reach them. They are the state bird of Arizona.

DRIVE: The Mormon Lake Loop circles one of Arizona’s most scenic lakes and passes through a forest filled with aspens and ponderosa pines.

The Mormon Lake Loop circles one of Arizona’s most scenic lakes and passes through a forest filled with aspens and ponderosa pines. The drive is popular, but it’s hard to overstate how idyllic this region is. The loop starts in Flagstaff, where you can stop for lunch at the Weatherford Hotel (23 N Leroux St; weatherfordhotel.com). From there, take Route 180 east to Happy Jack Road (Happy Jack Rd), which leads north past Mormon Lake State Park ($10 per vehicle). After about 30 miles, turn left onto Forest Road 3006, so you can trace the lake’s western shoreline on your way back to Flagstaff. This road also takes you past several campgrounds—Mormon Campground ($20 per night) has just six sites but plenty of hiking opportunities within walking distance (no reservations).

If you have time, pause in Ponderosa State Park ($12 per vehicle) at milepost 456 on State Route 89A; this park offers great views of Mount Elden and Phoenix off in the distance. Then turn right onto 89A and head south toward Show Low until it meets up again with US 66/Route 80 again just west of Springerville—which is also home to some excellent Mexican food at El Charro Cafe (100 E Deuce Of Clubs Ave).

HIKE: For stunning views of Sedona and its red rock formations, hike Bear Mountain Trail in Red Rock State Park.

This is a moderate hike on an easy-to-follow trail that leads to a stunning view of Sedona and its red rock formations. It’s also great for families because you can take your dog if it’s leashed and controlled.

The hike starts at the Bear Mountain Trailhead (at the end of Red Rock Parkway). The first part of this hike is easy—it’s flat for about two miles before reaching a hill with some switchbacks. Then, the path levels out again until reaching the summit. If you want to see more views or do some sightseeing along the way, there are plenty of side trails that lead off from Bear Mountain Trail:

  • Roadside Ruin Trail – This short spur leads through an old homestead area with foundations, artifacts, and petroglyphs.
  • Upper Hellsgate Trail – A longer option for those looking for even more exercise as they traverse Slickrock hillsides with incredible views into downtown Sedona below them before connecting back up with Bear Mountain Trail at its south end near Oak Creek Vista Point.

You’ll need water on this hike; make sure you bring plenty! Also, be sure to wear sturdy shoes or hiking boots—the last thing anyone wants after spending hours hiking in beautiful nature is sore feet!

DINING: At Canyon Village Marketplace in Grand Canyon National Park, you’ll find Native American souvenirs, colorful jewelry, and necklaces.

You can experience Native American culture at Canyon Village Marketplace, a shopping and dining location in Grand Canyon National Park. The marketplace offers Native American souvenirs like pottery, jewelry, and baskets. It also carries colorful jewelry and necklaces that showcase the unique traditions of indigenous peoples around the world. The food court has a variety of food options, including burgers and pizza; there are also healthy choices like wraps or salads if you want something lighter.

SHOP LOCAL: For a taste of Mexico north of the border, you can sample tequilas at Hacienda Del Arte Tequila in Bisbee.

CREDIT: NEILLD | DEPOSIT PHOTOS

Tastes of Mexico north of the border: If you’re looking for a taste of Mexico in Arizona, head to Hacienda Del Arte Tequila in Bisbee to sample tequilas made from the blue agave plant. The succulent plant is native to Mexico, and its signature leaves are used to make mezcal (a smoky spirit also distilled from the plant) and tequila.

Tequila is a distilled spirit made from fermented blue agave. To be called “tequila”, it must be produced in one of five Mexican states—all located south of Arizona—and meet other requirements set by law; however, other types of distilled spirits can be made using blue agave as well (such as mezcal).

You can learn more about this unique drink at Hacienda Del Arte Tequila:

DRIVE: In warmer months, take a spin on the historic Merry-Go-Round at San Xavier del Bac Mission south of Tucson.

Located south of Tucson, the San Xavier del Bac Mission is home to the historic Merry-Go-Round. The ride was built in 1924 and features a variety of animals and wooden figures, including donkeys, horses, tigers, and camels.

Horses have been a part of Arizona’s history since Spanish explorers found them roaming wild in the region. They were used as workhorses on farms and ranches by early settlers until the advent of automobiles made them obsolete; however, horseback riding remains popular today in this southwestern state known for its wide open spaces and warm climate year-round.

As you can see, there are so many things to do in Arizona. The great thing about this state is that it has something for everyone. Whether it be hiking or shopping, there is something here for everyone. So get out there and explore!

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