If you are looking for the most famous landmarks in Arizona, then you have come to the right place.
The southwestern state of Arizona is rich with culture and history, with a variety of natural and historical wonders that are sure to amaze and inspire. From incredible geological formations such as the Grand Canyon to epic manmade structures such as the Hoover Dam, there are plenty of incredible sites in Arizona waiting to be discovered by travelers.
That is why we have decided to write this article, so you too can enjoy some of the things Arizona is most known for! Without further ado, here are twenty of the most famous landmarks in Arizona!
Famous Natural Landmarks In Arizona
1. Grand Canyon
Perhaps the most famous site in Arizona is the Grand Canyon, one of the Natural Seven Wonders of the World. The Grand Canyon was formed by 6 million years of geological activity and erosion by the Colorado River. In fact, through the strata, scientists can date back to 2 billion years of geological data in the region.
The Grand Canyon forms the Grand Canyon National Park, which is unsurprisingly also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But visitors that come to Grand Canyon usually don’t come for the history, but rather the spectacular views.
It stretches over 277 miles long and has a maximum depth of over 1 mile. These statistics might sound impressive, but nothing can compare to seeing it in person and fully understanding the scale. Grand Canyon is one of the most spectacular gorges in the world!
The South Rim of Canyon is about 5 hours away from Phoenix, so visitors can take a day trip there if they wish!
2. Antelope Canyon
If you are a photographer, then you have probably heard of Antelope Canyon. It is one of the most photographed sites in all of Arizona, and for good reason!
The canyon was formed over millions of years ago by erosion from rain and wind. The eroded Navaja Sandstone created numerous narrow and deep slot canyons. In these deep slots, visitors will find smooth curves and intricate patterns.
In certain spots inside the Antelope Canyon, the sun rays leak through to create an unworldly sight. It is one of the most beautiful places in the United States.
There are two main sections of the canyon that are open to tourists, the upper and lower canyon. The upper canyon is more popular with visitors as it is easier to access, especially for the children and elders.
Antelope Canyon is part of the Navajo Nation, so in order to visit, visitors must book a tour led by licensed Navajo guides. They are very knowledgeable about the history and culture of the area and sure to enhance your experience!
3. Cathedral Rock
Cathedral Rock is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Sedona. Rising 284 ft (87 m) above the ground, this natural sandstone butte sits in the beautiful red rock landscape of the region and is popular among photographers.
One of the ways to admire this stunning natural formation is to drive through Sedona area and see it from all different angles. But if you don’t mind a short (but strenuous) hike, visitors can also climb to the top of Cathedral Rock, where they’ll be rewarded with 360-degree panoramic views.
Sedona is a hiking paradise and there are many different trails to get to the top of Cathedral Rock. The most popular is the Cathedral Rock Trail, which is a 1.9-kilometer out-and-back trail that is worth every drop of sweat!
4. Petrified Forest National Park
One of the most famous national parks in Arizona is the Petrified Forest National Park. As the name suggests, this park is home to a number of petrified wood, which is believed to be 200 million years old!
Petrified wood is created when wood is buried under sediment and subjected to high pressure and temperatures. This process replaces the organic matter with minerals, resulting in a fascinating rock that looks like wood.
In addition to the petrified wood, the park also has many other geological features such as badlands, canyons, and of course, the Painted Desert. The Painted Desert gets its name from the brilliantly colored rocks that have been eroded over time.
The best way to explore the park is to take a scenic drive through it. Along the way, there are numerous stops with short hikes and ranger-led programs. Be sure to stop at the Rainbow Forest Museum and the Crystal Forest!
5. Horseshoe Bend
Horsebend Bend might just be the most famous natural landmark in Arizona. It is a horseshoe-shaped meander of the Colorado River located just outside of Page in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
The best way to appreciate the beauty and scale of Horseshoe Bend is from the viewpoint, which is only a short 0.75-mile hike from the parking lot. The trail is fairly level and suitable for all fitness levels.
From this viewpoint, visitors can admire the stunning sight of the Colorado River bending around the red rocks. This phenomenon was created by millions of years of the Colorado River carving the layers of sandstone.
It is one of the most beautiful natural wonders in Arizona and a unique geological occurrence.
6. Monument Valley
The area of Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is located on the Arizona-Utah border. It is one of the most iconic landscapes in the United States and has been featured in many movies, including Forrest Gump, Back to the Future III, and The Lone Ranger.
The area is characterized by towering sandstone buttes that rise up from the desert floor. Most of the formations are over 400 ft (122m) high, with the highest ones up to 1000 ft (305 m)! The most famous formation is perhaps Mittens Butte, which is two distinct buttes that look like a pair of mittens.
The best way to appreciate the unique formations at Monument Valley is by drivining through the 17-mile scenic loop. For those that want to know more about the history of the region, there are plenty of guided tours led by Navajo tour guides!
7. Havasu Falls
Though Arizona is mostly known for its desert landscapes, the state also has a few waterfalls. The most famous of which must be the Havasu Falls located in the Havasupai Indian Reservation. It features beautiful turquoise water cascading down vibrant orange travertine cliffs to create one of the most beautiful natural scenery in all of Arizona.
However, visiting Havasu Falls cannot be any more difficult. Since it is situated inside the Havasupai Indian Reservation, you must make a reservation to visit the Falls. And as one of Arizona’s most beautiful landmarks, the reservation doesn’t come easily.
Not only that, the Havasu Falls is situated in a remote canyon and can only be accessed by foot or helicopter. The hike to Havasu Falls is about ten miles (16 km) long one way and can be very demanding. However, visitors are rewarded with not one, but multiple waterfalls to cool off in. In addition to Havasu Falls, there are also Mooney Falls and Beaver Falls.
Once you arrive, you’ll notice the vibrant turquoise-blue waters of Havasu Creek. The water is so blue that it might even appear like it is photoshopped in pictures. However, the color comes from a high concentration of calcium carbonate and magnesium.
8. Grand Falls
The Grand Falls is one of the most unique Arizona landmarks. Fitting to its name, the Grand Falls is 185 feet (56 m) tall, a height that is taller than Niagara Falls. It is fed by the Little Colorado River and has an average width of 580 ft (177 m).
Another interesting feature of the Grand Falls is its murky brown color. In fact, the Grand Falls is often called the Chocolate Falls because of that. This occurs because of the high number of sediments in the water.
The best time to see the Grand Falls is usually between late spring to early summer when the snowmelt from the mountains is at its peak. This results in a higher volume of water and creates a more impressive Grand Falls.
9. Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
The Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument is a U.S. National Monument located in north-central Arizona. The monument protects the remains of the Sunset Crater, which is an extinct volcano that last erupted around 1100.
Nowadays, visitors can explore the trails that showcase some of the remnants of the Sunset Crater Eruption that wind through lava fields and pine forests. There are ranger-led hikes that visitors can take advantage of to learn more about this important landmark in Arizona.
The volcano gets its name from the red and orange hues that blanket the crater during sunset. When it comes to physique, the Sunset Crater is impressive. It measures 400 ft (120 m) deep and about 1,280 ft (390 m) in diameter.
For those who would like to camp, there are plenty of campsites located inside the monument!
10. Saguaro National Park
Saguaro National Park is one of the coolest sites in Arizona. It is the perfect place for visitors to admire the Saguaro Cactus, which are only found in this part of the United States. In fact, the Saguaro Cactus is so iconic that it is named the state plant of Arizona!
The best place to see these beautiful plants in Saguaro National Park is through one of the many hiking trails. These trails wind through the desert landscape in between fields of Saguaro Cacti and other unique plant species in the region.
We recommend visiting Saguaro National Park during the spring. This is when all the cacti and wildflowers are in bloom!
11. Vermillion Cliffs National Monument
When it comes to unspoiled beauty in Arizona, the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument is surely the place. This 280,000-acre area is home to some of the most rugged but spectacular trails in Arizona, and visitors can see a variety of landscapes including canyons, plateaus and desert plains.
But perhaps what Vermillion Cliffs National Monument is most famous for is The Wave, a sandstone rock formation that showcases the beauty of mother nature. This formation is carved out by wind and water over time, and it looks like a wave, except in the form of rock formations.
But because The Wave in situated inside Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, getting there is no simple task. Visitors must drive 8 miles of winding, rugged and dirt roads to get to the trailhead.
From the trailhead, it is a 6.4-mile round-trip hike on a fairly undeveloped part of the land. Those that do make it to The Wave will be properly rewarded with one of the most photographed sites in Arizona!
12. Coconino National Forest
The Coconino National Forest is one of the most popular places to visit in Arizona. This 1.856-million-acre National Forest is home to a variety of attractions, from the famous red rocks of Sedona to the alpine tundra of Kachina Peaks Wilderness. Consequently, this diverse geographical landscape is home to many different trails and sites
The most iconic of which must be Humphreys Peak, the tallest mountain in Arizona!
Coconino National Forest isn’t just a place for hikers and nature enthusiasts. Visitors will find plenty of activities such as camping horseback riding, fishing, and more! It is the perfect place to visit in Arizona for families.
Just make sure you are aware of the different species and wildlife that call the Coconino National Forest Home!
13. Chiricahua National Monument
The Chiricahua National Monument is one of the most unique places in Arizona. Also known as the “Wonderland of Rocks”, this 12,0000-acre site is home to a variety of natural beauty, from stunning landscapes to charming wildlife.
But perhaps what makes Chiricahua National Monument so special are the hoodoos, thin and tall rock formations formed by erosion. Matter of fact, the Chiricahua National Monument was established in 1924 to protect the large number of hoodoos and balancing rocks.
The best way to explore Chiricahua National Monument is by taking one of the hikes inside the protected area. There are 17 miles of day-use hiking trails and an 8-mile scenic drive that showcases the best of this Arizona National Monument.
If you have the time, we recommend one of the ranger-led programs so you can learn more about the hoodoos and the other rock formations in the area.
14. Meteor Crater
If you are into astronomy and geology, then the Meteor Crater is one of the coolest landmarks in Arizona for you. It is one of the best-preserved meteorite impact sites in the world!
The impact crater is 0.737-mi (1.186-km) wide and has a depth of 560 feet (170 m). For comparison, the impact crater is about 13 American football field wide – that’s huge!
The Meteor Crater was created around 50,000 years ago when an asteroid struck the earth’s surface. During that time, the area was inhabited by mammoths and giant ground sloths!
Today, the Meteor Crater is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Northern Arizona. Adjacent to the crater is a visitor center with interactive exhibits, a gift shop, and an observation deck.
There are also ranger-led programs offered at the Meteor Crater. The most popular crater Rim Tour takes visitors on a guided tour around the perimeter of the crater!
Historical Landmarks In Arizona
1. Hoover Dam
When it comes to man-made landmarks in Arizona, there is nothing more famous than the Hoover Dam. This National Historic Landmark in Arizona was once the tallest dam in the entire world when it was built in the 1930s.
Though now only the second tallest in the United States, its magnitude is still quite astonishing when seeing it in person. The concrete arch structure is 726 feet tall and 1244 feet long, and it took over 21,000 men to build it. The most incredible achievement is that it only took 5 years to construct!
The Hoover Dam is located on the Arizona-Nevada border, about 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas. It is free to visit the Hoover Dam, but in order to enter the power plant, visitors must take a guided tour!
2. Glen Canyon Dam
When it comes to epic concrete structures in Arizona, Hoover Dam might be the first one that comes to your mind. But there is another impressive dam that visitors often miss – the Glen Canyon Dam.
This dam is actually only about 16 feet shorter than Hoover Dam, but its location n the Colorado River surrounded by Navajo Sandstone makes the building much more dramatic and picturesque.
One of the best way to experience Glen Canyon Dam is by walking from one side to another and seeing the view of Lake Powell and the Dam at the vantage point. Visitors can also take a tour inside the dam to learn about the engineering and history, but reservations are required and not free.
3. London Bridge
You got that right! There is a London Bridge in Arizona, and it is not close to a replica or a fake!
This famous physical landmark in Arizona was originally built in the 1830s and was used as a crossing over the River Thames in England.
When the London Bridge in London began sinking due to the weight of the automobiles on the bridge, the City of London decided to dismantle it and put in up for sale. In 1968, the bridge was bought by Robert McCulloch and transported all the way to Lake Havasu City in Arizona piece by piece.
In Lake Havasu City, the London Bridge is an active bridge that people use to cross a canal! Surprisingly, this historical Arizona landmark is one of the most visited places in the state!
4. Taliesin West
As a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Historic Landmark, Taliesin West is one of the most historical sites in Arizona. It was designed and built by the world-renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright as his winter home and studio.
Like many of his designs, Taliesin West is a property that blends in harmoniously with the landscape. In this case, the red rock desert landscape of Arizona only makes the architecture of the Taliesin West much more profound.
Today, Taliesin West is open to the public. Visitors can take one of the guided tours or audio tours to enhance their experience.
If you are into architecture and Frank Lloyd Wright’s work, make sure you add the Taliesin West to your Arizona bucket list!
5. Montezuma Castle National Monument
Montezuma Castle is a national monument in Arizona dedicated to preserving Native American culture. It features a prehistoric cliff dwelling that was built by the Sinagua people between 1100 and 1350.
The construction of Montezuma Castle is quite impressive, especially considering that it was built onto the side of a 150-foot limestone cliff. The archaeological site has five stories and 20 rooms, which were crucial to the survival of the indigenous people in the unforgiving climate of Arizona.
Unfortunately, entering the Montezuma Castle is no longer allowed for preservation and safety purposes. However, visitors can get quite close to it on the 1/3-mile hiking trail to observe all the intricacies of the monument.
Don’t forget to check out the Montezuma Well nearby, it is pretty cool too!
6. Chapel of the Holy Cross
The Chapel of the Holy Cross is one of the most famous landmarks in Sedona. The chapel is built into the red rocks of Sedona, which makes it very distinct and beautiful.
This unique chapel was commissioned in 1932 by local rancher and sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staude. The chapel took 18 months to complete, and its design is uniquely European.
The Chapel of the Holy Cross is considered one of the Seven man-made wonders of Arizona, so don’t miss your chance to see it when you are staying in Sedona. It is open from 9 AM to 5 PM daily, except for Christmas Day and Easter.
7. St. Francis de Xavier Catholic Church (White Dove In Desert)
St. Francis de Xavier Catholic Church, or commonly known as White Dove In Desert, is one of the hidden gems in Arizona. This historic Spanish Catholic church is located just 10 miles south of downtown Tucson on Tohono O’odham San Xavier Indian Reservation.
Built between 1783 to 1797, this church is the oldest European building in Arizona. It is also one of the few Mission-style churches that are still actively used today.
Even if you are not Catholic, you’ll surely appreciate the gorgeous white facade and the intricate interior decor of this religious landmark in Arizona. Plus, it is so close to Tucson that there is really no reason to not visit!
Map Of The Most Famous Landmarks In Arizona
Above is an interactive map featuring all of the landmarks in Arizona we’ve talked about. Click on the toggle on the upper left to see more information about each of the landmarks.
Don’t forget to click the small star next to the name of the map, as this allows you to save this Google Map onto your device. This’ll allow you to use this when you are out and about in Arizona!
Arizona Landmarks FAQs
What Are The Best Historic State Parks In Arizona?
The best historic state parks in Arizona are Jerome State Historic Park, Riordan Mansion State Historic Park, and Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park.
What Is The Number 1 Landmark In Arizona?
The number one landmark in Arizona is Grand Canyon. It is the most-visited tourist attraction in Arizona, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a Natural Seven Wonders of the World. It is both beautiful and historic, and a must on any trip to Arizona.
This concludes our article on the most famous Arizona landmarks! Hopefully, not only do you now know what Arizona is known for, but you know what places to visit on your next trip to Arizona!
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