If you are wondering what is Arizona known for, then you have come to the right place.
Arizona is known as the Grand Canyon State, but the state is more than just the home of the Grand Canyon National Park. The 6th largest state in the US has plenty of well-known features, from beautiful desert landscapes to rich Native American heritage and epic geological formations and quaint towns.
In fact, there are so many things Arizona is famous for that we have decided to write an article about it! If you are planning a trip to this beautiful part of the United States, then make sure you keep reading!
What is Arizona Famous For?
1. Grand Canyon
As the Grand Canyon State, Arizona is home to the Grand Canyon, an impressive 278-mile long canyon.
Believed to be formed over 5 million years ago by the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon has two separate rims that are 20 miles apart from one another – The North Rim and South Rim.
The South Rim, which is about a 3.5-hour drive from Phoenix, is more popular because it has many accessible viewpoints and is lower in elevation, allowing for a better vantage point of the opposite side. There are also more shops and activities in this area (including helicopter rides and even mule rides!).
The North Rim, which is nearly a 6-hour drive from Phoenix, is a great place to experience the Grand Canyon for different reasons: there is less foot traffic and cooler weather year-round. Visiting the North Rim is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of life.
Regardless of which rim tourists view the Grand Canyon from, its natural, rich burnt orange and deep red mineral colors, jagged edges, gentle slopes, and flowing rivers will leave you breathless.
2. Sedona And The Red Rock Formations
Arizona is also famous because of Sedona, a hot spot for spiritual wellness and outdoor adventure. Though a 120-minute drive north of Phoenix, this small city is a popular day trip and it is not surprising why.
The town is surrounded by unique red rocks that stand out against Arizona’s frequent blue skies. Some of these rock formations are believed to be vortexes and have spiritual power that draws people from around the world.
The best way to explore Sedona and its rock formations is by hiking one of its many trails, such as the Devil’s Bridge hike. It is a 1.8-mile, easy-moderate, round-trip hike that takes you to an epic red arch rock formation in the midst of Sedona’s famous views.
The town also has plenty of incredible dining options and boutique shops, perfect for visitors to stay for a weekend to explore.
3. Hoover Dam
One of the most famous man-made landmarks in Arizona is the Hoover Dam. Sitting on the Colorado River between Arizona and Nevada, it was the world’s tallest dam when it was built in the 1930s.
Though no longer the largest, the massive engineering feat is incredible and a true wonder to admire. Lake Mead, the reservoir created by the dam, is the biggest artificial lake in the United States.
It was built for flood control, hydroelectric power, agriculture irrigation, and water supply. The Hoover Dam is fascinating because it took builders less than five years to complete! The dam was named after president Herbert Hoover, who was the president when construction started.
Today, visitors can take a guided dam tour, a power plant tour, or a self-guided tour to view this historical landmark 95 miles from the Grand Canyon.
4. Native American Heritage
One of the most unique features of Arizona is its rich Native American heritage. There are currently 22 recognized Native American tribes in Arizona, with one of the most famous ones being the Navajo.
After Spanish and English settlers arrived in what is now known as Arizona, the Navajo Nation was formed to protect their land. It is found in the “Four Corners” of the world, which is where the states of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico meet. The city is named Window Rock and it is the capital of the Navajo Nation.
This nation is about 27,000 square miles, which is the largest reservation in the United States.
Tourists can take a guided tour with a Navajo in several areas of the Window Rock Navajo Tribal Park.
If you want to immerse yourself in the culture, there are stay in one of the several hotels in the Navajo Nation. Those looking for an even more unique experience can also stay in a hogan, which is a sacred dwelling from the Navajo. Some campsites even offer genuine Navajo cuisine.
5. Incredible Weather Year Round
Arizona has bragging rights to beautiful weather all year round. Because of the diverse climate, visitors can get amazing weather somewhere in Arizona. Central Arizona is the perfect place to go for sunbathing in the summer, and to escape cruel winter weather.
You can spot locals wearing shorts, a t-shirt, and flip-flops well into December.
The sunny skies make Arizona a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, who can enjoy everything from skiing in the mountains to hiking and camping in the deserts. In the winter, visitors can even go skiing in the snowy mountains in Northern Arizona.
6. Petrified Forest National Park
One of the most unique national parks in the United States is the Petrified Forest National Park. Situated in Northeastern Arizona, this park is home to a large concentration of petrified wood. The petrified wood is believed to be over 200 million years old, and was formed when the trees were buried under volcanic ash and then fossilized.
Eventually, the wood turned into stone, preserving the tree’s structure and its original color. It is an amazing sight to behold!
Archeologists have also uncovered fossils within the park and painted pottery believed to be used by indigenous people.
Today, visitors can walk a trail to witness an ancient village and view some of the largest petrified logs. The whole family is invited to experience the park, including furry friends and even horses!
7. Saguaro Cactus
Perhaps the most famous plant from Arizona is the Saguaro Cactus, a tree-like cactus species native to the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. It is not only the largest cactus in the United States, but also the state flower of Arizona.
These famous Arizona cacti are known to grow up to the size of a tree. Matter of fact, the largest cactus found was over 78 ft (23 m) tall, with the majority of them growing to about 40 ft (12 m). That is quite an achievement given the fact that the growth of these cacti are really slow, taking about 10 years to grow just 1 inch!
The best place to witness Saguaro Cacti is Saguaro National Park, which is located near Tucson.
8. Epic Deserts
Many tourists visit Arizona because of its epic deserts. The three most popular ones are:
- Chihuahuan Desert in the southeast
- Mojave Desert in the upper west
- Sonoran desert in the southwest and central part of Arizona
Altogether, these deserts make up some of the most magical characteristics of Arizona. For example, the Chihuahuan Desert is home to over 500 of the world’s 1,500 species of cactus, as well as 3000 plant species. And because of the arid climate, the plants are unlike most places in the world.
The Mojave Desert is known as one of the harsh conditions on earth, and it spans all the way to California, where travelers will find Death Valley, the place with the hottest temperature ever recorded on earth.
The Sonoran Desert receives rain twice a year, with an annual average of 3-15 inches. Because of the rainfall, many plants and animals live here, including bighorn sheep, cactus wren, mule deer, and gray foxes.
These deserts in Arizona are some of the reasons why this state is so unique and famous!
9. Monument Valley
The Monument Valley in Arizona is a geological wonder that is worth visiting for its natural beauty and historical significance. The valley consists of sandstone buttes, mesas, and spires that tower over the desert landscape. The most famous geological features are the Mitten Butte and Merrick Butte.
It has been inhabited by Native Americans for thousands of years and has been used as a backdrop for movies and Westerns since the early 1900s. The Monument Valley is a designated National Monument and is part of the Navajo Nation.
Visitors can drive the 17-mile loop that showcases some of the best features of Monument Valley. There are hiking trails in the area where visitors can get a closer look at some of the muttes. Alternatively, if you wish to learn more about the history and culture of the region, don’t hesitate to check out of the guided tours.
10. Historic Town of Tombstone
One of the most historic towns in Arizona is Tombstone, a town that has frozen in time and showcases the history of the Wild West.
Prior to being called Tombstone, it was known as Goose Flats. In 1877, Ed Schieffelin traveled alongside a group of Hualapai soldiers headed to southeastern Arizona. Each day after they arrived, Schieffelin would go out searching for silver. The soldiers would often tease him, stating the only thing he would find was his “tombstone” out there.
Schieffelin eventually found silver and established the area known as “Tombstone” today. After surviving two major fires in both 1881 and 1882, Tombstone was deemed as “The Town Too Tough To Die.”
Today, visitors can stroll down the streets of the Tombstone and have family-friendly dinners in old saloons, view reenactments of famous cowboys and the famous gunfight in O.K. Corral, and purchase timeless wild west souvenirs.
11. Multi-Ethnic Culinary Scene and Food
Arizona is known for its unique cuisine, and some of the most famous foods in Arizona are Cheese Crisps, Indian Fry Bread, and the Sonoran Dog.
The Arizona Cheese Crisp originated in the 1930s and resembles an open-faced quesadilla. First, a flour tortilla is rolled out onto a pizza pan and toasted. Then it is layered with cheese and put back under heat to allow the cheese to melt.
Lastly, it is cut like a pizza. Some people like to add jalapenos or even green chili pork on top. One of the best places to find a cheese crisp is at Casa Reynosa in Tempe, Arizona.
The first Indian Fry Bread is believed to have been made in 1864 when the Navajo people were forced to make the “long walk.”
Fry Bread is made by combining flour, water, salt, and baking soda. What makes it special is that it is fried in lard, giving it an added flavor. The Fried Bread House in Phoenix, Arizona specializes in this dish.
The famous Sonoran Dog dates back to the 1940s. It is a traditional hot dog covered in bacon and topped with pinto beans, jalapenos, onions, tomatoes and may. A split top bun, called a bolillo, envelopes this savory treat. El Guero Canelo in Tucson is a great place to try a Sonoran Dog.
If you are visiting Arizona, don’t miss out on its unusual dishes!
12. Antelope Canyon
When it comes to natural landmarks in Arizona, perhaps there is nothing more famous than the Antelope Canyon. Located on protected Native American land, Antelope Canyon is one of the most photographed sites in the United States.
Carved out of Navajo Sandstone due to erosion, Antelope Canyon has many narrow and deep slots. It is a photographer’s dream come true with its amazing colors and unique shapes. Rays of sunlight shine through the structure, making it the perfect place for a beautiful photo. The best times of the year to visit to get picture-perfect lighting are between March and October.
Antelope Canyon is split between two points: The Upper Canyon and The Lower Canyon. The Upper Canyon is considered more accessible and equally as beautiful as the Lower Canyon. The Lower Canyon requires a bit more endurance and several staircases, but is well worth the hassle.
13. Jerome Ghost Town
Another famous place in Arizona is Jerome, a small city located between Sedona and Prescott, atop Cleopatra Hill. It was founded in 1876 when copper deposits were high. Brothels and saloons lined the streets of the city and earned it the name, “The Wickedest Town In The West.”
After World Word II, however, the demand for copper decreased significantly, leaving miners out of a job and searching for new homes. With only 50-100 residents remaining, Jerome was deemed a National Historic District.
Today, Jerome has become a gathering place for artists and travelers alike because of its historic significance and magnificent views. Many buildings from the 1890s still remain, as well as new boutique shops and wineries.
Those seeking a thrill also have a good reason to visit Jerome. Due to the many fires in the area, people began to report sightings of ghosts. Today, the town offers ghost tours and spirit walks for visitors to take a look for themselves.
Arizona is known as the copper state and it has been a leading producer of copper since the early 1990s. There are 27 known copper mines in Arizona and the state is responsible for around 65% of the copper produced in the United States.
As a matter of fact, copper is one of the five C’s of Arizona:
As tourists, you can even partake in one of the mining tours throughout the states and experience the art of copper mining!
Arizona is famous for its historic Route 66. This historic route follows the Interstate-40, which cuts through Arizona, and bypasses several hidden gems in Arizona, including the quaint city of Winslow.
A popular Eagles song, Take It Easy, made the town of Winslow famous with the verse:
“Well, I’m standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona
Such a fine sight to see
It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford
Slowin’ down to take a look at me“
Winslow has a large “Route 66” marker on the pavement in the infamous “Standin’ On A Corner” Park, as well as a 1960s red Ford pickup truck, making it the perfect photo op destination.
The “finest hotel in the southwest,” La Posada Hotel, is also located near Winslow, Arizona. The famous hotel boasts fine dining and impeccable rooms.
Famous Arizona FAQs
What Are Some Famous People From Arizona?
Some famous people from Arizona include Chester Bennington, the lead vocalist for the rock band Linkin Park. For famous actors, Lynda Carter from Phoenix was the first Wonder Woman and Emma Stone from Scottsdale is famous in Hollywood.
What Fruit is Arizona Famous for Producing?
Because of Arizona’s unique climate, it produces some of the highest quality tree fruits and nuts in the world. Dates, pecans, and citrus fruits are some of the best in Arizona.
What Are Some Interesting Facts About Arizona?
Here are some fun facts about Arizona! The Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, and the only one in the United States! Though mainly deserts, Arizona is home to two incredible waterfalls, Havasu Falls and Grand Falls.
If you were sure what Arizona is known for, we sure hope you are now. Arizona has plenty to offer travelers, from famous landmarks such as Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam to rich cultures such as the Navajo and Wild West. In other words, Arizona is a pretty darn amazing state, especially for tourists!
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