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Top 5 Places to Visit in Arizona That Aren’t The Grand Canyon
July 20, 2020

Top 5 Places to Visit in Arizona That Aren’t The Grand Canyon

by The CE Shop Team

Check Out These Top Five Places to Visit in Arizona

For most looking to visit Arizona, or for locals looking to explore some of their beautiful state, the Grand Canyon is the first place that comes to mind. And why not? It is one of the most spectacular natural land features in the world, bringing in millions of tourists every year.

Top Places to Visit in Arizona

Did you know that Arizona is also home to state parks and national parks that house other natural phenomena as magnificent as the Grand Canyon? Don't stand in line waiting and instead visit these amazing but relatively lesser-known natural beauties.

5. Slide Rock State Park

Seven miles north of Sedona is Slide Rock in Oak Creek Canyon. Like the name suggests, Slide Rock features a natural water slide in the red sandstone rock, ending in a refreshing creek.

Oak Creek Canyon offers visitors opportunities for scenic exploring and gorgeous photos. While you’re visiting, you can also enjoy the apple orchard and a tour of the Pendley homestead from the early 1900s.

Be aware that the site of the natural slide is extremely popular, so arrive early.

4. Petrified Forest National Park

Immerse yourself in the ghosts of Route 66 in one of America’s most fabled but forgotten national parks. Petrified Forest is a scene straight from a Brothers Grimm tale. Twenty minutes outside of Holbrook, the fields of crumbling, fiberglass dinosaurs will give way to the gates of Petrified Forest National Park.

Visiting in the morning hours will help you avoid the Arizona heat and the afternoon crowds, so grab a sunrise breakfast burrito at Joe and Aggie’s Cafe before you head out of town. This park is as easy or as difficult as you care to make it, with hiking, driving, and horseback tours all being popular options.

3. Tonto Natural Bridge

Less than two hours northeast of Phoenix is the world’s largest natural travertine bridge made out of Arizona’s famed Rim County limestone rock. The scenery provides a sharp contrast to the typical desert valley, making it truly a sight to see. Around the town of Payson, you’ll find a pine forest, plenty of other vegetation, and somewhat cooler temperatures.

If you go a little out of your way on the hiking trail, you can see the largest natural travertine bridge in the U.S. and possibly the world (travertine is a type of limestone rock that’s popular for countertops and flooring). The bridge stands 183 feet tall and spans 400 feet from end to end.

2. Monument Valley

An area just as spectacular as the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley sits within the borders of the Navajo Nation. This natural phenomenon paints a portrait of the American West that comes via the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park.

Monument Valley is located approximately in the middle of nowhere. Even from small towns like Page (Lake Powell) or Holbrook (The Painted Desert), Monument Valley requires a two- to three-hour drive on the desolate and occasionally primitive roads of the Navajo Nation. This, of course, adds to the experience of reaching its jaw-dropping views.

Private campsites are available near the park, though my vote would be to book a night in an earth house for a unique experience. Backcountry hiking is allowed in Monument Valley, but you’ll need to apply for a permit; the same goes for you, commercial photographers.

For best results bring a 4x4 vehicle, as park rangers will deny access to some of the valley’s best roads if you’re in a two-wheel drive SUV.

1. Antelope Canyon

Also located on the borders of the Navajo Nation are the famous slot canyons at Antelope Canyon. At Antelope Canyon, narrow, metal stairways descend from the desert floor into a cool, dark crevice with beams of light poking through slots in the canyon. Once at the bottom, adventurers will see a world of colorful sandstone enhanced by light hitting the stone from the sky.

Antelope Canyon consists of both the 660-foot Upper Antelope Canyon and the 1,335-foot Lower Antelope Canyon.

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