One of the best things about living in a state like Arizona is that there’s a seemingly endless list of destinations that really do feel otherworldly to visit. If one of your new year’s resolutions is to explore more of the Grand Canyon State, we have some ideas for you. From the canyon that gave us our nickname to a recently reopened lavender farm and chateau in Chandler, here are 12 ethereal places in Arizona.
We just had to include the Grand Canyon on this list. It’s in the state’s nickname and one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations for good reason. For starters, the Grand Canyon is truly breathtaking—first-time visitors will be instantly captivated by the stunning landscape and sheer size of the canyon. Exploring this vast space is like stepping into another world that truly feels as if it goes on forever. Watching the sun set and seemingly change the colors of the rocks here as it dips below the sky is a bucket-list experience.
Antelope Canyon is a massive slot canyon near Page in northern Arizona on land run by the Navajo Nation. You’ve probably seen pictures of this canyon without even knowing it, as it’s depicted on multiple Apple screensavers. There’s a reason why this spot is one of the most photographed places in all of Arizona: the myriad gorgeous views. Look forward to being surrounded by orange-colored rocks that provide plenty of striking scenes regardless of which direction you look. To explore Antelope Canyon, you must book a tour. If you’re traveling with a large group, it’s best to book early as tours do sell out. Ken’s Tours will take you to Lower Antelope Canyon and Taadidiin Tours will take you to the lesser explored Canyon X and Cardiac Canyon.
Pronounced Canyon de “shay,” this monument encompasses three sandstone canyons that offer breathtaking views. Some of its most prominent features include the 700-plus-foot-high spire dubbed Spider Rock. Canyon de Chelly is managed by the Navajo and features three overlooks on the North Rim and six on the south. You can drive to each of these overlooks, and the park suggests allowing for two hours on each rim. Navajo families still reside here, as they and other Indigenous tribes have been for more than 5,000 years. Park entrance is free, as are the ranger-led programs.
The Petrified Forest is named after the Triassic fossils that you’ll find scattered throughout this national park. Petrified wood is quartz in a variety of colors that shimmer in the sunlight. The exteriors of these pieces of quartz still resemble wood logs. Read more about the uniqueness of petrified wood on the National Park Service (NPS) website. This park is located within the Painted Desert, which features colorful formations made of bentonite, a “product of altered volcanic ash,” according to the NPS.
If you haven’t yet laid eyes on Sedona’s red rocks, it’s time to change that. The city’s famed rocks are truly one of a kind. Specifically, the red rocks make up the Schnebly Hill Formation and are only found in this area of the country. Best of all? You can see these rocks all over town and don’t have to travel too far to take in their beauty. If you’d like to see them up close, consider hiking Cathedral Rock. For far-away views of nearly all the city’s major red rock formations, consider hiking the Sedona Airport Loop Trail. Crescent Moon Ranch serves up great views of Cathedral Rock and offers easy walking paths throughout.
Monument Valley is undeniably a part of culture. After all, this is the place where Forrest Gump stops his epic run across the country. Look forward to seeing sandstones that range in height from 400 to 1,000 feet high, shaped like monuments and surrounded by the wide open spaces of the Arizona desert, making for one epic site. See the monuments while traversing a 17-mile loop road.
Located within Grand Canyon National Park on the tribal land of the Havasupai people, Havasu Falls is renowned for its great beauty. To reach this site, you’ll have to hike and camp overnight, booking a reservation ahead of time. The hike to reach the campgrounds is 10 miles one way. Your reward for completing the tough trek? A truly stunning waterfall with deep, blue-green water.
Largely considered to be one of the most unique sandstone formations in the entire world, The Wave looks like a scene from some other planet. It features vibrantly red rocks that appear to be, you guessed it, wavy. Getting here is no easy task, though. You must obtain a permit before making the hike, which is 6.4 miles total. Fun fact: The Wave straddles the Arizona and Utah border, but is typically listed as being in Arizona.
1220 N. Kyrene Road, Chandler
There is a sprawling mansion in Chandler dubbed Chateau de Vie that’s also home to a lavender farm. Browse the products made with lavender grown onsite then consider taking a guided 30-minute tour of the mansion, which looks like it should be somewhere in France. The 15,000-square-foot brick home sits on 10 acres and features a luxe swimming pool, lush green gardens, a lake house, and a chef’s kitchen.
5050 N. Castle Hot Springs Road, Morristown
Tucked away off of a long dirt road in Morristown, Castle Hot Springs is a luxury resort that beckons with amenities galore and geothermal pools. The three natural, outdoor hot springs are filled with mineral-rich water and surrounded by palm trees for a true desert feel. This can be a pricey experience, as the resort is only open to guests. As of press time, room rates start at $1,800. Fun facts: Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy both stayed here. A fire that took place sometime in the 1970s shuttered the resort, and it was reopened in 2019.
37615 E. Arboretum Way, Superior
When most people think of the desert, they think of a sparse, nearly barren landscape that’s bereft of most plant life except for cacti. The Boyce Thompson Arboretum bucks that common misconception in a big way. Located in Superior, the arboretum is home to a staggering 20,000 desert plants from all over the world on 135 garden acres. Visitors can stroll through 5 miles of trails to check out this lush plant paradise in the desert. Fun fact: This is the oldest arboretum in the state, celebrating its 100-year anniversary this year.
27 E. Ramsey Canyon Road in Hereford
Ramsey Canyon Preserve is another green oasis in Arizona. Located in one of Arizona’s Sky Islands, home to a plethora of plant and animal life, expect to find a wide variety of plants like sycamores, maples, and columbines along the rivers beside desert plants like cacti, agave, and yucca. Ramsey Canyon Preserve is also a prime spot for bird watching, and visitors can anticipate seeing a variety of hummingbirds and other bird species there.
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