Arizona Bucket List – Places You Should Visit
One of the best parts about living in Arizona is the never-ending list of things to do and places to see. Estrella is located in Goodyear, making popular destinations across Arizona just a road trip away. In this installment of our Arizona Bucket List Series, we rounded up a few of our must-visit places in the state. Check them out, and start planning your next adventure!
Beautiful Places to Visit in Arizona
Arizona Meteor Crater & Barringer Space Museum
With so much excitement surrounding the exploration of Mars, it’s the perfect time to visit one of Arizona’s own galactic marvels – the Meteor Crater near Winslow. In the 1960s, NASA astronauts prepared for the first moon landing by working and exploring the crater’s unique and rugged terrain. The natural attraction was formed more than 50,000 years ago, when a meteorite struck the ground with a force ~150,000 times greater than an atomic bomb. The massive explosion blew apart 175 million tons of rock, forming a crater nearly a mile wide and 570 feet deep. Today, the crater is the best preserved meteorite impact crater on Earth. The Barringer Space Museum offers multiple learning opportunities and interactive displays, as well as prime viewing vantage points of the crater. The Apollo 11 Lunar Training Command Module used for training the astronauts is now on display in the museum. Round out the day by grabbing a pic ‘standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona’ in homage to The Eagles’ 70s mega-hit, Take It Easy.
Grand Canyon Skywalk
Most of us living in Arizona have probably been to the Grand Canyon at some point, but there is so much to see, it’s hard to squeeze it all in. Next time you make the trip up north, visit the Skywalk. Located 4,000 feet above the Grand Canyon, the glass-bottomed walkway extends 70 feet out over the West Rim, giving visitors a look into the canyon below. Although the South Rim is closer to Goodyear and attracts more visitors, the West Rim is the only part of the canyon that offers a thrilling attraction like the Skywalk. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, travel a mile from the Skywalk and purchase a ticket to zipline across the west side of the canyon.
No Arizona bucket list would be complete without Havasupai Falls! For those looking to find some water in the desert, take a journey to Supai, Arizona, and visit the stunning Havasupai Waterfalls nestled within the Havasu Canyon desert landscape. For this trip, most visitors plan to stay two or three nights in Havasu Canyon. This allows enough time to see all the falls and is about as long as hikers will be able to carry an adequate amount of food and water.
Located in Northern Arizona, west of the Grand Canyon, Havasupai includes five falls: Navajo, Fifty Foot, Havasu, Mooney, and Beaver Falls. Visitors will start their journey to the waterfalls at Hualapai Hilltop. From there, you can travel to the waterfalls on foot, on a pack animal, or by helicopter. The falls are open from February through November, and reservations are required. To ensure a successful and memorable experience, plan your visit well in advance on the National Park Service website.
Some of the Southwest’s most iconic images are the distinctive sandstone buttes that dominate and define Monument Valley. The area straddles the border between Arizona and Utah and is characterized by unique rock formations, buttes, sand dunes, and spires, making it a popular backdrop for Western films and commercials. Right in the heart of the valley is the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. The park is a must-see as it is one of the most photographed places in the world with sandstone towers that can reach up to 1,000 feet. You can keep up with the Navajo Nation Parks website for updates.
Petrified Forest National Park
Large pieces of petrified wood, along with fossilized plants, fish, and reptiles, have been revealed in great numbers in what is today’s Petrified National Forest in the Painted Desert. The park access road runs by many of the highlights, and short interpretive trails allow for close-up looks at various unique sights. The Visitor Center provides insight into the park’s ecology and geology and is an excellent place to start before heading out on the drive.
Saguaro National Park
Saguaro National Park is set within the desert landscape around Tucson. The park has two sections, an east, and a west portion, located on Tucson’s east and west sides. Visitors can see the desert flora and fauna along roads and hiking trails which range from easy walks to challenging trails that wind up into the high mountains, reaching up to 8,000 feet.
Fun Places to Visit in Arizona
Looking for a quick day trip? Check out the quaint and historic town of Bisbee. Located in Southern Arizona among the Mule Mountains, Bisbee made its mark back in the 1800s due to an abundance of copper and other metals that made the town notable in the mining industry. Today, Bisbee offers a variety of shops, dining options, and fun attractions such as the Queen Mine Tour. Visitors can put on hard hats and head underground to get an in-depth look into the world of mining. This Arizona bucket list staple is also a popular destination for art lovers due to its many galleries and art studios. For those interested in learning more, check out the Bisbee after 5 art walk. The monthly event showcases more than 30 galleries, shops, and restaurants that stay open late with shows, receptions, and live music workshops.
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
With stunning blue waters, dramatic stone walls, and a diverse desert landscape, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is a favorite vacation spot for Arizonans with a wide range of water and land activities. The Glen Canyon Dam was built between 1956 and 1964 to block the Colorado River and create Lake Powell, one of the largest manmade lakes in the United States. Another of the area’s biggest attractions is Antelope Canyon, a can’t-miss Arizona bucket list location, where you can hike through narrow slot canyons as shafts of light illuminate the red walls, or opt to rappel down into a canyon. The town of Page is an ideal base for exploring the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and the surrounding region, plus there are plenty of spots to camp along the shores of Lake Powell.
Hoover Dam spans the Colorado River, linking Arizona and Nevada by Highway 93, which once routed directly over the dam. Created to generate hydroelectric power to provide electricity to cities in California, Nevada, and Arizona, Hoover Dam was originally the tallest in the world. Lake Mead, formed by the water held back by Hoover Dam, is the largest man-made reservoir in the United States. Today, the reservoir supplies water to farms, businesses, and millions of people in Nevada, Arizona, California, and Mexico. Lake Mead is also a popular destination for boating, fishing, and swimming as well as spring break. Visitors can take a tour of Hoover Dam or the Powerplant, walk across the span, and marvel at the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, which soars nearly 900 feet above the Colorado River — the longest single-span concrete arch bridge in the Western Hemisphere and the second-highest bridge in the US today.
Perched high atop a steep hill with switchbacks is the old mining town, Jerome. Today the town is a popular tourist attraction, known for its ghosts, and is a must-visit for those looking to add a spooky twist to their Arizona bucket list. The main street through town is lined with interesting stores and restaurants interspersed with ruins of old buildings. The Gold King Mine Museum and the Jerome State Historic Park highlight the area’s rich history. Jerome is a popular day trip from Sedona, Prescott, Phoenix, or Flagstaff.
For a day of fun (and education!), head north to Flagstaff and explore a world of science and history at the Lowell Observatory. Founded in 1894, Lowell Observatory is a nonprofit research institution that studies astronomy and solar system evolution. The observatory offers a variety of programs, tours, presentations, and open houses. Visitors will learn more about the world, see historical artifacts, and get an up-close look into our solar system. The observatory sits at a high elevation, so temperatures rarely exceed 90 degrees, making this a cool getaway.
Named one of the country’s “Top 10 Swimming Holes,” Slide Rock is the best natural waterslide in Arizona. Formerly an apple farm, the 43-acre Slide Rock State Park is located in Oak Creek Canyon. Slide Rock is open to the public year-round for swimming, wading, and sliding. For those who don’t want to take the plunge, the state park is a popular spot for trout fishing, wildlife viewing, and hiking on its three beautiful trails.
Tombstone offers a modern look at an Old West town. Staged gunfights in the streets and characters walking through town in period costumes recreate the glory days of this small Arizona town. Every shop, restaurant, and attraction is designed with tourists in mind, but you can still see some of the town’s history in the historic sites, including the famous O.K. Corral and the Boothill Graveyard. Also of note is the Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park, housed in the original courthouse, which is now a museum.
Mission San Xavier del Bac
Take a day trip to Tucson and see one of the most beautiful buildings in the state, Mission San Xavier del Bac. A church, school, and museum, Mission San Xavier del Bac attracts tourists from all over. Visitors are welcome to attend mass, admire the building’s architecture, learn about the history, and see the elaborate artwork. Free, daily tours are offered, but be sure to call in advance to check availability. After your tour, visit the museum which opens from 8am- 4pm daily.
Our Arizona bucket list of places could go on and on, but these are just a few of our favorites. On your next Arizona adventure, be sure to tag us on social @EstrellaAZLife and share your favorite places in the state. For more bucket list ideas, check out our Arizona Bucket List Events blog.