Arizona is full of so many wonders that it is hard to know where to start when planning a trip to this beautiful state. One of the first things people think about when thinking of Arizona is the Grand Canyon, rightfully so. But as I explored, I found an abundance of other treasures that should definitely make your list of must-sees in Arizona.
1. Bell Rock Courthouse Butte Loop. We had no idea what to expect with this hike as I had not researched too much before going on this trip. We flew into Phoenix, rented a car (luckily got a free upgrade to an SUV) and headed for Sedona with no specific plan in mind. I don’t do that often with trips but I am so happy we did. We stopped somewhere in Sedona and picked up a map of hiking trails and decided on this one. It was the perfect introductory to Sedona’s red rock scenery. Not too difficult, about 4.5 miles total, and you are able to explore so much. Everywhere you look there is a new picturesque landscape. We had fun climbing Bell Rock before heading out to the rest of the loop. It was not too crowded when we were there but as we were leaving more people were coming in. I felt this hike definitely set the stage for how truly amazing the area was.
2. Devil’s Bridge Trail. We got the suggestion to check this hike out by a fellow hiker on the previous trail. Again in the Sedona area this trail was easy to get to. There were parts of the trail that were pretty steep but the trail was only 2 miles round trip and brought you to the largest natural stone arch in the area. The trail splits and the left trail goes to the bottom of the arch and the right goes to the top of the arch. Of course we explored them both. We met many hikers along the way, listening to their stories and where they were from, taking each other’s pictures and enjoying the hike. When coming up to the top of the arch it took my breath away. I saw Devil’s Bridge and stopped in my tracks unsure if I would be able to walk on it. But I did and it was so worth getting over the fear. The scenery was beautiful and the adrenaline rush was indescribable. Even if you decide not to walk onto the arch it is still worth going to the top and seeing the arch from this angle.
3. Oak Creek Canyon. Just north of Sedona on the way to Flagstaff there is a magical area that is about 14 miles long that holds one of the most scenic drives I have ever seen. There are so many interesting spots in Oak Creek Canyon. We pulled off in several areas as there are hiking trails right by the creek. Make sure to give yourself a chance to just explore this area. The colors in this area are beyond amazing. The rocks, the trees, the canyon, the water. We were able to explore both in the canyon and then view the canyon from the top of Mogollon Rim. Here the scenery is full of pine trees and red rock. You can see people down in the canyon hiking and playing in the creek. It definitely should not be missed when visiting Arizona.
4. Grand Canyon. I feel like this is just a given. But I had to put it on the list. I mean it’s the GRAND CANYON. I will never forget what it was like to walk up and this majestic canyon for the first time. My eyes had never seen colors and rock formations as the ones that were before me. I believe I stood in awe for several minutes. The world seemed to stop. It was a reminder of how small we really are and really how amazing this world is. We hiked the Grand Canyon two different days. The first day we stopped at Yavapai Point and were able to see the rocks change colors as the sun set. The reds of the rocks were incredible. The second day we hiked around the canyon and decided to watch the sun go down over the canyon. We decided to do this at Hopi Point. There were many people there to watch this and it is understandably so. Both sunsets were a different experience and left me breathless.
5. Horseshoe Bend. Going further north on our expedition, we found Horseshoe Bend, which is actually part of the Grand Canyon. A short hike took us to the edge of the canyon overlooking the Colorado River. We went in early afternoon and had beautiful lighting to take pictures. You are able to walk around and find several different spots to stop and take it all in. This place was definitely crowded but we were still able to have enough space to get the captures we wanted.
6. Antelope Canyon. Not far from Horseshoe Bend in Page Arizona lies a beautiful slot canyon. I had never been in a slot canyon before and it was incredible. Upper Antelope Canyon is only accessible by permit and guided tour. We took a jeep to the canyon and learned of the history, saw different formations, and had ample time to photograph this natural wonder. It was definitely worth the venture north.
Arizona was full of beauty I had never experienced before. Between the red rocks, canyons, slot canyons, hiking opportunities and the scenic drives it quickly became one of the most memorable trips. Where in Arizona have you explored or wish to explore? Stay wild friends.