sights in Arizona
We have about 6 days road tripping in Arizona next January. Coming from the other side of the world, it would be great to hear from some of you on what is really worth seeing, and what is realistic to cover in that time/at that time of year.
Hard to say without knowing what you are interested in. Arizona has everything from city life, symphonies and the arts, other music and entertainment, scenery, history (thousands of years of it), archaeology, anthropology, geology, astronomy, sports (of all kinds), hiking, cultural events (our heritage is Native American, Spanish and Old West, plus everything Euro-Americans brought with them in the past 150 years.
If you can tell us what you have in mind, how much driving you want to do, and what kind of pace you can maintain, then we can give you some specific ideas. Bob
Thanks Bob. You're right, probably a little general. Well my friend and I are coming from Australia and New Zealand, so really we'd want to see and experience things we couldn't see here. So obviously scenery -red rock country. We have both travelled in Utah, and loved the parks and scenery there, but never made it south of the border. Also interested in things associated with the native american and Spanish history/culture. I love old buildings. We don't mind a bit of hiking, but probably wouldn't go on much more than a half day walk. We don't want to be tied to our car, but we can handle the odd long days drive to get to something worthwhile. As we have to head back to LA after this for a wedding, and so expect one long days drive to get back, we don't want to spend all of our time in the car.
Thanks for any help
Also, you must visit Sedona (located south of flagstaff). Traveling around the whole area is worthwhile. Clearly the grand canyon is a must as well. The areas near Tuscon like Tombstone are historical and might be worth a trip. The 4 corners area (extreme northeast of AZ) are interesting because of the petrified rocks. In phoenix, downtown is so-so, I would highly recommend visiting Mill Ave. in Tempe and 'old town' (downtown) Scottsdale AZ (both citys are suburbs of phoenix and are like 30mins of driving from downtown phoenix).
In addition, south mountain is located in south phoenix and offers some great views of the city both during the day and at night.
Thanks for that. Greatly appreciate the help. Sedona sounds like a must from a couple of people. This gives us somewhere to start..
Uncle Bob's choices
For the scenery and red rock country, see Sedona (as already mentioned), Grand Canyon, Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly. If you go, "Chelly" is pronounced "Shay" by most locals, although the exact pronunciation is actually a Navajo word that's closer to Shay-yih, probably. (The word is Tsegi, and it means "canyon"). So "Canyon de Chelly," means "Canyon de Canyon").
I'd plan a day in the Sedona, Oak Creek Canyon area, at least 1 at the Grand Canyon, and 1 at Canyon de Chelly.
Schedule enough time to take the all day tour of Canyon de Chelly if you can (you should be able to make reservations through the Thunderbird Lodge at Chinle, AZ; they are my favorite of the tour operators there). You cannot go into the canyons (there are two main ones) without a Navajo guide. I'm not sure of their winter schedule. You will learn lots about Navajo history and culture, as well as see some of the prettiest country anywhere!
Plan another day (or the better part of one) for Monument Valley, and be sure to tour the tribal park so you see the back country areas – it's just not the same from the highway.
For ancient Native American culture, visit Mesa Verde National Park (near Cortez, Colorado) or you could see Wupatki Natl Monument and Walnut Canyon, both within minutes of Flagstaff. At Wupatki, be sure to see the "Blowhole." It's an ancient air conditioning system, all natural (it's a bit of a walk, but not bad).
For old Spain in Arizona (they called our area "Pimeria Alta"), you can see Tubac, Tumacacori (ruined, never completed mission) and Mission San Xavier del Bac (a magnificent and still-used parish church), all south of Tucson along I-19 (highway). Allow one day for these (2-3 hours driving each way from Phoenix).
For trashy, old west Arizona, stop at Jerome. It's an old mining town (copper, mostly), almost became a ghost town (but never completely), and has revived over the past two decades as an artist's community. The buildings are so old, they're falling down (literally, down the side of the mountain…). Check out the 24 hour night life at the bars downtown, and be sure to have a burger at the Haunted Hamburger. Locals can show you where, if you have trouble finding it.
Here's how I'd do it in 6 days.
Day 1: Do the three Tucson attractions in one day from Phoenix, round trip. Skip Tubac or Tumacacori if you run out of time, but be sure to see San Xavier. You'll be close to Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, if you want to cross the border for some border town shopping. Very touristy – and you'll be seen as a "mark" by the locals, so polish up your 101 ways to say no, politely.
Day 2: Drive to Jerome for the afternoon, and Sedona for the night (or Flagstaff, much cheaper and only 40 miles away). Reserve a couple of hours for shopping and walking around Sedona.
Day 3: Drive the remaining 70 or so miles to Grand Canyon, remainder of day there.
Day 4: Drive to Monument Valley, see that and spend the night in Kayenta, AZ.
Day 5: Drive to Chinle and Canyon de Chelly, take the Indian-guided tour the next day. Stay at Thunderbird Lodge – it's the original. Ask if George can be your guide on the tour, he's great!
Day 7: Back to Phoenix via Flagstaff (see your choice of Wupatki or Walnut Canyon on the way; allow about 4 hours).
OK, so it's a bit more than 6 days – if I had to leave something off, it'd be the Tucson/Mexico part. This is lots of driving – that's unavoidable in the USA southwest – the distances between these places are pretty large.
Finally, if this raises more questions, fire away. Bob
Wow thanks Bob, that's fantastically helpful. Now if only we could decide what to leave out....
If it helps any,
I think that Canyon de Chelly is one of the neatest things I've ever seen in my home state! It's not only beautiful, it is the center of Navajo history and culture in the area. I don't think you'd ever regret taking the time to see it. That said, I couldn't in good conscience tell any first-time visitor to skip the Grand Canyon. It is quite simply one of the most awesome scenic attractions on Earth.
Here's how I'd rank my ideas, if I had to. Keep in mind that I love all of these places, and my choices might be different tomorrow. But today...
1. Grand Canyon
2. Canyon de Chelly
3. Jerome/Sedona/Oak Creek Canyon
4. Monument Valley
5. Tucson/San Xavier
6. Walnut Canyon/Wupatki/Sunset Crater
Alberta, Canada to Arizona
We are planning a 2 week trip from Alberta, Canada to Arizona. Does anyone have any ideas of places to stop enroute? Points of interests? Our main interest is Arizona, but we would love to see some sights enroute. Any input is helpful, I'm just starting to plan.
What time of year? It makes a big difference!