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No matter what region of the state you choose to visit, you’ll enjoy a wide choice of outdoor adventures in Arizona. Explore outdoor recreation in a diverse landscape that includes desert, multi-hued canyons, mountains, lakes and rivers. Whether you are hiking to ancient ruins, kayaking on a lake or taking a mule ride into the Grand Canyon, you’ll discover natural wonders you won’t see anywhere else.
The Grand Canyon is the king of hiking destinations but you might want to try the meandering Arizona Trail if you’re up for a trek across the whole state. Visit McDowell Mountain Regional Park in Phoenix for challenging mountain biking climbs with eye-popping views and rapid descents.
Lake Powell is a popular destination for recreational boating. Enjoy crystal clear water surrounded by gorgeous red rock formations. Lake Havasu is a must for personal watercraft enthusiasts. Located along Arizona’s West Coast, it offers year-round mild weather, sunny beaches, nightlife and lots of family-friendly recreation. Tempe Town Lake in central Arizona is a fun place to spend an afternoon with family or friends. Test your skills on a stand-up paddleboard or rent a paddleboat. Black Canyon is an 11-mile span of the Colorado River that begins in Bullhead City. It offers hot springs, a sauna cave, lovely scenery and waters perfect for canoeing and kayaking. Book a river rafting trip from Lees Ferry and see the Grand Canyon from the bright blue waters of the Colorado River.
Arizona’s lakes, rivers, streams and creeks also attract anglers. Fish for bass, catfish and trout in in the White Mountains, catch largemouth bass at Imperial Reservoir, or go fly-fishing at Lees Ferry. The state offers a diverse array of hunting options including elk, antelope, javelina and wild turkeys, along with smaller game and waterfowl.
There are so many outdoor adventures to choose from in Arizona, there’s no chance you’ll be bored. See the majestic Saguaro National Park in Tucson, explore botanical gardens and arboretums, or witness bird migrations that include 17 varieties of hummingbirds. Rock climbers won’t run out of challenges. Tackle natural obstacle courses ranging from craggy boulders to slot canyons and towering cliffs perched above raging rivers. Everyone should go horseback riding in Arizona at least once. Saddle up for a leisurely ride through Sedona’s scenic backcountry or embark on a guided multi-day roundup from a cattle ranch. Go spelunking at Kartchner Caverns State Park and see the world’s longest stalactite. Hike to Sunset Crater for amazing celestial views on a pitch-black night, or squeal like a kid on the natural water slide at Sedona’s Slide Rock State Park.
Throughout Arizona visitors enjoy access to numerous state parks, recreation areas and national monuments.
Tonto Natural Bridge State Park in Payson features the largest natural travertine bridge in the world.
Discovered in 1877, it became a state park in 1991. Hike to the top of the bridge for the best aerial views, or observe the bridge from four viewpoints in the parking lot for different perspectives.
Navajo National Monument is a short drive from Chinle in northern Arizona. Hike the Mesa Top Trails, visit the museum and take a guided tour of the Keet Seel and Betatakin cliff dwellings built by the Ancestral Puebloan people.
Organ Pipe National Monument in Ajo boasts the largest stand of organ pipe cacti in the United States. Many of the cacti in the park are over 150 years old. If you visit in spring you may see many in bloom. Established in 1937 to protect the Sonoran Desert’s unique plant life, the monument features several hiking trails. Take a ranger-led van tour to learn more about the wilderness environment.
Chricahua National Monument is famous for its vertical rock formations known as hoodoos. Hike to Mushroom Rock, Big Balanced Rock and Duck on a Rock for close-up views. Take an eight-mile scenic driving tour to Massai Point, or choose from 17 miles of hiking trails ranging from easy to difficult. The 11,000-acre monument also features the Faraway Ranch Historic District, once home to Swedish settlers.
Pipe Spring National Monument in Fredonia is located on the Kaibab Indian Reservation. Added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1923, the site houses several attractions that pay tribute to American Indian and pioneer history. Stop by the visitor center for information on the historic buildings and grounds. See exhibits at the museum and save time for a guided tour of Winsor Castle.
Tonto National Monument, near Mesa and Apache Junction, was established to preserve two ancient cliff dwellings. Walk through the impressive cliff dwellings and view a variety of artifacts including fabrics, pottery and tools. Hike the Lower Cliff Dwelling Trail and enjoy views of the desert and Theodore Roosevelt Lake.
Walnut Creek National Monument, situated just outside Flagstaff, was established to preserve the curved canyon walls and ancient dwellings at Walnut Canyon. The Visitor Center offers a museum and interpretive programs. Hike the Island Trail descending into the canyon to view the cliff dwellings. The Rim Trail offers panoramic views of the canyon from above.