Arizona’s Hot Desert Beauty

By Rachel Puryear

Want to go somewhere really hot, and really beautiful? Arizona has several gorgeous parks that showcase its haunting desert beauty in a way you’ll never forget. These views are worth braving the heat (but still bring your hats and sunscreen, and make sure your vehicle’s AC is working):

Saguaro National Park:

Situated just outside the city of Tucson, Saguaro National Park features classic desert scenery – with a stunning array of cactus and other desert plants. Some of the cactus plants are as tall as buildings! Just don’t lean against them – that will hurt. The striking vistas can look pretty dramatic against the sky during sunrise and sunset. Though a large city is just minutes away, the park is peaceful and has plenty of room to explore, while also enjoying quiet reflection.

Saguaro cactus forest in Saguaro National Park during sunset.
Cactus with flowers in Saguaro National Park.

Petrified National Forest/The Painted Desert:

Northeastern Arizona features Petrified Forest National Park and the Painted Desert. This colorful park is named for the fossilized wood found throughout – a product of plant material being buried by sediment and thereby protected against decay, and then groundwater flowing through the sediment (over many, many gazillions of years of course). Throughout the park can be found a rainbow of gorgeous desert vistas, thanks to a variety of natural events over time. Navajo and Hopi people have lived here for centuries before European arrival, and petroglyphs and pueblo ruins can be found in parts of the park.

Petrified wood in Rainbow Forest in Petrified Forest/Painted Desert National Park.
Colorful hills in Painted Desert/Petrified Forest National Park.

The Grand Canyon:

We have all seen stunning pictures and portrayals of the Grand Canyon. None of them do justice, though, to actually seeing it in person. Standing in front of it, it seems to go on forever. And although it is one of the most heavily-visited parks in the country and draws large crowds, the noise and bustle seems to kind of melt away looking out at the Canyon’s colors, rivers, and iconic formations. It really is a humbling experience.

Note: Apparently some people like to throw coins and other objects into the canyon, perhaps for luck or just for fun. As signs around warn, though, that’s not so lucky for birds and other wild animals inhabiting the area – they can eat these objects and die from poisoning, choking, and other causes. So please, when you visit, let’s keep wildlife out of harm’s way.

Mather Point, Grand Canyon National Park.
Horseshoe Bend, Grand Canyon National Park.

Sedona, Arizona:

Beautiful Sedona is a city famous for diverse reasons. Its natural beauty makes for amazing hikes. Its vortexes are rumored to have positive energy and spiritual significance, and some have reported various kinds of healing after visiting. We visited the airport vortex – it did have a very peaceful and refreshing vibe.

There is also lots of shopping, including jewelry and various new age stuff downtown, if that’s your thing. Accordingly, the city has an interesting mix of counterculture, and high end shops.

Skyline of Sedona, Arizona.
Cathedral Rock in Sedona, Arizona.

The Hoover Dam:

Situated on the border of Nevada and Arizona, this engineering feat made development of much of the Southwest possible. Constructed during the Great Depression, it did – and still does – hold back the largest human-made lake in the U.S. And, accordingly…dam, is it huge! 😀

View of water near Hoover Dam.
Looking down into Hoover Dam.

Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to awesome parks, and places to visit.

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