US – Arizona
There’s no place on earth quite like Arizona, the Grand Canyon State. It’s not just the landscapes, which take in tall mountain ranges, swift rivers, grasslands, sand dunes, and cactus forests. It’s not just the storied past, which reaches back thousands of years. It’s not just the people, a vibrant blend of cultures and traditions. It’s all these things, and the way they come together, that make a visit to Arizona‘s tourist attractions a truly unforgettable vacation experience. From Tombstone, Tucson, Yuma, Flagstaff, Phoenix, Hover Dam, Lake Meade, Colorado River.
Vacation Spots in Arizona
Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon speaks for itself; this is Arizona’s pride and joy. The Grand Canyon is located in the northwest part of the state. Carved out by the Colorado River over millions of years. One of America’s natural wonders and first National Parks, its one thing you must see during your lifetime; it’s also one of the Seven Wonders of the World. River rafting, hiking and the skywalk on the West Rim are good starters…just to name a few. While in the Grand Canyon area, be sure to check out the Reindeer Farm west of Flagstaff.
A lot more than just a big stack of concrete, the mere size of Hoover Dam is awe-inspiring. Constructed in the 1930′s, Hoover Dam is located in northwest Arizona sharing a border with Nevada. Named after former president Herbert Hoover, Hoover Dam was one of the biggest projects of it’s time. During your visit to Hoover Dam make sure that you visit Lake Mead.
Located south of Flagstaff, in Red Rock country, is another one of Arizona’s not so best kept secrets. Sedona is home to some of Arizona’s and Hollywood’s elite; Sharon Stone and Al Pacino have homes in Sedona, so does John Travolta. Sedona also has some of the most beautiful sunsets and scenic drives in the country. Numerous hiking and biking trails dominate the colorful red rock sandstone landscape. Must-sees when you travel to Sedona include the Solid Rock church and Slide Rock Park. Kill an entire day sliding down natural rock formations. While in the Sedona area make sure that you check out Jerome and Prescott as well.
Monument Valley Park
Located in the northeastern part of the state, Monument Valley is famous for the legendary battles between the Roadrunner and Wiley Coyote (Warner Brothers cartoons), and the popular desert scene in National Lampoon’s ‘Vacation’ movies. Dominated by colorful plateaus and mesas, in some respects Monument valley is the face of the Southwest. The most popular landmarks of Monument Valley are located on the Navaho Tribal Park on the Utah border. While in the area, make sure that you check out the Utah side of Monument Valley.
Lake Havasu, AZ
Lake Havasu City is home of the London Bridge. Brought over from England in the 1960′s, the London Bridge put Lake Havasu on the map. The English Village surrounding the bridge, and is just one of the oddities you’ll find in this desert paradise. Water sports, lake tours, off road driving, spring break and enjoying sunsets, to name a few, are very popular in this desert oasis. While in Lake Havasu City make sure that you check out Parker Dam, which is located about 30 miles south.
Lake Powell Arizona
Lake Powell is a manmade reservoir located in northern Arizona, sharing a border with Utah. Made famous for its “bath tub” ring around the lake and its beautiful moon-like landscape, canyons, and towering rock formations. Here, you will find that camping and renting a houseboat are also tourist favorites. Rent a houseboat and get lost beneath the stars while at Lake Powell Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
Havasupai Falls one of the most scenic travel locations in Arizona, period. Located deep in the Grand Canyon, there are four sets of falls: Mooney Falls, Havasu Falls, Navajo Falls and Beaver Falls. The blue-green water caused by high mineral content turns the falls and its natural pools into a tropical lagoon-style setting. Most of us will need to hike to get there, although helicopter rides are available.
Located near the south rim of the Grand Canyon, the Painted Desert’s precedes its name. Its multicolored landscape is breathtaking. Viewing the Painted Desert at sunrise is a must. The Painted Desert sits between the Grand Canyon and the Petrified Forest, so make sure to hit all three during your travels. Meteor Crater is also a must-see.
Dubbed “The town too tough to die,” Tombstone is the most notorious of the old mining towns from the Wild West. Made famous from the fight at the OK Corral, along with some of its legendary residents, Wyatt Earp and Doc Holladay, Tombstone’s story has been told in numerous books and movies. While in Tombstone, do yourself a favor and visit Saguaro National Park.
Another old mining town that rarely gets the recognition that it deserves is Oatman, Arizona. Located south of Bullhead City, Arizona, lies this old mining town. Its current population is roughly 100. This quaint town consists of only novelty shops that cater to tourists. But its main attraction is the donkeys that wonder the streets and the popular gunfight shows. Most of the stores sell carrots to feed to the donkeys, which have no problem eating them from right from your hands. If you have kids and want to experience a taste of the old west, Oatman is a must-see.
Campgrounds of Arizona
Manzanita Campground is located just south of Slide Rock State Park in scenic Oak Creek Canyon. The campground is located right on Oak Creek. Reservations are now available for some of the 19 campsites at Manzanita. Come early and during the weekdays to have a chance at one of these prime campsites. The camp area is so small that there no room for RV’s .
Havasupai went though a major flood in 2008 which reshaped the falls and some of the falls aren’t even there anymore but several new falls have appeared including the temporarily named “Rock falls”. Most of the campgrounds have changed and work still needs to be done to bring them back to the condition that they were in before the flood. One great improvement to the campground is the addition of new composting toilets that did not have any of the smell of the old toilets and they are 3 or 4 of them throughout the campground. no more walking all the way to the campground entrance to go. The trail to the campgrounds is easier than the trails into the Grand Canyon, Havasupai is an 11 mile hike from the trail head to some of the most impressive series of waterfalls in the United States.
Mather Campground is pretty much right in the thick of things on the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Within walking distance of the south rim, Mather boasts 317 campsites, a shower and laundry facility as well as a general store, restaurants, gift shops and a nice visitors center. With 4.5 million people visiting the Grand Canyon, reservations are almost a must and can be made five months in advance. Reservations during the winter months (December – March) are not taken and the campground is on a first-come, first-served basis.
Cave Springs dropped a few notches for one reason only. As the year extends further into the summer, the skunks can be a nightly battle if you stay up long after the sun goes down. The camp hosts banned all sound devices including all radios and car stereos a couple years ago and this has virtually eliminated all of the late night noise complaints. I camp there at least once a year and after dark it is almost silent in the campground. This could be the reason there are more pesky skunks around.
Cave Springs Campground is located at the northern end of Sedona’s famous Canyon, 11 miles from the 89A turnoff in Sedona. Cave Springs is located just a few miles north of Slide Rock State Park, a great place to have a picnic and enjoy the scenery. No glass containers or pets are allowed in Slide Rock State Park. Slide Rock was named one of Life Magazines top 10 swimming holes. There are 78 campsites underneath the thick ponderosa pines, of which 11 are located on Oak Creek.
Sinkhole campground at Willow Springs Lake received a ton of page views this year and a nice overall rating by our readers. Willow Springs lake is a bit larger than its sister Woods Canyon Lake. Willow Spring boasts a boat ramp for your convenience and a 8 h.p. limit on boat motors. Frequently during the summer the shores will be speckled with those fishing possibly trying to catch the occasional lunker that the Arizona Game and Fish Department puts in this well stocked lake. 26 very clean and paved campsites dot this stretch of the rim which keeps the noise to a minimum.
Canyon Point Campground
Canyon Point is making it’s debut in our top ten list for a couple of reasons. First, Canyon Point was on of the cleanest campgrounds I have ever been to. Second campgrounds are not right on top of each other. Other contributing factors were Proximity to good outdoor adventure, Canyon Point is centrally located between the Rim Lakes and some great fishing at little known Canyon Creek. Showers are available at Canyon Point for a small fee. One overlooked note is how nice the camp hosts were. That can make or break a camping trip for a newer camper and Canyon Point’s hosts were very polite and helpful every time I have been there.
This is the big daddy when it comes to camping in Arizona. Woods Canyon Lake is the most popular camping area in the entire state. So much that overflow camping on a big weekend can send campers deep into the surrounding forest which is prepared for such days. There are many dispersed campgrounds in the area and Forest Road 300 boasts many of them. Aspen is still a camper favorite but make sure you get here early Thursday or Friday to get a spot or make reservations well ahead of time. I camp every year along the Mogollon Rim the week after the fourth of July and watched as cars formed a line all the way back to Star Valley.
Aspen Campground has gone up a spot on this years list.
Quite simply put, If you like small campsites with a few basic amenities this is heaven! Camping is on a first come first served basis, with most of the campsites filling up on the weekends. Wildlife occasionally can be seen riverside, and the fishing is top notch. Most of the East Fork is fish able as an 11 pound 7 ounce rainbow was pulled from the river not far from the Aspen Campground in 2003. Make sure you clean up at nights as this is bear country.
Easy come easy go for Christopher Creek as it retains the number two spot in our top ten list for the third time in a row. An outstanding campground in a superb setting. Set below the Mogollon Rim just off of S.R. 260, Christopher Creek Campground has 43 units that are on both sides of the creek. A group campsite holds 25 people and is by reservation only. The creek is stocked with rainbow trout early in the year as waters tend to recede throughout the summer months. Three swimming holes offer a way to cool off when the temperatures get a little high.
Apache Trout Campground
This should be the new standard for Forest Service campgrounds and remains number one in our top ten list. The campground is very clean and the shower facilities are part of the fee and you could used them whenever they were not occupied. At the end of each shower facility was a sink with running water and an area to bring your dishes for cleaning. . Campsites are paved with gravel and each had a picnic table, Grill and fire ring. Best of all, Big Lake site right in the middle of the White Mountains and there are so many places to visit you really can’t go wrong. There are also electric hookups and a dump station for those camping with a Motorhome or RV. Nearby is the well stocked Big Lake General Store where you can also rent a boat. And when you land that big rainbow, there is a fish cleaning station which always seems busy each time I have the chance to drive by. The only downside is that some of the campsites are connected and you are parking right next to your neighbor.