I’m a girl on a constant quest to satisfy my inner wanderlust, by filling my soul with adventures, falling in love with new places and exploring the beauty this wonderful vast world has to offer. However, some places are individually magnetic; maybe it’s the way the sun illuminates the red rocks revealing beauty in every direction or the thundering sounds of cascading waterfalls within its topography. Arizona always lures me back. Natural wonders and hidden gems showcase Arizona’s landscape, making it an explorer’s playground. With terrain this exquisite it’s near impossible to pinpoint my favorite places, but I’ve done my best.
Havasu falls could easily be described as paradise with its magnificent blue-green waters that cascade over the red rocks creating a place of pure serenity. This enchanting waterfall is situated within the Grand Canyon. In order to reach this magical place you have to work for it; reservations are highly sought-after and difficult to attain, once permits are acquired it’s a 16km hike down to the falls. Your hard work will pay off and you will be rewarded with overwhelmingly beautiful vistas.
It’s the Eden of Arizona, and no list would be complete without the inclusion of the Grand Canyon. You don’t have to hike the Grand Canyon to marvel in its beauty, there are plenty of lookout points. However, if you are wanting to explore a bit, there are many trails that will allow you to do that. All with differing degrees of difficulty and elevation.
My favorite hike in the Phoenix area, there are two routes up to the top of Camelback mountain, Echo Canyon and Cholla Trail. I prefer Echo Canyon, it’s short and steep. If you like climbing over boulders and enjoy a good ‘step-up’ challenge opt for the Echo Canyon trail. The parking lot fills up very quickly, be prepared to add a few KMs onto your hike as you will probably have to park a ways away from the the trail head.
Horseshoe bend is one of my favorite places to watch the sunrise or sunset in Arizona, It is located just north of the Grand Canyon, and a few KM’s south of Page. This viewpoint overlooking the Colorado River is picturesque. From the parking lot it is a short 1km hike down to the mirador. Be prepared for crowds especially if you are there during the day.
Antelope Canyon is one of the most photographed slot canyons in the world, located in Page, Arizona. There are two slot canyons (Upper and Lower), both of these canyons can only be accessed with a tour. It about 78$ for a tour of Upper Antelope Canyon and 25$ for the Lower slot Canyon.. Give or take depending on what tour company you go with for each canyon. To access the Lower slot canyon you need to be able to ambulate independently as you need to walk down steep staircases and climb up ladders in order to walk through the canyon. I found the light rays to be more significant in the lower canyon,however the crowds are larger.
The best time to visit Grand falls is between April and March when the snow melt and heavy rain is at its highest, as precipitation is what fuels this magnificent outpouring.
A spectacular mountain range of red rocks and lush vegetation, Sedona is the perfect place for a weekend getaway. Bear Mountain is a moderate hike, that takes you up red rock cliffs over 8km. Be prepared there is a few false summits along the way, however the views make up for it. Get ready to sweat, depending on the time of year Sedona can be very warm and there is little to no shade cover on this trail.
In order to bask in the serenity of Antelope canyon and escape the crowds and the tour companies, you need to kayak there. I rented a Kayak once I arrived in Arizona from Lake Powell PaddleBoards (subsequently you could travel via paddle board as well). To kayak Antelope Canyon you need to access the Antelope Marina on Lake Powell, look for the public boat launch and start your journey there. Turn left and stay close to the shoreline. (Tour groups start at about 10am, so it is best to start early to beat the rush) It is approximately 5km round trip to the slot canyons. You will take your first left where you see a large buoy. Once you’ve turned left, make your way into the slot canyon. The slot canyon will begin to narrow, when you can no longer kayak, get out and hike. Enjoy the views.
Camping on Antelope Island
Make a night out of your kayaking adventure through the Antelope slot canyons and spend the night on Antelope Island. This island is located directly across from the Antelope Marina boat launch. Now there is no running water, electricity or washrooms like a ‘normal’ campground, however the experience is far superior.