Arizona has thousands of lakes with small, secluded sandy coves while the entire stretch along the Colorado River between the two dams is one long beach Riviera. Arizona beaches are mostly small, and many can only be accessed by boat, but they often offer a sense of privacy and seclusion rarely found on the sea coast. Most are part of urban parks like Gateway Park in Yuma or state parks like Buckskin Mountain Park or Cattail Cove State Park, offering a range of amenities for the whole family. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Some restaurants are currently offering pickup only. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.Buckskin Mountain State Park
2.Arizona Beach: Cattail Cove State Park
3.Centennial Beach, Yuma
4.Arizona Beach: Lake Havasu Beaches
5.Lake Havasu State Park
6.Best lakes in Arizona: Patagonia Lake State Park
7.Arizona Beach: River Island State Park
8.Best lakes in Arizona: Roper Lake State Park
9.Arizona Beach: Wahweap Bay
9 Best Arizona Beach & Lake Vacations
- Buckskin Mountain State Park, Photo: Courtesy of BVpix - Fotolia.com
- Arizona Beach: Cattail Cove State Park, Photo: Courtesy of anoushkatoronto - Fotolia.com
- Centennial Beach, Yuma, Photo: Courtesy of wstockstudio - Fotolia.com
- Arizona Beach: Lake Havasu Beaches, Photo: Courtesy of Alexander - Fotolia.com
- Lake Havasu State Park, Photo: Courtesy of Eric - Fotolia.com
- Best lakes in Arizona: Patagonia Lake State Park, Photo: Courtesy of Dennis - Fotolia.com
- Arizona Beach: River Island State Park, Photo: Courtesy of ablokhin - Fotolia.com
- Best lakes in Arizona: Roper Lake State Park, Photo: Courtesy of Guy Sagi - Fotolia.com
- Arizona Beach: Wahweap Bay, Photo: Courtesy of oscity - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of oscity - Fotolia.com
More Ideas: The Arizona Wave
The Wave is a unique natural phenomenon that serves up a truly breathtaking landscape for those dedicated enough to make the trip. The sandstone rock formation can be found in Arizona near its northern border with Utah.
The landmark is administered by the Bureau of Land Management, which, due to the fragile nature of the formation, limits visitation to only 20 people per day. The tickets are given out by lottery to ten lucky hikers from the Kanab Visitor Center in Utah. The other ten must be pre-booked four months in advance online. Once you have your ticket, only then are you provided with information on how to make the long and quite arduous hike to the formation.
With its soft undulating patterns, the rock almost appears to be a natural optical illusion. The striations in the sandstone are largely caused by wind erosion, whereas the two major troughs that comprise the rock formation would have been formed through water erosion. Dating back to the Jurassic Age, the Wave has provided historical insight into geology and the world we live in while offering an interesting feast for the visual senses.
It’s possible that the Wave can attribute its surging popularity with tourists, backpackers, and the photography set to the fact an image of the formation was included as wallpaper on the Windows 7 operating system. It could be this alone that introduced the amazing natural phenomenon to a worldwide audience, who clearly saw something they liked.
It’s now almost impossible to call yourself a landscape photographer without having visited and snapped at least a couple of good shots of the Wave. Whether playing around with the curving, trippy, kaleidoscopic patterns or taking a shot down in the troughs of the perfectly still, azure blue water floating atop the contrasting, livid orange sandstone, there is always a new perfect shot to chase. The lighting is also an incredibly important factor, and at sunset and sunrise a talented snapper can capture some extremely stark and dramatic images; at midday, though, with the sun right above you, the sandstone comes alive with color and the lack of shadow really brings out the curves of the Wave. It’s probably best to get there with enough time to capture both if you want to leave with that perfect shot.
There are four trailheads that access Paria Canyon and the Wave. However, as mentioned, overcrowding is discouraged and so there is no official signage and there are no formal trails. You will receive guidance on the various approaches when you get your golden (or orange sandstone) ticket. The White House trailhead is the most commonly used and probably the safest and easiest to follow for inexperienced hikers. The Buckskin Gulch and Wire Pass trailheads offer more experienced hikers access to Buckskin Gulch, the main tributary of Paria Canyon, for some bonus scenery soaking. The Lee’s Ferry trailhead is located at Paria Canyon’s lower end and represents the normal exit points for hikers traveling the entire length.
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More Ideas: Enchanted Island Amusement Park
Located in Phoenix, Arizona, Enchanted Island Amusement Park is a 7.5-acre family amusement park located within the city’s 222-acre Encanto Park, offering several rides and a variety of family amusement attractions.
The Encanto region of Phoenix was organized as a public park facility in 1934 to curtail livestock grazing within the area. Land for the creation of the park was purchased from several area landowners, including J.W. Doris, who owned more than 100 acres within the region. Throughout the mid-20th century, the park was developed as a public recreation facility offering a variety of outdoor natural and sport activities, including archery, badminton, and tennis. Additional sports facilities, including soccer and handball fields, were added to the park in the 1970s and 1980s as part of a $1.3 million renovation, along with jogging trails and biking paths. The park’s Enchanted Island Amusement Park originally opened to the public in 1946 as the Kiddieland amusement park. In 1986, the park was shut down by the City of Phoenix for major renovations, and a number of original rides were sold, including its Allan Herschell carousel. In 1991, the park was reopened as Enchanted Island Amusement Park, featuring new rides and attractions for family visitors of all ages. Since its reopening, the park has been designated as a Phoenix Point of Pride by the City of Phoenix.
Rides and Attractions
Today, Enchanted Island Amusement Park is operated year-round, with different operating hours offered seasonally and as part of the park’s regular operation schedule. Park admission is free, with ride tickets for single purchase and in 20-ticket booklets. All-day ride passes are also offered, including pass packages for access to premium attractions.
Park rides include the C.P. Huntington Train, a replica historic train modeled after the tank-back steam engine that was used in the early days of the first American transcontinental railroad. After being serviced for more than half a century, the original train was decommissioned in 1914, but before its demolition, it was purchased and displayed in San Francisco as a public exhibit for the Southern Pacific Railroad. The park’s replica railroad offers seven-minute tours of the park’s surroundings and is fully wheelchair-accessible.
Other attractions at the park include the Encanto Carousel, the oldest continuously-operating carousel in the state of Arizona, which has operated at the park since 1948. Midway rides include the Parachute Tower, which offers panoramic sky views, the Rock-N-Roll teacup ride, and the Red Baron flying airplane ride. A Dragon Wagon miniature roller coaster is offered for children, along with Kiddie Cars and a Mini Enterprise spaceship ride. Several miniature coin-operated children’s rides are also offered.
Children’s Bumper Boats are offered at the park between mid-October and mid-April, operated by battery on an 18-inch-deep water area. Between mid-April and mid-October, the Splash Zone water park, opened in 2009, offers children’s slides and flower shower, water mushroom, and dumping bucket attractions in a large pool area. The Castle Clash attraction lets teams of participants engage in water gun and cannon battles in a castle-themed battle environment. A 30-foot-tall Giant Climbing Wall is also offered, designed to resemble the terrain and rock formations of the Grand Canyon.
In addition to major rides and attractions, a variety of skill games are located throughout the park, offering play for different ticket rates. A snack bar serves standard American fare such as hot dogs, chicken strips, popcorn, snow cones, and ice cream sandwiches. A six-foot-deep lagoon for fishing is offered, along with pedal boat and canoe rentals on the park’s waterways. Pedal boats and canoes may be rented for half-hour and longer rates, and all riders under 12 must be accompanied by an adult rider. Visitors may also use the facilities and attractions within Encanto Park, including its swimming pool, its nature trail, its sports fields, and its two golf courses.
Ongoing Programs and Events
In addition to standard visitor admission, group rates are offered for small groups and organizations, including preschool and elementary school field trips. School fundraiser opportunities may be scheduled, with portions of ticket sale proceeds returned to school groups. Birthday party packages are offered for young visitors wishing to celebrate their birthdays at the park, with packages offering time at a private shaded picnic area, catered food, and all-day ride passes. The park’s facilities may also be rented for private special events for up to 10,000 guests, including corporate and community group picnics. Annual park special events include an Easter egg hunt, a Harvest Festival in November, and Cinco de Mayo and Domingo de Fiesta themed events.
1202 W. Encanto Blvd, Phoenix, AZ 85007, Phone: 602-254-1200
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More Ideas: Kitt Peak National Observatory
The National Solar Observatory operates several telescopes at Kitt Peak, just sixty miles west of Tucson. The McMath-Pierce solar facility is located atop the 7000-foot summit. The facility is home to three solar telescopes, over 20 optical telescopes, and three radio telescopes. Each of the three reflecting solar telescopes uses relatively similar technology for solar viewing.
The sun’s image is reflected through 3 separate mirrors, the 2nd of which is underground, before reaching the observing room. The primary heliostat mirrors turn throughout the day as the earth moves around the sun. The telescopes differ in size and in the relative distance of the three reflective mirrors. The Main Telescope is the largest and is able to transmit images to three separate ports in the facility, to be used with different instruments that measure the images. Instruments used include the Main Spectrograph, which can be used photographically or photoelectrically with several different filters. A Solar-Stellar Spectrograph also is used with the Main Telescope, and has been in use since 1987. A North port exit allows scientists to set up their own instruments for use with the Main Telescope. The East Auxiliary Telescope is next smallest in size and is used more often for atmospheric experiments and for nighttime viewing. An optical box for planetary viewing is outfitted with this telescope. The West Auxiliary Telescope is the smallest of the three and said to have the best image quality. No working instruments are set up to be used with the West Telescope, but it is used most often for producing images of sun spots as well as the production of images for tourists who visit the Observing Room gallery. A Visitors Center at Kitt Peak offers interactive exhibits and informational panels, which educate guests about the telescopes and what is seen with them. A Heliostat exhibit allows guests to see and learn about sun spots. A mirrors exhibit demonstrates how the mirrors are used on Kitt Peak to capture images of distant cosmic objects. A Plasma Display introduces physics and shows visitors how plasma is connected to star formation. Outdoor exhibits are scattered throughout the campus and demonstrate how the sun was first used to tell time, as well as the history of solar understanding throughout the world’s cultures.
History: The McMath-Pierce Solar Facility is the flagship facility of the National Solar Observatory. The facility was dedicated in 1962, and today, houses three of the world’s largest solar viewing telescopes. Scientists come from all over the world to use these instruments to study the sun. The site is currently administered by the National Optical Astronomy Observatory. Kitt Peak is famous as the home of the first telescope specifically designed to search for near-earth asteroids and to calculate the probability of an asteroid colliding with earth.
Ongoing Programs and Education: Daytime activities at the Visitors Center include docent-led tours and live sun viewing. Day guests may hike through the campus and enjoy the 100-mile panoramic views from the 7,000-foot summit. Nighttime activities showcase the dark, frequently clear skies above the observatory. The four-hour introductory Nightly Observing Program is best for those new to stargazing and astronomy. The evening includes a light dinner, sunset viewing and constellation viewing through the telescopes. The Dark Sky Discovery program is appropriate for those with some knowledge of astronomy. On evenings with little moonlight, the small group program offers a more in-depth exploration and use of the telescopes with knowledgeable guides. The Overnight Telescope Viewing program is the most in-depth program offered. Participants are treated to three meals and a customized viewing program based on their interests and goals. Overnight stays take place in the dormitories atop the mountain. Overnight programs and day tours are also available for school groups. Additional programs at the observatory include Binocular Stargazing Workshops, in which participants are taught to use binoculars for their own stargazing. Basic and Intermediate Astrophotography workshops teach participants how to best photograph the night sky.
Past and Future Exhibits: Special events are frequently scheduled around rare or important celestial events. Meteor Mania is a special nighttime viewing event scheduled to coincide with meteor showers. Viewing takes place from 10pm to 3am. Past viewings have included July’s Delta Aquarid showers. Future viewings include the Leonids in November and the Geminids in December. Preparation classes for the 2017 “Great American Solar Eclipse” were offered which educated guests on best practices for solar eclipse viewing. The observatory was not open to the public on the actual day of the eclipse.
Highway 86 to 386 for 12 miles, Sells, AZ 85634, Phone: 520-318-8726
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