Sedona is a picturesque town in Arizona that is noted for its mild year-round climate, New Age shops and spas, and beautiful surrounding natural red rock buttes and canyons. The town, which is located near the city of Flagstaff, makes a great jumping-off point for seeing some of the state's greatest natural wonders, including the immense Grand Canyon, the steep Mogollon Rim, and the towering San Francisco Peaks.
Old West towns like Tombstone and Bisbee are home to legendary attractions like the O.K. Corral, while other Arizona cities like Phoenix and Payson offer museums, art galleries, golf courses, spas, and major annual festivals. Visitors can also explore the historic Apache Trail or travel the route of the state's former Route 66 highway, which still showcases many classic roadside attractions.
1. Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon is a beautiful slot canyon located near the town of Page on lands belonging to the Navajo Nation indigenous American reservation.
The cavern, which is located near pristine Lake Powell, was originally developed following flash flooding erosion of regional Navajo sandstone.
Today, it is divided into the Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon sections, which are commonly known as "The Crack" and "The Corkscrew."
Portions of the cave are open to the public as a tourist attraction, showcased as part of guided tours offered throughout the year by the Navajo Tribal Park.
Visitors can enjoy excellent opportunities for nature photography within the cave, particularly at Upper Antelope Canyon, which can be accessed at ground level without any climbing necessary. There are many great things to do in Page, Arizona.
2. The Apache Trail
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The Apache Trail preserves the historic stagecoach trail of the same name, which was named in connection to the indigenous tribe of the same name and wound 40 miles through Arizona's Superstition Mountains.
The trail, which runs the same route today as AZ 88, meanders through rugged desert mountain terrain past beautiful natural sites like Apache and Canyon Lakes.
It is unpaved at its section between Tortilla Flat and Roosevelt Dam, showcasing steep cliff drops that make it a treacherous but stunning drive.
Magnificent scenery awaits those who make the journey along the route, including the panoramas of Theodore Roosevelt Lake and the Tonto National Forest.
The former copper mining towns of Globe and Goldfield are home to areas such as Lost Dutchman State Park, which offers trailheads into the Superstition Wilderness. Browse our romantic weekend getaways in Arizona guide for more ideas.
3. Bear Wallow Wilderness
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Bear Wallow Wilderness is home to some of the American Southwest's largest tracts of virgin ponderosa pine forests, along with extensive areas of fir, spruce, aspen, and conifer forest tracts.
The wilderness area is operated as part of the National Wilderness Preservation System, which is an important program to provide clean habitats for rare and endangered flora and fauna throughout America.
Visitors can enjoy excellent opportunities for hiking, kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, river rafting, and backpacking throughout the year at sites such as the gorgeous Bear Wallow Creek, which is surrounded by beautiful green riparian hardwoods.
An impressive population of black bears calls the wilderness home, along with populations of deer, elk, and native reptiles.
Five visitor trails meander through the wilderness, including the Reno Trail, which provides access to the creek's canyon.
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4. Day Trips from Sedona: Canyon Lake
Canyon Lake is one of four reservoirs constructed along Arizona's Salt River, originally created along with the development of the Mormon Flat Dam in 1925.
The 950-acre ace is the smallest of the Salt River's lakes, known as a popular stop along the scenic Apache Trail route at Apache Junction. It serves as a popular outdoor recreation area for the Phoenix and Sedona communities, offering year-round opportunities for hiking, boating, scuba diving, and water sports such as jet skiing.
Anglers can enjoy great opportunities to catch species like rainbow trout, yellow bass, channel catfish, bluegill, and walleye. Two boat launches are offered at the recreation area, along with a designated swimming area and a number of day-use picnic sites.
The Tortilla Flat Campground and the Canyon Lake Marina Campground offer marina services and overnight stay areas.
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5. Day Trips from Sedona: Flagstaff
Flagstaff is one of the most picturesque cities in Arizona, flanked by the backdrop of the beautiful San Francisco Peaks. The city is known as a popular gateway area for exploring the region's natural wonders, including Humphreys Peak and Grand Canyon National Park. The famed Arizona Snowbowl ski resort offers opportunities for skiing and winter sports during the cooler months, located at an elevation of 9,200 feet above sea level. Downtown, delightful cultural organizations such as the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra, the Clifford E. White Theater, and the Studio Theater present performances throughout the year. Annual festivals hosted in the city include the Flagstaff Music Festival, the Pickin' in the Pines bluegrass festival, the Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival, and the Northern Arizona Book Festival. Nearby, indigenous Pueblo sites are showcased at Wupatki National Monument and Walnut Canyon National Monument. There are many great things to do in Flagstaff.
6. Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park preserves one of the world's most magnificent natural wonders, preserved as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and considered to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World. The park, which was established in 1919 as the United States' 15th national park facility, spans 1.2 million acres and is one of the most-visited national parks in the county. Gorgeous rock layers formed in Precambrian times have been carved by the flow of the Colorado River, showcasing stunning red, brown, and pink layers today that make for unparalleled photo opportunities. Visitors can stay in luxury at accommodations along the park's South Rim, which is home to family-friendly tourist attractions like the Grand Canyon IMAX Theatre and the Yavapai Geology Museum. On the canyon's North Rim, secluded lodges and campgrounds offer convenient access to overlook points like Mather Point and the Yavapai Observation Station.
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7. First Mesa
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First Mesa is a unique attraction on the lands of the Hopi Reservation indigenous region, showcasing the historic way of life of the Hopi indigenous tribe's villages. The site consolidates three ancient Hopi and Tewa villages at Walpi, Sitsmovi, and Hano, located high atop a beautiful mesa that showcases sweeping panoramas of the surrounding Arizona terrain. Visitors can step back over a millennia in time and learn about the villages' traditional ways of life, gaining new respect for the practices and cultural traditions of indigenous Americans. Walpi village still operates without running water or electricity, showcased as part of guided walking tours overseen by the First Mesa Consolidated Village Office. At the Second Mesa, the Hopi Cultural Center showcases a beautiful art gallery that lets visitors purchase one-of-a-kind works of indigenous art, including polychrome pottery and carved katsina dolls.
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Jerome is a thriving artistic hub in central Arizona, once known as the site of Arizona's largest copper mine throughout the 19th century, which produced over three million pounds of copper a month at its peak of operations. Visitors can explore historic attractions such as Jerome State Historic Park, which is home to the lovely 1916 Douglas Mansion, operated today as a living history museum. A 1918 mine shaft is showcased at Audrey Headframe Park, covered by a glass viewing platform. In recent years, the city's downtown district has been completely revitalized, home today to beautiful art galleries, antique shops, boutiques, and delicious dining destinations within formerly-vacant historic buildings. Nearby, Tuzigoot National Monument preserves an indigenous pueblo set on a hilltop.
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9. Kartchner Caverns
Kartchner Caverns are beautiful limestone caverns that were originally discovered by Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts in 1974, known for their 2.4 miles of spectacular underground passageways. The caverns have been operated as a tourist attraction since 1998, open to the public for guided tours. Visitors can explore lovely sites such as the caverns' Throne Room, which is home to one of the world's longest soda straw stalactite formations, and the impressive Kubla Khan column. Other major features that can be explored as part of guided tours include the caverns' Mud Flats, Cul-de-Sac Passage, and Strawberry and Rotunda Rooms. Throughout the summer months, the caverns serve as an important nesting site for endangered Myotis velifer bats. Above ground at Kartchner Caverns State Park, visitors can hike picturesque nature trails such as the 4.2-mile Guindani Trail.
2980 Arizona 90, Benson, AZ 85602, Phone: 520-586-4100
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10. McDowell Mountain Regional Park
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McDowell Mountain Regional Park is a lovely 21,000-acre public park located within Arizona's northern Fountain Hills region, known as a prime spot for seasonal outdoor recreational activities in the Sedona area. The park, which is located along the McDowell Mountain range's western end, reaches heights of 3,000 feet above sea level, home to a spectacular network of more than 50 multi-use hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails. Competitive mountain bikers can make use of three mountain biking loop tracks of varying difficulty levels. The park is known as an excellent spot for wildlife watching, home to native species like coyotes, deer, and javelina. Visitors can also stay overnight at the park's tent and RV hookup campsites, which offer picnic tables, restrooms, showers, and campfire rings.
16300 McDowell Mountain Park Dr, MMRP, AZ 85268, Phone: 480-471-0173, (website link)
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11. Mogollon Rim
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Mogollon Rim is a stunning escarpment slope along the Colorado Plateau, stretching for more than 200 miles between Arizona's Yavapai County and its border with neighboring state New Mexico. The rim is named for Spanish Governor of New Mexico Don Juan Ignacio Flores Mogollón, who oversaw the territory between 1712 and 1715. Throughout the 20th century, the rim was best known as the home of American author Zane Grey's famed hunting cabin. Stunning sandstone and limestone cliff formations are on display throughout the rim, including the famed Coconino and Kaibab cliff stretches. Beautiful canyons like Fossil Creek and Pine Canyons also make for stunning nature photography. Visitors can enjoy opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, fishing, and backcountry skiing throughout the year.
1824 S. Thompson St, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, Phone: 928-527-3600
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12. Montezuma Castle National Monument
Montezuma Castle National Monument protects several historic dwellings constructed by Arizona's Sinagua indigenous people, a pre-Columbian culture that thrived throughout the region between 1100 and 1425 A.D. The monument takes its name from the legend of famed Aztec emperor Montezuma, who European settlers mistakenly believed the settlement to belong to when the ruins were found in the 1860s.
It spans 860 acres near the intersection of the Colorado Plateau and Basin and Range, protected as a national monument since 1906. Visitors can view the preserved five-story dwelling, which was constructed over the course of three centuries and contains approximately 60 rooms. A ?-mile paved interpretive trail embarks from the monument's visitor center, which also features exhibits about traditional Sinagua culture and tools. More info
Montezuma Castle Rd, Camp Verde, AZ, Phone: 928-567-3322
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13. Needle Rock Recreation Area
Needle Rock Recreation Area is a lovely day-use recreation spot along the beautiful Lower Verde River, known as one of the most popular seasonal swimming spots near Scottsdale.
The recreation area, which is located within the gorgeous Tonto National Forest, is home to lovely natural attractions such as Weaver's Needle, a famed rock formation protected by the United States Geological Service.
Visitors can beat the heat throughout the summer months at the recreation area's swimming beach, which also offers day-use picnic tables, fire rings, and charcoal grills.
Anglers can catch rainbow trout, sunfish, catfish, and smallmouth bass along the river, which is also known as a prime spot for birdwatching for species like bald eagles and great blue herons.
Scottsdale, AZ 85262, Phone: 602-225-5200, (website link)
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Payson is commonly referred to as the "Heart of Arizona" for its central location within the Arizona landscape. The charming city is almost entirely surrounded by the beautiful Tonto National Forest and is known for its unique temperate Mediterranean climate, which stands in direct contrast to most of the state's desert regions. Visitors can explore the city's lovely coldwater lakes, which serve as popular year-round recreation sites for fishing, horseback riding, and hiking, or view the stunning Mogollon Rim natural formation, one of the state's most renowned natural wonders. Other natural sites include the Tonto Natural Bridge, the world's largest natural bridge. Three championship golf courses offer opportunities to hit the links, while the Mazatzal Casino is home to a lively game floor and delicious restaurants. Since 1884, the city has been the home of the world's oldest continuous annual rodeo. There are many great things to do in Payson.
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Phoenix is Arizona's beautiful capital city, home to a population of more than one million residents, making it the largest capital city in the United States. The city, which anchors the state's gorgeous Valley of the Sun region, is known for delightful cultural attractions such as the charming historic hub Heritage Square, which preserves a plethora of 19th-century buildings and is home to family-friendly attractions like the Arizona Science Center. Visitors can observe renowned works of art at the Phoenix Art Museum or peruse lovely art galleries at picturesque Roosevelt Row. Jack Nicklaus-designed golf courses offer opportunities to hit the links, while high-end spa resorts provide rejuvenation and relaxation. Nearby, the Sonoran Desert is home to popular observation points like Camelback Mountain. There are many great things to do in Phoenix.
Prescott is a charming historic city in central Arizona, known for its stunning Victorian-style architecture and famed Whiskey Row downtown district.
The city is home to over 800 sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including Falcon Nest, the tallest home in North America, which sits on the slopes of beautiful Thumb Butte.
Live music venues and bars abound throughout Whiskey Row, which was transformed from a notorious red-light district in the early 20th century into a hip nightlife district today. The region's pioneer history is documented at the Sharlot Hall Museum, while its indigenous culture is on display at the Museum of Indigenous People.
Four championship golf courses are showcased throughout city limits, including the Antelope Hills Golf Course, which offers two public courses.
Annual special events include the city's Bluegrass Festival, World's Largest Gingerbread Village, and quirky New Year's Eve Boot Drop event. There are many great places to visit in Prescott Valley
17. Route 66
Route 66 was the United States' most famed transcontinental highway throughout much of the 20th century, stretching from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California. Much of the 401-mile route, which is commonly referred to as the Mother Road, has been covered or turned into more modern highways, though many of its historic roadside attractions and highway signs still stand today and draw driving enthusiasts in droves. Near Flagstaff, visitors can explore roadside attractions like the famed "Sleep in a Teepee" Wigwam Village Motel. Throughout its interior portion, the route of the road climbs up the lovely Kaibab Plateau, offering spectacular views of the nearby Grand Canyon. Other attractions along the route include Painted Desert National Park, Meteor Crater, Cool Springs, Black Mountain, and Lake Havasu City.
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18. The San Francisco Peaks
The San Francisco Peaks are a beautiful volcanic mountain range located just north of the city of Flagstaff, comprised of six peaks that circle the caldera of the now-dormant San Francisco Mountain volcano. The peaks include Humphreys Peak, the largest mountain in the state of Arizona, which reaches a height of 12,633 feet above sea level. Other dramatic peaks include the 12,356-foot Agassiz Peak and the 11,969 Fremont Peak. Lava flows, volcanic rock, and deep Alpine forest habitats surround the peaks, which are located within the gorgeous Coconino National Forest day-use recreation area. 30 miles of recreational hiking trails are offered throughout the peaks, which are also home to the famed Arizona Snowbowl skiing resort. On clear days, visitors can see the Grand Canyon's North Rim from atop Humphreys Peak.
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Scottsdale is a charming desert city in eastern Arizona, known for its renowned golf courses, resorts, malls and shopping centers. The city's lovely Old Town district is home to beautiful 1920s-era buildings, 19th-century olive trees, and the lovely Scottsdale Arts District, which showcases a plethora of art galleries and studios. The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and other arts organizations are showcased as part of the city's weekly Scottsdale Artwalk events, held on Thursday evenings. Visitors can explore historic attractions like the famed Taliesin West, the famed winter home of renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright, or hike through the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, known for its desert hill and rock formations. The city's annual Scottsdale Arts Festival has been named as the United States' top arts festival by American Style Magazine.
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20. Best Day Trips from Sedona: The Sonoran Desert
The Sonoran Desert is a beautiful desert stretching throughout sections of Arizona, California, and Baja California, spanning a total area of more than 100,000 square miles. The desert, which is North America's hottest desert, showcases a high biological diversity of unique flora and fauna, including beautiful cacti and West Coast annual flowers like lupines and poppies. 775 square miles of the desert are protected by the Sonoran Desert National Monument, protected in 2001. Visitors can embark on half-day guided tours from Phoenix or Scottsdale, including Jeep tours and cowboy-led hiking tours. Hiking trails include the six-mile Brittlebush Trail, which spans the North Maricopa Mountains Wilderness. Visitors can also learn about the desert's native animals and habitats at the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum.
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21. Tombstone and Bisbee
Tombstone and Bisbee are two legendary mining boomtowns located approximately 90 minutes southeast of the city of Tucson, known for their role in developing the legend of the Old West throughout the 19th century. Tombstone is home to the famed O.K. Corral, known throughout the world for its famed 1881 gunfight between members of the Earp, McLaury, Clanton, and Claiborne families. Other attractions include the iconic Bird Cage Theatre, one of the Old West's most famed theaters, and the Rose Tree Museum, which is home to the world's tallest rose tree. Nearby in Bisbee, visitors can explore the preserved Bisbee's Queen Mine as part of guided tours or view exhibits at the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum.
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22. Walnut Canyon National Monument
Walnut Canyon National Monument is a lovely national monument located approximately 10 minutes southeast of the city of Flagstaff, preserving the beautiful canyon of the same name, which reaches elevations of nearly 6,700 feet above sea level. Visitors can explore nature exhibits at the monument's visitor center or view ancient indigenous dwellings along a U-shaped route around the canyon, which were constructed by the region's Sinagua tribe. A loop trail descends 185 feet into the canyon, letting visitors explore its scenic rim. More indigenous dwellings are preserved nearby at Tuzigoot and Montezuma Castle National Monuments for visitors looking to make a day out of visiting archaeological sites. Though no campsites are offered at the monument, visitors can camp at the nearby national forest, which is located less than 15 minutes away.
3 Walnut Canyon Rd, Flagstaff, AZ 86004, Phone: 928-526-3367, (website link)
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23. Wupatki and Sunset Crater National Monuments
Wupatki and Sunset Crater National Monuments are two lovely national monuments located just north of the city of Flagstaff, preserving a volcanic cinder cone and the remains of a regional indigenous village. Sunset Crater was originally created around 900 years ago after an eruption related to the nearby San Francisco Peaks, showcasing unique cinder and lava flow structures. Visitors can explore the monument via a one-mile loop trail at the crater's base as part of guided or self-guided hiking tours. At Wupatki National Monument, more than 30 structures are showcased that once belonged to the Cohonina, Sinauga, and Kayenta Anasazi Ancient Pueblo indigenous groups. Unique structures include the Tall House, which showcases more than 100 rooms and an expansive historic ballcourt.
6400 U.S. 89, Flagstaff, AZ 86004, Phone: 928-526-0502
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24. Slide Rock State Park
Slide Rock State Park is a lovely Arizona state park located just 10 minutes north of the city of Sedona in Oak Creek Canyon, named in honor of its natural water slide of the same name. The park, which is located within the Coconino National Forest, is jointly managed by the Arizona State Parks agency and the United States Forest Service and has been named as one of the United States' top 10 swimming holes by the Travel Channel. The 80-foot-long slide is open to the public for swimming, sliding, and wading at Oak Creek throughout the summer months. Around the slide, a 43-acre working apple farm has been in operation since 1912.
6871 AZ-89A, Sedona, AZ 86336
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