Centered in the American southwest, bounded by three states and with Mexico to its south, Arizona is an intoxicating mix of landscapes and cultures. In northern Arizona, the Colorado River snakes through the Grand Canyon, one of the world’s natural wonders. To the east, trout streams cross pine forests and Indian reservations in sparsely populated high country. Jagged red-rock spires enclose sophisticated Sedona and pioneer towns like Jerome and Prescott. The buzzing capital of Phoenix rises to the south. In the west, lakes created by Colorado River dams give way to low-lying lands of grassy plains, spreading east to the mountain ranges that surround the desert metropolis of Tucson.
Kick start an active Arizona break with a thrilling rafting trip down the whitewater rapids of the Colorado River, through the Grand Canyon’s auburn-hued cliff walls. Bring hiking boots for a rugged trek down the canyon or take a pack mule. A hike to the top of Camelback Mountain will reward you with views of the Phoenix skyline. Birders can get an eyeful of warblers, flycatchers and other rare birds at Madera Canyon. Lake Mead invites water fans with swimming, waterskiing and windsurfing. Golfers can tee off at world-class courses surrounded by majestic rocky spires in Tucson and Phoenix.
Native American dance performances at the Heard Museum and cowboy art at the Phoenix Art Museum are highlights of lively Phoenix. With non-stop sunshine and clear skies, this city abounds with alfresco dining and buzzing nightlife. Tucson’s Barrio Historico District’s adobe row houses and Flagstaff’s Museum of Northern Arizona’s fascinating displays of Grand Canyon geology give a strong sense of place. The red rocks surrounding Sedona provide a scenic backdrop.
Unwind by a shimmering pool in the shadow of towering red mountain spires at the Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa in Scottsdale. Enticing body wraps and massages are on offer at the Royal Palms Resort and Spa in Phoenix, built in Spanish-mission style. A stay in a two-bedroom casita (small house) at the Enchantment Resort in Sedona with a crackling open fireplace and a patio promises a private, relaxing haven with mountain views. Houseboats can be rented on Lake Mohave for a leisurely exploration of hidden coves.
Mountain lions and bighorn sheep wander among other Sonoran Desert fauna at Tucson’s Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Young gunslingers may enjoy the reenactment of Tombstone’s famous gunfight at O.K. Corral, followed by a hearty meal in a cowboy steakhouse. Ancient Native American cliff dwellings dot Canyon de Chelly National Monument. On dude ranches throughout the state horseback rides through desert scrub followed by campfires and cookouts appeal to the inner cowboy. Then there’s the Grand Canyon, that monolithic natural wonder that never fails to awe kids of all ages.