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From color-saturated scapes to breathtaking canyons, Arizona holds a wealth of wonder.

 

The Painted Desert

Proving that the desert can be much more than miles of barren landscape, one of Arizona’s most breathtaking sites, the Painted Desert, offers an abundance of stunning vistas in an awe-inspiring display of nature’s glory. Vibrant layers of rocks in shades ranging from romantic lavender and deep gray to radiant red, orange and pink create and ever-changing palette of colorful hues that incite both mystery and wonder. Nps.gov

The Petrified Forest

Nestled within the bounds of the Painted Desert, the Petrified Forest National Park stands as a vast desert splendor rich in history, culture and color. Once a flourishing oasis, the forest was destroyed by volcanic lava over 200 million years ago, leaving behind a landscape abounding with haunting beauty. Vibrantly colored fragments of petrified wood are scattered throughout the park, giving it a timeless and beautiful aspect, especially during the summer months when set against the backdrop of a fleeting Arizona thunderstorm. Nps.gov

Antelope Canyon

On an expansive terrain of Navajo Nation land near Page, is a stunning assemblage of twisting slot canyons known as Antelope Canyon. Divided into two distinct sections, Upper Canyon and Lower Canyon, this marvel displays nature’s remarkable craftsmanship at its finest. Upper Canyon is particularly radiant during the summer months when beams of soft sunlight pour down from openings in the top of the canyon and dance along the smooth walls, painting a scene of vibrant reds and oranges. To best experience all the beauty of Antelope Canyon, take one of Adventurous Antelope Canyon Photo Tours’ many bespoke excursions, especially the night tours. NavajoAntelopeCanyon.com

Horseshoe Bend

A wondrous reminder of the Southwest’s diverse beauty, Horseshoe Bend is a rare and exotic formation along the Colorado River. The gradual wearing down of sandstone rock has caused this unexpected, yet stunning, horseshoe-shaped meander to form. Hike up to “Horseshoe Bend Overlook,” where you will find views of cascading emerald green and turquois water making its way through the bend before wistfully rushing away towards the Grand Canyon. Horseshoe Bend’s captivating beauty can be best beheld by booking a tour, like those offered by Adventure Southwest Tours. AdventureSouthwest.com

Lake Powell and Rainbow Bridge

Straddling the Arizona-Utah border, Lake Powell stands as the second largest man-made reservoir. Its crystal clear blue waters are border by monumental red sandstone cliffs, jutting buttes and miles of pristine beach. By far one of the most exquisite features of this natural wonder is the Rainbow Bridge National Monument. A truly remarkable sculpture naturally carved from red sandstone, Rainbow Bridge overlooks Lake Powell’s sapphire waters, providing a tranquil and spiritual experience for all those who gaze upon it. For an unforgettable journey to Rainbow Bridge, book a tour with Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas’—they also operate marinas, lodges, restaurants and houseboat rentals at Lake Powell. LakePowell.com

Monument Valley

A magical interlude of towering sandstone formations gracefully rising out of the barren desert come together to create the iconic Monument Valley. In an enchanting display of color, deep hues of red, orange and brown paint miles of monumental sandstone pinnacles in an entrancing work of desert artistry. The Valley is particularly radiant during sunrise and sunset, when the glowing sun illuminates the colors of these spellbinding formations. For the best views of Monument Valley, book a stay at The View Hotel, which offers spacious guestrooms with private balconies for uninterrupted viewing and contemplation of these wonders. MonumentValleyView.com

The Grand Canyon

Words cannot describe the sheer brilliance and radiant beauty of the Grand Canyon. An expansive 277 miles long and 18 miles wide, the iconic Arizona monument incites inspiration and clarity for all those who gaze into its seemingly endless vistas. Steeped in history as well as beauty, the Grand Canyon was first formed by the Colorado River, taking 3-6 million years to reach its current depth. This most distinguished landmark is divided into three distinct sections: The South Rim, which holds an abundance of breathtaking vistas year-round; the less-traveled North Rim with its snowy clime and majestic scenery; and the West Rim, home to the famous Skywalk. Nps.gov

Sedona

The timelessness of Sedona’s vivid red rocks spiraling up from the high desert, dramatic canyons and haunting wind-shaped buttes will simply mesmerize all who gaze upon them. While beautiful at all times of the day, Sedona’s true brilliance is revealed at sunset as it casts a romantic glow off the color-saturated formations and filters through the buttes, causing them to flicker within—the desert’s very own candle, softly burning for a fleeting moment. To fully experience Sedona’s Red Rock Country, be sure to book one of the world-renowned Pink Jeep Tours, offering one-of-a-kind excursions with an added bonus of breathtaking panoramic views. PinkJeepToursSedona.com

Oak Creek Canyon

A true desert gem, Oak Creek Canyon is a peaceful hideaway where one can find both solitude and splendor. Lush greenery and ample foliage line the banks, while cascading troves of crystalline water gently flow down the creek as towering red rock formations watch over the serene scene. The summer months are particularly magical at the creek, where whimsical canopied swimming holes and natural waterslides carved out of the exquisite red rocks inspire both adventure and inspiration. VisitSedona.com

Watson Lake

Only a short distance from Prescott, the wondrous Watson Lake is a small, secluded reservoir distinguished by the massive boulders surrounding its banks. A remarkable contrast of color, the subtle blue-gray tones of the lake stand in harmonious opposition with the emerald green aspen trees popping out of the landscaping. Tranquil and serene, Watson Lake is the perfect destination to admire the bounty of nature, especially when viewed from a canoe, kayak or boat provided by Prescott Outdoors—the lake’s premier supplier of water rentals. PrescottOutdoors.com

Kitt Peak National Observatory

Perched high above the vast Sonoran Desert just Southwest of Tucson, Kitt Peak National Observatory is home to the world’s largest collection of telescopes, providing some of the finest astronomical observing in the world. Drive up the gorgeous mountain terrain, passing some of the Sonoran Desert’s finest scenery, to reach the summit of Kitt Peak. Here, you will find awe-inspiring views of both the sky and the surrounding area, whether visiting during the day, at sunset or at night. Noao.edu