Arizona is famous for its vast desert landscape, which is littered with magnificent rock formations. Its dry heat is an attraction to some and home to a large portion of the Navajo community.
Every traveller wants to explore everything worth visiting and what makes each state iconic. However, the heavy flock of tourists can often make it impossible to appreciate its unique features. Luckily, there are spectacular attractions that lie off the beaten path of Arizona.
As part of our guide to touring the Americas, we’ve put together a list of hidden places to visit in Arizona that you’re sure to love.
Hidden Gems in Arizona
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This state’s secrets are often hidden between the famous tourist attractions and can be hard to find without the help of a guide. These once-in-a-lifetime experiences are perfect for the adventure-seeking traveller.
The Havasu Falls are situated on the Havasupai Indian Reservation. Considered one of America’s most remote Native American reservations, these falls are surrounded by the Grand Canyon National Park.
Havasu Falls remains one of Arizona’s hidden gems because access to this terrain is quite exclusive. The falls are only open to guests staying for at least one night at the reserve’s lodge in the Supai village or three nights at the campground.
Visitors will also need to purchase a permit from the Havasupai Tribe to access its protected land. A trip to Havasu Falls is the perfect way to learn about the culture of this magnificent tribe. It is also a great way to support the Havasupai community.
Montezuma Castle National Monument
While it’s not exactly a secret, this five-story high limestone monument is one of Arizona’s best-preserved cliff dwellings.
Built by the Sinagua people around 800 years ago, the monument hidden in Arizona earned its name from early settlers, who believed it belonged to Montezuma (an Aztec Emperor). Montezuma Castle sits on the edge of Cape Verde and overlooks the Beaver Creek floodplain, which is a great spot to add to your itinerary.
Only 90 minutes out of Phoenix and an easy five-hundred-metre walk to the monument, this hidden gem of Arizona is the perfect day trip. A short 15 to 20-minute drive from the castle will take you to the Montezuma Well. This area was home to prehistoric communities from as early as 11,000 CE.
Now visitors can enjoy the monuments, picnic sites, walking trails, and tranquillity of the sacred land and wildlife.
Nestled in the heart of the state, you’ll find one of the most mysterious places in Arizona. Its futuristic design is hard to miss in contrast to its desert surroundings. Arcosanti is an experimentally designed town founded in 1970 and designed by architect and philosopher Paolo Soleri.
Soleri created a unique design style called arcology, which combines architecture and ecology to promote sustainable development. Arcosanti is a clear embodiment of his vision and innovation.
The Arcosanti was designed to house up to 5000 people. Since then, it’s only been occupied by 100 people at a time. Visitors to Arcosanti can experience modern architecture and ecology-driven sustainability through guided tours.
There is also a visitor’s centre, cafe, gallery, and gift shop for day visitors to explore.
Arcosanti remains an inspiration to those who love architecture and is a must-see for anyone searching for unique experiences in Arizona to add to their itinerary.
The Wave Trail
Much like the hikes near Las Vegas, Arizona is known for its magnificent scenery. One of the state’s most famous and photogenic destinations is The Wave. In attempts to preserve the integrity and beauty of The Wave, the entrance to the trail is highly exclusive, like a few other hidden gems in Arizona.
Visitors can apply for a permit two days in advance via an online lottery system, where only 16 people are chosen. The other 48 visitors per day are selected months in advance.
With the appearance of an iconic Windows screensaver, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is well worth the effort and the 6-mile hike. Hikers are advised to start their journey in the morning to catch the best photography spots in good lighting.
Along the route, hikers will pass dinosaur tracks and other impressive rock formations found only in Arizona, like the Boneyard and Lace Rock.
Angels Window is one of the most beautiful hidden places in Arizona. Located on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, this area sees only a small fraction of the Grand Canyon’s six million yearly visitors.
Hiking the Cliff Springs trail takes you to the viewpoint opposite Angels Window. If you’re keen on getting closer, an easy walk off the main Cape Royal Trail will let you stand above the window and overlook the canyon.
You can also get to the window by taking a scenic drive along Cape Royal Road. There are plenty of opportunities to see the canyon and even stop for a picnic along the way.
The North Rim is greener than the South and offers a different perspective to the spectacular views.
If you’re thinking of visiting the North Rim, the best time of year is from May to October. It is only open to day visitors in November and closes completely during winter due to heavy snowfall.
Tips for Exploring Hidden Treasures in Arizona
With so many of this state’s wonders placed outdoors, it’s essential to be aware of the climate and terrain. Here’s a quick list of things to remember:
- Arizona’s triple-digit heat can be dangerous. Remember to stay hydrated and protect yourself from the often scalding sun.
- Be cautious of the terrain and your surroundings. It’s easy to go a little too far when exploring somewhere new. Make sure you’ve got a detailed map of any secluded places you visit. Hidden gems in Arizona can be hard to find.
- Get some wheels! Arizona is a big state and has various areas to discover and explore. Consider renting a car to make the most of your trip.
Final Thoughts on Unique Places to Visit in Arizona
Arizona is perfect for adventurous travellers who love the outdoors. Its rich Native American history and spectacular natural wonders offer a long list of must-see attractions. Hopefully, our five favourite hidden spots in Arizona make it onto your itinerary.
Make sure to plan your trip to Arizona well in advance and use our tips to make the most of it. Above all, remember to have fun. With good memories and photographs, you’ll be able to bring a piece of this fantastic state home with you.