Arizona is a land of contradictions. The lush forests and majestic mountains of the northern part of the state gradually flatten out southward, giving way to the harsh, alien landscapes of the desert in the south. Green and blue transition to red and brown in the landscape; sunsets cast harsh, beautiful shadows across the ground, giant saguaro standing sentinel around the clock in the Sonora Desert.
1. The Grand Canyon
The state is best known as the home to the Grand Canyon and one of the earliest American national parks, Grand Canyon National Park. One of the seven natural wonders of the world, the canyon stretches 277 miles in length and up to 18 miles across at its widest. Standing on either side of the canyon, five million visitors per year can see strata exposing millennia of the Earth’s hidden history. The Colorado River has carved steadily downward over the years, revealing beauty and science and the red and brown bands of time itself.
There are multiple ways to see the canyon. Some choose to navigate the river by raft or canoe, enjoying stretches of flat water and some of the best white water rapids in the world. Others like the canyon floor too but prefer to see it on horseback. For a bird’s eye view, helicopter flights are perennially popular and increasing in attraction is the Grand Canyon Skywalk. Opened in 2007, the Skywalk is a semi-circular viewing platform that protrudes over the canyon edge at an elevation of 1,450m (4,770 feet). As well as being a major feat of modern engineering, it offers amazing views across along and down the canyon.