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Monument Valley|©Pedro Szekely/Flickr
Monument Valley|©Pedro Szekely/Flickr | https://www.flickr.com/photos/pedrosz/34850800650/
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11 Beautiful Places to See in Arizona That Aren't the Grand Canyon

Picture of Juliet Bennett Rylah
Updated: 11 November 2017
The Grand Canyon draws over 4 million visitors per year to Arizona, but they’d all be remiss to ignore the rest of the state’s beauty, from surreal slot canyons to vast stretches of desert and sandstone towers.

Lake Mead

Lake Mead National Recreation Area is huge—1.5 million acres, in fact. Lake Mead itself is a reservoir created by the Hoover Dam and sprawls across Arizona and Nevada. Visitors to the area can enjoy boating, swimming, water sports, and fishing, not to mention the scenic views.

Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon | © didier.camus / Flickr
Antelope Canyon | © didier.camus / Flickr

The incredible Antelope Canyon, a slot canyon near Page, Arizona, has a truly otherworldly appearance. Its twisting arches, created by intense water erosion, pose a unique challenge for photographers. The canyon itself is located on a Navajo Tribal Park, and tours have been available since 1997.

Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park | © Shawn Hinsley / Flickr
Saguaro National Park | © Shawn Hinsley / Flickr

Saguaro National Park is named for the giant cacti that can be found throughout the 92,000-acre park. It is open to tourists for hiking, backpacking, and camping, though the latter is only allowed in certain areas and requires a permit.

Monument Valley

Monument Valley | © Sarah Nichols / Flickr
Monument Valley | © Sarah Nichols / Flickr

Monument Valley isn’t just a popular game; it’s also a stunning real-life natural wonder found in parts of Arizona and Utah. It’s best known for the sandstone buttes dotting its vast landscape, the tallest of which is 1,000 feet (300 meters) high.

Oak Creek Canyon

oak-creek-canyon
Oak Creek Canyon | © Noel Reynolds / Flickr

Located in the Coconino National Forest, this river gorge is a popular area for camping, picnics, hiking, and fishing. Visitors can enjoy a 2.5-hour scenic drive or may be lured out of the car by the natural beauty.

Petrified Forest National Park

Named for the petrified wood found throughout, the Petrified Forest offers plenty of popular activities, including hiking, backpacking, and photography.

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument | © Jeff Hollett / Flickr
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument | © Jeff Hollett / Flickr

This International Biosphere Reserve, created in the 1930s, was named for the plentiful area’s organ pipe cacti, a species of cactus with clustered stems resembling a pipe organ. The park itself is a wonderful location for hiking and camping.

Desert Botanical Gardens

Chihuly exhibit at Desert Botanical Gardens | © Paula Henry / Flickr
Chihuly exhibit at Desert Botanical Gardens | © Paula Henry / Flickr

Founded in the 1930s, Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden houses over 20,000 plants, including agave and cacti, and also hosts occasional exhibit, with past shows featuring artists like Bruce Monro and Dale Chihuly.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Canyon De Chelly National Monument | © Rennett Stowe / Flickr
Canyon De Chelly National Monument | © Rennett Stowe / Flickr

Canyon de Chelly is home to preserved petroglyphs from indigenous peoples, offering a unique educational opportunity, as well as activities like hiking and horseback riding. Guides from both the National Park Service and Navajo Nation provide tours to the public.

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s in the midst of the Great Depression to control the Colorado River. Though it was built by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, it bears the name of his predecessor, Herbert Hoover, who presided during the start of the Depression.

Sonoran Desert

Sonoran Desert | © Jeff Shewan / Flickr
Sonoran Desert | © Jeff Shewan / Flickr

Once home to the Colorado River Delta, the Sonoran Desert is a beautiful destination for discovering unique native flora, like Creosote bushes, organ pipe cacti, and prickly pears.