Hidden Gems Around Arizona
Are you searching for a carefree weekend off the beaten path?
An artsy, romantic getaway? Or maybe a night of great food and drinks?
Look no further than these hidden gems around Arizona!
Hike to gorgeous hidden vistas in the mountains and deserts. Explore the stars and caves filled with art and adventure. Or simply enjoy a night out on the town. All in a weekend. Whether you’re a resident in Phoenix, Flagstaff, Tucson, or elsewhere, there’s somewhere close and beautiful to explore in the Grand Canyon State of Arizona!
Hiking and Swimming at SAGUARO LAKE
Nestled among the Bulldog Cliffs on the banks of the Salt River, formed by the Stewart Mountain Dam, Saguaro Lake promises a fun day trip! The lake is off State Route 87, about halfway between Phoenix and Sunflower, a ghost town. Saguaro Lake is the perfect place for a morning hike, an afternoon boating trip. You can even spend a starry night in a cabin at the Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch. Enjoy horseback riding, kayaking and tubing during your relaxing getaway. All that without the tourists and lines you’d find at a water park or beach.
Explore the Stars at MOUNT GRAHAM INTERNATIONAL OBSERVATORY
The second largest optical telescope in North America, this Large Binocular Telescope is located at the Mount Graham International Observatory in the Pinaleño Mountains. Open to public tours between April and October (reservation required, weather permitting), you can explore this as well as two other telescopes. You can also learn about local history and the ecology of the Coronado National Forest. Mount Graham International Observatory is a division of Steward Observatory, the research arm for the Department of Astronomy at The University of Arizona.
A Desert Art Oasis in CHLORIDE
Once a silver mining camp with over 2,000 residents, Chloride is now a 300-person town with a secret: beautiful, ancient, modern art nestled among the stunning desert landscape. American artist, Roy Purcell, spent time here in the 1960’s and painted “The Journey.” The Journey is a 2,000 square foot series of murals along the rocks in the Cerbat Mountains nearby. Across from here is a large Native American petroglyph site. Just a mile and a half from the center of town, the murals and petroglyphs are a relaxing hike or drive.
Hike, Float, or Fly to HORSESHOE BEND
Want the Grand Canyon experience without the traffic? Visit Horseshoe Bend near the town of Page along the Colorado River. After a 1.5-mile hike from the road, enjoy the 1,000 foot overlook across the majestic rock face. You can also take in the sights while floating down the river or from the air on a guided tour.
Shop Historic FOURTH AVENUE in TUCSON
Great food, drinks, and shops await on Historic Fourth Avenue in Tucson. The Avenue celebrated its 100 anniversary in 2016. There’s still no better place in the city to bike, walk or get a sense of the local flavor and arts. Many locally owned small businesses line the streets. Restaurants and bars like Bison Witches Bar and Deli, Pop Cycle and IBT’s Gay Dance Bar always guarantee a great time.
Extreme ZIP-LINING in FLAGSTAFF
The largest zip line course in the Western United States, Flagstaff Extreme, is sure to get your heart pounding and blood flowing. Thrill seekers can try the Adventure course, with a short training session. Spend the day on the zip lines, rope swings, scrambling walls, hanging nets, and more. All of this while being 15 to 80 feet high in the tall Ponderosa Pines. Adult and Children’s courses mean the whole family can get in on the action. There are plenty of local group deals too! Look online and then go with the whole family or friends!
Immerse yourself at the PHOENIX ART MUSEUM
Inspired by a Japanese folktale, Yayoi Kusama, “You Who Are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies” (2005) is an immersive art exhibit at the Phoenix Art Museum. This permanent installation is one that you will never forget. A dark room, mirrored walls and small blue LED lights, make you feel like you’re diving into the stars, floating through infinity.
Explore EMERALD CAVE by Boat or Land
Emerald Cave along the Colorado River is a perfect example of the unique beauty that abounds in Arizona. 45 minutes from Las Vegas, you can explore caves by kayak on the emerald green waters. The stunning views from Black Canyon are only a few miles away. Departing Willow Beach daily are half and full day tours including equal parts ecology, history and adventure.
From relaxing vacations to exciting excursions into nature, there is no wrong way to spend your time around Arizona.
If the lines and traffic at the Theme Parks and Hoover Dam aren’t your thing … Arizona has a multitude of natural wonders waiting for you.
Whether you are exploring the desert searching for inner peace; spicing up your relationship on a starry night; or wining, dining, and shopping in style … try ARIZONA!
Written by Jeremy Alderman, Phoenix Arizona
Photos Courtesy of or taken from:
Saguaro Lake in Phoenix By Kevin Dooley
Telescopes under Moonlight, at the MGIO Site by Paul Schultz
Chloride mural by Mapio.net
Horseshoe Bend by Alley Keosheyan
Historic 4th Avenue Merchants Association
Flagstaff Extreme Zipline by Uphill Hiker on YouTube
Phoenix Art Museum – Fireflies’ The Yayoi Kusama Infinity Room by Atlas Obscura
Emerald Cave on Flickr by BDFri2012