The USA‘s wild, wild west has so much natural beauty it’s almost hard to know where to begin. From the unique red rock to the jutting cliffs and the dramatic sweeping canyons, Arizona has more wonder than you’ll know what to do with.
In fact, we reckon that you can find most of the country’s best natural wonders in Arizona alone (and maybe a little bit of Utah).[listicle]
Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness
With a look like a collection of endless waves, the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs are home to some of the most unique rock formations in the world. Only 20 people can visit per day, so you have to apply for a permit in advance or enter a daily lottery to win your shot. Like all good things, it’s worth putting in the hard yards to get access to this beauty.
Entry fee: If you snag a permit, it’s only a US$6 (AU$8) fee.
Photo: Bureau of Land Management / Flickr
Slide Rock State Park
A state park with an all-natural slip ‘n’ slide is one we can really get behind. Once an apple orchard, Slide Rock State Park has been a favourite local swimming hole for years. It’s a perfect place to cool down in the steamy Arizona sun.
Entry fee: US$20 (AU$26) Monday to Thursday, US$30 (AU$40) Friday to Sunday and public holidays, per vehicle of one to four people.
Photo: Bill Morrow / Flickr
Another natural beauty straddling the border between Utah and Arizona, Lake Powell is an expansive body of water with bright red rock formations jutting dramatically out of the water. Don’t let the name fool you — it’s a man-made reservoir, not a lake. But you can still swim, splash and kayak around all the same.
You can access Lake Powell from Arizona or Utah.
We don’t have to tell you that the mother of America’s natural beauty is a gigantic, colourful hole in the ground called the Grand Canyon. It’s a bucket-list item for a reason.
Entry fee: US$35 (AU$47) per vehicle.
Photo: Wikipedia Creative Commons
It may take a 16km trek to get there but, boy, is it worth it. Just up from the Colorado River, Havasu Falls is America’s best-kept secret. We think so anyway.
Photo: The Bei Posti / Flickr
Salt River Canyon Wilderness
Not too far from Phoenix, Salt River snakes through the tall, imposing cliffs of Tonto National Forest. It doesn’t cost a thing to visit but the drive there is quite challenging. Keep your wits about you, but make sure to look out the window, too.
Monument Valley encompasses the Navajo region that spills over from Arizona into Utah. In Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, you can drive around and see the iconic Monument rock formation, including the “mittens” (pictured above).
Entry fee: US$20 (AU$26)
Here’s one you’ve no doubt drooled over on your social feed: Antelope Canyon is all smooth, wavy rocks, endless crevices and unstoppable red, purples and yellow. Located on Navajo land, you have to jump on a tour to check out this mind-blowing slot canyon.
Entry/tour fee: US$48 (AU$65) including tour and Navajo park entry permit.
While technically part of the Grand Canyon National park, Horseshoe Bend deserves a shout-out of its own. Only a few kilometres from the highway, it’s pretty easy to access. [/listicle]
(Lead image: Bureau of Land Management / Flickr)
Josephine is a staff writer at Junkee Media. You can find her words on AWOL, The Cusp, food she bagsed in the fridge.