The number of National Parks/Sites/Monuments in Arizona seems endless (22, according to the US National Parks Service, click here for the full list).
In addition to the Grand Canyon National Park, the most famous (see my post here), there are several smaller, but certainly not less beautiful, natural areas that deserve a visit. We randomly chose a few, with our decisions mainly based on our overall itinerary, the driving distances involved, and the relatively limited time we had.
So here’s where we went:
# Canyon De Chelly
Already covered in this post.
# Petrified Forest (including the Painted Desert)
East of Holbrook, this is one of my favourite parts of Arizona because of the stunning colours in the landscape. The Petrified Forest is characterised by petrified wood, fossilised logs – some really huge! – scattered over the area. Multicoloured geological formations of conic shape (badlands made of mudstone and claystone) will take your breath away. The 3-mile Blue Mesa trail lets you experience this incredible landscape at its best.
The Painted Desert could be described in three colours: blue (the sky), pink/red (the rocks), green (the vegetation). But this wouldn’t do justice to the beauty and the magic of this desert. You just can’t stop looking at it!
# Sunset Crater Volcano
Just north of Flagstaff, this volcanic cinder cone erupted around 900 years ago. A 1-mile hike allows you to walk around the black lava area at the base of the crater.
# Walnut Canyon
Located near Flagstaff. The curious shape of the rock formations here give the name to this canyon, famous for its cave dwellings. Take the steep 1-mile Island Trail to descend into the canyon and discover where the indigenuous Sinagua people (a pre-Columbian culture) used to live.