Planning a trip to Arizona? I’m quite sure the Grand Canyon probably features on your itinerary as it is probably the most famous Arizona landmark. However, Arizona has many fantastic landmarks that aren’t as well known as the Grand Canyon but in their own way can be just as interesting to visit.
This article covers a mix of natural and man-made landmarks, and the modern as well as the ancient.
Here are 29 Arizona Landmarks not to miss.
29 Arizona Landmarks
Table of Contents
- 29 Arizona Landmarks
- 1. Grand Canyon
- 2. Grand Falls
- 3. Oak Creek Canyon
- 4. Meteor Crater
- 5. Monument Valley
- 6. Upper Antelope Canyon
- 7. Lower Antelope Canyon
- 8. Horseshoe Bend
- 9. Havasu Falls
- 10. Glen Canyon Dam
- 11. Chapel of the Holy Cross
- 12. Montezuma’s Castle
- 13. Cathedral Rock
- 14. The rest of the Red Rocks of Sedona
- 15. Mount Lemmon
- 16. Saguaro Cactus
- 17. Mission San Xavier
- 18. Arizona Center
- 19. Civic Space Park and Westward Ho tower
- 20. Cathedral of Saint Augustine
- 21. Presidio Area
- 22. Colourful Adobe Houses
- 23. Pima County Historic Courthouse and The Embrace
- 24. Wrigley Mansion
- 25. Taliesin West
- 26. Canyon Lake
- 27. Sentinel Peak or the A Mountain
- 28. London Bridge
- 29. Tombstone
- Arizona Landmarks in Conclusion
1. Grand Canyon
The biggest canyon in the world (The second biggest is the far less well-known Fish River Canyon in Namibia), more than 6 million people visit the Grand Canyon every year. The Grand Canyon has layered bands of red rock that have been formed over millions of years by erosion.
The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long and varies in width between one mile and 18 miles.
The Grand Canyon has several visitors centers, lots of hiking trails, mule trips, train tours or fly in and over the Canyon on a helicopter. Stargazing is also a popular activity.
2. Grand Falls
These waterfalls are 56 meters tall and more than 150 meters wide at high water. Alas, for the majority of the year the falls are only a small trickle but when the snow has melted and rain has fallen they are spectacular. Grand Falls has many tiers of water and is quite wide, making for a spectacular sight.
However, Grand Falls are best known for the fact that their muddy waters can seem to be made of chocolate. Head to Grand Falls to relive your Willy Wonka fantasies!
3. Oak Creek Canyon
This beautiful canyon in Sedona is about 19 kilometers long and reaches depths up to 600 meters. Oak Creek itself runs through Sedona but the canyon is just north of the city on the 89A road.
Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Drive is 14 miles long and runs between Sedona and Flagstaff. This drive is one of the best ways to explore Oak Creek Canyon. Don’t miss The Overlook for some wonderful views.
4. Meteor Crater
It is believed that this meteor crater was created some 49,000 years ago. The diameter of the crater is about 1,180 meters and it is 170 meters deep. The bottom of the crater is covered in a layer of rubble between 210 and 240 meters. The outer side of the crater rises about 45 meters above the surrounding plains.
A collision in the American Southwest about 50,000 years ago with the power of more than 20 million tons of TNT created the crater. Meteor Crater is located 37 miles east of Flagstaff and 18 miles west of Winslow in northern Arizona.
5. Monument Valley
This desert landscape features sandstone buttes up to 300 meters tall and has a slightly surreal appearance. The rocks are surrounded by many miles of shrubs, sand, mesas, and buttes. These all make for some spectacular colors. Many may recognize the iconic Monument Valley from the movie Forrest Gump.
6. Upper Antelope Canyon
Of all the landmarks I visited in writing this article, Upper Antelope Canyon was my favorite. This 200-meter long canyon has tall winding walls, wave-like rocks, and interesting crevasses. The light beams through at various places along the canyon creating amazing colors and effects.
This is the most visited part of Antelope Canyon as it does not require any climbing and sunlight falls into the canyon quite often. Both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon can only be visited on tours and there are more tours on offer for Upper Antelope Canyon than lower.
The tour takes about one hour. Make sure you have a fully charged phone or camera as there are many opportunities to capture images. Companies like Apple and Microsoft have paid a fortune to be able to take photos in Antelope Canyon and then use them in their advertising.
Do make sure you book your Antelope Canyon tour in advance to avoid disappointment. I visited in December and Lower Antelope Canyon was sold out completely for more than a month.
7. Lower Antelope Canyon
This slot canyon is 407 meters long and 37 meters deep. It is visited less often than Upper Antelope Canyon. However, this is only because there tend to be fewer tours on offer.
This canyon tends to be favored by photographers. It is the most visited slot canyon in the American southwest and the most photographed in the world.
NB: Video footage is prohibited in both canyons without pre-arranged permission.
8. Horseshoe Bend
Located near Page, Horshoe Bend is an awe-inspiring Arizona landmark. It is literally a bend in the Colorado River through the canyon. The Colorado River is a blue/green color at horseshoe bend. Contrasted with the deep red of the canyon rocks it makes for a stunning scene.
The 270-degree bend is shaped like an actual horseshoe. However, when seen from the visitor’s side one could imagine that it was a complete circle which is a part of its appealing vista.
The best times of day to visit Horseshoe bend for photography is as the sun is rising and in the hour or so before sunset. In the middle of the day, the sun will be at its height and the colors of the rock will dull. I took photos before and during sunset. Be careful not to wait too long as shadows will drop onto parts of the bend.
Horseshoe Bend is located on Highway 89 at mile marker 545. If you’re driving up from Phoenix or Sedona Horseshoe Bend is on your left before you reach Page. It is signed although not extensively. Drive-in and pay the parking fee. There is a decent-sized parking area.
Horseshoe Bend is a 1.3 mile round trip from the parking lot.
9. Havasu Falls
Havasu Falls is an oasis within the rocks of Havasu Canyon. Not only is there a waterfall but the area around it features green vegetation. The mix of colors from the red rocks, blue water, and green vegetation makes for a stunning vista and some great photographs.
Having said all that, it isn’t easy to get to Havasu Falls. It is known to be an extremely difficult hike and day hikes are discouraged so it also requires booking ahead and spending the night. It is possible to take a helicopter to Havasu Falls. However, it can be difficult to book the helicopter ahead of time and they only run certain hours of the day, mostly in the morning.
Do make sure that you do some extensive research before visiting Havasu Falls.
10. Glen Canyon Dam
The magnificent arch of the dam reaches 726 feet. It is the second-highest concrete-arch dam in the United States after the Hoover Dam.
There is a visitor’s center and you can take a tour if you have the time. If not, park in the visitor’s center and grab some photos from the edge of the dam and then from the bridge.
11. Chapel of the Holy Cross
This stunning cathedral was built into the rocks of Sedona in 1956. It appears to naturally emerge from the rocks.
The best place to photograph the chapel is just below it where there is parking. It is then possible to either walk or drive up to the chapel itself. It is possible to go inside the chapel and the view is stunning from the windows.
There are also fantastic views of the rocks of Sedona from all around the chapel.
12. Montezuma’s Castle
This spectacular ancient dwelling is located in north-central Arizona. Montezuma’s Castle is built into a white limestone cliff and sits about 70 feet above the ground. This castle has 20 rooms over 5 stories. There is a self-guided loop trail that runs along Beaver Creek which gives access to the castle.
13. Cathedral Rock
One of the most popular hikes in Sedona, this is a climb with some amazing views over beautiful Sedona, particularly at sunset. It’s a bit of a trek to the top and you will need to use your hands.
If you’re not so interested in climbing Cathedral Rock, head to Upper Red Rock Loop road and Crescent Moon Ranch to take a short stroll along the creek and experience some fantastic sunset views of Cathedral Rock.
14. The rest of the Red Rocks of Sedona
I felt like Cathedral Rock deserved its own mention but it isn’t the only red rock in Sedona. Sedona is surrounded by amazing red rocks including Bell Rock, Elephant Rock, Courthouse Butte, Teapot Rock, Chimney Rock and many more.
Most of the rocks have hiking paths that vary in difficulty. Or enjoy the rocks in the light of the sunrise or sunset. Sedona is known for its amazing sunsets in particular and I highly recommend driving up to the Sedona airport vortex for one of the world’s best sunsets.
15. Mount Lemmon
The Santa Catalina Mountains are one of the four ranges to surround the city of Tucson and are located in the north and northeast of the city. Mount Lemmon is the highest point of these mountains at nearly 2,800 metres above sea level.
Believe it or not in a city with the temperatures of Tucson, Mount Lemmon is the southernmost ski destination in the United States. Also, Mount Lemmon SkyCenter Observatory is located above the Ski Valley Ski Resort at the top of the mountain. This is the Southwest’s largest dedicated public telescope.
Mount Lemmon is also one of the best places to watch the sunset in Tucson. Follow the Sky Island Scenic Byway up the Santa Catalina Mountains to reach Windy Point Vista. Windy Point Vista is considered by many to be the “best” spot on the byway to watch the sunset over Tucson and it draws in the crowds. It is at the 14-mile point on the nearly 30 miles long Sky Island Scenic Byway.
16. Saguaro Cactus
It isn’t possible to write anything about Arizona and not mention the Saguaro cactus. Indeed, if this list was in order the Saguaro would be at the top as probably the most famous Arizona landmark. This spectacular cactus can grow to over 12 metres tall and many grow arms once they reach the age of 75 years.
The saguaro is native to the Sonoran Desert. The best places to see the Saguaro are at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix and in Tucson Saguaro National Park (East and West) and the fantastic Arizona Sonora Desert Museum.
17. Mission San Xavier
San Xavier Mission was founded by Father Eusebio Kino in 1692. This Catholic mission was built between 1783 and 1797 and is generally considered the best example of Spanish Colonial architecture in the United States. It is also the oldest significant European structure in Arizona.
The mission was named for Francis Xavier, a Christian missionary who was the co-founder of the Society of Jesus in Europe. Today Mission San Xavier Del Bac receives over 200,000 visitors a year and is a well-known pilgrimage site.
18. Arizona Center
The Arizona Centre is located in the heart of downtown Phoenix and has a cinema, shopping, restaurants and a lovely outdoor garden complete with cactus, of course. The building was completed in 1989 and also houses several big corporations. It underwent a major renovation in 2017 and continues to draw locals downtown.
19. Civic Space Park and Westward Ho tower
This urban park in downtown Phoenix first opened in 2009. In addition to providing outdoor space downtown, the park has stores and a community meeting room. As you would hope for in a town that is rather warm for most of the year 70% of the park is shaded.
It is well known for its fiber nets that are suspended 44 metres into the air. These nets change colour at night.
The park is also alongside the Westward Ho high-rise building. This 16 story building was the tallest building in Arizona for 30 years. Its Westward Ho sign and red and white antenna are landmarks of downtown Phoenix.
20. Cathedral of Saint Augustine
This Spanish church is the main church of Catholicism in Tucson. Construction of the Cathedral of Saint Augustine began in 1866. It has been renovated several times over the years and its current Mexican baroque style was built in 1928.
The star of the Cathedral of Saint Augustine is the Pamplona Crucifix. The crucifix is over five metres tall and weighs over 900 kilograms. The cathedral continues to hold regular church services and tours can be organized.
21. Presidio Area
The Presidio district is located in downtown Tucson and covers the area where the city of Tucson was established as a military fort in 1775. The Presidio San Agustin del Tucson is built on a huge square that runs around 700 feet on each side.
Today the building is a reconstruction of the original Tucson Presidio and is a museum. It provides tours that show what life was like in the Presidio in the early 18th century. The Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block is located next door.
22. Colourful Adobe Houses
Adobe houses and buildings are extremely common in Arizona. This building material is known to last in punishing dry climates. One of the best places to see colorful adobe houses in Arizona is downtown Tucson. Even better take a bike tour (I went with Tucson Bike Tours).
Some of the best streets for seeing colorful adobe houses in Tucson are just north of Tucson City Hall. Try West Telles street and North Meyer Avenue.
23. Pima County Historic Courthouse and The Embrace
Located in El Presidio Plaza in Tucson, the beautiful tiled dome of the Pima County Historic Courthouse looks like it was dropped down from Istanbul. It sits opposite Tucson City Hall. In between these two Arizona landmarks is a moving water memorial known as The Embrace.
Designed by Chee Salette and visual artist Rebeca Mendez, this modern water memorial is a tribute to the victims of the January 8, 2011 shooting that took the lives of six people and wounded 13 others.
The target was Gabrielle Giffords, who represented Arizona in the House of Representatives at that time, however she is still alive.
24. Wrigley Mansion
This beautiful mansion was built in 1932 by Mr chewing gum himself William Wrigley Junior. It was a 50th-anniversary gift for his wife. Wrigley Mansion sits at the top of a hill in Phoenix and has fantastic views.
Today it is possible to take a tour of Wrigley Mansion and to wander its beautiful grounds. Or even better head Jamie’s Wine Bar at the mansion for a sunset drink and perhaps even stay for a fancy dinner at Geordie’s Restaurant and Lounge.
25. Taliesin West
Taliesen West is located in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains. This spectacular home was designed by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright and he used it as his winter home between 1937 and 1959.
Lloyd Wright was clearly inspired by his amazing surroundings as the design seeks to incorporate the feel of the area through its curves and angles. The walls are made from local stone.
Tours run at Taliesen West but they’re not cheap. Also, be sure to book ahead so you’re not disappointed.
26. Canyon Lake
This magnificent lake is just 45 minutes east of Phoenix. The 900-acre lake is surrounded by stunning mountains and offers a range of boating, fishing, water skiing, hiking, and many other things to do around its shores and on Canyon Lake.
The Dolly Steamboat began running tours on Canyon Lake in 1983. Taking a steamboat cruise is a great and unique way to explore this beautiful lake, the wildlife, and the mountains of the area.
27. Sentinel Peak or the A Mountain
Sentinel Peak is just moments from downtown Tucson. In 1910 a group of University of Arizona students took some rock and constructed a 160 block giant “A” on the east face of Sentinel Peak and it’s still there and one of Tucson’s most prominent landmarks. Every year University of Arizona students and alumni kick off homecoming week by lighting up the A.
Today the mountain is part of Sentinel Peak Park which has loads of hiking and running trails as well as, of course, saguaro.
28. London Bridge
This 54-year-old bridge literally was London Bridge in London England. In 1968 London Bridge in London was dismantled and sold to an American millionaire. The “story” around this purchase is that the millionaire actually thought he was buying the far more attractive Tower Bridge – this remains unconfirmed.
The reconstruction of the bridge finished in 1971 and it links an island in the Colorado River with Lake Havasu City.
Today this apparently haunted bridge in Lake Havasu City is the top built attraction in Arizona. Live concerts are regularly held under the arches of the bridge as they provide excellent acoustics.
Tombstone is a town rather than a building or natural wonder like many of the items in this article on Arizona landmarks. However, it now draws most of its income from tourism and is renowned for its iconic building fronts that have been a popular choice for Hollywood movies for many years. Gunfight at the OK Corral was filmed in Tombstone.
Don’t miss Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park. The 12,000 square feet courthouse is now a museum that contains many interesting artifacts from the Old West and Tombstone’s time as a silver mining town.
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Arizona Landmarks in Conclusion
So how many of these Arizona landmarks did you know before you read this article? And are there any Arizona landmarks that I haven’t included in this list that you think deserve a position? If so let me know in the comments.
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