Friday, March 20, 2009


Arizona contains some of the most spectacular scenery in the whole of the USA. The Grand Canyon, the Painted Desert National Park and Petrified Forest National Park (comprising the Painted Desert in the north and Rainbow Forest in the south) are just some of the highlights.
Phoenix, the largest city in the State, shares borders with Scottsdale, the primary resort destination in Arizona. Both cities have a variety of accommodations and attractions, unique shopping, fine art galleries and many cultural events. The sixth-largest city in the USA and the capital of Arizona, Phoenix has enjoyed a growth in popularity recently, thanks to its improved airport facilities and a large investment in extensive urban redevelopment. Today, it claims to have more 5-star hotels than any other US city.
Tombstone is the site of the infamous shoot-out at the OK Corral.

  • Sport
Home games during the American football season are held at the Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe between the Arizona Cardinals and other visiting teams. The Arizona Cardinals will move into their new state-of-the-art stadium in Glendale for the 2006 NFL season. A number of Arizona cities provide the training ground for some excellent major-league baseball teams every March, although none could match the Phoenix-based Arizona Diamondbacks, who shine at the Bank One Ballpark. The Phoenix Suns play basketball in the America West Arena, where hockey games between thePhoenix Coyotes and visiting teams are held in winter.
Horse racing can be seen at Turf Paradise in Phoenix and Rillito Downs in Tucson. Car-racing takes place in Tucson at the Southwestern International Raceway and in Phoenix at Firebird Raceway and Phoenix International Raceway, where NASCAR races are held. Rodeos are popular in Arizona and there are over 25 major rodeo sites throughout the state. Skiing is available in the winter at The Arizona Snow Bowl near Flagstaff, Mount Lemmon (one hour outside Tucson) and Sunrise Ski Area outside Pinetop/Lakeside. Other sports available include archery, horseback riding, bowling, fishing, golf, hiking, hunting, swimming, river tubing, hang-gliding, ballooning and tennis.
  • Climate
Mostly warm and comfortable all year round. Mountainous areas, such as Flagstaff at 2,134m (7,000ft), are colder, particularly in winter, and in summer, there are cool mountain breezes. Desert temperatures range from hot during the day to cold at night.
Lightweight cotton clothing for all seasons, with a wrap for cool nights. Warmer clothing is needed in the mountains, especially in the ski areas.
  • Nightlife
Most restaurants serve American or American/Continental food but Mexican, Chinese and Italian cuisine is also available, sometimes as a ‘Southwest style’ fusion using Mexican spices.
Regional specialties:
  • Salsa
  • Frijoles

Phoenix and Tucson have various nightclubs, and there is evening entertainment at many resorts in the area. Scottsdale’s nightlife is more concentrated, while the university crowd go out in Tempe, where there are good jazz clubs on Mill Avenue.

  • Population
5.94 million (official estimate 2005).

  • Population Density
20 per sq km.

  • Capital

  • Time
Mountain (GMT - 7). Daylight Saving Time is not observed, except in the Navajo Indian Reservation.

  • Nickname

Grand Canyon State.

  • Greater Phoenix Area
The sixth-largest city in the USA and the capital of Arizona, Phoenix has enjoyed a growth in popularity recently, thanks to its improved airport facilities and a large investment in extensive urban redevelopment. Today, it claims to have more 5-star hotels than any other US city. Some of the more recent development projects in the city center include the extensive remodelling of the Phoenix Art Gallery; the downtown Copper Square area; the Arizona Science Center with its interactive exhibits; Heritage Square, with fine buildings from the late 19th century; the US$20-million, 225-suite Hilton Hotel, located in the central business district; the Arizona Center (an 8-block complex with a 600-room hotel, offices, restaurants, shops and entertainment); Patriots Square Park, in the center of Phoenix, with a sophisticated and spectacular laser light system that is visible for miles around; the restaurants and bars located in restored warehouses near the Bank One Ballpark (BOB); and the lively shops and restaurants of the Arizona Center. Sightseeing options include Encanto Park, Pueblo Grande Museum, Papago Park (including the Phoenix Zoo and Desert Botanical Garden), South Mountain Park and the recently expanded Heard Museum, devoted to the art, anthropology, history and Native American culture of Arizona.
The metropolitan area, home to over 3 million residents, is the 14th-largest in the USA and offers some 174 golf courses. Founded in 1888 and having a strong Western heritage, Scottsdale has matured into a mecca for lovers of relaxed lifestyles. Year-round sunshine makes the outdoors a way of life, with scores of tennis courts, swimming pools and an ever-increasing number of spas. Attractions include a new museum of contemporary art and Taliesin West, the home and workshop of the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. On the western edge of Phoenix, Glendale is known for its antique shops, while in the southeast are Mesa, the third-largest city in the State, and Tempe, known for the shopping and nightlife on pedestrianized Mill Avenue.

  • Lake Havasu City
Nestled amidst rugged desert peaks on the Colorado River, this city with a small-town feel became the new home of London Bridge in 1971. Dismantled stone by stone, the bridge was brought over from England and reassembled in Arizona, where it became the focal point for an array of English-style shops, pubs and lodgings. The city’s warm, dry climate ensures that swimming, fishing, jet boating, water-skiing and other watersports along the miles of public shoreline are a year-round possibility. Likewise, it has led to the growth of outdoor activities such as tennis, golf, hiking, rock climbing and mountain biking in the area, as well as jeep tours in the nearby Sonoran Desert and Mojave or Chemehuevi Mountains.

  • Sedona
An attractive town nestled in the extraordinary red-rock formations and cliffs at the foot of Oak Creek, Sedona has a strong local arts and New Age scene and some celebrities have second homes here. The beautiful Oak Creek Canyon provides lush scenery, and there are prehistoric Native American ruins to be seen nearby. Jeep tours, hiking and mountain biking are also available.

  • Tucson
This popular winter resort is one of the fastest-growing resort cities in the USA. Surrounded by a ring of five mountain ranges in the Sonoran Desert, it is known for its constant sunshine; and its location, only 160km (100 miles) from the Mexican border, is apparent in its architecture, cuisine, lively fiestas and cultural festivals. The Tucson Children’s Museum, with many hands-on exhibitions, is a favorite with children and adults alike, as is the zoo at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Some 48km (30 miles) north of Tucson, visitors to the State can be dazzled, if not alarmed, by the gargantuan bubble that is Biosphere 2 - a Plexiglas bubble laboratory containing five separate and self-contained ecosystems. It was designed to help scientists colonise Mars but a series of mishaps has plagued this project; even sightseers do not come in their crowds any more (during the early 1990s it was one of the State’s most popular attractions). It is nevertheless worth a look, if only from afar. Guided tours are available.

  • Yuma
As the best site for crossing the Colorado River, Yuma has long been an important transport center. The Yuma Territorial Prison, with cells carved out of the rock, is Arizona’s most visited State Historic Park. From 1876 to 1909, it housed many of Arizona’s most dangerous and notorious criminals. Fort Yuma was built in 1851 during the gold rush to protect settlers and the southern route to California. The St Thomas Mission, the Quechan Indian Museum and the Yuma Crossing State Historic Park are other popular attractions.

  • Apache Trail
Passing through arid deserts, winding canyons, looming buttes, glistening lakes and the ominous volcanic dome known as Superstition Mountain, the Apache Trail is an extraordinary scenic drive. Attractions include Goldfield Ghost Town and Mine Tours, Superstition Mountain Museum, Lost Dutchman State Park, Tortilla Flat (an old stagecoach stop offering ‘killer’ chilli and prickly-pear cactus ice cream), Roosevelt Bridge and Tonto National Monument (well-preserved cliff dwellings occupied 500 years ago by the Salado Indians and featuring examples of their weavings, jewelry, weapons and tools).

  • Grand Canyon
The jewel of the National Park Service and a World Heritage Site, the Grand Canyon’s impact is awe-inspiring. This massive rend in the earth may be experienced in a variety of different ways: by airplane or helicopter, from the back of a mule, on foot or aboard a raft. For those wanting to catch a memorable sunrise or sunset, it is worth booking accommodation at one of the hotels in and around the canyon. As the area is far from any city, those wanting to save time and see it all can take a ‘flightseeing’ trip over the canyon. Further information is available from the Grand Canyon Chamber of Commerce (tel: (928) 527 0359; website:
The most common way to get there is by car from either Phoenix or Las Vegas (see the Nevada section), or to use the town of Flagstaff (tel: (800) 842 7293 or (928) 779 7611; website:, on the historic Route 66, as a base (travel time – 90 minutes). The planet Pluto was discovered at the Lowell Observatory here.

  • Lake Powell
Many tour boats ply the waters of the second-largest manmade lake in the USA. The most popular option, however, is to hire a houseboat and float serenely past the scenic wonderland of red rocks. Well worth seeing is the Rainbow Bridge, a spectacular natural stone bridge on the Navajo Reservation (see below), which most visitors travel to by boat. Information is available from Lake Powell Resorts & Marinas (tel: (800) 528 6154 or (602) 278 8888; website:
  • Native American Reservations
The Navajo Reservation spreads over more than 64,750 sq km (25,000 sq miles) and is home to 250,000 Navajos. Once a semi-nomadic people, they are known for their adaptability and have incorporated many skills into their culture from the Spanish and early settlers. They traditionally lived in hogans (dome-shaped houses of log and adobe) in small, scattered settlements. Nowadays, visitors are more likely to meet a Navajo as a guide on a horseback ride in the Canyon de Chelly National Monument or on one of the jeep tours through Monument Valley, where a number of John Wayne films were shot.
In the middle of the Navajo Reservation sits the Hopi Reservation, comprising 6475 sq km (2500 sq miles) and accommodating 7000 Hopis. They have lived in the region for 1500 years and are known for their amazing agricultural talents in farming dry and difficult land. The Hopis live in snug pueblo-style villages on top of three mesas. This area is treasured for its outstanding natural beauty.

  • Tombstone
Tombstone owes its enduring appeal to the brief showdown at the OK Corral, and movies such as Wyatt Earp and Tombstone mean that it has retained its popularity. This notorious town plays on its past with restored sites and attractions like the Boot Hill Cemetery, the Crystal Palace Saloon, the Bird Cage Theater and even has its original newspaper, named the Tombstone Epitaph. Re-enactments of famous gunfights are played out each day.



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