November 18, 2009

Arizona is America’s 6th largest state after Alaska, Texas, California, Montana and New Mexico. It is noted for its hot desert climate, with exceptionally hot summers, and mild winters, but the high country in the north features pine forests and mountain ranges with cooler weather.

While Arizona is mostly known for the Grand Canyon, there are a few more notable places to see there.

Montezuma’s Castle – This is a national monument which is a 1000 year old cliff dwelling and preserved for the historian in you. In December 1906, when President Theodore Roosevelt declared this among our many national monuments, visitors were allowed inside the castle, but in order to preserve it, visitors have only been able to view this from the outside for the last few decades. The limestone cliffs and the dwellings within are said to be based on the Aztec architecture, and hence called Montezuma’s Castle.

Meteor Crater – 35 miles east of Flagstaff, the Meteor Crater is one of the best preserved sites of a meteor crater anywhere on Earth. Approximately 50,000 years ago, this crater struck our planet with a velocity of 40,000 miles per hour, and create a crater at the site of impact over 4,000 feet across and 2.4 miles in circumference. Today, this crater attracts tourists and science enthusiasts alike. A museum has been erected which tells you a compelling story of what occurred to cause this crater, how it occurred and when. The museum also houses pieces from the meteor that was excavated from this site in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Sedona – a short but scenic drive from Flagstaff, Sedona is also known as Red Rock City. The city is a geological marvel with red mountains, red sand, red rocks – pretty much a red landscape. Most people going to the Grand Canyon make a stop here to experience an almost Mars like territory. If you plan to ski in Flagstaff or visit the Grand Canyon, you should definitely spend a few hours in Sedona.

Jerome – Regarded as America’s largest ghost city and located high on a mountain (Cleopatra Hill) almost a mile above sea level (5200 feet), Jerome is a town of 500 odd people living there simply to serve as hosts to tourists looking to visit this ghost town. Nesled on Cleopatra Hill between Prescott and Flagstaff, Jerome is a historic copper mining town, which once thrived on copper mining, with over 15,000 residents back in the 1920’s. Today it is often a biker hangout and a souvenier stop for those heading to Sedona or Flagstaff.

Arizona boasts plenty of opportunity and things to do while you visit (Lake Havasu definitely comes to mind), however, the four sites above, along with the Grand Canyon, capture the historical importance and geological diversity of Arizona. No trip there is complete without a visit to these four places.

Grand Canyon – lets start with one of the true wonders of the world. The Grand Canyon is one of the most significant geological sites of our time. It holds in its vast gorges, history dating back thousands of years. The Colorado River, that carved out most of this canyon still runs fiercely at the bottom and offers thrill seekers the opportunity to navigate some serious level 5 rapids. Hiking, donkey riding, climbing, swimming, rafting, and sightseeing are just some of the many activities you can engage in while visiting Grand Canyon. I can truly say, as someone who has been to Grand Canyon many times, that it is a one of a kind place in the world.

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