Arizona Might Be The Most Beautiful State In The U.S.A.
Let's be fair -- every state is beautiful in its own way, but there's only one that has beauty in all forms: Arizona.
The Grand Canyon State is the sixth largest state in the union at 113,990 square miles and features just about everything you could ask for except an ocean coast -- although there are plenty of freshwater coastlines in the state. In fact, one lake alone has a coastline longer than the entire Pacific Coast of the United States.
But there's so, so, so much more to see and do in all parts of the state and for folks of all walks of life, especially those who enjoy getting outside.
No matter what your preferred travel destination or what you like to do, Arizona should be at the top of anyone's list of places to go, especially if you love the great outdoors.
The state runs 400 miles north to south and 310 from east to west and there's natural beauty all around...
Even the state's flag is beautiful! The top half of the flag is comprised of alternating reds and yellows that form 13 stripes to represent the 13 original states. The colors red and yellow are the same as those of the flag of Spain and represent the Conquistadors led by Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, the first Europeans to see the Grand Canyon. Coronado is famous for his unsuccessful search for the Seven Cities of Cibola in 1540.
The stripes also symbolize the state's spectacular sunsets.
The bottom is blue, the same blue as the U.S. Flag, and is one of the state's official colors along with "old gold". It also represents the waters of the Colorado River. A copper star in the center represents the state's history in copper mining.
Petrified Forest National Park includes much of the state's Painted Desert, which is a region of badlands in the northeastern part of the state. The Petrified Forest is full of large deposits of petrified wood -- wood that has fossilized and literally turned to stone.
The 170-square-mile park is hugely popular with hikers (as is much of the rest of the state!).
The Painted Desert
The colors of the painted desert change throughout the day.
A large petrified tree - but don't take any of the petrified wood from the park, it's illegal.
There's More Water Than You Think
Just to the east of Phoenix lies a series of lakes on the Salt River in the Superstition Mountains, so living in the Phoenix area still gives you plenty of places for some outdoor water recreation less than an hour drive away.
Theodore Roosevelt Lake is the biggest, but the smaller gems like Apache Lake, Canyon Lake and Saguaro Lake are favorite recreational destinations as well. There's nothing quite like heading up the Salt River a little bit in the spring and standing in one of the chilly and refreshing ice melt washes coming from the mountains.
The Salt River flows through these lakes and there's nothing like taking a relaxing three hour tube ride down it in the late spring.
Apache Lake© User: Bernard Gagnon - Wikimedia Commons (License: GNU Free Documentation License)
The Colorado River
The Colorado River makes up the state's western border and is perhaps the state's most visited water feature for all sorts of recreation. From Lake Powell, which was created by the Glen Canyon Dam in the north, the river winds its way through the state's most obvious attraction -- The Grand Canyon.
Coming out of the Canyon, the Colorado flows west into Lake Mead, created by the Hoover Dam on the Arizona - Nevada border. It flows south from there, forming the state's western border with Nevada and then California. The river continues its flow south through Mexico and empties into the Gulf of California.
© User: Shannon1 - Wikimedia Commons (License: GNU Free Documentation License)