Arizona is a place full of inspiration – an incredible state packed with beautiful diversity that has all evolved with the hot and harsh climate. Arizona brings excitement, and delivers pricked cacti which pave the miles of dry cracked land that has become backed by the sun. Teeming with natural wonders, lands painted in bands of different eras, unique destinations and breathtaking sights are all reasons why Arizona is a place to love.
Gaze into the colours and gaps of the canyon, feel moved by the Petrified Forest, watch your boots trek across mountains and stop to admire volcanoes and crater sights. Watch big bison rip up grass with ancient teeth, drive across the impressive Nevado Bridge – the list is endless. Welcome to Arizona – one of the most inspiring states in the world.
Arizona is a marvellous state located in the south-western region of the United States, with Phoenix being both its capital and largest city. Here is a collection of stunning photographs captured in Arizona and the little stories that lay behind these dazzling places.
Most admired for its desert, rocky landscape Arizona is boosting in bizarre and unique variations of cacti. These line roadsides like telephone boxes, sit in dry fields like cows and shudder under storms and hot weather. With perfectly evolved adaptations to hot summers and mild winters, these bizarre beauties never waste a drop of moisture.
The baron lands of Arizona are beautiful and intriguing with each area never being the same. Each has become shaped by the extraordinary measures of life – some being pushed into high elevations from volcanic activity, others being carved by the signature of water, one shattered by the impact of a meteor, and the rest sculptured and shaped by wind and rain. Often enough – most expose the bands and chunky lines of marble and sandy colours – the historic calendars of the different periods of earth and its maturity.
The Grand Canyon
This is a masterful example of how water can turn earth into artwork. Carved by the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon is a colourful, impressive steep-sided gorge. Unique and marvellous in appearance, this stunner is one of the seven natural wonders of the world and has formed the famous Grand Canyon National Park – one of the first established in the U.S.
This canyon is one of the oldest living pieces of art work – taking millions of years for the Colorado River to slice its impacting channel through the walls. The canyon is 277 miles long with a depth of over a mile and has lived a life cycle of impact from water, ice, wind, continental drift and slight variations in seasons and climate – all creating the unique shapes, bands and colours of the canyon.
The extraordinary Navajo Nations Monument Valley Park is so majestic and compelling that it has become one of the most photographed points on earth. This great valley is the home to sandstone masterpieces that tower to great heights of 400 to 1,000 feet. Framed and wrapped by picturesque clouds that cast gentle shadows across the desert floor is one not to be missed. The approach of the sun shines down gracefully on these giants, providing bright scenery that is unique and exciting.
This magnificent place has formed over millions of years. Materials that eroded away from early rock mountains deposited several layers of sediments which cemented a slow uplift generated by pressure from below the surface. This caused the elevation of these horizontal strata from one to three miles above sea level. What was once a basin transformed into a plateau. Natural forces and rules of Mother nature spent 50 million years cutting, chopping and peeling away at the surface by wind and water. It’s this simple wearing down of altering layers of soft and hard rock that has gradually revealed the natural wonders of Monument Valley we see today.
The large peaks of these rocks absorb their beautiful surroundings – encased by miles of buttes, shrubs, trees, rock formations and windblown sand, each comprising a great diversity of colours around the valley. It honestly is a place your lips will magically whisper ‘wow’.
The Barringer Meteorite Crater
Arizona is home to another wonder – one of the most well-preserved meteorite impact sites in the world. This gigantic hole in the middle of the high plains of the Colorado Plateau bare a rim of smashed and jumbled boulders, some raising to the size of small houses. The crater itself stretches to one mile long and 170m deep. The crater was caused by a meteorite composed of nickel-iron, around 45m across which hit earth, smashing apart some of the Arizona desert around 50,000 years ago. The deadly explosion caused was equivalent to 2.5 megatons of TNT. The crater is a breathtaking result of a recorded collision between an meteorite and the earth.
The Painted Desert
This peculiar yet striking Painted Desert is a 146-square-mile area of badlands located in Northern Arizona. The desert is like no other – and is one of the most colourful on earth. It receives its magnificent colours from the iron and manganese compounds which are abundant in the stratified layers of easily erodible mudstone and siltstone.
The southern portions of the Painted Desert hold a capture of the past – where an assortment of fossilized prehistoric plants and animals remain imprisoned into the rocks from the Triassic period. Wind, water and soil erosion continue to change the face of the landscape whilst exposing layers of the Chine formation. The more layers which become exposed, the more it opens doors to the prehistoric past of earth.
Canyon de Chelly
Beyond the Painted Desert, much of the far northeast of Arizona is barren and lacks scenery and colour as the land forms wide empty valleys dotted by scrub-covered mesas – but don’t be fooled. Three of these valleys, named the first, second and third lie at the centre of Hopi Indian territory, and spread to the northeast into the Navojo land, including Chinle. Chinle is the largest town in the area and is the magical gateway to Canyon de Chelly National Monument. This is a little-known canyon of Arizona compared to its larger brothers and sisters but nevertheless is a spectacular site to see. Sandstones reach 1,000 feet into the air, complete with several scenic overlooks. Well-preserved Anasazi ruins can also be admired here, whilst receiving a unique insight into the present day of the Navajo – who still inhabit and cultivate the valley floor in their distinctive ways.
Horseshoe bend is another of Mother Earth’s little tricks across the world of sandstone and rock formations that crop up around Arizona. This is a trip that doesn’t cost a thing accept spontaneous activity. It is definitely worth taking a camera as the overlook is 4,200 feet above sea level and the Colorado River that surrounds it is at 3,200 feet above sea level, making the view a confounding 1,000 foot drop! It seems to me that this is one little wonder that has not been hammered by the tourism industry yet, so is perfect for those that want a little exercise, mixed in with a quiet, stunning scenery.
There is always something more…
Arizona holds more treasures than just its dry, desert landscapes. Less known, but definitely not hidden is the pine-covered Colorado Plateu, beautiful rives that support blooming trees and stunning mountain forests. Despite Arizona’s aridity, 27% of the state is covered with forest. With a mixture of dry and lush habitats the wildlife that live here come in all shapes and sizes.
Below: The Catalina Mountains above Tucson serve the perfect home to moulting leaves. This vibrant display of bright colours, is one not often thought of for Arizona.Image Credit: Krieger Conradt
Pena Blanca Lake
This stunning lake is surrounded by grassy, oak-dotted hills, and with some decorated with bluffs of limestone. The Pena Blanca Lake is a mountain lake located around 4,000 feet above sea level, being built in 195 by the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
Below: Poppies burst open their yellow petals at Pecacho Peak, Arizona. This is another sight that is not normally connected to Arizona, but during the spring times whilst taking a hike can admire a sea of beautiful wildflowers.
Above: Many green shrubs cling on to the backs of the Monument Valley, adding a splash of green to the popular scene.
Wildlife in Arizona is as diverse as its landscape. The lands throughout Arizona vary from differing habitats of dry deserts, mountainous forests, grassland, streams, rivers and wild fields are just a few examples. And across each habitat provides beauty, grace, intelligence, colourization, behaviour and adaptations throughout different species of animals. Some of the most popular species that have found home in Arizona include the black bear, coyotes; the gila monster, rattlesnakes, mountain lions, mule deer, scorpions and the bold eagle are just a few examples.
Above: Adore these ancient bison as they graze on the lush greens in Arizona. Great swimmers and the largest terrestrial animals in North America, Bison were hunted close to extinction, but have since luckily rebounded.
The Cactus Wren
The cactus wren is a very well adapted species to the semi-arid deserts of Arizona. Cleverly, this wren has altered its foraging behaviours according to the temperature. It begins to forage on the ground and moves higher to the branches and shrubs in the late morning, making the most out of ants, beetles and seeds. As the temperature rises, it will shift its foraging to shady, cooler areas. During the afternoons when the temperature is usually the hottest, the wren will stop foraging and reside temporarily in shady areas. Almost all water is achieved from the food they eat, allowing them to spend more time on foraging than looking for water.
Above: A flock of Cranes groom and feed in-between the heat and dry grass of Arizona.
Above: The Roundtail Horned Lizard – A small exceptionally flat and wide lizard with short spike like scales projecting from the back of the head is a rare species in South-eastern Arizona.
Wow, what a lot to take in. The stunning artworks carved by nature, dry and twisted landscapes, colourful deserts, unique animals, marvellous cacti that come in the most bizarre and beautiful forms, valleys that provide some of the most breathtaking views in the world and not forgetting all the marvellous people that visit, photography, document and connect to make Arizona one of the most inspiring homes in the world.
The Navajo Bridge (above) is just one of the many you can cross through Arizona into the world of unknown. Where you can picture cowboys resting on horses, lizards basking their coarse scales in the sun, peaceful sceneries, giant rock formations that cast shadows across you, and cameras pointing in all directions.