Northern Arizona & Beyond: Nature’s Hidden Treasures

Vast canyons. Towering sandstone spires. Untouched forests. From the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley to the White Mountains, Northern Arizona dazzles at every turn. So grab your sense of adventure and head out for one of these top destinations.

Monument Valley

Some of the most striking and recognizable landscapes of sandstone buttes, mesas, and spires in the entire Southwest are found in Monument Valley. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Some of the most striking and recognizable landscapes of sandstone buttes, mesas, and spires in the entire Southwest are found in Monument Valley. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Sandstone buttes, mesas, and spires rise majestically from the desert floor. Monument Valley offers the Western backdrop made famous in movies directed by John Ford.

An unpaved, and at times rough, road loops through the park. Several overlooks offer spectacular views of the wonders of Monument Valley.

One of the grandest—and most photographed—landmarks in the United States, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is a sprawling, sandy preserve that straddles the border of northeastern Arizona and southeastern Utah.

Oak Creek Canyon

 

The Oak Creek Canyon is an Arizona highlight not to be missed on your next trip to Northern Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Oak Creek Canyon is an Arizona highlight not to be missed on your next trip to Northern Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Oak Creek Canyon, just outside Sedona, is a spectacular and diverse riparian area and the state’s second most popular canyon. Towering vermilion and cream walls rise out of a lush green canopy, creating spectacular beauty, with vistas in every direction.

A 14.5-mile stretch north of Sedona to Oak Creek Vista is designated the Sedona-Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Byway. The Byway has been described by Rand McNally as one of “America’s Top 10 scenic drives”; the road cuts through seven major plant communities created by changes in elevation, temperature, and precipitation.

Antelope Canyon

One of the most photographed slot canyons in the world, Antelope Canyon is located on Navajo land near Page. The glowing orange and purple colors of the wind- and water-carved, narrow fissures in Antelope Canyon are featured in many beautiful images.

Antelope is a narrow (but easy to walk through on a level, sandy path) canyon with fantastic interior shapes created by swirling water and wind. Light enters only at the top, giving the red sandstone a warm glow, and illuminating purple-colored sections of stone.

Photographs, as beautiful as some of them are, don’t do Antelope Canyon justice, and on entering visitors often gasp in wonder. It’s a must-see for photographers of all levels, and highly recommended for everyone else.

Several private tour companies offer guided hiking and photography tours into the canyon.

Bearizona

Bearizona is a wild animal park at Williams, 25 miles west of Flagstaff, off I-40.

Bearizona provides animals with large, naturalistic enclosures and plenty of room to roam. Visitors remain in their vehicles while driving more than two miles through the Mountain Goat, American Burro, Brown Bison, Arctic Wolf, Tundra Wolf, Dall Sheep, White Bison, Big Horn Sheep, and Black Bear enclosures.

Fort Bearizona is the second part of the Bearizona adventure and is a walk through area with baby and smaller animals on exhibit, as well as the Bearizona Barnyard, an interactive petting zoo.

The last portion of the park is the Birds of Prey show that occurs three times a day in Fort Bearizona.

Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site

Feel the old wooden floor give slightly and squeak beneath your feet as you enter the oldest, continuously operating trading post on the Navajo Nation. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Feel the old wooden floor give slightly and squeak beneath your feet as you enter the oldest, continuously operating trading post on the Navajo Nation. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Very little has changed in more than a century at Hubbell Trading Post, the oldest continuously operating trading post in the Navajo Nation. The post, its thick stone walls protecting visitors from the blazing summers and frigid winters of the high desert, continues to lure buyers and sellers alike.

Hubbell is equal parts museum, art gallery, and general store, a place where Native Americans come to sell or trade blankets, rugs, and jewelry for groceries, tools and clothes.

Everyone notices the post’s creaky floorboards. Each step brings another groan of protest from the planks.

Worth Pondering…

Alone in the open desert,

I have made up songs of wild, poignant rejoicing and transcendent melancholy.

The world has seemed more beautiful to me than ever before.

I have loved the red rocks, the twisted trees, the sand blowing in the wind, the slow, sunny clouds crossing the sky, the shafts of moonlight on my bed at night.

I have seemed to be at one with the world.

—Everett Ruess

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