While for most of the country, winter is an excuse to hibernate, those of us lucky enough to live in Arizona have access to stunning nature and culture all season long. The rich natural wonder of our state and the warm desert climate make winter weekend trips a must! Here are some of our picks for the best spots to check out.
A red stone’s throw from Phoenix, Sedona is no well-kept secret – but it’s still one of the most beautiful and enjoyable weekend vacations in the state! Gorgeous red rocks make exploring the area by foot, ATV or kayak a wonderful adventure. If you’re trying to beat some work week blues, treat yourself to a spa day – Sedona’s numerous spas and healers turn relaxation into an art form.
Visionary Paolo Soleri founded his utopian city project, ArcoSanti, just outside of Phoenix- and the community is still active today. Originally from Italy, Soleri brought his revolutionary ideas about architecture, community and ecology together to begin building ArcoSanti in 1970. An active intentional community today, ArcoSanti offers daily tours as well as seasonal concerts and guest experiences that showcase Solera’s ideas in theory and practice.
Head out towards the Superstition Mountains to get to the former ghost town of Jerome. Abandoned in the late 1930’s, this mountain copper mining town is now experiencing a revitalization with tourists drawn to its history and beauty. Tucked in the mountains, Jerome features terrific antique shopping, artisanal boutiques and fine dining, all surrounded by crisp clear mountain air and exceptional views.
Did you know that the impressive limestone formations of the Kartchner Caverns were a secret up until 1978? Located on the former property of the Kartchner family, not even the Kartchners knew about the caves on their land until informed by locals who had found the caves on a desert hike. Turned over to the Arizona State Parks, the Kartchner Caverns offer a truly “underground” experience! Guided tours and trails through the cave allow you to marvel at some spectacular cave features. The State Park also offers seasonal programming like concerts and family events as well as camping and cabins for a comfortable stay.
Petrified Forest National Park
Wintertime is the right time for exploring the stark beauty of the Petrified Forest. Part of the National Park Service, Petrified Forest offers a stunning look at both human history and geologic phenomena. Learn the stories behind changes to land and climate that created the phenomena of petrified wood and visit some of the most extraordinary petroglyph sites in the Southwest. For the adventurous, the park offers backcountry wilderness hiking and camping with amazing night skies. For more creature comforts, the nearby towns of Winslow and Holbrook offer a range of motels and accommodations along Historic Route 66.
Saguaro National Park
For some natural wonder a little closer to civilization, why not head south to Saguaro National Park? On the outskirts of Tucson, Saguaro National Park is spread across two large ranges to the east and west of the city, with the western part of the park bordering the stunning Tucson Mountain Park. All three areas protect vibrant desert habitat and some of the most stunning displays of Arizona’s signature cactus, the majestic saguaro.
Verde Canyon Railway
For a truly unique view of Arizona’s natural majesty, hop aboard the Verde Canyon Railway. The loop rail features a four-hour historic tour by train through some of the state’s most gorgeous landscapes. Nestled between Prescott and Flagstaff, taking a rail tour is the perfect way to round out a weekend trip to either city. Unobstructed views through forest, boulders and waterways make a ride on the Verde Canyon Railway an awe-inspiring trip to remember!
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