The first thing any experienced traveler will tell you about traveling across the Arizona desert is to heed gas station warnings. Running out of gas is the worst thing you can do in this unforgiving part of the country, so if you are traveling by car and see a sign telling you it will be so many miles before the next gas station, do not try to make it. Fill the car up often and keep plenty of water on hand for emergencies. Traveling across the Arizona desert is an experience everyone should do and while on your travels, hit up these 4, can’t miss locations.
Most of us have seen a picture or two of Las Vegas or enjoyed one of the many movies filmed in this famous desert location. However, Las Vegas is something you must experience at least once in your life. Although you might think Las Vegas is just a tourist town, 662,400 people call this place home. It takes a lot to run this city and the residents do it in expert fashion. Las Vegas has a variety of airports, but the largest is McCarren International. When you arrive here, you have the option of renting a car or hopping a bus on the city transit. The Las Vegas monorail is an option also.
Once you have found out how you intend on getting around this vast city, you can begin to enjoy it for all its worth. Naturally, the Vegas Strip is the first-place tourists tend to gravitate towards. From the Bellagio fountains to the sights and sounds of the Venetian Hotel, there is plenty to rest your eyes on. You may even run into Elvis, Spiderman, or a few showgirls walking and taking pictures with tourists. Smile and tip them well, this is how they make most of their income.
One of the many things you will notice about Las Vega, NV is the vast amounts of casinos and gaming options. There are 144 casinos and counting, featuring over 200,000 slot machines. Endless gaming can be found on the Vegas Strip and walking into a casino to try your luck is encouraged. However, you might want to venture away from the Vegas lights after a while. The local casinos, such as the Cannery, feature a more relaxed, but still entertaining atmosphere.
While taking a break from the Vegas Strip, move on down to Freemont Street. This pedestrian only street features ample casinos, restaurants, and a light show you will not see anywhere else in the city. There is no need to pay big money to see a Vegas show when you go to this place. Each hour on the hour the lights dim, and the music comes on. The entire ceiling is a light show that lasts just a few minutes. The street comes alive during this time, and everyone is dancing. There is so much to do and see in Las Vegas it would be impossible to write everything down. However, certainly venture into this incredible city when traveling across the Arizona desert.
The Grand Canyon is one of America’s true treasures. It stretches for 277 miles long, 18 miles wide, and one full mile deep. Although Grand Canyon Park would like to claim it encompasses the entire Grand Canyon, it does not. Most of the canyon is found in the park, but there is a lot left outside its boundaries. To put into perspective how large the Grand Canyon is, it is 1,904 square miles. The entire state of Rhode Island is just 1,212 square miles.
The Grand Canyon is the most visited of America’s state parks and is different depending on the season you visit in. 5.9 million individuals visit the park each year. Guided and self-guided tours are available within the park, but make sure you bring plenty of water and emergency supplies. Walking along the ridges and pathways of the park can be dangerous. Approximately 10,000 people get seriously injured at the Grand Canyon. Most injuries happen due to tourists trying to get a specific photograph or simply not watching where they are going. Out of all injuries, only 12 deaths occur each year from people falling in.
While visiting the Grand Canyon, enjoy observing wildlife. Gila monsters, condors, and bighorn sheep are among the most photographed animals in the area, but there is one animal visitors should watch out for. The rock squirrel is the most dangerous animal in the entire park. Unsuspecting visitors who choose to feed this animal are most often bitten. They are not friendly, so keep your crumbs to yourself.
Getting a bird’s eye view of the Grand Canyon is easier than ever with the Skywalk. This walkway reaches out 70 feet from the rim of the canyon to provide guests with an amazing experience. This walkway is not for the faint of heart. The glass floor makes even the strongest of visitors a little uneasy, but it is an experience every traveler should try.
If you think the desert is largely unpopulated, think again. Phoenix, AZ maintains a continually growing population of 1.16 million. The city is the only state capital that has a population of over 1 million residents. Not only that, but Phoenix is also the 5th most popular city in the entire nation. New York City, LA, Chicago, and Houston are larger.
Getting around Phoenix is easy with the vast transit system available. Valley Metro services all areas within the Phoenix Metro, so you do not necessarily have to have a personal vehicle when you travel here. There are also 3 airports in the region and a variety of interstates connect the city to the rest of the country. I-8, 1-10, I-11, and I-15 are accessible within Phoenix, AZ.
However large Phoenix is, is there anything to do apart from sweat? Yes, the city has plenty of attractions for tourists of all ages. Phoenix is a cultural haven and within Phoenix, AZ you can find the Musical Instrument Museum, Heard Museum, and the Pueblo Grande Museum and Agricultural Park. Phoenix even has gardens. You might not think a desert would have these attributes, but the Japanese Friendship Garden and Desert Botanical Garden will prove otherwise.
Phoenix is known for being a haven for those who want to explore the vast, unspoiled, desert wilderness. South Mountain Park and Echo Canyon Trailhead are great places to do this, but if you want to have some fun with the family, Phoenix offers that as well. Castles N Coasters, Wet N Wild Phoenix, and the Civic Space Park will keep you and your children busy for days. Due to the overabundance of sunny weather in the area, rain delays are hardly ever a problem.
Once you have had your fill of the big city of Phoenix, come to Tucson, AZ. Approximately 2 hours away from Phoenix is a city with almost 550,000 residents. Tucson has it own airport, Tucson International and Sun Tran is the city’s public transit. Tucson boasts up to 350 sunny days each year, so if you are the type of person who does not want a rainy day ruining your plans, make the trip to this desert oasis.
One of the first things you will notice about Tucson, AZ is that people tend to march to the beat of their own drum. Spirited individuals can be seen dancing in the rain, the few days per year it happens, and the atmosphere in the city is very Bohemian. Attractions such as the Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures is a true example of this. Residents here are artistic and enjoy living life on their own terms, so if you are a free spirit, you will fit right in.
Due to its eclectic and art drive culture, Tucson has a variety of museums ranging from child friendly to high art. The Children’s Museum Tucson, Tucson Museum of Art, and the Arizona State Museum can be found in Tucson. Strolling around these museums will give you a chance to escape the blazing sun while taking in the local culture.
Eating in Tucson, AZ is almost a religion and visitors are treated to a plethora of regional food options to choose from. Fronimo’s Greek Café, Frozen Cactus Ice Bar and Grill, and Karichimaka Restaurant are just a few of the many options visitors have. The best advice on finding the right restaurant is to ask around. Locals enjoy talking with tourists and helping them find the best Tucson has to offer.
The Arizona desert is more than just a lot of dirt. Where it is hot and dry, these amazing locations make it a truly enjoyable region of the country to visit. Take your time when exploring these locations. Bring plenty of water also. You have never felt thirst like when you are walking along in the hot Arizona desert sun. The Arizona desert is an experience and many who visit end up staying, so go see what the area has to offer you!