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Inside: Curious about the foods of Arizona? We share Mexican classics, Native American traditional foods, and new Arizona famous foods to try. YUM!

No matter where we travel, we always like to try local foods. It provides an added dimension on the area’s history, plus you get good eats . . . a win-win! One of the reasons we love Arizona is the strong food culture here.

Arizona’s rich culinary tapestry is woven with Mexican influences, Native American traditions, and modern classics, creating a foodie landscape that is as diverse as it is delicious. From ancient staple dishes to modern twists on classics, these foods of Arizona match it’s stunning scenery. Some might even surprise you.

Listed below you’ll find 21 foods Arizona is known for. Savoring any (or all! 🤩) of these will make any Arizona Journey taste even better (note clever way of inserting name of website here 😉).

Foods of Arizona: Exploring the Mexican Influences

There’s no denying that foods in Arizona have a strong Mexican influence. As you dive into the food scene here, you’ll quickly discover that Mexican flavors permeate everything, from street food stalls to upscale restaurants. Over time, it has evolved and adapted, incorporating ingredients and techniques from different regions and cultures.

The Mexican influence in Arizona’s food scene is a testament to the historical ties between the two regions and the cultural exchange that has taken place over the years. And while tacos 🌮 are certainly something you’ll find (as you’ll see in #5 below) , there’s more. Much more 🤩.

1. Sonoran Hot Dogs: an Arizona Famous Food

tray of sonoran hot dogs
A tray of Sonoran hot dogs-one of the signature foods of Arizona.

One of the most iconic Mexican dishes you’ll find in Arizona is the Sonoran hot dog. Even though it’s a newer arrival to the Arizona food scene, it’s certainly a rising star 🤩. In fact, it’s the only hot dog in America to be associated with a James Beard Award (Daniel Contreras, owner of El Guero Canelo, a hot dog mini-empire in Tucson).

This mouthwatering creation combines a juicy hot dog wrapped in bacon (an auspicious start!) nestled in a soft bolillo roll, topped with pinto beans, diced tomatoes, onions, mustard, mayonnaise, and a drizzle of jalapeno sauce. It’s a delicious blend of flavors that perfectly represents the fusion of Mexican and American culinary traditions and is now a staple on the foods of Arizona list. 🌭🇲🇽

  • Where to find Sonoran Hot Dogs: All over Tucson. See our post about the Sonoran Hot Dog for a comprehensive list.

2. Chimichangas: Traditional Arizona Food at its Best

plate with chimichanga, rice and beans, one of the most famous foods of arizona
The chimichanga was a “happy accident” that has become one of the most famous foods of Arizona (Photo by Getty Images)

The chimichanga is a happy accident: someone accidentally dropped a burrito into the deep fryer and created of the yummiest foods Arizona is known for. It’s typically filled with shredded beef or chicken, cheese, and beans, and then topped with salsa, guacamole, and sour cream. Yes, please! 😋

The origin of the first Chimichanga is disputed: both El Charro Cafe (in Tucson) and Macayo’s Mexican Kitchen (in Phoenix) claim to be the first one to drop a burrito into the fryer, making them home to the first chimichanga. What no one disputes is that the Chimichanga was created in Arizona.

And no one disputes that they are muy delicioso! Be sure to try this Arizona famous food on your next visit.

  • Where to find Chimichangas: El Charro (4 locations in Tucson); Macayo’s Mexican Food (13 locations in greater Phoenix), and most other traditional Mexican restaurants.

3. Birria & Quesabirria Tacos

Deliciously rich birria, a traditional Mexican dish, has definitively marked its territory on the Arizona food map. This tantalizing slow-cooked beef is marinated in a medley of robust spices before braising to perfect tenderness. The resulting broth is also a joy to behold (and savor!).

quesabirria taco with broth and lime at Rollies Mexican Patio in Tucson
Rollie’s quesabirria taco with luscious slow-cooked broth for dipping . . . yea-ahhhh

Quesabirria tacos elevate this classic by folding the juicy, flavorful birria into a crispy seared corn tortilla with generous portions of melted cheese, topped with chopped onions and cilantro. (I told you tacos would show up on this list, didn’t I? 🌮)

This mouthwatering hybrid has truly encapsulated the hearts (and stomachs!) of Arizonians, cementing its status as on of the must-try foods Arizona is known for.

4. Carne Seca/Machaca

Platter of carne seca with rice, beans and limes, tradtional arizona food
Carne Seca at El Charro Cafe (Photo courtesy of Yelp)

Carne Seca (which is also known as Machaca) is a desert-dried beef delicacy, similar to beef jerky. It owes its unique flavor to the traditional drying process that includes air-drying the thinly sliced beef and a whole bunch of robust southwestern seasonings. (The Arizona sunshine doesn’t hurt either 😎.)

The resulting meat is super-tasty, sort of like a Mexican flavor concentrate. It’s used in dishes across the state, from hearty stews to spicy burritos . . . even topped on salads. Enjoying carne seca is experiencing Arizona’s heritage in every delicious bite.

Many classic Mexican restaurants serve carne seca/machaca; no foods of Arizona list is complete without it! You can also find it packaged at many carnicerias (meat markets) if you’d like to take it home to make your own goodies.

5. Tacos Rasurado

close up of taco rasurado from tacos apson-authentic foods of arizona
Grilled, juicy, meaty, messy . . . delicious! Taco Rasurado from Tacos Apson in Tucsonone of the foods of Arizona you really must try.

Time for some “taco math.” Tacos = good. Mesquite-grilled beef ribs = better. Tacos + mesquite-grilled beef ribs = WOWZA!!! 😲 (where is the “chef’s kiss” emoji when you need it?!)

That’s Tacos Rasurado: shaved rib meat on a warm corn tortilla, with a grilled chile along side. Salsa it up to your heart’s content. It’s a taco on an entirely new level.

Tacos Rasurado isn’t just a meal, it’s a tantalizing taste of Tucson tradition, passionately served, and one of the foods of Arizona worth seeking out. But don’t take my word for it. Check out this video from America’s Test Kitchen . . . I dare you not to drool! 🤤

  • Where to find Tacos Rasurado: Tacos Apson in Tucson (2 location) . . . featured in the video above.

6. Flour Tortillas

Flour tortillas are essential ingredients in such yummy mexican treats as burritos and chimichangas (see #2 above). And they have their origins in the Sonoran Desert, fully cementing them as one of the foods of Arizona.

uncooked flour tortilla on board dusted with flour, underneath rolling pin. Cooked flour tortilla in the background. Traditional Arizona food
Flour tortillas are traditionally unique to the Sonoran desert, one of the more historic foods of Arizona (Getty images)

The Spanish colonizers brought wheat with them as a crop when they came to the region 500 years ago. And the rest, as they say, is history. What began as a convenient winter crop has morphed into a staple of the Sonoran style of Mexican cooking. And it is definitely a traditional Arizona food.

Naturally they’re great when wrapped around burrito or chimichanga fixings. But they’re also pretty darned good warmed up and served with a little butter. Just sayin’ 😉.

  • Where to find authentic local flour tortillas: Tortillas Rosario in Phoenix; Alejandro’s Tortilla Factory in Tucson; also most carnicerias will carry these brands. (But if you go to the main stores you can get ’em while they’re still warm 🥰.)

7. Cheese Crisp

The cheese crisp, is a traditional Arizona food that’s especially popular in Tucson. (It’s also a fave of Tucson native Linda Ronstadt!) Essentially an open-faced quesadilla (but super-crispy!), it is a perfect fusion of its Mexican ancestry and American innovation.

This enticing dish is crafted with a large, open-faced flour tortilla, generously sprinkled with cheddar cheese, broiled to perfection.

Green chile cheese crisp at El Minuto in Tucson-Foods of Arizona
Just a lil’ bit o’ green chiles on El Minuto’s Cheese Crisp. . .perfecto! 😋

The tantalizingly crispy edges and gooey center offer a mouthwatering feast of textures. Some folks (me! ✋) like to add green chiles or (small amounts of meat) to give it some zing. The key is to not overload it with too much stuff on top, it will collapse and lose its signature crisp!

  • Where to find Cheese Crisp: El Minuto (Linda Ronstadt’s go-to when she’s in town); most other full-service Mexican restaurants in Tucson serve this classic in the foods of Arizona annals.

8. Santa Cruz Red Chile Powder

Exotic and flavor-packed, Santa Cruz Chili Powder is one of Arizona’s culinary treasures. It’s made from just one ingredient: anaheim chiles 🌶️, picked at the peak of ripeness, then dried and ground into this flavor-packed powder.

Arizona chefs and home cooks alike love this powder (including yours truly!), because it forms the basis for any proprietary chili blend. It invigorates any dish with its warm, robust flavor profile (although it’s not spicy–you can add that as part of your proprietary blend 😉).

This is one of the foods of Arizona you can experience no matter where you’re located. Grab a container of this classic chili powder, and create a taste of Arizona right at home.

  • Where to find Sant Cruz Red Chili Powder: Grocery stores throughout Arizona; mail order from Amazon.

Unearthing Native American Staple Dishes: Traditional Arizona Food

Table showing an array of native american ingredients in baskets
Native American ingredients form the basis of many of the foods of Arizona today (Getty images)

Mexican-inspired street food offers a burst of flavors and textures in Arizona, but the state’s culinary landscape got its start long before that.

The foods of Arizona also encompass an array of Native American staple dishes. Just looking at all the ancient structures in Arizona, such as Montezuma Castle, tells you that this area has been populated for millennia.

Drawing on the land’s natural resources, Native American cuisine in Arizona is a testament to sustainability and the deep connection between the people and their environment 🏜️. Many of the foods of Arizona as we know them today have their roots in Native American traditions.

9. Tamales

Although typically associated with Mexican food, the origin of tamales is traced all the way back to 7,000 B.C. in the Aztec empire. Tamales are a harmonious blend of corn dough, seasoned meat, and aromatic spices, all neatly enveloped in a corn husk.

Cutting board piled high with tamales, with avocado, lime and salsa in the foreground. native american food
Commonly associated with Mexican cooking today, tamales are one of the foods of Arizona with Native American roots (Getty Images)

When the Spaniards arrived in the 1500s, this versatile and staple dish was already here. Over time tamales were absorbed into the Mexican culture throughout the Southwest US.

Tamales are a eaten all year long, but they are also a traditional Arizona food at Christmas🎄. Families gather together to prepare large batches of tamales to serve on Christmas Eve.

This delicately steamed delicacy exudes a richness that immerses the palate in a symphony of flavors. Although you can purchase frozen tamales many places (including Trader Joe’s), it’s not the same as freshly-made. (Think of the frozen pizza vs. fresh from the pizzeria comparison 🍕!)

Try a bit of of evolutionary food history on your next trip to Arizona with some authentic tamales. You’ll sample a bit of Native American and Mexican culture in every bite 😋.

10. Native American Frybread

bubbly native american frybread in foreground, with woman's hand turning frybread in background; native american foods of arizona
Despite a complex history, frybread is one of the key Native American foods of Arizona

One iconic staple is Native American frybread (also known as Navajo frybread) a delicious creation born out of necessity during times of scarcity. (And, frankly, some shameful acts by the government.)

But the resourceful Navajo (or Diné) people persevered, and frybread is one of the results.

Made from simple ingredients like flour, water, salt, and baking powder, this golden and fluffy bread is typically fried until crispy and served either plain or topped with a combination of sweet or savory toppings.

Its versatility makes it a popular choice as the base for many Native American-inspired dishes, such as Indian tacos or Navajo burgers. (But served with honey or cinnamon-sugar is pretty fabulous too! 🍯)

READ NEXT: Things to do in Downtown Phoenix

11. Posole

overhead shot of posole with pork, avocado, hominy and radish-foods of arizona
Colorful and hearty pozole has Native American roots (photo courtesy Pozoleria)

Posole, a traditional Native American stew of corn and pork, has also been commingled with Mexican food culture (where it is often spelled pozole).

This heartwarming stew, often enjoyed during celebrations, is a blend of harmonious flavors. Hominy, which is large, puffy corn kernels (that have been soaked for HOURS) forms the basis of this bracing dish.

Like the Native American peoples themselves, posole predates state (and federal) borders. As a result, posole can be found throughout the southwest, with slightly different flavor profiles. As a traditional Arizona food, the broth tends to be clear, with a robust chile zing.

Posole is often a weekend special on restaurant menus, and it’s worth trying when available. With each spoonful, you can taste the generations of history and the reverence for the land that this dish represents.

12. Tepary Beans

Side by side images of dried white and brown tepary beans, in packaging by Ramona Farms
Drought resistant tepary beans have been prized by the native peoples of Arizona for centuries for their nutritional benefits

Tepary Beans, a cherished Native American food, are a powerhouse of nutrition. Long prized for their drought-resistance, these tough little beans become amazingly creamy and flavorful when cooked.

Holding a treasure trove of proteins and fiber, tepary beans have been nourishing the population for centuries, proving that the best of nature is often preserved in its simplest forms 😇. Explore the richness of Native American heritage with every bite.

  • Where to find Tepary Beans: Served at the Courtyard Cafe in Phoenix; or purchase on Amazon & make them at home!

13. Prickly Pear Fruit

Throughout the Arizona desert you’ll find the prickly pear, with its signature flat pads telescoping out. (After the famous saguaro 🌵 it’s probably the most recognizable cactus!)

side by side images of bright pink prickly pear fruit next to a pink margarita with a salt-rimmed glass
Vivid pink prickly pear has been nourishing desert dwellers for ages; today it’s a popular ingredient in margaritas (Getty images, lma stock)

The namesake prickly pear fruit, which is a bright magenta in color, is one of the foods of Arizona that you’ll find growing wild just about everywhere. And it’s been nourishing the native peoples for centuries milennia.

You can enjoy its sweet-tart taste right off the cactus (if you’re patient enough to remove the spines–yeeouch!😫).

But you don’t need to risk a finger-piercing to taste it; prickly pear jellies, juices and syrups are available to buy. And any Arizona bar worth it’s salt should be able to whip up a yummy prickly pear margarita.🍹

  • Where to find prickly pear: Prickly pear syrup, jelly and candy made in Arizona by Cheri’s Desert Harvest is available on Amazon; prickly pear margaritas are available from fine mixologists throughout Arizona 😉

14. Mesquite Flour: foods of Arizona from the bounty of the desert

close up of Mesquite pods on a tree. Mesquite flour is one of the native american foods of arizona
The fruit of these mesquite pods makes a sweet, nutty (and nutritious) flour (Getty Images)

Mesquite flour originates from the pods of the mesquite tree, a drought-friendly plant native to the Sonoran desert. Native Americans, particularly the Pima and Tohono O’odham tribes of southern Arizona, have utilized this flour for centuries.

In addition to its sweet, nutty flavor, mesquite flour is packed with nutrients: it’s high in both protein and fiber.

The pods are ground into a flour, which is then used in baking and cooking for a variety of dishes. Traditionally, indigenous people used this food of Arizona to bake into a dry cake to carry them through the lean winter months.

Today, many southwestern chefs are using mesquite flour in place of traditional flour to create nutritious and tasty treats, including breads, tortillas . . . and cookies 🍪!

  • Where to find mesquite flour & products: Big Skye Bakers sells a range of baked goodies at Tucson Farmers Markets; flour available by mail order from Mount Hope Wholesale (despite the name they sell 2 lb. and 5 lb. bags)

15. Chiltepin

The chiltepin is a teeny tiny-yet fiery 🔥-chili pepper Sonoran Desert. (It sort of looks like a chili pepper 🌶️ and a peppercorn had a baby!)

The native peoples of these regions have been using this food of arizona for over 8,000 years, not only as a spicy food but as a potent medicine and a spiritual aid. Its intense heat and distinctive taste added zest to their food, while its medicinal properties helped them combat various ailments.

chiltepin bush, with tiny red chiltepin chilis, alongside an image of a hand holding red chiltepin chiles, which are the size of currants-one of the native foods of arizona
Tiny chiltepins are one of the native foods of Arizona . . . and hot Hot HOT! (Getty Images)

Today, the chiltepin is used in salsas, stews, and meat dishes to give them an extra zing 💥. Hotter than jalapenos and habaneros, these little fire bombs are prized for their fierce heat and smoky, citrusy notes. (I confess that I need to use them s…p…a…r…i…n…g…l…y 🥵)

  • Where to find chiltepins: Chilttepica Products sells chiltepins in a variety of sizes and mixed spice blends. Available at specialty stores throughout Arizona or by mail order (see website for details).

16. Sonoran Wheat Flour

Sonoran wheat was the first wheat cultivated in the New World. It was introduced to the Sonoran Desert by the Spanish Missionaries in the 1600s. Wait . . . you might be thinking, “doesn’t that make it more a mexican food?”

Not really. That came a little later.

The local Tohono O’odham and Pima peoples quickly realized this crop was ideal for the desert climate-Yay! 🎉 Plus, it also grew during the winter, when the planting fields were usually fallow-Yay Again! 🙌. So . . .

The indigenous folks knew a good thing when they saw it, and wheat quickly became part of O’odham cuisine. Cooks incorporated wheat berries into traditional poshol, a stew with tepary beans, as well as pinole (a kind of porridge).

Today bakers love heritage Sonoran wheat, with its slightly nutty taste and low protein for use in pastries and pastas, and blended with other heritage wheats in breads. (I’m a baker & I love it for delicate, crispy cookies! 😋).

  • Where to find Sonoran Wheat: Multiple products, including flour, wheat berries & crackers from Hayden Flour Mills (available either from Amazon or at Whole Foods); breads from [James Beard Award Winner] Don Guerra at Barrio Bread (see above) in Tucson.

Foods Arizona is known For: Modern Twists on Classic Recipes

While Arizona’s culinary heritage is deeply rooted in Native American culture and the rich flavors of the Mexico, the state’s food scene also embraces innovation and modernization. Chefs and food enthusiasts alike have found ways to put a contemporary spin on classic recipes, creating a delightful fusion of old and new.

Check out these “newer” foods of Arizona to find some mouthwatering surprises. 🤤

17. Artisan Pizza: Foods of Arizona???

I bet your thinking, wait, WHAT? What does Arizona have to do with Artisan pizza?

Chris Bianco, that’s what. (Or should I say “who”?)

Back in the 1980’s, when pizza was still relegated to bowling alleys and strip malls (remember the flimsy take out boxes?), Chris Bianco started making wood-fired pizza in the back of a Phoenix Italian grocery store. It was good-very good. People noticed.

holding a margherita pizza outside pizzeria bianco
Chris Bianco’s innovation placed artisan pizza firmly in the “foods of Arizona” category

Fast forward a few years and Chris’ Pizzeria Bianco is being hailed as “the best pizza in America” from food critics all over the country. In 2003 he was the first pizziaolo (pizza maker) ever to receive a James Beard award. A Big. Deal.

Today foodies can find wood-fired artisan pizza 🍕 all over the US, which is absolutely terrific. But it all started in a little Italian grocery in Phoenix. Cool 🤩.

  • Where to find Chris Bianco’s Pizza: Multiple locations of Bianco Restaurants in Phoenix. Each has a slightly different menu, but they all serve pizza.

18. Steaks & Burgers made from Grass-Fed Beef

grilled medium-rare ribeye steak sliced crosswise with knife alongside and parsley garnish-getty images
Steaks and burgers from grass-fed beef have been foods of Arizona since the cowboy days. (Getty Images)

Arizona has a rich ranching heritage, with cattle grazing the sprawling grasslands. So the “emerging trend” of grass fed beef 🌱 is tried and true here in Arizona.

Multiple ranches in the state have been doin’ it this way for generations (Thank ye kindly, ma’am 🤠). The good old-fashioned way: better for the cows, better for the planet, better for you.

This may be one of the most traditional foods of Arizona of the modern era. To try one of these steaks or burgers is to taste a bit of cattle ranching history 🥩 (and a baked potato alongside isn’t bad, either 😉).

19. The Tequila Sunrise

When talking about foods of Arizona, do drinks count? I think so.

Tequila sunrise (no orange juice!) with a coaster from the Arizona Biltmore--where it was invented. One of the foods arizona is famous for.
A tequila sunrise where it was invented–one of the famous foods of Arizona. (NO ORANGE JUICE!)

Despite the song of the same name, the classic rock group Eagles did not invent the Tequila Sunrise. (Although they do have a strong connection to Arizona, with Standing on the Corner Winslow Arizona!)

The honor of the drink’s invention goes to bartender Gene Sulit of the (super swanky✨) Arizona Biltmore hotel in Phoenix, waaay back in the 1930s.

Legend has it that a guest requested a refreshing drink to take poolside, and asked Gene to “surprise me.”

Mr Sulit created a concoction that was as pretty as it was delicious: a blend of soda and tequila with crème de cassis and fresh lime juice. The super-thick crème de cassis’ settled at the bottom of the glass, creating the gradient of colors that mimics a sunrise and created a name. 🍹🌅

(Curious to note that there is NO orange juice 🍊 in this original version!)

And the rest, as they say, is history (and an Eagles song 🦅).

  • Where to get a tequila sunrise: Um, well how about the Wright Bar at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel? (Which would of course be the Tequila Sunrise.)

20. The Arizona “Original” Chopped Salad: one of the more recently-created foods of Arizona

Image of chopped salad, with rows of tomatoes, corn, pepitas, aruguly, cous cous and smoked salmon; foods of arizona
The “Original Chopped Salad”, one of the newest foods of Arizona (photo courtesy the Gladly)

About 25 years ago Scottsdale chef Bernie Kantak developed a really tasty salad at a restaurant called Cowboy Ciao. In keeping with the cowboy theme he named it the Stetson.

It involved a curious combination of chopped ingredients-smoked salmon, arugula, pearl couscous, pepitas, currants, dried sweet corn, and marinated tomatoes-artfully presented in a bowl in neat little rows, that were then tossed together table-side with a buttermilk herb dressing.

People loved it. [It’s really good!]

So much so that when Kantak left his former employer to open the Citizen Public House he took his signature salad with him. But he couldn’t bring the name.

So he rechristened it the “Original,” and onto the menu it went.

Today there are replicas of the Chopped Salad scattered around Phoenix and Scottsdale. But there’s only one “Original.” Well, technically there are three: Chef Kantak has three restaurants and you can get the salad at all of them . (in case you’re fact-checking 😉)

21. The Date Shake

There are only two states in the country that grow dates: Arizona and California The dry, sunny climate mimics that of the Middle East, where dates grow natively. 🌴

Enterprising farmers imported date trees to Arizona in the early 1900s and soon began selling this nutritious, sweet fruit from roadside stands. Heck, the scientific name for a date palm is even called Phoenix dactylifera, so what does THAT tell you???

Date shake in a large plastic cup alongside an image of the date palm, Phoenix dactylifera. Getty images
Date shakes are definitely one of the foods of Arizona–the tree, Phoenix dactylifera, even has an Arizona name! (Getty Images)

Travelers passing through would stop and stock up on yummy dates to bring home as souvenirs. But there was an even bigger treatat these rest stops: the date shake. 🥤

Using 3 simple ingredients: milk, ice cream & sweet sticky dates, the date shake became a refreshing way to break up a trip through the desert. [Spoiler alert: I also like to make a “healthy” version at home with yogurt 🥰]

Today many of these roadside stands are gone, but a few remain to provide one of the historic and sweet foods of Arizona, a reminder of Arizona days gone by.

While Arizona’s culinary heritage is deeply rooted in Native American culture and the rich flavors of the Wild West, the state’s food scene also embraces innovation and modernization. Chefs and food enthusiasts alike have found ways to put a contemporary spin on classic recipes, creating a delightful fusion of old and new.

I invite you to immerse yourself in the flavors and foods of Arizona. Take a bite out of history and indulge in the vibrant cultural tapestry that flavors this state. Don’t miss out on the chance to experience these 21 must-try authentic foods of Arizona that have made their mark on the state’s culinary landscape.

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INSIDE: Kingman AZ is more then a Route 66 drive-thru & an awesome drive-thru sign! There are also plenty of terrific things to do in Kingman Arizona.

Yep, Kingman’s an old town on Route 66, but what else is there to do here? It turns out . . . plenty!

There are lots of cool things to do in Kingman Arizona, and driving through during a Route 66 Road Trip is just the beginning. The town has a rich history, and is located not far from the western end of the Grand Canyon. Whether you’re a family with a minivan full of kids who need some distraction, some outdoorsy types looking for some desert exploring, or are just plain curious, Kingman offers plenty to see and do.

Kingman: Intriguing Layers of History

Although the town now known as “Kingman” was first established in the 1880s as a stop on the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad, the region has deeper roots. Native American peoples, including the Hualapai, Havasupai and Mojave have occupied these lands for centuries. Later, Spaniards in search of gold passed through these parts.

Fun Fact: Kingman was originally a settlement on “Beale’s Wagon Road,” an 1857 precursor to Route 66!

Beale’s Wagon Road & the Camel Corps

In 1857, surveyor Lt. Edward Fitzgerald Beale passed through this area with a unique crew: camels! His objective: to develop a wagon route west on or near the 35th parallel.

Because of the desert terrain, Beale had the creative idea to use camels 🐪🐪 instead of horses–and it worked!

A 19th century military reenactor with camels-things to do in winslow arizona
Celebrating the Camel Corps with reenactors, photo courtesy NPS

Ultimately the road ran from Arkansas to California and became the first federally funded highway in the Southwest. It was a big hit with cattle drovers, sheepherders and anyone looking to bring goods westward.

(Spoiler Alert: we won’t be suggesting riding as camel as one of the things to do in Kingman Arizona, but you gotta admit, it would be sorta cool!)

The Railroad Years: Kingman is Born

Another surveyor, Louis Kingman, used Beale’s Wagon Road as a guide when assessing the area in 1880. This time the job was for Atlantic and Pacific Railroad (which would later become the Santa Fe Railroad). The town is named for Kingman. (Beale needed a better PR firm!). The first train pulled up to “Kingman” in 1883, with about 100 passengers on board. Kingman quickly became an important hub for ranchers and miners in the area.

On the road again . . . Route 66 and beyond

Once again using prior routes as a guide, the federal government established US Highway 66 in 1926. For the decades that followed, Kingman became an important stopping point for the more than 200,000 people who traveled Route 66 in search of a new beginning in the wake of the Great Depression. By mid-century, this town, with its roots in Native American peoples and, of all things, camels, had found its place in Road Trip history.

Things to do in Kingman Arizona

Knowing the town’s history helps put it all into perspective, and also explains some of the unique things to do in Kingman Arizona. It is one of the truly charming small towns in Arizona. Activities and attractions range from sights related to the town’s history to ziplining over the Grand Canyon.

1. & 2. Historic Powerhouse/Visitors Center: Start Here!

This historic Powerhouse building should be FIRST on your list of things to do in Kingman Arizona. As the name implies, it was at one time the source of electrical power for the town, as well as the construction of Hoover Dam. After being mothballed for decades it was renovated in 1997 and repurposed as a multi-purpose facility that caters to visitors (like you and me!)

1-Get your bearings at the Visitor Center & Gift Shop

In addition to housing the Kingman Visitor Center (where you can get advice and brochures on all the local attractions), the Powerhouse is also home to Arizona Route 66 Museum & Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum (see below). On top of that, there’s an awesome gift shop (with a terrific collection of Route 66 memorabilia).

A visit here will help you just which things to do in Kingman Arizona are best suited to you.

And to keep young ones occupied while you stock up on brochures (and shop!) there are two model trains on tracks that circle the inside of the building 🚂

2-Drive through the Route 66 Sign

Kingman may have create the most awesome Route 66 sign on the whole Mother Road! If there were one thing that was tops on the list of things to do in Kingman Arizona, this has got to be it!

Perched outside the Powerhouse parking lot, it’s a giant light-up Route 66 sign that you drive through! It is the BEST photo op! (Full disclosure, I tried to get a photo at night with the sign lit up, but then you couldn’t see the car driving through, so I settled for the one below 🤷‍♀️. Please share one if you’ve got it!)

Best Route 66 photo-op. Ever.

3. Arizona Route 66 Museum

Located in the Historic Powerhouse visitors complex, this museum tells the story of depicts travel along the 35th parallel–the route that began with Native American trade routes and ultimately became Route 66. If, like most of us, you are traveling along Route 66, this museum is a must among things to do in Kingman Arizona.

Through a series of murals, photos and life-size dioramas, visitors journey through history with Native Americans and US Army-led survey expeditions (remember the “Camel Corps”?). A particularly poignant exhibit depicts the anguish of dust bowl refugees as they traversed the “Mother Road” west in search of a better life.

But the visit ends on an upbeat note as you stroll through a Main Street America display, complete with a Studebaker–(a version similar to the quirky model that was used in The Muppet Movie), heralding the joy of road tripping on Route 66.

Although not the same exact car, this scene from The Muppet Movie shows a very similar Studebaker on the road. (Check at approximately 1 minute in . . . for the classic “fork in the road” bit.

4. Historic Downtown Kingman Walking Trail

If a drive along Route 66 has you itching to stretch your legs a bit, take a walk through Historic Downtown Kingman. The town has more than 40 sights and buildings on the National Registry of Historic Places. In addition to locations open to the public (which are listed in this post), there are several other points of interest to see, including the Mojave County Courthouse, the former Masonic Temple, and a little red schoolhouse.

Walking tour guides are available at the Powerhouse Visitors Center.

5. Mohave Museum of History & Arts

For a break from all the Route 66 and railroad history, stop in to the Mohave Museum. This museum is dedicated to preserving all aspects of the heritage of Northwestern Arizona in a format accessible to the public. There are exhibits illustrating prehistoric times, mining and ranching, with a LOT of memorabilia hanging on walls and stacked on shelves.

The museum also celebrates Andy Devine, a local boy turned 1930s movie star. This museum may not be everyone’s idea of things to do in Kingman Arizona, but if the “good old days” is your cup of tea, you’ll find it entertaining.

6. & 7. Visit (& Hike) Camp Beale Spring

Although named after Lt. Edward Beale, the springs here had been used by Native Americans for centuries. Camp Beale Springs was established in 1871 by the U.S. Infantry to provide protection along the nearby toll road, as well as supply station for the local Hualapai Indians.

The site is located just west of town. A parking permit is required, but is free and available at the Powerhouse Visitors Center.

8. Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum

If you thought Kingman had its head fully in the past, think again. Despite gasoline-focused Route 66 and coal-fired locomotives this museum, the brainchild of the Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation, is on a mission to show us how we can look back while still thinking of the future.

Electric vehicle museum-corbin sparrow car

Tucked into the ground floor of the Powerhouse Visitor complex, the Route 66 Electric Vehicle Museum showcases the history of electric vehicles (which goes back a lot further than you might think). Move over, Tesla, the first example here dates from 1909! Pride of place goes to the Buckeye Bullet, a battery-powered rocketship-esque beauty that reached 320 mph 😱 on the Bonneville Salt Flats in 2011.

If you’re looking to get a charge 🔌 (see what I did there?) out of things to do in Kingman Arizona, then head over to this unique museum.

9. Bonelli House Museum

The Bonelli House, which was built in 1915, provides an excellent example of Anglo-territorial architecture at the turn of the 20th century. The house was unique at the time because it was built to be both fire-proof and safe for the family (their original home had burned down.

The house is constructed of fire-resistant plaster and Tufa stone that was quarried locally. To ensure both ventilation (and potentially a quick exit, every room had an exit door (both upstairs and downstairs) to the veranda. The house also had a (very) early version of “air-conditioning”: The cupola on the roof drafted the hot air upward and out the roof. (We once rented a house in the Caribbean with the same type of structure–it really works to cool things off!)

10. Kingman Locomotive Park

Climb up into the cab of an old steam engine! Locomotive Park is home to famed Steam Engine #3759. This coal-burning locomotive was built in 1928 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works (in our hometown of Philadelphia 😊) and served on a passenger run for the Santa Fe Railway between Kansas City and Los Angeles.

PRO TIP: A visit to the Locomotive Park is one of the free things to do in Kingman, Arizona

In 1957, the Railway presented number 3759 to City of Kingman as a historical monument. (Just a few years earlier the coal burning trains were replaced by diesel power. In 1987 Kingman added a colorful caboose to the park, which is located just across the road from the Powerhouse Visitors Center. If your idea (or your kids’ idea) of fun things to do in Kingman Arizona involves choo choos, this is definitely for you. 😊🚂

11. & 12. Kingman Railroad Station & Museum

All Aboard, Trainspotters! More railroad-y things to do in Kingman Arizona . . . This historic train station was built in 1907 and renovated in 2011. The white stucco structure trimmed in bright orange paint is a landmark that occupies pride of place, wedged between Route 66 and the tracks. Inside is a museum of model trains, which is ever-evolving.

PRO TIP: Check out the Kingman Station live trainspotting cam for a preview of what you’ll see when you visit!

*Check out more at SouthwestRailCams.com–these guys do awesome stuff!

Outside, you can stand on the platform and do some real-life trainspotting, where freight trains from BNSF pass by regularly. If you time your visit just right, you might get to see Amtrak’s Southwest Chief, which runs twice a day from Chicago to LA (does that line sound familiar???😉) and back. It’s the same train that passes by La Posada in Winslow.

13. Hike the White Cliffs Wagon Trail–Ruts n’ all!

Just north of town is an old wagon route that was once used to bring ore from one of the nearby mines down to the railroad for transport. At the base of the White Cliffs the wagon route of the same name dates to the late 1800s. Over time the heavily-laden wagons cut trails into the stone road–so much so that the ruts are still very much in evidence 125 years later!

There are currently two trails (both loops) for hiking: a roughly 1-mile beginner trail and a 2.4-mile intermediate trail. Both begin and end along the rutted wagon road. A small parking lot with water fountain is located at the trailhead. If you are looking for outdoor activities in Kingman, Az, this is a good option.

14. Cool Off in Hualapi Mountain Park (15 miles)

This county park sports majestic views (it’s at 8,000 ft elevation!), and a climate that’s super-cool in summer and downright snowy in winter.

There is an abundance of activities up here, including hiking and biking with 16 miles of trails, picnicking and wildlife viewing. Local residents (i.e. animals!) include mule deer 🦌, elk, foxes , mountain lions and oodles of birds.

This is one of the nice day trips from Kingman, Az. Or you can stay overnight in cabin or campsite. For something a little cozier, book a room at the Hualapai Mountain Resort.

15. See Route 66 Kitsch: Giaganticus Headicus (20 miles)

C’mon! Route 66 is known for it’s odd-ball, larger-than-life landmarks, so why not a big green faux Tiki head?

A giant green tiki head–classic Route 66! Courtesy Explore Kingman

Giganticus Headicus was completed in 2004 by artist Gregg Arnold on the Antares curve, north of Kingman. There’s a gift shop where you can buy a replica of this magnificent statue. (And admit it, you know you want to . . .)

The shop also carries the requisite amount of other Route 66 memorabilia, and there’s a cafe on site serving simple meals.

This may be one of the corniest things to do in Kingman Arizona, but it’s also a lot of fun!

16. Get into the Spirit at Desert Diamond Distillery (4 miles)

Spend an afternoon at Arizona’s oldest distillery, makers of award-willing rum, whiskey and vodka. It’s probably the most “adult” of things to do in Kingman Arizona.

Sign up for a tour of the distillery (limited availability), or just head over to the tasting room to sample the, er, distillates 🥃.

There’s also a vintage Pullman rail car on site, which makes a nice location for a cafe that serves charcuterie boards, a fitting accompaniment for with Desert Diamond tipples. Desert Diamond Distillery

18. Visit the “Living” Ghost Town of Chloride (25 miles)

Many former mining towns are now empty, but Chloride still has a beating heart . . . full of art.

In its heyday, Chloride had 75 mines and 2,000 people. Today there are about 300 residents, many of whom are artists and craftsmen–the town is know for its creative yard art.

Mosey around the historic buildings (because “mosey” is what you do in a darn tootin’ ghost town! 👻), including the old jailhouse (with two whole cells!), and the Santa Fe railroad station. Mixed in are antique and gift shops and a few spots to eat.

Don’t miss the Wild West gunfights, which are re-enacted every Saturday afternoon.

19. Drive the most “untamed” section of Route 66 to Oatman AZ

The sign indicates this just might be a bumpy ride

If you are a Route 66 “completist” (like a certain husband who shall remain unnamed 😉), then this should absolutely be on your list of things to do in Kingman, Arizona.

Just west of Kingman, Route 66 officially merges with I-40 until the California border. But there’s a section that’s unimproved, known as a “Back Country Byway.” It’s the original road that climbs through the Black Mountains: a bumpy, twisty, and sometimes hair-raising 17 miles to the town of Oatman (that’s the place with the wild donkeys!).

RVs are not allowed, and 4-wheel drive is encouraged. It’s not a true “off-road” experience, but the last time we went there were some pretty deep, muddy puddles from a monsoon rain the day before. And there are potholes. Lots of potholes 🕳️. And NO guardrails. So you might want to leave your Ferrari at home 😉

But all of the warnings aside, it is totally worth it! 🤩🤩

No potholes in this stretch of Route 66–but no guardrails either 😱

There you have our list of almost 20 things to do in Kingman Arizona. I think you can see that there are plenty of activities in the town and nearby to keep you busy for a day or three. So when you’re planning your next trip along Route 66, or even to the Grand Canyon, consider using Kingman as a base. You’ll be happy you did!

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Some days, we all need to “Take it Easy.”

There are lots of great things to do in Winslow Arizona, even after you visit the corner made famous by the Jackson Browne/Glenn Frey song “Take it Easy.” Take a look at our list–it’ll make you want to linger a bit in this great Arizona small town on Route 66, which is rich is Arizona history and culture.

The historic downtown area isn’t large (about 1.5 miles wide by 3/4 mile deep), so it’s very walkable. Additionally there are several interesting things to do in Winslow Arizona that are just a short drive outside of the main part of town. Plenty of nearby parks and natural wonders make Winslow an excellent base for exploring this part of Arizona.

History of Winslow Arizona

Despite Winslow’s current popularity being associated with the automobile (the “flatbed ford” and Route 66), the town actually has its roots in the railroad. According to the Winslow Historical Society, “in 1880, the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad laid out the Winslow townsite along its new transcontinental line through northeastern Arizona Territory because the nearby Little Colorado River supplied a vital water source.”

large retro style billboard with "visit winslow" text
You’ve GOT to visit a place that welcomes you with a sign like this!

The Railroad puts Winslow on the Map

Winslow really started to grown after 1897, when the Atlantic & Pacific Railroad was acquired by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (known then as the ATSF). At this time, the division headquarters was moved from Gallup, NM to Winslow, AZ. New employees meant new infrastructure for the town, which is evidenced by many of the Victorian-era buildings and homes, many of which are still standing today.

FUN FACT: From 1900 through the 1950s, Winslow had the largest population in northern Arizona!

Even before the ATSF made Winslow a division headquarters, the town had started to become known as a travel destination. It was one of the closest train stops to the many natural and cultural sites in northern Arizona, making it a popular stop for intrepid travelers looking to explore sites such as the Petrified Forest and Canyon de Chelly.

The popularity of Winslow as a train stop for for travelers headed to northern Arizona’s wonders drew the attention of legendary hospitality industry pioneer Fred Harvey. Harvey first built a Harvey House restaurant at Winslow in 1887, and eventually opened the renowned luxury hotel La Posada Winslow in 1930, right along the train tracks.

Planes, trains and automobiles

Winslow had a lock on the railroad presence with the ATSF divisional headquarters. Then, in 1926, Route 66 was established and ran right through downtown Winslow (it still does today!), which brought plenty of automobiles. But what many people don’t know is that Winslow was also an important early destination for air travel.

In 1929, Winslow’s new airport was designated as a key stop along Transcontinental Air Transport’s first coast-to-coast passenger route. For all these reasons, Winslow enjoyed the largest population in northern Arizona from 1900 through the 1950s. This rich history means it’s not so far fetched that Jackson Browne might’ve been “standing on the corner.” And it means there are quite a few worthwhile things to do in Winslow Arizona.

Things to do IN Winslow Arizona

1: Standin’ on the Corner Park

woman next to bronze sculpture of a songwriter in front of Winslow Arizona sign-things to do in winslow arizona
Bonus points for spotting the homage to the band that recorded the song!

Okay, okay, let’s take care of this one first. This pocket park pays homage to the famous lyrics in the song “Take it Easy,” penned by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey. It is arguably one of the most popular things to do in Winslow Arizona. It’s located right downtown, a the corner of Kinsley & 2nd Streets and open 24/7. There are bronze statues of the songwriters, a mural, and (natch!) a flatbed Ford. Learn more in our post about standing on the corner Winslow Arizona.

2: Old Trails Museum

historic railroad memorabilia, including uniforms, photos and lanterns-things to do in winslow arizona
Memorabilia from the Santa Fe Railroad at the Old Trails Museum

One of the best things to do in Winslow Arizona to get a sense of the rich history of the town is to visit the Old Trails Museum. This small (and free!) museum is chock-full of memorabilia that brings many of the towns highlights to life, including the Santa Fe Railway, Route 66, and the heritage of the Harvey House hotels and restaurants. The museum is located right across the street from Standin’ on the Corner Park and their gift shop sells some interesting Navajo and Hopi arts along with books on local history.

3: Hubbell Trading Post & Warehouse

You may be familiar with the Hubbell Trading Post that is a National Historic Site in northeast Arizona, which was the first in what would become an trading post empire for the Hubbell family. But it was in Winslow where Hubbell eventually established the regional warehouse for his goods, because of the town’s location along the Santa Fe railroad line.

Constructed in 1917 as a trading post by the Richardson brothers, the building was acquired by Lorenzo Hubbell in 1921. Until its closure in the 1960s, the building was renowned as a source for the finest specimens of old-time Navajo rug and silver and turquoise jewelry. Today it is the location of the Winslow Visitor Center and has some great exhibits showcasing Winslow’s past, along with plenty of brochures about the many things to do in Winslow Arizona.

4: La Posada Hotel and Gardens

Front entrance of La Posada Winslow-adobe architecture with tile roofs

Described by many as the town’s “crown jewel,” visiting the La Posada is definitely one of THE things to do in Winslow Arizona. The hotel originally opened in 1930 to cater to wealthy travelers exploring the newly popular sights in the southwest. Designed by famous architect Mary Colter, this is one of the last remaining Harvey House hotels. After a (admittedly non-luxurious) stint as the regional headquarters of the railroad, La Posada was lovingly restored to its former glory and is once again a magnificent hotel.

Take some time to explore the beautiful building and grounds–the hotel is surrounded by different gardens on each side. Typical of grand old hotels, there are plenty of nooks and crannies to rest weary feet and soak up the atmosphere. For a treat, enjoy a meal in the Turquoise Room restaurant, or go full-on and indulge yourselves by spending the night (or two!). It’s one of Arizona’s true historic hotel treasures. (For more information, read the review of our stay at La Posada Winslow. Spoiler alert: we loved it! 😊)

5: La Posada Art Museum

A combination of Native American and Contemporary artworks are on display at La Posada

La Posada is more than a hotel and restaurant–there’s also an art museum in the building that’s free to the public. Tina Mion, one of the owners of the hotel, is also an American contemporary artist who has exhibited at the Smithsonian and other prominent museums. Many of her paintings and pastels are on permanent display throughout the hotel, and in a dedicated museum space on the second floor.

An advocate of promoting the arts in the region, Mion also curates the work of local artists, including many Native American artisans. The guest room hallways alone are bedecked with beautiful hand woven rugs and blankets. Situated in these traditional pueblo architecture surroundings, these works really stand out. It’s one of the more “cultured” things to do in Winslow 😉.

6: Winslow Amtrak Depot and Freight Siding

Freight trains pass by regularly at La Posada’s back gate, which is also an Amtrak stop. One of the best things to do in Winslow Arizona for train geeks!

Hold on, we’re not finished with visiting La Posada just yet. If architecture, gardens and artwork aren’t your thing, what about trains??? La Posada may be the only hotel in America that has its own Amtrak depot! Although there are only two passenger trains per day that stop at the hotel, there is a never-ending parade of freight trains passing through (this is still an important siding for the BNSF Railway).

Woman standing at ornate iron gates that lead from train tracks to La posada hotel in background
Viewing the back entrance of La Posada hotel from the train platform (notice the train wheel motif in the ornate iron gate!)

Stroll out through the back gardens, where an ornate iron gate will show where the hotel property stops and the railroad begins. Two shady ramadas are equipped with comfy chairs for hotel guests awaiting their transport (or even just looking to do a little train spotting). Although Winslow is a train horn quiet zone, you might just get the engineer to blow his whistle if you give him the sign by pulling your arm down. (Just sayin’)

PRO TIP: Winslow is a train whistle “quiet zone,” but if you give the engineer the universal “horn” sign with your arm, you might just get a little “toot toot”!

7: First Street Pathway Park

If one of your ideal things to do in Winslow Arizona includes stretching your legs, spend some time in this lovely city park, which links many of the town’s historic sights together via a landscaped pathway over six city blocks. Along the way you’ll see interpretive exhibits about the town’s history and culture.

Get the little ones to work off some pent-up energy at the park’s playground, and then let them watch the “choo choos” on the raised (and fenced-off) railroad viewing platform.

8: Snowdrift Art Space

Art abounds in Winslow (in fact, we could probably write a post just about “arty things to do in Winslow Arizona” 😉) Take in some contemporary sculpture at this incredible space that was once the Babbitt Brothers Mercantile building. Today it is a combination gallery, studio and home for sculptor Dan Lutzick, who was a partner in La Posada rehabilitation project.

Guided tours of the 7,000-square-foot gallery are provided by appointment only, so be sure to submit a request on the Snowdrift Art Space website at least 24 hours in advance. (Additionally, check their Facebook page for updated events and tour availability.)

9: Explore Winslow’s Victorian Roots

Since the town was established with the coming of the railroad in 1880, you can imagine the sudden need for housing and other services. The prevailing architecture at the time was Victorian, and fortunately there are still plenty of examples of that along the streets downtown. For architecturally minded (or maybe just Pinterest-worthy) things to do in Winslow Arizona, stroll the residential areas along 3rd and 4th streets to see the charming Victorian cottages.

Pinterest-worthy Victorian cottages line the residential streets of Winslow

10: Historic Route 66 Relics and Memorabilia (& a great Motel!)

Route 66 is an integral part of Winslow, and you have TWO streets you can explore! Second St. (nearest the train tracks) is one-way eastbound, while the westbound portion of Route 66 is one-way on Third St. Route 66 runs the length of Winslow, approximately 51/2 miles. A drive (or walk) along either street (or both, for the truly intrepid Route 66 fans!) provides a glimpse into mid-century America. Take your time, and really look, you’ll find this is one of the really fun things to do in Winslow Arizona.

PRO TIP: For an awesome “retro Route 66 motel” stay, check out Earl’s Motor Court on 66 westbound (i.e. 3rd St.)

One of the “retro” things to do in Winslow Arizona is staying at Earl’s Motor Court on Route 66

Things to do NEAR Winslow Arizona

11: Homolovi State Park

Remains of ancient Hopi dwellings at Homolovi State Park (photo by Trevor Huxham via Flickr)

Explore ruins of the Hopi, who inhabited this area from the 1200s to late 1300s, while taking in the beauty of more than 4,000 acres of high desert (4,900 feet elevation) scenery, just 3 miles from town. In addition to ruins and archaeological research, Homolovi State Park  houses a visitor center and museum along with trails, a campground and picnic sites.

Viewing ancient pottery and petroglyphs helps put the ancient quality of these lands into perspective. And as an added bonus, they have star viewing parties once a month! Visiting Homolovi is a must-do among things to do in Winslow Arizona.

12: Brigham City Fort

For one of the more unique things to do in Winslow Arizona, get glimpse of the ghost town of early travelers who passed through town in the city’s early days. The fort at Brigham City, about 2 miles northeast of town, was originally built by Mormon pioneers in 1876. The settlement only lasted a few years; ironically in the desert, flash floods washed away the fort’s irrigation systems. The buildings on the site are reproductions; portions of the original walls were moved to La Posada’s grounds to preserve them.

13: McHood Park and Clear Creek

For those of you who didn’t think a list of things to do in Winslow Arizona would include camping and water sports we are happy to share that we’ve got you covered! About 5 miles southwest of town, McHood Park at the Clear Creek reservoir offers a refreshing spot for camping, swimming, boating and more.

Bring your own kayak (with good kayak shoes!) or rent a canoe at the park to paddle to Clear Creek Canyon, a secluded spot that’s popular with locals. Campers can purchase a (dry) camping pass at a kiosk on site.

14: Little Painted Desert County Park

Stunning photo ops at Little Painted Desert County Park (photo by Martin Ely via Flickr)

Head up to this little-known spot for some spectacular photo ops without the crowds. Facilities at this 660-acre county park, which is about 13 miles north of town, are no longer maintained, so don’t expect services. (You’ll see a few old picnic shelters that now have some spectacular graffiti!)

But the exotic combination of colors and natural rock formations are worth the trip–especially at either sunrise or sunset. NOTE: be sure to stick to the roads and major pathways–the rocks are crumbly. Now you can add “stunning desert photography” to your list of things to do in Winslow Arizona!

15: Rock Art Ranch

If your list of things to do in Winslow Arizona includes ancient petroglyphs, Rock Art Ranch is the place for you. The ranch, situated about 23 miles east of Winslow in a remote area off Interstate 40, is home to some of the finest Anasazi petroglyphs in the Southwest along with a collection of pottery and other historic artifacts found on the property.

Rock Art Ranch is a working cattle ranch, so visitors must make a reservation to visit. Rock Art Ranch is approximately 23 miles from Winslow. The ranch is open for tours from May 1st to Nov. 1st. Closed Sundays. Call (928) 288-3260 for reservations and pricing information.

16: Grand Falls (aka “Chocolate Falls”)

Depending on the time of year when you visit, taking a side trip to see Grand Falls (also known as the ‘Chocolate Falls’ because of the often muddy water) is definitely one of the things to do in Winslow Arizona. These incredible falls, which are over 180 feet tall (taller than Niagara Falls!) can range from a deluge to a trickle, depending on the amount of rain and snow melt. Remember, we’re in the desert here, so water is kind of “full on” or “almost off.”

https://youtu.be/sNvBzQ4I-IA
Visiting Grand Falls on the Navajo Reservation is one of the awe-inspiring things to do in Winslow Arizona

Visit during the late summer monsoons or in the early spring during snowmelt for the best views. and occurs when the monsoon season hits northern Arizona and during snowmelt from the winter snowstorms. The falls are located on Navajo land, about 48 miles north of Winslow. Admission is free, but be sure to respect private property and stick to the roads.

17: Meteor Crater

Woman facing the edge of gigantic Meteor Crater near Winslow Arizona
Gi-normous (!) Meteor Crater, photo by Kevin Walsh, courtesy Flickr

Here we’re moving into the category of “otherworldly” things to do in Winslow Arizona. Meteor Crater is a massive crater (550 feet deep by 3/4 mile wide 😱) caused by the impact of a giant meteor 50,000 years ago. This is one whompin’ big hole in the ground! The terrain is so unique that in the 1960s it was one of the locations where NASA astronauts trained for the first moon landing.

In addition to both outdoor and indoor (air conditioned!) viewing points of the crater, there is also a Discovery Center and Space Museum on site where visitors can examine an Apollo 11 test capsule and learn more about the history and geology of meteors. Meteor Crater is about 20 miles west of Winslow.

18: Petrified Forest National Park

view of painted desert-reddish hills covered in bits of greenery

Located just 55 miles east of Winslow, Petrified Forest National Park offers far more than the world renowned petrified logs. A drive takes you through the Painted Desert, with several viewpoints along the way before meandering into an alien landscape filled with points of interest at almost every turn.

man in cowboy hat looking at petrified log in petrified forest national park

Plan to stop often to see ruins of former Native American settlements, ancient petroglyphs, badlands, and, of course, petrified logs. Two Visitors Centers provide interpretive exhibits, and the rangers are great about informing you of some terrific hikes to see some of these wonders up close. This is one of the many stunning Arizona national parks and monuments, and well worth a visit.

There you have it: 18 fabulous things to do in Winslow Arizona. There are certainly plenty of reasons to stay a night (or 2, or 3), and make it your base for exploring this part of northern Arizona! Which will you do first?

Complete list of Things to do in Winslow Arizona

  1. Standing on the Corner Park
  2. Old Trails Museum
  3. Hubbell Trading Post & Warehouse
  4. La Posada Hotel & Grounds
  5. La Posada Art Museum
  6. The Winslow Amtrak Depot
  7. First Street Pathway Park
  8. Snowdrift Art Space
  9. Explore Winslow’s Victorian Roots
  10. Route 66 Memorabilia
  11. Homolovi Ruins State Park
  12. Bingham City Fort
  13. Rock Art Ranch
  14. McHood Park & Clear Creek
  15. Little Painted Desert County Park
  16. Grand Falls (aka “Chocolate Falls”)
  17. Meteor Crater
  18. Petrified Forest National Park
sign for Amtrak stop in hotel garden
Billboard that looks like a giant postcard about things to do in winslow arizona
Apparently even this guy knows the answer to “what is winslow, arizona famous for?” ! 😉

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INSIDE: Our stay at La Posada Winslow Az, the famous early 20th century luxury hotel along Route 66-aka “La Posada Harvey House” way back when!

I love road trips, but some nights I long for something a little more “indulgent” than a roadside motel. Fortunately, the town of Winslow, Arizona (yes, that Winslow) has a treat in store . . . and it’s right on historic Route 66! (You can’t get more road-trippy than that.)

La Posada Winslow AZ is one of the most historic hotels along Route 66 in Arizona-and undoubtedly THE MOST luxurious. Opened in 1930 this Harvey House Hotel harkens back to the golden age of rail travel (back when “get your kicks on Route 66” wasn’t even a song yet).

The hotel has been lovingly restored. A stay here will be a mini-vacay into the glamour of the early 20th century, back when luggage was made of leather & had cool stickers from the places you’d visited 🧳.

For many visitors, Winslow, Arizona is most famous for Standing on the Corner Park, based on the lyrics from the Eagles’ song, “Take it Easy.” (And, yes, of course there’s a Flatbed Ford!) But equally La Posada Winslow is also worth a visit to this town on Route 66-and it’s even more historic!

We stayed at this unforgettable spot during a recent road trip across Arizona and were not disappointed. It’s definitely worth a stop! Below we tell you what you need to know about staying at La Posada.

But first, a little historical context:

Front entrance of La Posada Winslow-adobe architecture with tile roofs
The beautiful entrance to La Posada Winslow is flanked by gardens

History of La Posada Winslow

The Early Years: Grand Hotel along the Railway

La Posada in Winslow first opened in 1930 along the main rail line passing through Arizona. Renowned hotelier and restaurateur Fred Harvey built the luxury property to attract wealthy travelers who were eager to explore the wonders of the southwest🏜️.

Fred Harvey had become known for his Harvey House Restaurants, which featured courteous and well-trained “Harvey Girls” as waitstaff. There was even a movie musical made in 1946 called “The Harvey Girls,” featuring Judy Garland and a young Angela Lansbury. 🤩

Harvey named his hotel “La Posada”—the Resting Place—determined that it would be the finest in the Southwest. He chose Winslow, Arizona because at it was (and still is) the Arizona headquarters for the Santa Fe Railway (today it’s known as BNSF).

To ensure the La Posada Harvey House was representative of the region and its unique history and culture, Harvey asked architect Mary Colter to design the property. Colter was famous for designing several structures at the Grand Canyon. No expense was spared; it was rumored that the total budget was approximately $2 million (which would cost about $35 million today).

Winslow became a popular stopping off point for touring the American Southwest. Destinations such as the Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest and Monument Valley were all within a day’s drive of the hotel.

Despite opening about 6 months after the stock market crash of 1929, La Posada Winslow enjoyed a brisk business in the 1930s and 40s. But then things changed.

Back gardens at La Posada Winslow-bright green lawn in front of adobe building

The “Railroad Headquarters” Years: a bleak period for La Posada Winslow

By the late 1950s, rail travel was no longer considered the glamorous way to travel. Car travel (and road trips) were the hot new thing.

Mid-20th century Americans were interested in staying in convenient roadside motels for a night or two, instead spending days at a big fancy hotel. Business at the La Posada Harvey House dropped off. 😟

In 1957, La Posada Winslow closed and the property was converted into the local headquarters of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. (Known also as “ATSF” or sometimes just “the Santa Fe.”)

During the “railroad offices” phase, La Posada lost much of its original character. Museum-quality furnishings were auctioned off and much of the interior was converted into office space. (Can you imagine this grand old hotel, now full of desks and metal filing cabinets? SHUDDER!)

In 1994, the railroad announced it would no longer occupy the property. This left the La Posada Winslow building vacant . . . and in danger of demolition. 😱

Grand Hotel Along the Railway-Again!

There’s nothing like a threat of demolition to rouse local citizens, and the folks in Winslow rose to the occasion. They began a campaign to raise awareness of La Posada’s dire straits.

Eventually, the property came to the attention of Allan Affeldt and his wife Tina Mion, who purchased the property in 1997 with the intent to restore La Posada Winslow to its former glory.

Affeldt and Mion began renovating the building and opened five rooms for paying guests in late 1997. Gradually they opened the restaurant and bar, restored stunning public areas, and continued to open more guest rooms as they were renovated.

Finally, work began on the many gardens surrounding the hotel, designed to mirror architect Mary Colter’s vision.

Today, La Posada Winslow is fully restored and a magnificent property. 🥳

The hotel boasts 55 guest rooms along with a bar and restaurant, an art gallery, book store and trading post selling authentic artwork and handcrafts from local artisans. It’s surrounded by nearly 20 acres of unique gardens.

It is arguably the most luxurious hotel along Route 66 (and I’m talkin’ the whole stretch–not just the Arizona part! 😊).

But wait, there’s more . . . how about a train station???!!

La Posada Winslow: A Train Station?

A freight locomotive passing by La Posada’s back gates. This is where Amtrak stops also.

La Posada in Winslow has the unique distinction of being the only hotel in America that has its own Amtrak stop. Wait, WHAT???

Yep. The Winslow depot was originally part of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway (ATSF), commonly known as the “Santa Fe,” in 1929-1930. Today, the stop is part of Amtrak’s Southwest Chief train, which travels between Chicago and Los Angeles.

Passengers can disembark at Winslow (station designated “WLO”), pass through an elegant iron gate and stroll right up the walkway into the hotel lobby. How cool is that?

And while waiting to board the train (which comes twice a day), passengers wait either in the lobby or on a very nice patio covered by a shady pergola (or, “ramada,” as they call them in the southwest) right along the tracks.

View of La Posada Winslow from the tracks. Waiting areas are under the shaded ramadas on either side of the gate.

Train Geek Alert: I know, I know, there are plenty of other train station hotels, such as the Union Station Hotel in St. Louis or Lackawanna Station in Scranton, PA. But hear me out–there IS a difference.

These hotels are grand old stations that were converted into hotels as a historic preservation effort to prevent them from being torn down.

La Posada Winslow was purpose-built as a hotel, with the train depot as part of it. And, since there is no train station nearby, it serves as the location for the stop.

*It’s important to note that while the train depot is located on the hotel property, the hotel is not right on the tracks. Only the waiting area is trackside; the rest of the hotel is set back 80 to 100 feet from the platform area by a walled lawn.

Additionally, Winslow is a “quiet zone,” with no at-grade crossings, so there are no loud train horns blaring. Further, guest rooms are situated perpendicular to the tracks, facing one of the gardens.

We were shocked (and delighted) to discover that train noise was not an issue when staying at La Posada Winslow. 🙉

Woman standing at ornate iron gates that lead from train tracks to La posada hotel in background
Hangin’ at the prettiest little train depot ever (note the wheels in the gate design).

Staying at La Posada Winslow-Our Experience

We had visited La Posada Winslow briefly during a drive along Route 66 in Arizona, but hadn’t spent the night. We found it a pleasant place to stop but our schedule had us motoring a few hundred more miles that day.

That was a planning mistake (hey, I’m willing to admit it!)

Even though it’s located just one block from the famous Standing on the Corner Winslow Arizona park, the hotel harkens back to a time that predates rock n’ roll, and even the midcentury glory days of Route 66.

It’s an oasis of lush tranquility in the midst of the desert. To step onto the grounds of La Posada takes you back to the grand old days of travel, when visitors brought steamer trunks and wrote letters home on hotel stationery.

We vowed to spend the night on our next trip through these here parts.

Arrival

You know you’re in for something magical as you approach the front door. After passing beneath the wrought iron archway with a rustic “La Posada” sign suspended beneath it, you pass between some of the beautiful gardens on the way to the front door.

Along the way you cross a water feature with soothing trickling fountains–a thirst-quenching sound in this otherwise desert landscape.

The entry doors further suggests a destination suited toward enjoyment and quiet reflection. The rustic wood doors are stained a duck-egg blue and bear bronze plaques stating “Enter in Silence” and “Depart in Peace.”

The rustic entry doors of La Posada Winslow set the tone for a relaxing stay

Rooms at La Posada Winslow: Spacious and Comfy

La Posada has 55 rooms, which range in size from 220 to 450 square feet. Rooms are decorated with handmade Ponderosa pine beds, along with handwoven rugs and Mexican tin and Talavera tile mirrors.

In a nice “old-world” touch, nightstands are stocked with hardcover books 📚.

Each room is named after a famous guest who has stayed at the hotel.

We stayed in the “Victor Mature” room, named after the dreamboat actor from the 1940s and 50s 😍. One of his most famous roles was as the hunky Sampson in the movie Sampson and Delilah.

Naturally my husband was convinced the woman at the front desk took one look at him and immediately thought “I know just which room you should have!” (Can you imagine the blow to his ego if we had gotten the “Shirley Temple” room?! 🤣)

Our king sized Ponderosa pine bed in the “Victor Mature” room

Our room had a comfortable king-sized bed, with 100% cotton sheets (YAY!), along with woolen blankets for those chilly nights. (Winslow’s at 4,800+ feet altitude.)

The bathroom featured the original 1930 black and white mosaic tile, with a pedestal sink and cast-iron tub. It was stocked with plenty of fluffy towels and complimentary toiletries.

The room was on the second floor and overlooked the Sunken Garden with its trickling lion’s head fountain. The fountain provided a soothing sound in the cool evening air.

Rooms fall into three categories and are priced accordingly:

  • Standard: With either a king or two double beds
  • Upgraded: (King beds only)Similar to Standard, along with either a balcony or patio
  • Deluxe: (King beds only) Slightly larger rooms with seating area, plus a whirlpool tub in the bath

Our room fell into the “Standard” category and was plenty big enough.

All rooms face one of the gardens. None of the guest rooms overlook the train tracks (that side of the hotel is reserved for the public spaces.

Our view over the Sunken Garden was extremely quiet at night. We did not hear any train noise (and we are PICKY about that!).

Book your stay at La Posada Winslow here!

Public Spaces at La Posada Winslow: Plenty of Cosy Nooks & Crannies

The public spaces are part of what really make La Posada special.

Typical of many early 20th-century hotels, when life moved at a slower pace, there are lots of nooks and crannies for relaxing, chatting, or just curling up with a good book.

The gardens are unparalled; each area of the hotel has something unique. Many gardens have a fountain somewhere; the trickling sounds of water are soothing in the high desert landscape.

The Sunken Garden (which our room overlooked) has conversational areas near the burbling lions’ head fountain. ⛲️

The Grotto Garden, which is a full floor below street level, is cooling on hot summer days (and has a friendly donkey statue watching over it!).

In the fall, the South Lawn sports a straw bale maze. The patio out front overlooks the Four Sisters garden, which features local plants.

The Sunken Garden is a peaceful spot for conversation at La Posada

No matter where you go in the hotel, either inside or out. La Posada is inviting you to “sit down and relax for a bit.” (Remember those books on the nightstand? They’re perfect for exactly this purpose!)

Art at La Posada: Affeldt Mion Museum on Site!

Art on display at Tina Mion gallery-la posada winslow
Tina Mion’s art on display at La Posada Winslow (photo courtesy La Posada)

In addition to appreciating the peace and serenity of La Posada’s gardens and public spaces, visitors have an opportunity to experience a connection of Winslow’s history through art.

Allan Affeldt and Tina Mion, the couple who acquired and reinvigorated La Posada as a hotel, also established the Affeldt Mion Museum on site at the hotel to celebrate the traditions brought by native people and then expanded upon by visionaries, past and present, who have contributed to Winslow’s success.

Permanent exhibits include the largest known hand-carded and hand-spun Navajo Rug, along with a collection of historic Navajo weavings.

Tina Mion is an artist herself; her works, as well as those of other contemporary artists are also displayed on a rotating basis.

(Note: the museum charges a small admission fee)

hotel hallway with navajo rugs hanging on the walls--la posada harvey house winslow arizona
Even the hallways at La Posada display historic Navajo artifacts

Separately, the hallways an public spaces are sprinkled throughout with artifacts of the southwest, so even walking to your room is like a trip to a museum! 👨🏻‍🎨

Dining at La Posada: Echoes of the Harvey House Tradition

The Turquoise Room “back in the day” (photo courtesy La Posada)

La Posada’s restaurant, The Turquoise Room, has been feeding hungry travelers and guests since “way back in the day.” Today, The Turquoise Room continues that tradition, serving up gourmet breakfasts, lunches and dinners.

The menu offers up a varied selection of favorites, all with a southwestern flair.

I’m an absolute pushover for a good hotel breakfast that’s just a teensy-bit on the fancy side. So you can imagine my delight at the (house-made) Chorizo Breakfast Hash! Hubby had the stuffed Brioche French Toast . . . and there was lots of reaching across the table to sample one another’s dishes. 🍳

Chorizo breakfast hash in a yellow dish with tortilla and topped with sliced avocado at La Posada Harvey House, Winslow
Doesn’t this look like a fabulous breakfast? (courtesy La Posada)

Continuing “the resting place” theme, the restaurant also offers a special “travelers’ menu” of light meals (soups, salads, sandwiches) from 2-4pm . . . a perfect respite for weary travelers who are just passin’ through. (Full disclosure: this was us on our first visit to La Posada. It was enough to make us realize we had to come back someday!)

For those looking for a relaxing tipple, the Martini Lounge at La Posada Winslow will mix up your fave cocktails, which you can enjoy just about anywhere in the hotel.

It’s all very chill & sophisticated at the same time.

Somewhere along the way, you realize the magic has snuck up on you and you’ve fallen under La Posada’s spell. For a night (or three), you’ve been transported back to a more genteel time.

And it’s been absolutely lovely. And you’ll be back. (I know I will! 🥰)

Ready to go to Winslow? Book your stay at La Posada Winslow here!


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image of fountain and front gate at la posada winslow arizona

I’ve always wanted to be one of those “carefree travelers” who breezes along with the perfect suitcase.

Having been full-time travelers since 2011 we know what makes the best 4 wheeled suitcase. We show you what to look for–and what to avoid when choosing spinner carry on luggage and more.

We literally live out of our suitcases. My husband and I have been full-time travelers since 2011, so luggage plays an important role in our lives. I’ve learned to be efficient in my packing, using luggage that’s functional, sturdy and not too big. And that comes in handy when taking an Arizona Road Trip. (Or any other road trip for that matter 😉)

Here are some guidelines to help you do the same:

Which is better: a 2 or 4 Wheeled Suitcase?

For several years we used 2-wheeled suitcases (some people call these “Rollaboard” suitcases, a brand name trademarked by TravelPro.) Two-wheeled suitcases work well, but you must “tilt and pull” them along behind you. This is fine for short spurts, but eventually that motion was wrenching on our shoulders. Additionally, adding an extra bag (such as a tote or computer bag) was cumbersome. Stacking it on top of the main bag changed the ergonomics (trust me on this one), making it super-heavy to pull. Using an “add-a-bag” strap made pulling the bags along easier, but the bags were out of balance when standing still and had a tendency to fall over.

blue and black 4 wheeled suitcase side by side in front of an adobe wall

When it came time to upgrade (after a particularly shoulder-wrenching sprint through an airport to catch a connecting flight, we investigated 4-wheeled models. We ultimately opted to upgrade to these 4 wheeled suitcases, also known as “spinners.” The name “spinners” comes from the fact that the suitcase can spin around on its wheels. The transition has been much easier on our joints. Spinners are terrific on smooth surfaces, such as airport floors and parking lots; even densely packed bags glide along with very little effort.

Note that spinners can get difficult to maneuver on carpeting or rough surfaces, such as cobblestones. During these instances it’s best to tilt the bag so it works like a 2-wheeled suitcase. Shop for spinners whose rear wheels rotate smoothly and are sturdy enough to handle this conversion. Otherwise you’ll be dragging along a bag that behaves like a reluctant shopping cart (no fun at all!).

All that being said, all 4 wheeled suitcases are NOT alike. Following are points to consider when choosing a 4 wheeled suitcase:

Size and Weight of 4 Wheeled Suitcases

Most people have a tendency to overpack. A good rule is to bring along less (or smaller) luggage than you think you need. Overly large suitcases encourage packing unnecessary extras, which adds weight that you’ll have to heft around. Even if your cruise or tour includes luggage transfers, you still have to hoist your baggage to the airport and in your hotel or stateroom. These are the awkward moments when backs get wrenched.

Size limits for carry on bags vary by geographic location. If not checking your bags is important to you, be sure to check with the airline you’re flying regarding their carry on size limitations. For example, United Airlines carry on policy allows for a bag as high as 22″ to fit in the overhead bin. Whereas your Southwest Airlines carry on can be up to 24″.

Overall weight is also an important consideration. You might think, “but these things are on wheels, isn’t that the point?” Then answer to that is “yes, BUT . . . ” Even though you’ll be breezing through airports and down hotel corridors using the wheels, you still have to lift your 4 wheeled suitcase into overhead bins. If you’re taking a Route 66 road trip in Arizona you’ll likely be taking your bags in and out of your car every few days.

There’s no sense starting with a heavy bag, then packing it with even more weight. Look for luggage brands that offer a “lightweight” line and purchase the lightest bag possible—without sacrificing sturdiness. My main suitcase is a 21-inch model that weighs just under 6 pounds. It’s small enough to fit in most overhead bins, yet large enough to hold what I need.

Spinner suitcases: External Features

Hard Shell vs. Soft-Sided

There are two distinct schools of thought when it comes to exterior materials: hard shell vs. soft sided (fabric). Both come in lightweight versions. I prefer the soft-side fabric exterior as it has a little extra “give” in case I need to cram in a few more items (also known by the highly technical term, the “squishy factor” 😉).

Soft-sided luggage is also more forgiving for the inevitable times when your luggage bangs into your shins. Fabric 4 wheeled suitcases also offer exterior zip pockets that are handy for stowing tickets or often-used accessories.

Some people prefer the hard shell version of a 4 wheeled suitcase. The hard shell case is more resistant to moisture (if you spend a lot of time traveling in rainy climates this might be a consideration) Many of them come with built-in locks, a handy feature if security is an issue.

Both hard shell and soft sided varieties are available with zippered expansion panels, allowing you to add a few cubic inches of packing space without moving up to a larger size bag. This feature comes in handy for any souvenirs that are picked up along the way.

When shopping for soft-sided luggage, look for rip-stop fabric, which resists punctures and minimizes tearing. Cheap luggage is often made of basic canvas fabric, this allows tears to “bloom” along the width of the suitcase. If you prefer hard-shell cases, look for lightweight material that is flexible (think of that old TV ad with the gorilla stomping on luggage); bags that are too stiff are prone to dent or, worse yet, crack.

Handles on 4 Wheeled Suitcases

Examine the handles carefully. Quality luggage will have sturdy telescoping handles that adjust to different heights. Inexpensive pieces have flimsy handles (usually just a single metal tube) that aren’t height adjustable. Some (good quality) 4 wheeled suitcases have handles that are a single central bar that telescopes up. They are sturdy, but we’ve don’t like them because they make stacking tote bags on top of the luggage difficult. A traditional dual pull-up handle acts as a brace for any smaller back you might like to stack on top. It also serves as a more secure anchor if your totebag has a trolley strap.

Interior Features of a 4 Wheeled Suitcase

Open Suitcase: single compartment or half & half?

Think of where a suitcase will be placed when it’s opened—likely on a luggage rack in a hotel room, on a bed, or on a floor. A single large interior compartment works best for maximum storage. A single zip compartment in the suitcase lid is useful for separating accessories or dirty clothes; look for models where the zippered side faces upward when the open case is propped up against the wall. This allows you to access items in this pocket without them slithering onto the floor.

Most hard shell luggage opens “half-and-half” style, where the zipper that opens the luggage basically slices the luggage in half, leaving you two equal compartments on the top and bottom. Some people like natural organizational ability of this half-and-half configuration. However, the tradeoff is that, when opened, this type of 4 wheeled suitcase will be too large to fit on a luggage rack. (And one half will be too heavy to prop up against the wall). In most cases you’ll need to keep the suitcase open on a hotel room floor.

4 Wheeled Luggage: Price Range

We prefer moderately-priced suitcases, generally $125-$250, depending on size and brand; all the features described above can be found in this price range. Avoid those cheap “4 bags for $100” sets sold in discount stores. They are poorly made and unlikely to withstand the rigors of travel. Expensive designer bags may look stylish, but they scream “expensive items are packed inside” and are a magnet to would-be thieves.

Once you’ve chosen a suitcase, test pack it at home and put it through its’ paces. If it’s too heavy or some feature doesn’t work, exchange it. There are plenty of variables when traveling. Your suitcase shouldn’t be one of them.

Our Choice for a 4 Wheeled Suitcase?

Based on all the features discussed above, we like the Travelpro Maxlite soft-sided series. We’ve had them for a few years now, and can attest to both their functionality and durability. We like the 21″ carry-on version, (more about packing that in a future post!), which is also sturdy enough to withstand being checked. This series also comes in 25″ and 29″ checked baggage versions, if you really insist on packing a lot. I purchased my suitcase on Amazon.

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Inside: We explored the are to provide you with what to do in Page Arizona. Our list of what to see (& why it’s the perfect base for visiting Northern AZ!)

We expected to spend a quick overnight in Page on a visit to Horseshoe Bend. But . . .surprise! It turns out there was more to see . . . a LOT more.

We ended up spending 4 days in Page, and we were so glad we did. Its location makes it an excellent base for exploring this scenic section of northern Arizona.

We’ll share proximity what do to in Page Arizona, as well as the interesting sights nearby.

What is famous about Page Arizona?

The city of Page is the gateway to Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell, which makes it an excellent base for exploring this scenic section of northern Arizona.

The city of Page is not a particularly old community, in fact, it’s one of the youngest communities in the United States. This Arizona small town was established in 1957 when the federal government began construction on Glen Canyon Dam. The dam was built to retain water from the upper Colorado River, producing hydroelectric power for the region. In the process, Lake Powell was created along the border of Arizona and Utah. The dam opened in 1966, and in 1972 the government dedicated the 1.25 million acres surrounding Lake Powell and Glen Canyon as a National Recreation Area.

The Dam and the city of Page sit at the edge of the Navajo Reservation, where there are multiple areas of both cultural and natural interest to explore. Between Glen Canyon Dam, the Navajo sights and the National Recreation Area, we discovered plenty of interesting things to do in Page AZ.

What to do in Page, Az for Free

The good news is there are a lot of great free things to do in Page AZ-Yay! You could spend your entire time here just exploring the scenery, going on hikes and never spend a dime.

We suggest starting your visit by checking out a couple of the areas stunning viewpoints to get your bearings. Then you can focus in on areas that interest you most (and where you might want to splurge for a tour or outing).

1: Get your bearings with the Glen Canyon Conservancy 3-D Model

To learn what to do in Page Arizona, vier this Overhead view of relief map of Powell Country with annotations marking Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powell, Town of Page Az, Antelope Canyon
This 3-D relief model helps to put all the things to do in Page Az into perspective

Glen Canyon Conservancy (GCC) is the non-profit organization that works in conjunction with the National Park Service and other municipal organizations in the area to ensure the best visitor experience at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Lake Powell. They oversee interpretive centers throughout what they call “Powell Country.” Their administrative headquarters and “flagship store” are located in the town of Page. It’s a great place to begin your exploration of all that Page and its environs has to offer.

There are a few basic displays about the history of the area, along with some informational brochures. But the real reason to visit is the 3-dimensional terrain model of Powell Country that’s huge: roughly the size of a small motor home! The model gives you a bird’s-eye-view of the region, and helpful assistants point out sights of interest using a laser pointer.

The shop sells a nice selection of history books and specialty guidebooks about the area, as well as maps, simple hiking gear and a few souvenirs. A visit to Glen Canyon Conservancy will help you decide which things to do in Page AZ will interest you the most.

2: Horseshoe Bend Overlook, the “MUST DO” in Page

view of horseshoe bend, red rocks with colorado river snaking through page arizona
Horseshoe Bend: tops on the list of what to do in Page Arizona

For many people a visit to Horseshoe Bend is their first priority of things to do in Page AZ. This view of a U-shaped bend in the Colorado River is certainly an Instagram darling. Although it’s technically free to visit (it’s within the boundaries of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area), it’s difficult to access without a long hike.

The easiest way to see it is to use the Horseshoe Bend parking lot, built by the city of Page. For $10 you can park your car and walk a well-paved (and accessible) 1/2-mile trail to the Horseshoe Bend overlook. There are railings and plenty of good viewing spots (there are also plenty of people).

*Please avoid the temptation to climb out on the edge of the rocks for that “perfect Insta shot”– it’s a 1,000-foot drop and the red sandstone on the cliffs is very crumbly! 😱

3: Glen Canyon Dam Overlook: Stunning views and totally free!

For those looking for a similar, but less crowded, view high above the Colorado River in Glen Canyon, we recommend the Glen Canyon Dam Overlook, a quiet spot just west of town. It’s free to visit, with a fun short hike over irregular sandstone to reach the viewing point (there are railings!).

You also get 2-for-1 views: looking south you’ll see a view of the much like Horseshoe Bend (but without the curve); looking north you get a fantastic view of Glen Canyon Dam, superimposed by the Glen Canyon Dam Bridge. This is one of the lesser-known things to do in Page AZ, but it’s well worth the trip.

4: Hike to the Hanging Gardens Arizona

Larissa standing at the hanging gardens, one of the cool things to do in page az
Hiking to the hanging gardens is one of the cool (literally!) things to do in Page AZ

The rocky terrain around Page, Glen Canyon and Lake Powell is pretty stunning, but there’s not a lot of natural greenery. For a refreshing change, take a short hike on the Hanging Garden Trail to the amazing Hanging Gardens Arizona.

An unusual configuration in the otherwise unrelenting red rocks allows water to collect, giving ferns and wild orchids just enough moisture and shade to flourish. After the sun and heat of all those red rocks, its almost thirst-quenching to view. (And the temperature is literally cooler there too!) It’s truly one of the unique things to do in Page, Arizona. And it’s totally free!

5 & 6: Tour Glen Canyon Dam & Bridge

When considering things to do in Page AZ, it makes sense to visit the site that caused the creation of the town in the first place: Glen Canyon Dam. At The 710 feet high this massive concrete structure is just a teensy bit smaller (16 feet) than Hoover Dam. The damming of the Colorado River, which created Lake Powell, generates hydroelectric power for much of northern Arizona.

Because there were no rail lines to this remote canyon, Glen Canyon Bridge was built just south of the future dam site to facilitate transport of construction materials. When completed in 1959, it was the highest arch bridge in the world, rising 700 feet above the Colorado River.

Visitors are welcome to take free guided tours of the dam and the power plant. Sign up at the Carl Hayden Visitor Center, where there are exhibits about the Dam’s construction along with a panoramic interior viewing platform of both the dam and the bridge. Outside, there are multiple viewpoints of the bridge, and an excellent view of the dam from a walkway on the Glen Canyon Bridge itself.

NOTE: Tours of the Glen Canyon Dam are closed until further notice, however you can learn (and see) a lot by exploring the Carl Hayden Visitor Center and the multiple outdoor viewpoints that are accessible.

Open Thursday thru Monday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. year-round (closed Tuesday & Wednesday). The visitor center is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years Day and Independence Day (July 4). Tour hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and are limited to 20 persons each tour.

7: John Wesley Powell Museum

man standing in front of the Powell Museum, one of the things to do in Page AZ

When exploring things to do in and around Page AZ, don’t forget to check out what’s in the town itself. The Powell Museum celebrates the life and achievements of Major John Wesley Powell, who is credited with leading the first group of white men through the Grand Canyon in 1869.

The museum is housed in a building was originally built by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation as a concrete testing lab for the construction of Glen Canyon Dam. Today, the collections, archives, and exhibits illustrate the history of Powells expeditions, as well as providing information about visiting Page and the surrounding Colorado Plateau.

Note: The Powell Museum is currently closed for renovations (as of 1/1/23). Check the website listed above prior to visiting

8-10: View Lake Powell from Several Scenic Overlooks

view of lake powell, one of the things to do in page az
The view of Lake Powell from Navajo Viewpoint

There are endless vistas on this high Colorado Plateau and one of the fun things to do in Page Az is to see them is from a series of overlooks near the Lake Powell Marina. Each provides terrific photo ops.

Each of these viewing spots are accessible from US Highway 89, just a few miles north of Glen Canyon Dam.

  • 8: Wahweap Overlook is free to access and offers a 360-degree panorama of the whole region.
  • 9: Wahweap Viewpoint (not to be confused with the “overlook” of the same name) provides a terrific view eastward over lake powell and the many buttes in the distance
  • 10: Navajo Mountain Viewpoint, as the name implies, also faces east toward Navajo Mountain in the distance, with awesome Tower Butte in the distance.
  • NOTE: These latter Viewpoints are within the fee area of the Lake Powell Marina and Campground.)

What to do in Page Arizona: Tours and Paid Activities

11: Tour Antelope Canyon

Photogenic and awesomely cool Antelope Canyon

Those photos of swirly red rocks in narrow slot canyons? Yep-that’s Antelope Canyon. Thanks to Instagram, it’s the most visited-and photographed-slot canyon in the American Southwest. The canyon was formed over 100 million years ago as water eroded the layers of red sandstone.

The canyon is divided into two sections: the Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons. Each have their own unique beauty. Upper Canyon is like following a dried up stream as it snakes through a tunnel of rocks. Lower Canyon has more spiral, corkscrew-y configurations.

Because it is located on Navajo Tribal Lands, taking a tour is mandatory to view either of the canyons. The number of visitors is limited, so it’s best to book a tour ahead of time through one of the approved operators listed on the Navajo Tribal Parks website. It’s one of the top Page AZ things to do.

PRO TIP: Space is limited on Antelope Canyon tours, so be sure to book ahead

12: Float down the Colorado River

Here’s a unique way to see Horseshoe Bend: looking UP from the river! Sign up for a tour that takes you down from just below Glen Canyon Dam, 15 miles downstream to Lees Ferry. There are kayaking tours, or multi-person raft excursions if you’d just like to float along.

You’ll pass through the tunnel to the base of the Dam (very cool!), then gently float down the river, past ancient petroglyphs and around Horseshoe Bend, where you can wave to all the people at the Overlook 1,000 feet above you. Tours are about a half-day, including transportation to and from the river. Be sure to book ahead, as seating is limited.

Rafting down the Colorado River through Horseshoe Bend is one of the more awesome things to do in Page Az

13: Spend some time on Lake Powell

aerial view of lake powell with marina full of boats page arizona
Wahweap Marina on Lake Powell offers loads of options to get out on the water: boat or “toy” rental, or tours

Lake Powell was created when the Glen Canyon Dam began to regulate the flow of the Colorado River in the 1960s. The National Recreation Area was opened in 1972 so everyone could enjoy the water in this otherwise dry area of the southwest. Water levels have dropped in recent years due to drought conditions, but there’s still a lot of Lake Powell to enjoy.

If all this exploring around Lake Powell has you itching to get out on the water itself you can do so at Wahweap Marina. No matter what type of water “toy” you’re looking for, you can rent it here-it’s one of the things to do in Page AZ.

Looking for a beach? Due to changing water levels, the beach locations have changed. Check online to find the latest location for the Wahweap Swim Beach.

From a houseboat for a multi-night stay on the water, to motor boats & jet skis, or kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, there are rentals available. Half-day boat tours and dinner cruises are also available in the summer months.

Day Trips from Page, AZ

Page makes a great base for exploring northern Arizona. There are multiple unique attractions within a few hours’ drive. Many of these have no hotels (or limited lodging options), which makes Page a great “base camp” for your adventures.

There are three National Parks that can be reached via a day trip from Page: Zion in Utah, as well as both the North and South Rims of the Grand Canyon. (Technically the two rims of the Grand Canyon are part of one park, but they’re too far apart to visit in the same day 😲, so it’s really like two separate parks.)

Add in some of the fantastic National Monuments nearby, along with some historical curiosities, and you’ve got plenty to keep you busy during your stay in Page. Here are some day trips from Page, AZ:

14: Zion National Park (Utah): 105 miles northwest; 1 hour & 45 minutes

Page sits only a few miles south of the Utah border: Zion National Park is the closest. It’s also the only major Utah park that’s reachable for a day-trip from Page.

Zion is Utah’s oldest National Park, designated in 1919. Inside the park you’ll find stunning rock formations, soothing green canyons full of trees, a museum dedicated to the peoples who have occupied this land, and even a historic tunnel!

Enjoy hiking, cycling, rock-climbing, or just gawking at the magnificent views on one of the park’s scenic drives. (I’m a strong proponent of gawking! 🤩).

The (east/west) Zion-Mt. Carmel Scenic Highway is open to cars year-round. The (north/south) Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is only open to cars during the off-season. The remainder of the year (and most weekends) visitors must park their cars and take the free shuttle, which makes several stops on its 9-mile journey.

PRO TIP: Zion can get crowded in summer, and parking lots fill up early. Plan accordingly if you are visiting during peak times.

15: Historic Navajo Bridge: 39 miles west; 42 minutes

This bridge is credited with linking the northwest portion of Arizona–and the state of Utah, with the rest of the state. Before Navajo Bridge was completed in 1929, anyone traveling between Utah and Arizona had to travel 800 miles west around the Grand Canyon-yikes!

Building this bridge was a big deal–it now holds pride of place as a National Civil Engineering Historic Monument.

The bridge spans the Colorado River (yep, the one that runs through the Grand Canyon), just south of the twisty part that makes up Horseshoe Bend. Technically, you’re viewing the beginning of the Grand Canyon, only here it’s just a ravine, with the river about 470 feet below.

The dual bridges at Navajo Bridge in northern Arizona
Dual spans at Navajo Bridge. The historic bridge (left) is now just for pedestrians.

There are actually two bridges–the original and a more modern replacement, opened in 1995. Drive over the modern bridge; the original is now for pedestrians.

Shop for Navajo crafts on the eastern side (which is Navajo lands). The western side is the Navajo Bridge interpretive center, which has informational panels and small gift shop, along with a self-guided walking tour of historic points along the way.

16-20: Historic Lee’s Ferry: 45 miles west ; 52 minutes

Lee’s Ferry is a surprisingly diverse and interesting section of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and it makes a terrific day trip from Page, AZ.

16: Lonely Dell Ranch

Old wooden wagon with yellow spoke wheels at Lonely Dell Ranch at Lee's Ferry near Page, AZ
Remnants of the rugged homestead at Lonely Dell Ranch

Historically, Lee’s Ferry was the main crossing point of the Colorado River, before Navajo Bridge was built. It’s the site of the Lonely Dell Ranch, the homestead of John D. Lee, the Mormon pioneer who established the Lee’s Ferry crossing in 1873. Today, explore the historic buildings, and orchard, whose trees still bear fruit.

17: Lee’s Ferry Boat Launch

The Lee’s Ferry Boat Launch is the spot where Grand Canyon rafting trips begin. Even if you’re not one for taking a 1-2-week rafting trip (full disclosure, it’s not my jam), it’s still fun to watch the outfitters preparing to head out.

18: Paria Riffle: Where two rivers meet

Just downriver, hang out on the beach at the Paria Riffle, the first mini-rapids those rafters will encounter.

19: Walking & Hiking Trails: Stroll the Historic District or Hike to great views

For walkers/hikers, there are several day hikes, such as the (easy) Historic District River Trail, or the (challenging) Spencer Trail that begin at Lee’s Ferry.

20: Get out of this world at Balanced Rock

As your driving through, be sure to stop at Balanced Rock for some fun photo ops. It looks like a giant rock mushroom from right out of a Star Wars film! 🛰

There are no food concessions at Lee’s Ferry, but it’s a great place to bring a picnic lunch.

21: Grand Canyon-North Rim: 124 miles west; 2 hours, 20 minutes

View of the Grand Canyon at sunset taken from the North Rim
View an alternate perspective of the Grand Canyon from the North Rim

Although this is a looong day trip, a visit to the Grand Canyon North Rim is definitely worth it! The views are spectacular, and there are no crowds!

Because of its remote location, the North Rim only gets 10% of the visitors that you’ll find at the South Rim. That means minimal wait times at the entrance, giving you more time to enjoy all the stunning vistas in the park.

(NOTE: The remote location also means limited lodging options, which is why a day trip from Page, Az is a good idea.)

Take a short (1/2 mile) hike along the paved Bright Angel Point trail, which begins right behind the historic Grand Canyon Lodge. The trail brings you to a promontory out in the canyon. Views, views and more views!

Sign at Grand Canyon North Rim Visitor Center

For more amazing views (did I mention there are LOTS of them? 😊), take the North Rim Scenic Drive to Cape Royal. This 23-mile road (each way) winds along the top of the plateau, with plenty of amazing stops along the way. Be sure to visit Walhalla Overlook, and allow time for a picnic at Vista Encantada (because there are limited restaurant options as well–so don’t get HANGRY! 😡)

PRO TIP: Due to its high elevation (8,000 feet), the Grand Canyon North Rim is closed from mid-October to mid-May. Be sure to check the website for exact dates. And prepare for snow if you’re traveling near the opening/closing dates . . . on our last visit (in early October), we drove through 8 inches of snow 😱 ❄️!

22: Navajo National Monument: 75 miles southeast; 1 hour, 20 minutes

Navajo National Monument is one of the most spectacular cliff dwelling sites in the American Southwest. Because it sits on Navajo tribal lands, access is limited and the site has been extremely well-preserved.

Visitors can take any of 3 self-guided trails in the park (only one trail has a long-distance view of the cliff dwellings).

To see the cliff dwellings up close, you must sign up for a ranger-led tour, which are 3-5 hours and have limited capacity.

NOTE: Ranger-led tours to the cliff dwellings are currently closed due to COVID-19 restrictions (as of 1/1/23). Check the website prior to visiting for the most updated information.

23: Oljato-Monument Valley: 120 miles east; 2 hours

Monument Valley is for anyone who loves jaw-dropping scenery, John Wayne western movies, or who has always wondered where all those cool car commercials were filmed.

Yep, it’s the place with those giant stone mittens.

Monument Valley makes a great day trip from Page AZ

Monument Valley straddles the Arizona-Utah border, but sits firmly within Navajo Tribal Lands. Pay a small admission fee to drive a 17-mile loop through the giant rock formations (and pretend you’re ridin’ the range with “the Duke” 🤠).

(For a longer stay in this part of Arizona, consider a road trip to 4 Corners and Monument Valley.)

PRO TIP: Touring Monument Valley and Navajo National Monument together make a nice day trip from Page, AZ.

24: Grand Canyon-South Rim: 109 miles southwest; 1 hour, 45 minutes

Great news for day-trippers from Page: it has easy access to both the North AND South Rims of the Grand Canyon! (Although do NOT try to see both in one day–too much driving 😝)

When coming from Page, you enter Grand Canyon National Park at the eastern (or Desert View) entrance. This entrance gets 80% LESS traffic that the main (southern) entrance, so wait times are minimal.

standing at an overlook of the Grand Canyon November
The Grand Canyon viewed from the SOUTH Rim

From here, you can view the geological beginnings of the Grand Canyon at Desert View Point, and explore the architectural marvel of Mary Colter’s Desert View Watchtower.

From here, you can continue west along Desert View Drive, stopping at multiple viewpoints as you travel the 23 miles to Grand Canyon Village. Or, if you’ve got cranky passengers 😵‍💫, you can turn around at any point, knowing you’ve seen some incredible vistas of the Grand Canyon.

(BTW, we like visiting the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in November, when there are less crowds everywhere.

25 & 26: Wupatki & Sunset Crater National Monuments: 99 miles south; 1 hour, 33 minutes

Take the 35-mile scenic drive linking these two National Monuments (and–BONUS! your admission fee covers both parks 🤩).

View the remains of six (yes-6!) different ancient pueblos perched on the open plain at Wupatki National Monument, glimpsing how native peoples lived 900 years ago. (Spoiler alert: they were pretty sophisticated!)

Continue as the high desert gradually morphs into a Ponderosa pine forest and you’ll emerge at Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, and the youngest volcano in the region (a mere “toddler” at about 1,000 years old 🤣)

Now that you’ve seen how many interesting things to see and do, it’s not really a question of “what to do in Page Arizona.” It’s more a question of “which will you do first?”

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Why was this (free) overlook near Horseshoe Bend practically deserted? It was fabulous!

Glen Canyon Dam Overlook is a must-see stop if you’re exploring this area in northern Arizona. Many people miss it because they’re racing to see the more famous Horseshoe Bend, or Glen Canyon Dam itself. But it’s worth taking a short detour to this well-maintained overlook for spectacular views and great photo ops. It’s one of our favorite things to do in Page AZ.

What is the Glen Canyon Dam Overlook?

Glen Canyon Dam Overlook is a designated spot perched 1,000 feet over a bend in the Colorado River about 3/4 mile south of Glen Canyon Dam itself. It’s important to note that this is an official vista point created by the National Park Service to provide visitors a scenic–and SAFE–way to see the Dam, the Colorado River and Glen Canyon itself.

View of glen canyon dam with bridge in front, taken 3/4 mile away at glen canyon overlook
A spectacular view of Glen Canyon Dam from the Overlook. Note the bridge just in front of the dam.

Five reasons to visit Glen Canyon Dam Overlook

  1. Terrific views of Glen Canyon Dam, plus Glen Canyon Bridge
  2. Wonderful views of the Colorado River slicing through Glen Canyon
  3. The overlook is easily accessible via a short (900-foot) hike
  4. Similar views to Horseshoe Bend, with less people
  5. Access is free

What can you see at this overlook?

The views at this “overlooked” overlook are stunning. Glen Canyon Dam Overlook provides a combination of views, ranging from natural to man-made wonders. The dam overlook is about 3.5 miles north of Horseshoe Bend, with much of the same natural scenery (only without the big hairpin turn in the river . . . or the crowds).

Looking to the north, you’ll be able to see the massive concrete engineering marvel of Glen Canyon Dam wedged into the red rocks of Glen Canyon. It’s the only place you can see the dam with the Glen Canyon Bridge superimposed over the front of it–it’s a very cool sight!

If natural scenery is more your thing, all you have to do is look south . . . or down. Looking down you’ll see the Colorado River flowing placidly over 1,000 below you. (If you’re lucky you might see either a motor boat or kayakers making their way down the river.)

Horizontal view of colorado river flowing through the vertical rocks of glen canyon
A view of the Colorado River above 1000-foot cliffs, looking south from Glen Canyon Dam Overlook

The view to the south gives you a terrific vantage point of the river splitting the red sandstone to create Glen Canyon. Since it curves off into the distance you’ll have some idea of what Horseshoe Bend looks like. One of the fascinating things to see is the greenery growing along the edge of the river. The vivid green against the red sandstone makes a nice color contrast, but it’s also soothing to the eye amidst all the reds and browns of this high desert landscape.

man with cowboy hat standing at overlook viewing glen canyon dam
Plenty of railings, plus space and shade to enjoy the view

There are railings all along the overlook, as well as a covered viewing area facing north toward the dam. As you can see from the pictures here, there are plenty of great photo ops, so there’s no need to do anything crazy (or irresponsible), such as climbing out beyond the railings. (DON’T do that!)

How to access the Glen Canyon Overlook

sign at the beginning of the glen canyon dam overlook trail
Sign at the trailhead, note the railings, and a glimpse of Glen Canyon Dam in the upper right

There is a short trail leading to the Glen Canyon Dam Overlook, accessed via the Dam Overlook Trailhead. The trail is only about 950 feet long, but you must descend a series of natural (but irregular) steps carved out of the sandstone. (Therefore, the trail is not suitable for those with mobility issues.) It’s a roughly 80-foot descent to the overlook, but the trail has railings all along the way. This comes in handy, as trying to balance a camera and water bottle as you’re scrambling down slightly angled steps of varying heights can get a little tricky.

To reach the trailhead, turn off of US Highway 89 onto Scenic View Road (which is a pretty appropriate name!), then turn west onto an unmarked, (but well-paved) road opposite the back entrances of the Baymont and Home2Suites Hotels. You’ll see Glen Canyon Dam in the distance, and the road will slope down slightly to a small parking lot (which, unlike parking at Horseshoe Dam, is free). From there you can access the trailhead.

man standing on red rocks above Glen Canyon admiring the view.
Take time to savor the views

How much time is required to see the overlook?

Visiting this little-known sight doesn’t take very long. It’s about 5 minutes each way to get from the parking lot to the Glen Canyon Dam overlook, and back again. If you’re really quick, another 5 minutes for photos and in just 15 minutes . . . BAM! you’re outta there.

But I encourage you to take a bit more time. The scenery is truly magnificent, and you’re likely to have the place almost to yourself. It’s a great place to slow down for a few minutes and absorb the beauty in front of you. Glen Canyon Dam Overlook is a pleasant surprise, and, like the Hanging Gardens Arizona, well-worth the short detour.

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I’ve always had a dream of finding a hidden oasis in the desert. And now I have!

Hanging gardens Arizona is a delightful surprise amid the seemingly endless rocky landscape surrounding Glen Canyon. Less than a mile from the famous Glen Canyon Dam in Page, AZ lies a sheltered cove where greenery flourishes. Take a short, relatively easy (and free!) hike along the Hanging Garden Trail to find this marvel of nature.

It’s hard to believe this desert oasis is hiding just off the road in an area where tourists flock daily to see sights like Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. Yet this beautiful display of greenery gets very few visitors. Follow our tips to find some solitude and lushness amidst this otherwise stark landscape.

Ferns clinging to a red cliff face outside Page Arizona
Panoramic shot of Hanging Gardens

What is a hanging garden?

Hanging gardens form when a continuous water source, such as a spring, emerges along the vertical wall of a cliff. Winter precipitation seeps into the porous sandstone, eventually reaching a less permeable layer of rock. At this point the water can no longer travel downward, so it begins to move sideways along the rock.

Eventually the water reaches the wall of a canyon, seeping out of the stone and flowing down the side of a cliff. If there is enough of an overhang to prevent the water from evaporating too quickly (also keeping the temperature from getting to hot), the moist stone creates a rich environment for plants to grow. These alcoves or “glens” then become a hanging garden, where plants grow both along the cliff face and on the ground directly below where the water seeps.

What grows in the Hanging Gardens Arizona?

The springs that feed the hanging gardens Arizona in Glen Canyon nourish maidenhair ferns and wild orchids. Both plants are a capable of growing on a rocky surface. They are a deep, rich green, which creates a striking contrast to the red sandstone that forms the base for these thirsty plants. The maidenhair ferns are especially fluffy, an unusual sight in a desert climate more known for water-conserving plants with spiky configurations, such as cactus and scrub pines.

You’d expect to find ferns growing in the lush, moist climates, such as the ferns at of the Pacific Northwest, such as the ferns at North Cascades National Park in Washington State. But to see these delicate bits of greenery at the hanging gardens Arizona is truly something special.

The Hanging Garden Trail

The Hanging Garden Trail is contained within the boundaries of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, one of the many National Parks and Monuments in Arizona. The trail is approximately 1.5 miles, round trip, over mostly flat rocky terrain. There is a small amount of scrambling up rocks to reach the hanging garden itself, about 100 feet in front of it.

The trail suitable for hikers of any level, including children. (However keep in mind that this is not classified as an “accessible” trail). On our last visit a we saw a family of four enjoying this hike. The two kids, who were aged about 4 & 6, exclaimed that it was more fun than climbing the play gym at home. (Chalk one up for getting out and showing young people real world experiences!).

Access the Hanging Garden Trail from a turnoff on the northeast side US highway 89, about 2/3 of a mile east of the Glen Canyon Dam Visitor Center and 2 miles northwest of the center of the town of Page, AZ. It’s well-marked by a brown and white sign. After about 1,000 feet you will come to a small gravel parking lot with some signage indicating the trailhead.

The Hanging Garden Trail itself is easy to follow: small stones have been laid across the flat plain indicating the path. To your left you will see the power lines of Glen Canyon Dam in the distance, in front of you will be the flat plain leading to Lake Powell. After about 1/2 mile you’ll begin to round a red sandstone butte to your right. A sign will point toward the Hanging Garden. Follow the stone pathway and in a few hundred feet you’ll see a hollow in the stone butte to your right, along with some black streaks on the red stone. This is a clue that there is moisture nearby.

At this point you’ll need to scramble up the rocks a bit to reach the Hanging Gardens Arizona. (It’s not difficult–if you can climb stairs you can climb this.) The small stones lead you up the left side of the hollow, which is a gradual climb. And then you’ve reach the Trail End . . . there it is!

Looking at the sign for the end of the Hanging Garden Trail, it’s hard to believe what’s right behind you

What to expect at the Hanging Gardens Arizona

The Hanging Gardens Arizona is a wall of greenery clinging to the red rock cliff face. The garden is in a curved hollow of the rock, about 50 feet long, and about 15 feet high. When you arrive you immediately feel the drop in temperature-it’s about 10 degrees cooler. Although there is no water running (unless there have been recent rains, which is rare), you can feel a higher level of humidity here.

In this photo, you see a nice bit of greenery in the desert rock . . .
Standing in front of ferns at the Hanging Garden Trail in Arizona
But seeing someone standing next to them makes the Hanging Gardens Arizona really impressive!

The cliff wall is filled with fluffy, dark green maidenhair ferns. Occasionally along the wall you’ll see the waxy leaves of wild orchids peeking through. There’s something very soothing about seeing all this green in the middle of all this reddish clay soil. And, unlike nearby Horseshoe Bend, you’ll have the place virtually to yourself.

Accessing the Hanging Garden Trail

How to access the Hanging Garden Trail from Glen Canyon Dam:

Proceed east on US Hwy 89 for 2/3 mile from the Glen Canyon Dam Visitor Center (crossing the bridge). The entrance to the trailhead will be on your left.

How to access the Hanging Garden Trail from Page, AZ:

From central Page (which Google Maps considers the intersection of Lake Powell Blvd. & S. Navajo Drive–near Big John’s Texas Barbecue), proceed north on Lake Powell Blvd for about 1.3 miles until it intersects with US Hwy 89. Turn right on Hwy 89 and proceed for about 1/2 mile. The entrance to the trailhead will be on your right.

Leave No Trace

When taking the Hanging Garden Trail, be sure to “Leave No Trace,” ensuring the Hanging Gardens Arizona remain intact and pristine for those who come after you. For more details, check the National Park System’s Leave No Trace Policy.

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Seeing the Grand Canyon with tons of people? No thanks! Turns out visiting in off-peak November was the perfect hack!

A Grand Canyon November visit can be a rewarding experience. The summer crowds are gone and the weather is beautiful: chilly at night and mild during the day. A trip to the Grand Canyon is one of the best road trips in Arizona, so consider visiting when you’ll have more of the park to yourself.

According to the National Park Service, in an average year the Grand Canyon gets a smaller number of visitors in the late fall than in the park’s busiest months in summer. And we mean a significantly smaller number: in 2019 there were roughly 300,000 fewer visitors in the November than in either July or August. That translates to 10,000 less people per day. Which means there’s a LOT more space to enjoy the park. [NOTE: Statistics are similar for most prior years; 2020 visitation numbers are all out-of-whack due to the COVID-19 pandemic.]

Entrance to Grand Canyon National Park with snow-Grand Canyon November
A little bit of snow and a whole lotta space to yourself at the Grand Canyon in November

What is the Grand Canyon weather in November?

Grand canyon National Park entry sign

Temperatures at the Grand Canyon in November range from a high of 52 to a low of 27 degrees (Farenhiet). We visited in late November during Thanksgiving Week and were surprised to see a bit of snow. While it was a brisk 42 degrees, between plowing and solar melt the roads were very clear so there was no problem getting around. In a strange phenomenon, when it snows at the Grand Canyon by the time it gets to the lower elevation canyon floor the snow has melted and becomes rain.

Is the Grand Canyon North Rim open in November?

Yes, but only for day visits. Due to its higher elevation (more than 8,000 feet), the North Rim gets more snow. All park services at the North Rim close October 15 and do not reopen until May 15. Anyone looking to make a Grand Canyon November visit should probably focus on visiting the South Rim.

So now that you know you’ll experience less crowds and mild-to-chilly weather, what’s so special about visiting in November? We’ve put together a list of expert tips for enjoying the Grand Canyon in late fall:

Spend more time at the Overlooks

standing at an overlook of the Grand Canyon November
Lots of space to yourself on a Grand Canyon November visit. Full disclosure: this is NOT at the edge–just a creative photography angle 😉)

In the summer months the overlooks are jam-packed with people, making it difficult to appreciate the majesty of the view in front of you. However, with much fewer people around at the Grand Canyon November it’s easier to get a front-row view of the canyon in all its glory. The view is so massive and so magnificent it’s impossible to absorb it all in a single glance and quick snap of your camera. Stop. Breathe. Look around. This is truly one of the wonders of the world–take the time to savor it.

One the joys of visiting in November is with so few people you can go back to the same spot hours later just to see how the shifting light changes the view. (This is awesome for photography buffs!)

Stay right in the park (or near the entrance)

It’s easier to get a room in (or very near) the park in November

This sounds like a no-brainer, but anyone who’s tried to get a reservation at one of the park lodges (or even within a few miles of the park entrance) during high season knows you have to book waaaaaay ahead of time, making it almost impossible. Not so with a Grand Canyon November stay, when less crowds also translates into more hotel rooms. For our most recent trip we visited the park during Thanksgiving week (although not during Thanksgiving itself).

The historic El Tovar Hotel was full (that hotel always books up way ahead), but we were still able to book a room at the nearby Yavapai Lodge (also in the park) just a few weeks prior to our trip. We were within walking distance of the rim path, which meant we could stroll along and view the canyon by moonlight. It was a magical moment: gazing out at the Grand Canyon as the multi-colored layers of ancient rock were kissed by a glimmer of silvery moonlight with absolutely no one else there to spoil the view . . . and talk about QUIET! I’m convinced you can hear the pine cones grow.

Interior of the El Tovar Hotel is much less crowded in the fall. And doesn’t that fire look cozy?

Even if the park lodges are full, you still have a pretty good chance to score a room at one of the hotels in nearby Tusayan, which is just outside of the park’s South Entrance Station. The park is open 24 hours a day, so you can still make the short drive to the rim for that moonlight stroll.

When staying in or nearby the park, you also have an opportunity to view the canyon at sunrise on your Grand Canyon November visit. If you’re an early riser, that is. [Full disclosure: we opted to sleep in, and have breakfast with a view instead . . .see below]

Have breakfast with a view of the Grand Canyon

Imagine nibbling on this while looking at the Grand Canyon!

You might not be able to get a room at the El Tovar hotel during your Grand Canyon November visit, but the next best thing is to have breakfast there. The classic grand El Tovar Dining Room serves up a morning meal that’s a notch or two above classic breakfast fare, all with a view over the Grand Canyon

On our last visit we enjoyed buttermilk pancakes with Arizona prickly pear syrup and pan-seared rainbow trout with eggs. Sitting in the log-paneled room with a fire crackling by the picture windows with soft music in the background was delightful. It was a cosy and delicious way to watch the morning sun play over the canyon’s walls.

Note: The El Tovar Dining room does not take breakfast reservations, however there are rarely long waits for a table in November.

The view from our breakfast table at the EL Tovar Hotel. Okay, so not everyone was impressed with the view like we were.

See the Grand Canyon with snow

Rare view of architect Mary Colter’s 1932 Desert View Watchtower in the snow

At an elevation of 7,000 feet the Grand Canyon November weather can be surprising, with mild daytime temperatures dipping to below freezing at night. But those chilly temperatures can yield a wonderful surprise: on our first morning we woke up to snow dusting the ground. We were treated to rare vistas of snow in the Grand Canyon and a few people (okay, I was one of them) had fun tossing snowballs into the gaping maw. That is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Even though it snows the roads are clear.

Grand Canyon November: Dress in Layers!

Layered clothing-down jacket over thermal turtleneck

Those wide swings in temperature mean different clothing needs throughout the day. Unless you’re sleeping in a tent, you don’t want your Grand Canyon November trip to involve packing a bulky coat you only wear for an evening stroll.

Our advice: dress in layers. We like base layers in both silk and merino wool. They’re thin and lightweight, yet amazingly warm. You’ll still be warm and cozy, but you’ll have more room in your suitcase for souvenirs. And since there’s a chance you might get snow, it’s a good idea to wear shoes (or boots) that are waterproof or water resistant. (And layer with wool socks to keep your tootsies warm 😊)

Free Admission on Veterans Day

If you’re planning a Grand Canyon November trip, it’s good to remember that admission to the park is free on Veteran’s Day! In addition to the many battlefields and memorials that are national treasures, the National Park Service says, “every national park is part of our collective identity that defines who we are and where we came from as a nation. They are tactile reminders of the values, the ideals, and the freedoms that our veterans protect.” Thus, they honor our veterans and active military by making the park (and all National Parks!) free to EVERYONE on that day. Way cool.

Please note: Free admission is only valid on Veteran’s Day itself. The regular admission to the park ($35 per vehicle) is good for 7 days. If you are planning to spend more than just Veteran’s day at the park, you’ll still need to pay for the additional days. Also, keep in mind that while visitor traffic during most of November is typically low, there may be slightly bigger crowds on free admission days such as Veteran’s Day. (However there will still likely be less people than during the busy summer months.)

Snow on the rim of the Grand Canyon in late November.

There are 6 expert tips for enjoying the Grand Canyon November vacation. The Grand Canyon is so spectacular you’ll want to enjoy every moment there. Hopefully these tips will help you do so.

What are your tips for visiting the Grand Canyon in the late fall? If you’ve got any thoughts, click the “contact us” tab and send us a note–we’d love to hear from you!

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As summer days began to fade I was craving some autumn atmosphere.

Want to find a pumpkin patch in Arizona? We’ll help you out. There’s something just so autumnal about a pumpkin patch. . . the bright orange color, the rustling of leaves and yellowing corn stalks in the neighboring fields beckon on a crisp fall afternoon. You can choose a big ol’ “punkin” or just indulge in little festive fall fun (such as family-friendly games and corn mazes). Whether you’re an Arizona local or visiting on vacation, a stop at an AZ pumpkin patch is sure to brighten your day. It’s as classic a fall event as exploring Apples in Arizona.

PRO TIP: Most pumpkin patches and fall festivals have Covid-19 safety precautions in place. Please check individual sites for more information

Pumpkin Patch in Arizona: Northern Arizona

FLAGSTAFF PUMPKIN PATCH

This Flagstaff pumpkin patch has been serving up autumn fun since 2001. Located at the Viola’s Flower Garden nursery, you’ll have fun picking out pumpkins in this country setting tucked into the pines. Choose from 25 (!) different pumpkin varieties, scattered among hay bales with tons of scarecrows and photo ops.

Photo courtesy Flagstaff Pumpkin Patch

PRO TIP: Continue a few miles south of Flagstaff on 89A to see the foliage at Oak Creek Canyon, one of the fun things to do in Sedona in the Fall.

THE WILLIS FARM (SNOWFLAKE, AZ)

Plenty of fall fun on this farm in northeastern Arizona (not far from Petrified Forest National Park). Pick your pumpkin from a patch out in the field, or select gourds and “Indian” corn. Try your luck navigating the corn maze, or simply take a train ride around the property.

There’s also a game zone for little ones and paint ball & laser tag for older kids.For those who like a scary thrill, Willis Farm hosts “Haunt Nights” every Saturday in October–tickets are timed, be sure to order online ahead of your arrival.

Photo courtesy Willis Farm
  • Location: 381 S. 1st E. Street Snowflake, AZ 85937
  • Dates: September 25 through October 30 (note: Closed on Sundays)
  • Website: Willis Farm & Ranch

Where to find an AZ pumpkin patch near Phoenix

FAIRMONT SCOTTSDALE PRINCESS (SCOTTSDALE, AZ)

Those looking to add a little “glam” to their fall pumpkin experience need look no further than the Pumpkin Fest at this luxury hotel. Fall-themed treats abound for young and old alike, including (sort-of spooky) kiddie rides, toasted marshmallows, skeleton storytellers, and–new for 2021–a Cider Orchard offering both both hard and soft versions of the fall favorite. Visit for just the day, or can cap off the event with specially-priced hotel and spa packages.

JUSTICE BROTHERS U-PICK FARM (WADDELL, AZ)

Head out to the western fringes of Phoenix to farm and orange grove country to find this u-pick pumpkin patch. Pay for your pumpkin, then stop at the free decorating station to jazz it up. There are plenty of photo ops in this Arizona pumpkin patch, and you can even make your own scarecrow!

Photo courtesy Justice Bros.
  • Location: 14629 W. Peoria Avenue, Waddell AZ 85355
  • Dates: October 1 through 31 (note: Open Fri, Sat, Sun, Mon; closed Tue, Wed, Thur)
  • Website: Justice Brothers Ranch & U-Pick

MACDONALD’S RANCH (SCOTTSDALE, AZ)

At MacDonald’s ranch, there are pumpkins, and a whole lot more. Admission to this Arizona pumpkin patch gives you access to a petting zoo, panning for gold, hay bale maze, kids’ pedal car track, lawn games and plenty of photo areas. Purchase pumpkins, and optional pony rides.

Photo courtesy MacDonalds Ranch
  • Location: 26540 North Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85255
  • Dates: October 1 through 31 (note: closed Tuesdays)
  • Website: MacDonald’s Ranch

MORTIMER FARMS (DEWEY, AZ)

There’s something for everyone at the Mortimer Farms Pumpkin Fest and Corn Maze. There are games, hayrides, ziplines and more. Oh yeah, you can pick a pumpkin, too! Add in some farm to table food, and you’ve got a great fall day! NOTE: Purchase tickets in advance online.


MOTHER NATURE’S FARM (GILBERT, AZ)

At this Arizona pumpkin patch you can pick out pumpkins grown right at the farm in any size: from 1 ounce to 500 pounds! For the price of admission you can take a hayride, visit the OZ pumpkin, or do a spider crawl. Unlike many other pumpkin patches, Mother Nature’s Farm lets you bring your own picnic (although they have a concession stand as well).

  • Location: 1663 E. Baseline Road Gilbert, AZ 85233
  • Dates: September 25 – October 31
  • Website: Mother Nature’s Farm

SCHNEPF FARMS (QUEEN CREEK, AZ)

With an event known as a “Pumpkin and Chili Party” you know you’re in for a great time. This fall extravaganza includes kiddie carnival rides, corn mazes, ziplines, a petting zoo and a slew of other games for all ages. In addition to chili, there are food tents offering chicken, burgers, pizza and (because . . . fall) succotash. Reserve tickets online.

Note: Filmed prior to COVID-precautions are now in place

PRO TIP: For a fall getaway break, book a spot at Schnepf Farms’ adjacent glamping resort, The Cozy Peach. Stay in one of 9 fully refurbished vintage trailers!


TOLMACHOFF FARMS (GLENDALE, AZ)

This 4-generation family farm kicks off their “Pumpkin Days and Corn Maze” event on October 1. This AZ pumpkin patch has something for the whole family: Great big pumpkin patch and 3(!) corn mazes: a 6-acre family corn maze, a mini corn maze for little ones & a haunted corn maze (ideal for jaded teenagers 🙄.) Other activities include a petting zoo, train ride, hay pyramid, corn box, adult/child pedal cart track, jumping pillow and much more.

  • Location: 5726 N. 75th Ave. Glendale, AZ 85303
  • Dates: October 1 – 31 (Note: Closed Mon, Tue)
  • Website: Tolmachoff Farms

VERTUCCIO FARMS (MESA, AZ)

Celebrate “Cooler Days in the Corn Maze” at Vertuccio Farms’ Arizona pumpkin patch in Mesa. In addition to the maze there’s a train ride around the farm, a petting zoo and games galore, including a giant tube slide and the ever-popular pumpkin bowling (sign us up!)

Photo courtesy Vertuccio Farms

  • Location: 4011 S. Power Rd., Mesa, AZ 85212
  • Dates: October 1 through 31, 7 days/week
  • Website: Vertuccio Farms

Arizona pumpkin patches in Southern AZ

APPLE ANNIE’S (WILLCOX, AZ)

Grab a wheelbarrow and head out to the field to pick your ideal pumpkin. Or better yet, get a ticket for a hayride out to the pumpkin patch, in a wagon pulled by one of Apple Annie’s tractors. Set aside some time for the corn maze; the average visit is 2 hours! And if you come on a weekend, be sure to walk through the Sunflower Spectacular, with fields of 12 varieties of sunflowers on display-gorgeous! (Spoiler alert: they have apples, too. But you probably already figured that out 🙂 .)


MARANA PUMPKIN PATCH (MARANA, AZ)

With 50 acres of freshly grown pumpkins you’re sure to find the perfect specimen at the Marana Pumpkin Patch and Fall Festival. Admission includes a wagon ride out to the patch (pumpkins priced separately, by the pound), along with access to the corn maze, swings and games, a petting zoo and a ride on the 1/4-scale diesel train (perfect for the train geek in your group! 🚂 )

Photo courtesy Marana Pumpkin Patch
  • Location: 14950 N Trico Rd, Marana, AZ 85653
  • Dates: October 2-31 (closed Mon, Tues, Wed)
  • Website: Marana Pumpkin Patch

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