Arizona, the 48th state of the USA, is home to numerous national parks, fascinating desert landscapes and a unique flora and flora. In the following blog post you can learn more about the „Grand Canyon State“
Arizona is the 48th state of the United States and is located in the southwest of the USA. Travellers can not only get to know landscapes from Western classics such as Monument Valley up close, but also explore the impressive area of the world-famous Grand Canyon. Experience the "Grand Canyon" state with its many national parks, fascinating desert landscapes and unique flora and fauna.
In the southwest of the USA
approx. 295,250 km²
Best travel time
All year round, but preferably in spring and autumn
National parks like Grand Canyon National Park, Petrified Forest National Park and Saguaro National Park as well as the Monument Valley
Location, geography and climate
Arizona is part of the "four-state corner" and borders the states of New Mexico to the east, Utah to the north and Colorado to the northeast. Arizona borders California on the west side, Nevada on the northwest and Mexico on the south. With a total area of more than 295,000 km², Arizona is the sixth largest state in the USA and consists of large parts of Indian reservations. The largest cities are the capital Phoenix, followed by Tucson and Yuma, which are located in the lower Basin and Range region, which is characterized by numerous basins and mountain ranges.
Compared to the Colorado Plateau, this region offers better conditions for settlement due to its good water supply and well-developed industry and agriculture. The landscape is dominated mainly by deserts, basins, elevations and deep gorges and the topography has been shaped by subduction and volcanism. Today's landscape has been particularly influenced by the Colorado River, which has drawn deep valleys and canyons into the sedimentary layers.
The Arizona desert landscape can be divided into a lower province with numerous basins and ridges, the Basin and Range region, and the Colorado Plateau. The state's geological past is characterized by plate tectonics and subduction in conjunction with volcanism and is influenced by various cycles of erosion. In the Colorado Plateau, water has made its way through the relatively flat sedimentary rock layers, most of which are red sandstone, creating deep valleys and gorges.
The Grand Canyon is probably one of the best-known formations in this day and age. The "Copper State" of Arizona also has numerous copper deposits, some of which are mined in open pit mines in the lower Basin and Range region. Arizona is also home to other mineral deposits such as copper-gold associations, zinc sulphide deposits and mineral resources such as coal, uranium and oil.
Arizona’s climate varies widely due to the large area of the state. In general, climate in desert areas in lower elevation is hot and dry with exceptionally hot summers and mild winters. Temperatures may vary in the range of 32 to 49°C in the warmest month from June to September and range from 4 to 24°C during the coldest months from November to February with occasional frost possible. In these lower regions there are two rainy seasons.
During winter and the monsoon season in summer the hot air contains relatively large amounts of water which leads to a high amount of usually brief downpour accompanied by wind, lightning and thunderstorms. In higher altitudes semiarid/arid climate is dominant. Summers are generally mild in this region and winters are cold with temperatures as low as -18°C.
Flora and fauna
As the climate in Arizona is in general quite hot and dry, the biodiversity of flora and fauna is relatively sparse. In the semiarid/arid regions of the state species of cacti are widely common as well as yuccas and the tree prosopis that are able to grow on arid soil and are resistant to drought. Largest mammals in this region like the white-tailed deer, mule deer as well as wapitis belong to the deer family.
Moreover, pronghorns and bighorn sheep are common mammals in different elevations in Arizona. In more remote areas bears as well as other predators like cougars and different mustelidae species like martens and badgers can be found. Besides that, the desert region is home to numerous lizards, spiders and snakes.
Grand Canyon National Park
During your stay in Arizona a visit to the Grand Canyon National Park in central north-west of the state is more than recommended. This region was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site and offers fantastic impressions of the force of the Colorado River that has caved its way through numerous layers of sediment rock. The stunning canyon landscape within a desert region will definitely be a highlight that you will remember for a long time.
Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified Forest National Park in the central east of Arizona on the Colorado River Plateau is also worth a visit. The national park is located in Navajo and Apache counties and was named for its extensive deposits of petrified wood from the late Triassic that are located in a semi-desert shrub steppe and is also known for the colourful and highly eroded sedimentary rock.
Saguaro National Park
Particularly those who would like to get to know Arizona’s special desert landscape with its unique flora and fauna should definitely consider a trip to Saguaro National Park on the southern border to Mexico. The national park that was named after the giant tree-like saguaro cactus that can grow up to 12 m and was designated to protect this species and conserve its habitat. This slow growing cactus that is common in the Sonoran Desert can develop characteristic upwards bending arms as it ages.
The Monument Valley is another highlight in Arizona, especially for fans of western movies that were produced in this area. This region on the Colorado Plateau is characterized by several sandstone buttes of which the highest one is about 300 m high. Buttes are usually formed due to a hard caprock overlaying less resistant layers. The surrounding rock is degraded by erosion and weathering while the formation underneath the harder top layer is spared.