Grand CanyonNational Park ServiceArizona. Rugged. Breathtakingly beautiful. A palette of colour. Nowhere else in America are so many different landscapes – desert, pine forests, snow-capped peaks, deep canyons, red mesas – found within the borders of one state. If there is a distinct Arizona style uniting all of these various different landscapes, it has something to do with superlatives. Visitors often come away at a loss for words.

Grand Canyon Country
The majestic Grand Canyon – one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World – draws millions of visitors to the state each year. Nothing really prepares a new visitor for their first look into this mighty gash in the Earth’s surface. Ponder the numbers: a 446-kilometre long gorge that plunges to a mile in depth; its rock walls are 1.7 billion years old. Daybreak and twilight are the best times to peer into the gorge – the rocks take on ever-shifting colours with the changing light.

Grand Canyon country calls to those that love the outdoors. There are countless adventures (for all skill levels) on biking and hiking trails. The National Park Service offers wonderful interpretive programs to explain the geology, history and wildlife of the area. And, of course, there’s the raft trip of a lifetime – the iconic journey along the Colorado River, following in the footsteps of Major John Wesley Powell, leader of the 1869 expedition that charted the Colorado through the Grand Canyon.

DancersGreater Phoenix CVBSouthern Arizona
The Sonoran Desert cutting along the southern part of the state is the arid landscape dotted with the giant saguaro cacti for which Arizona is so noted. There is beauty in the stillness of the desert landscape. Far from barren, the Sonoran is teeming with flora and fauna – a spectacular introduction to this part of the world is through the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

Tucson is a city touched by the culture of the Tohono O’odham Indians and the history of its days as a Spanish colonial outpost. The city’s vibrant intersection of cultures appears in its food, music, language and heritage. Tucson is known for its upscale resorts, artists’ communities and adobe architecture.

In the southeast, the Chiricahua Mountains are a fortress of eroded peaks, crags, spires, canyons and cliffs that were once a stronghold of the Apache. Not far away are the old mining towns of Bisbee, Willcox and Douglas, that have found new life as artists’ enclaves and resort stays. At one time, this was the land of the Wild West – towns like Tombstone keep this heritage alive.

Lake HavasuAOTArizona’s West Coast
The mighty Colorado River forged and defines the state’s long water boundary with neighbouring Nevada and California. The reliable source of water has spun a long, green ribbon of cottonwood-willow forests, cattails and wetlands along the “West Coast.” Hiking trails through state parks and along the shoreline of Lake Havasu are wonderful ways to get in touch with nature.

Another famous “ribbon” that crosses the West Coast is the old Route 66, “The Mother Road” that once carried Dust Bowl refugees westward past open desert and through small towns in search of a better life. Route 66 was etched into time by Nat King Cole’s famous hit tune and by John Steinbeck’s novel, The Grapes of Wrath.

The mighty Colorado widens into Lake Havasu, a popular spot for water sports of all kinds, fishing and – in Lake Havasu City – gambling at the many casino-resorts. As unlikely as it seems, Lake Havasu is home to the original 1824 London Bridge – a local business tycoon bought all 10,276 stones of the English landmark, transported them overseas and had it reassembled at the 44-hectare London Bridge Resort. Hotels, marinas and shopping have all sprung up alongside the relocated landmark.

In the southwest part of the state, the community of Yuma lays claim to being the sunniest spot on Earth. Once a crossing point for gold rush hopefuls, today Yuma’s historic district is lined with quirky shops and interesting cafés.

Northern Arizona
The Four Corners region of Northern Arizona has been described as mystical, sacred and spiritual. To the Navajo and Hopi people who make this area their home, the Four Corners (where Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah intersect) is all of these things.

It’s a region of canyons, curvaceous slot canyons, a high desert landscape speckled with red sandstone mesas and buttes, national monuments and protected sites, tiny communities that are specks on the map, the country’s largest tribal lands (the Navajo) and the country’s oldest (the Hopi mesa villages). This part of the state is often overlooked – one glance at a map and it seems that the distances are too far and the communities too few. But there is richness and spirituality in the land and the local culture that is found nowhere else in the state.

Northern Arizona is home to Monument Valley (instantly recognizable from countless westerns), the spiritual Canyon de Chelly where Navajo families still farm on the canyon floor, the Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site with its display of world-class woven rugs, the Anasazi ruins at Navajo National Monument, the forbidding Painted Desert…all set against an almost otherworldly backdrop rich in reds, orange, purple and browns.

Valley Of The SunGreater Phoenix CVBValley of the Sun
The metropolitan area surrounding Phoenix is known collectively as the Valley of the Sun (including the communities of Tempe, Mesa and Scottsdale). Phoenix is a hub – for the arts, world-class museums, national sports teams and events, five-star resorts and retreats, and dining par excellence. The valley caught the attention of Frank Lloyd Wright, America’s most esteemed architect, who built his winter home there. It’s also home to the Heard Museum, with the country’s greatest archive of Native American artifacts. And shopping is not just a pastime in the valley – it’s almost an obsession fed by lifestyle malls, small boutiques and quirky shops to find that one-of-a-kind item.

Happy Birthday Arizona
In the year 2012, Arizona marks one century of history as a state. Celebratory festivals, special events and centennial projects will mark the 100th year of statehood.

Slated to open in 2012, the new Arizona Experience Museum will be a highly interactive, technology-driven museum showcasing Arizona’s past, present and future. A blend of galleries and exhibits will tell the story of the rich culture, diverse heritage and early entrepreneurship that built the state.