Geography and natural attractions of Arizona

Arizona is a state, as beautiful in its natural resources as it is rich in history. Arizona covers 114,006 square miles, making it the sixth largest state in the country.It’s easy to think of Arizona as one big desert but, in fact, more than half of the state consists of mountain and plateau areas. Arizona also hosts the largest Ponderosa Pine forest in the United States. Arizona can be divided into three major land areas; the Colorado plateau, the Transition Zone and the Basin and Ridge Region.

Among the many breathtaking natural attractions found in Arizona, The Grand Canyon is among the most widely known and visited. The Canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. The Canyon was created by the Colorado River cutting through the rock, inch by inch, over thousands of years .The canyon stretches 217 miles long, is a mile deep, and up to 18 miles wide. It is visited by millions of people each year and is certainly an experience never to be forgotten. You can see the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon as you've never seen them before with Grand Canyon Helicopter Tours from Grand Canyon Hotels and Tours. Or view it from raft, mule, or the Grand Canyon skywalk! See for yourself the effects of water, time, and geology at the Grand Canyon.

The Petrified Forest may not sound very appealing - stone log fragments scattered over a rather remote and otherwise featureless section of the Arizona desert. It may come as a disappointment to some who travel to this forest expecting to see the trees still standing in thick rocky groves instead of lying flat and in sections as they do today. The petrified logs are extremely beautiful and possess unexpectedly vivid colors.

Meteor Crater was not the place to be about 50,000 years ago. This mammoth indentation was formed by a massive iron-nickel meteorite, traveling through space at 40,000 miles per hour, which smashed into the rocky plain in Northern Arizona. Today it’s a fascinating place to visit because you can see just what an explosive force greater than 20 million tons of TNT can do to a landscape. When Europeans first discovered the crater, the plain around it was covered with chunks of meteoritic iron - over 30 tons of it. In fact, chunks of rock and meteor, from the initial explosion, were scattered over an area 8 to 10 miles in diameter around the impact site. The crater is 550 feet deep, 2.4 miles in circumference, and, incredibly, twenty football games could be played at the same time on its floor. And it would be quite the "Super" bowl, because more than two million spectators could watch the games from the rim of the crater. Though you can't climb down into it, it's still a marvel to behold.

The vast region of Arizona and Utah north of the Grand Canyon is largely uninhabited wilderness, a rugged and parched landscape of desert and mountains where thunderstorms bring deluges of rain that tear the land apart leaving great gullies and cliffs for those who venture to enjoy in solitude. Within this wilderness are many places of awesome grandeur and beauty. One of the most remarkable is a fossilized sand dune formation known as "The Wave". This psychedelic contortion of sandstone lies on the slopes of the Coyote Buttes in the Paria Canyon.

Monument Valley is situated partly in Arizona, partly in Utah and considered one of the natural wonders of the world because of the beauty of the enormous free standing monuments of stone that rise majestically from the desert floor. These pillars have evolved from wind and rain chipping away at the land over millions of years. This eroding of the plateau has provided a vast landscape of breathtaking photo opportunities. The beauty of Monument Valley has been recognized by the Navajo people and their predecessors for hundreds of years. The area is home to many Navajo holy sites where spiritual rituals are still performed today.