Top 11 Hidden Gems We Bet You Didn’t Know About in Arizona.
Arizona is just packed full of popular, fantastic things to see. Of course The Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon and the Wave. Not to mention Horseshoe Bend, Havasupai Falls and The Petrified Forest National Park. If you’ve never been to these places, don’t miss them! But we’d like to share some unique and different places you might not have heard of.
The Mystery Castle – what a crazy, sad, unique and finally happy ending story. I’m not going to spoil it, but we did make a video that touched on the story a little bit. We loved this tour, and the eclectic mind of the man who built it for his daughter. Not only is it really odd and interesting but the story behind it is fascinating. We were lucky enough to have Juankarlo Gastelum as a tour guide. His father was a grounds keeper for over 40 years and he basically grew up in and around the castle. It was really fun listening to his personal stories. If you have kids, bring them! They will love this quirky place! Check out our short video below.
Hole-in-the-Rock is a natural geological formation in Papago Park, a municipal park of Phoenix and Tempe, Arizona.This is a fun, short day trip. We took a lunch and enjoyed a small hike to the top. Then we hiked a little more to do some geocaching. If you don’t know what Geocaching is, check out our blog here. The views from The Hole are beautiful!
Kartchner Caverns (State Park)- Benson – After their discovery in 1974, these limestone caverns were kept secret for more than a decade as a way to preserve their untrammeled beauty. Seeking undiscovered caves in the mid-70s, Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts discovered evidence of a secret cave: the two felt warm air emanating from a crack at the bottom of a sinkhole they found in the Whetstone Mountains of southern Arizona. The men slipped through the crack and discovered a network of pristine caverns with spectacular rock formations, including massive stalagmites and stalactites. They would return on several occasions over four years, discovering 2.5 miles of passageways and chambers, all the while keeping their find secret. I don’t know about you, but this is the kind of stuff I think is fascinating. Can you imagine finding something like this and having it all to yourself for years?
Driving near Pine, AZ? Tonto Natural Bridge is the largest natural travertine bridge in the world is nestled in a small canyon in central Arizona. This 183-foot high bridge is beautiful from every angle. The three hiking trails in the area bring you all the way down to the 400-foot long tunnel. If you are not afraid of slipping on some algae, you can make your way through the tunnel to one of the other trails. Tonto Natural Bridge will not disappoint any visitor. There are viewing points from above so those who are not in the hiking mood can still enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Lake Havasu’s London Bridge – The old London Bridge was carefully dismantled, and each of the stones was numbered. Once it was broken down to its pieces, they were shipped to California through the Panama Canal, and then driven down to Arizona. The bridge was then just as carefully put back together again, and Arizona’s own London Bridge was opened in 1971. Near the bridge is a little walkway. Past some little shops, ice cream store, and few others. We found walking down the path pretty far was actually more thrilling to us than the bridge itself. Of course we stopped for ice cream, so maybe that was more of our thrill. Ha!
The Desert Bar – Parker – So we don’t really hang out in bars much, but this is more than a bar. The road to get there is an experience in itself. You just have to visit this really neat, unique, and totally run on solar power bar in the middle of the desert. It’s only open on weekends. Most people drive off road vehicles to get there, which is half the fun, but you can certainly take your regular vehicle. We drove our dually. It’s just one of those interesting and unique places, and I have to say, though on the expensive side (because they can … there is nowhere else to go Ha) the food is actually really good. Humor yourself and get the gigantic pretzel. But make sure you have someone (or 5 someone’s) to share it with. Read the story of how this was created by the owner, and why he decided to go forward with it. Super fun place!!
Everyone who loves The Eagles, needs to go stand on the corner in Winslow Arizona. Just sayin’! (Now you can thank me! The song will be stuck in your head for hours. In my case, days! Ha Ha!)
Slide Rock State Park, Sedona – Located in Oak Creek Canyon just seven miles north of Sedona. Slide Rock State Park is home to a smooth, natural water slide. It offers a fantastic place for cooling off on a hot summer day. Visitors can slide down the slick water chute, wade in the cool waters or soak up the sunshine along the creek.
Grand Falls – Located on the Navajo Nation, this seasonal waterfall flows a rich chocolate color after the annual snowmelt or following any significant amount of rain! Most of the time this is a dry river bed. So if you’re wanting to see the flowing water, make sure you are close by and schedule your time to go right after a monsoon. If you can get to this in March or April that is the best time to see it. The snow melt will give you more opportunities to see it. There is also a short period in the summer that you can see the falls due to monsoon season but the window is short and is highly dependent on the weather patterns on that year. FYI, this is on Navajo land, and you need to obtain a permit to be on it.
The town of Oatman, AZ. OH what fun!! This is a quirky, fun place. Unique shops, and wild donkeys roaming the town. I mean ruling the town. While we were there they would often try to get into the shops because some of the shop owners have favorites they feed on a regular basis, and the donkeys know this. Also, the gunfighters wild west show happens every day in the middle of town at noon. The street is blocked, and it’s about a 15 minute, very humorous thing to see. The area real close to the town of Oatman to boondock is stunning as well (will list the coordinates below in the boondocking section)
Don’t miss Sitgreaves Pass near Oatman. The views are amazing.
Hiking: You just have to check out the Arizona Hot Springs! The hike is 7 miles round trip, and pretty much kicked my butt with the rock scrambles. I am thankful for friends who didn’t mind pushing my butt up (literally) when I needed a little help on the rock scrambles. But we did it, and it was so worth it! After we completed the hike, we ran into some other friends a few months later who told us we could have kayaked right up to the short trail to the hot springs. Well … that would have been nice. But I wouldn’t trade that day for anything. We saw some beautiful sites, and spent some amazing time with some friends.
Another amazing find is Lake Powell. We haven’t made it there yet, but it’s on our list for next time!
There is no lack of boondocking in Arizona. Here are our top picks in Arizona. What are your favorites?
SEE PICTURES FOR GPS COORDINATES
- Sedona AZ – Forest Road 525.
- Oatman, AZ – Topic Dispersed. We loved this place. Beautiful area.
- Table Mesa Rd Boondocking near New River, AZ.
Thank you so much if you’ve gotten this far. Normally my blogs aren’t quite so long, or so graphic heavy. We did so much in Arizona. Even more than on this blog. Arizona is another one of those states we could really spend a good amount of time in. Only problem we see is that summer’s are too hot. So we’ll just jam pack stuff during the “Winter” there and keep going back. Remember to Live Simply, Give More and Expect Less. If you have some great off the beaten path places, we’d love you to share below in the comments.