7 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting Arizona

Visiting Arizona

Many people imagine that Arizona is this endless stretch of desert where it’s always boiling hot yet full of cute little critters that will pose for a photo during your hikes. If you live with this version of Arizona in your mind, you’ll be surprised to see how diverse, dramatic and often even dangerous this state can be for unprepared travelers. However, if you learn a few things about Arizona before your visit, you’ll fall in love with The Grand Canyon State and immediately start planning your next AZ adventure. Here’s what you need to know: 

It’s not always sunny in Arizona

This might seem like an overly generic tip and of course, you’re going to pack a variety of things, but when traveling in Arizona, you’ll get to wear all of your clothing pieces. Any kind of weather is possible in this surprising state. You might expect to need a light jacket only in winter yet get greeted with 10 inches of snow. While it’s not always scorching hot in Arizona, this state is definitely not a stranger to extreme weather. Summer temperatures get extremely hot with an occasional dust storm, while in the fall, you can expect monsoon weather. Pack well and versatile, and before you embark on any hike or road trip, check the weather five times. 

There’s more to it than just desert

You might be picturing a classic desert scene with red soil, canyons and cacti all the way through Arizona, but the northern part is actually very green and full of forests and mountains. When traveling in this state, make sure to study the map well. For instance, when going north from Phoenix to Prescott or Sedona, expect higher elevations and lower temperatures. 

It’s a perfect place for a road trip

As we established, Arizona is so much more than just desert—it has lush wooded areas and dramatic mountains, as well as cacti-covered areas and even waterfalls. And all that is best discovered by car thanks to Arizona’s vast roads that go on seemingly forever. There are many amazing road trip ideas in this state, some of them being The Grand Canyon route, Sedona trip, Monument Valley and Lake Powel. If you find a reliable car rental Scottsdale AZ just outside Phoenix, you can drive to see Saguaro National Park, explore Arizona’s Rim Country, enjoy a history lesson in Prescott and Jerome or hit Mount Lemmon. With a good car, you’ll access all of these locations in only a few hours, and if you’re willing to go further, there are hundreds more road trip ideas in Arizona.  

road trip arizona

Be careful of wildfires

Arizona mostly attracts visitors who are looking for amazing outdoor activities like hiking, mountain climbing, fishing and camping. If your hikes or camping trips involve handling open flame, make sure to pay attention to fire risks in certain areas. Areas marked with a red flag mean that even a small fire can cause immense damage if it manages to spread. Take time to properly secure the fire pit, dispose of matches, store lighters and put out the fire when leaving. 

Stay hydrated

When you come to Arizona, always bring a reusable bottle of water and refill it throughout the day. This is especially important during the summer when temperatures are brutal and the sun is relentless. It’s very easy to get dehydrated in extreme heat and suffer serious health consequences. While there are stores where you can buy water in towns and cities, when you’re hiking, you won’t be able to simply whip out your card and buy refreshments. Plus, bringing a reusable bottle and some nutritious snacks for the trip is much eco-friendlier than single-use plastic. 

Respect tribal communities

The whole situation with COVID-19 forced remote tribes to be careful of contact with foreigners. For instance, Navajo Nation chose to close its borders completely to outsiders. Before you decide to visit any of the tribal lands and national parks, make sure to check whether they are open for visitors. If yes, make sure to be respectful of the people, their land, their culture and religion. If you want to take photos, make sure to ask. And when observing sacred spaces, be respectful.

Look up during the night

Arizona is a Dark Sky State, meaning that there are strict regulations about light pollution by street lamps and other lighting fixtures. Thanks to these laws, the sky over Arizona is speckled with bright stars and easily observable planets and constellations. If you get the chance, visit any observatory on your way or download a start app that tells you what you’re looking at. This is a great experience for everyone from big and bright cities. 

With this knowledge up your sleeve, you’ll know how to get the best out of your Arizona trip. You’ll definitely come back to this state to discover every little nook and cranny of the land. 


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