From ancient Sinagua monuments to dramatic caverns, Arizona's plethora of natural wonders will surely wow your family :
Tour the spectacular Kartchner Caverns, which are hung with chandelier-like stalactites and fluttering with bats. Tours take you deep into the cave system through caverns boasting the state's largest column formation, 45,000-year-old bat guano, and the impressive Rotunda and Throne formations. Learn about the latest scientific discoveries as well as the history of the caves.
Prescott's most exciting attraction is the Montezuma Castle National Monument, among the best preserved set of cliff dwellings on the continent. Close by, Montezuma Well collects a million gallons of water each day. Meanwhile, wildflowers grace the fertile slopes of the Sunset Crater Volcano.
The Apache Pass and Butterfield Mail Route are a fascinating insight into Arizonian history. Gold seekers in 1849 sought a faster route through Apache Pass and forged this trail, which was subsequently used by the San Antonio-San Diego Mail Line, a service described as "running from nowhere, through nothing, to no place." In fact, this historic trail takes in something – the dramatic Chiricahua Mountains.
Arizona is home to some of the most thrilling hiking trails in the world, such as the Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon and the Scenic Arizona Trail, which winds down to Kartchner Caverns. Here are more highlights:
Strike gold when you venture like Don Francisco Vázquez de Coronado from Mexico to Arizona. He arrived in 1540 in search of the mythical Seven Cities of Gold. Walk in his footsteps as you trace the Zuni-Hopi Trail on the Arizona-Mexico border. Though expeditions found no gold but copper in these stately hills, rich mines litter the area.
The most winding pack mule trail in America, this path was well used during the Mexican period. Hike between the dramatic Navajo Canyon and the Crossing of the Fathers along one of the most meandering and historic routes in the state. For 200 years, this was a vital route linking Santa Fe with Mexico City. Its surreally beautiful rivers and streams join its National Historic Trail status to make it a worthy contender for the most exciting hiking trail in Arizona.
Strung between Arizona and California, the Gila Route was used for centuries by Native Americans, then by European settlers. It is home to Independence Rock, which is tattooed with historic engravings. In 1877, the Southern Pacific Railroad was laid through some of this corridor, enabling accelerated journeys between the two states. Today, you'll want to take your time and pause to drink in the grandeur of its flower-decked passes and vistas over the Gila River.
Arizona is synonymous with the cowboy lifestyle, which you can come and live for yourself in these havens:
Alamo Lake is one of the best bass fishing spots in the state. A gin-clear lake is hugged by mountains dusted with wildflowers and cacti, making this an aesthetic as well as a sporting day out. You might spot a soaring bald eagle as you escape into the Bill Williams River Valley, where coyotes, mule deer, and burros play. The nearest city lights are 40 miles away, so the carpet of stars come nightfall is breathtaking.
A 43-acre apple farm in Oak Creek Canyon is one of the state's finest examples of early agriculture. The picturesque creek makes an ideal spot to take part in rafting and swimming during the summer, while the historic farm also runs tours – you can satiate your taste for sports and your curiosity simultaneously on days out at Slide Rock.
Sedona is famous for its fiery red rocks, which necessitate a visit if you're anywhere nearby. Extensive trails wind through the 286-acre nature preserve, passing juniper and manzanita on the way to Oak Creek. Equestrians should follow the Turkey Creek Trail, while cyclists can take the six-mile Cathedral Bike Loop or the Lime Kiln Trail. Not far from Red Rock, the Coconino National Forest sprawls for hundreds of acres, comprising varied terrain of Ponderosa pine forests, mountains, and canyons, all ribboned with mountain streams.