Arizona is known for its Saguaro cactus, its dry climate, and boundless deserts. However, Arizona is so much more than that. Being the 6th largest state in land mass, there is a plethora of nature to be seen. While Arizona does have many deserts, the state also has miles of pine forests, the deepest canyons imaginable, and hidden waterfalls. Actually, there are plenty of hidden gems to visit in Arizona.
The Grand Canyon State is filled with beauty. Tourists travel from all over the world to get a look at the North and South rim of the Canyon. The red rocks of Sedona, Snow Bowl in Flagstaff, and Phoenix street art are often appreciated by tourists and locals alike. These places are so well known that you may run into crowds while simply trying to enjoy all the spectacular views.
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During my first year in Arizona, I visited many wondrous places. Some I had privacy, and others I had to navigate through the crowd to get the views I wanted. While you should still visit the popular tourist locations mentioned above, if you’re avoiding lines and crowds then you came to the right place. Take a look at the list we’ve created guiding you to the less busy but still beautiful hidden gems in Arizona.
1. Sycamore Falls, Sycamore Canyon
Located West of Sedona, Sycamore Canyon is a protected canyon along Sycamore Creek. The canyon has plenty of hiking trails to choose from. Located in Red Rock Country, you have views of red rocks minus the crowds often associated with Sedona.
Visit the beautiful falls in the spring or winter, either way you will get beautiful and secluded views. You’ll need to commit to a decent hike in order to get the unobstructed views of the falls, but the trek is well worth this Instagram dream location.
2. Secret Canyon, Page
Most Arizona natives have heard of Antelope Canyon. While beautiful and wondrous to see, to avoid the crowds I suggest a much less busy canyon. Secret Canyon is a sandstone slot canyon located in the Water Holes Canyon near Payson and is one of the many hidden gems in Arizona.
To see Secret Canyon, you must go through Horseshoe Bend Tours. This will give you access and a private tour, and while you’re at it visit Horseshoe Bend. In groups no larger than 25 people, enjoy the views of the bend from a Private Navajo viewpoint.
3. Canyon De Chelly, Chinle
Rounding out the last of our canyon locations is Canyon De Chelly. Located in Northern Arizona in Apache country, this beautiful location is full of things for history and nature lovers alike. Visit Spider Rock and Mummy cave for unique experiences. The canyon has been inhabited by Native American Tribes for years, making the area rich with prehistoric rock art.
4. Havasupai Falls, Havasupai Indian Reservation
Home to the native Havasupai people, this reservation is in the extensive Grand Canyon National Park. It’s an extremely remote reservation, making it difficult to get to unless well planned. Reservations are needed, and it’s a 10-mile hike to the falls from the top of the canyon. Reservations won’t open again until February of 2022, in order to protect the native people from the spread of virus.
5. Sunset Crater National Monument
Located North of Flagstaff, this dormant volcano is one of many in the San Francisco Mountain range. This volcano is extinct so don’t let fear stop you from exploring it. Many hiking trails and beautiful mountain views make this place a beautiful trip. There are plenty of locals that have never even heard of this monument, making it an ideal place to visit when avoiding large crowds.
6. Caverns Grotto, Peach Springs
Veering off the beaten path, we have Caverns Grotto. If you’re looking to visit the Grand Canyon but wanting to get a little more out of the trip than the ordinary, this is your place. Located 200 ft underground in a 65+ million-year-old cave, this is a unique experience. Enjoy cavern tours, restaurants, and even a Cavern Inn where you can stay overnight.
7. Woods Canyon Lake, Payson
If you enjoy fishing, hiking, and camping visit Woods Canyon Lake. Located about 30 miles East of Payson. Much less busy than lakes in Prescott, this lake is perfect for catching trout. Near the campground is Rim Lakes Vista Trail which leads to amazing views of the Mogollon Rim.
8. White Mountains, Fort Apache Reservation
This Mountain region is located in the East near the New Mexico border. It offers picturesque views of Mount Baldy, numerous lakes and creeks, and canyons. It can get hot in the desert, to get a break from the Phoenix heat appreciate this far east paradise in the Summer months. Visit Alpine, Springerville, or Greer to enjoy the small towns of the White Mountains.
9. Goldfield Ghost Town, Apache Junction
Not too far from Phoenix is Apache Junction. This location is great if you want to go to the Superstition Mountains. There are lakes and many hikes to be enjoyed. Right outside of it all is Goldfield Ghost Town, where you can enjoy gorgeous views of the mountains. Make sure to stop in the old Saloon and grab a cold drink. Visit the Mammoth Gold Mine and Goldfield Museum. This hidden gem will make adults and children equally thrilled.
10. Watson Lake, Prescott
Prescott is about two hours North of Phoenix. It’s known for its forests and lakes, a great place to cool down in the summer heat. The most unique lake in Prescott is Watson Lake. The views are unlike the views you get from other bodies of water in the state. Bold rocks are the backdrop and still waters create a beautiful mirroring effect. You can kayak, canoe, hike, or enjoy the picturesque views from climbing up the granite cliffs.