If your idea of Arizona is long, dusty highways and endless stretches of desert, think again. Visit Southern Arizona, and discover what this majestic region has to offer.
In this article:
- Visit Southern Arizona for a Quirky Adventure
- Experience the Desert Sky
- Visit Southern Arizona for the Flora
- Hike Through the Wild Landscape
- Southern Arizona | Essential Attractions to Visit
Visit Southern Arizona for an Escape From the Ordinary
Visit Southern Arizona for a Quirky Adventure
When it comes to small mining towns, most tourists visit Tombstone. And it’s not surprising. Tombstone is famous for the O.K Corral shootout, and it’s where cowboy fantasies are born.
But for the more adventurous traveler, Bisbee is the town to experience.
Bisbee is an eccentric old mine town that lies in the southeastern corner of Arizona. And while it’s not a well-known destination, it’s one you’ll never forget.
Exploring downtown Bisbee is one of the best things to do. You’ll find lots of art galleries and shops, but you’ll find the best art in the streets and buildings.
While you’re in town, don’t miss Erie Street.
A massive open-pit mine swallowed Lowell, an adjacent town, in the 1950s. Erie Street is a one-block slice of Lowell that still stands.
It looks somewhat post-apocalyptic with the 1950s storefronts and vintage cars. Creepiness aside, a photograph of a street frozen in time is a sure way to step up your Insta game.
If you’re looking for a bit more excitement, hop onboard a minecart and explore the old Queen Mine. The hour-long tour takes you along a network of mining tunnels, 1,500 feet below the surface.
After a long day wandering the streets, stay in one of Bisbee’s historic hotels. If the rumors are true, you might even get to see a ghost.
Experience the Desert Sky
Not all sunsets are created equal. Desert sunsets are by far the most spectacular you’ll ever see.
Pollution in cities clutters the sky with little particles. In other words, you see the sunset through a layer of particles, which makes it less spectacular.
Water vapor in the air also softens colors and sunsets tend to be pastel hues.
The dry, clean Arizona sky, on the other hand, creates colorful, vivid landscapes.
At night, the black velvet sky makes the stars seem close enough to touch. Southern Arizona, in particular, is a stargazer paradise.
Oracle park near Tucson is one of the places to stargaze and look for the Milkyway. It’s a certified dark park, making it some of the darkest skies around.
Visit Southern Arizona for the Flora
Many people imagine a desert as miles of dunes, rocks, and blistering heat, but Southern Arizona isn’t like that. The areas surrounding Tucson have an unusually wide variety of plants, especially wildflowers.
You find flowers scattered year-round, but the best time to see them is from March until early May. Autumn flowers bloom from October until the hard frosts of late November.
Wildflowers are not the only plants to admire. Southern Arizona is home to a vast selection of cacti.
When you picture a cactus, you probably imagine a saguaro sentinel. After all, they are the true icon of the Arizona desert. A saguaro can grow up to 50 feet high, and it takes 50 years before they develop their characteristic arms.
Other desert plants include aloe, prickly pear, agave, and yucca.
Hike Through the Wild Landscape
Southern Arizona has a few hidden gems. Additionally, the ever-changing landscape makes it the ideal hiking destination.
With more than 1000 miles of hiking trails, you’re spoiled for choice.
Chiricahua National Monument has plenty of scenic trails, which, at times, leaves you awestruck. The park contains countless volcanic pinnacles and rock formations that seem to defy physics.
Best of all, not many people visit the park because it’s too far away from any major city for most. So, if you want to escape from civilization for a while, this is the park for you.
In many ways, Arizona is still like the Wild West, and even seasoned hikers can get lost in the vast expanse. It’s vital to plan well, and if you’re a novice hiker, consider hiking with a guide.
Southern Arizona’s Famous Attractions
Arizona has a rich history. And lots have changed from the goldrush to now. A day trip to this region won’t be enough time to see all the sights, but here are some attractions you don’t want to miss.
Southern Arizona Ghost Towns: Explore some of the abandoned mining towns from a forgotten era.
Biosphere 2: In the 1990s, this controversial science project made headlines for all the wrong reasons, but today the facility is worth a visit.
The White Dove of the Desert: Mission San Xavier del Bac, the best-preserved Spanish mission, brings an otherworldly glow to the surrounding desert landscape.
Airplane Boneyard: Tucson’s Air Force base is the final resting place for thousands of old aircraft.
The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures: More than 500 antique and contemporary dollhouses highlight different times, places, and events throughout history.
Colossal Caves: The dark network of caverns formed millions of years ago.
Tucson Scavenger Hunt: Turn the city into a game board and explore the cathedrals, historic hotels, and parks in an Amazing Race-style walking tour.
Southern Arizona is one of the most picturesque regions in the world. Whether you’re just passing through or having a specific attraction in mind, spend some time exploring the desert and discovering Southern Arizona wonders.
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