One of the best things about the Western half of the United States is that you can find some of the most untapped, well-preserved nature in the world. If you love seeing wildlife in bright sunlight, you’ll love Arizona. Over 32.1 million people visit this beautiful state every year, and we still call it underrated!
If you’re thinking about visiting or moving to Arizona, or if you just like to learn about new places, then we have you covered. Here are some interesting facts about Arizona to share with your friends and family.
Fun Facts About Arizona
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Known as both the Grand Canyon State and the Copper State, Arizona is one of those states that you will find yourself visiting again and again. Bordering Colorado, Nevada, California, New Mexico, and Utah, it is definitely a staple on a southwest road trip. One of the things we love about Arizona is its incredible mix of natural beauty, historic significance, and Native American culture. Whether you decide to visit to witness the red rocks of Sedona or the fun city of Phoenix, the fun Arizona facts will give you a little more insight into this great American state.
Recommended Activities in Arizona
1. Arizona was Not a State Until 1912
If you’re from the US or Mexico, you probably already know a little about Arizona’s origins. Like many states in the Western half of the contiguous United States, Arizona was originally part of Mexico until the US seized around half of Mexico’s land after the Mexican-American War.
While the land was ceded in 1848, Arizona didn’t become a state until 1912, making it the 48th state in the Union. Before Mexican ownership, it was owned by Spain. Of course, this is primarily the reason for many of the names of towns, cities, memorials, and other landmarks within the state.
At the time, the land was sparsely populated but has grown to become the fourteenth largest state in the US by population, with a current population of over 7.28 million people, nearly half of a million more than Massachusetts, one of the first densely-populated colonies on the continent.
2. The Arizona Capital Is Bigger Than You Think
Unlike most state capitals, Phoenix is the largest and most well-known in the state. This is only the case in Boston, Denver, Providence, and a few others throughout the 50 states.
However, Phoenix is the most populous state capital in the United States, with the second place being Austin, Texas. Phoenix has a population of 1.76 million people, making it the fifth-largest city in the United States after Houston, TX.
Believe it or not, the metro area is significantly larger. While the city holds more people than Vermont and Wyoming combined, the metro area has around 4.95 million people. This means that most people who live in Arizona live around the capital city.
3. It Snows in Arizona
We won’t tell you that Arizona’s a snowy state or to pack your skis and snow gear if you visit in the winter—because it certainly isn’t. However, snowfall does happen in significant parts of Arizona each year, especially during the cold desert nights.
On average, the state gets just under five inches of snow each year, and even more in some of the northern highland areas. It isn’t a lot, but it’s worth mentioning, considering most would assume Arizona residents never get to see snow.
4. In Arizona Water Is a Problem
Don’t misunderstand us here; the water in Arizona is perfectly safe to drink throughout the state. We’re talking specifically about access to water, which is a growing concern.
Arizona is short on trees, yet you can still go to Home Depot and buy lumber for the same price as you would pay in the Pacific Northwest. However, water is a different matter, as it is more difficult to transport.
A whopping 36% of Arizona’s water supplies come from the Colorado River—a significant tributary experiencing unprecedented shortages, likely due to climate change. If these projected trends continue, Arizona could face a severe water shortage in the coming years or decades.
5. Phoenix Is the Hottest City in the US
Between June and September, the average high temperature in Phoenix is over 100F (37.7C). Sure, there is low humidity, but there is little escape from the heat in many parts of the city, making it the hottest city in the US.
For comparison, the average high temperature in Miami in August (its hottest month) is 88F (31.1C). However, the city has a unique plan to address this concern, and it’s working wonders! The plan is simple; plant more trees.
While it may sound silly, planting trees provides shade and offers a cooling effect for a lot less money than any modern technology could do.
6. Arizona Doesn’t Follow Daylight Savings Time
If you’ve kept up with the recent bill to make Daylight Savings Time permanent, you may be surprised to know that Arizona is way ahead of the country on this matter. Most people don’t understand this weird tradition of changing the clocks a couple of times a year, and most believe it’s to help the farmers.
Arizona has known for a long time that isn’t the case, and they haven’t practiced the tradition since 1968. If you can’t stand losing that hour of sleep every year, consider moving to Arizona. There is one exception, which is the Navajo Nation in the North-East corner of Arizona.
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7. Arizona Mountains Are Awe Inspiring
Hikers rejoice! Most people associate Arizona with the desert, which is fair, but it doesn’t cover the entire state. The Rocky Mountains go directly through Arizona, and there are some beautiful peaks throughout the state.
Humphrey’s Peak is the tallest mountain in the state, standing at 12,637 feet, and there are green-covered mountains throughout the state. These include Roof Butte, Escudilla Mountain, Miller Peak, and more.
When we say throughout the state, we mean it. Spanning from the Northwest to the Southeast of Arizona, you’ll find scenic mountain views near every major highway. The state is better known for that iconic visit to the Grand Canyon, but the beautiful landscapes also go for miles in the other direction!
If you’re looking to travel outside of the cities, there are plenty of hikes for every skill level worth checking out while you’re in the state. You’ll be within driving distance of at least one wherever you’re staying.
Also, there’s the Arizona Trail, a hiking trail running for over 800 miles through the state. This is an excellent alternative if you’re into backpacking, but the Pacific Crest/Appalachian Trail is the real highlight. It’s also a popular destination for cross-country skiing during the winter.
8. Speaking of the Grand Canyon…
The Grand Canyon is the fourth most visited National Park in the US, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. Every year, an estimated 5.9 million people visit Grand Canyon National Park to see some of the best that Mother Nature has to offer.
However, there is so much more to Arizona than the Grand Canyon when it comes to natural beauty. The state has over 35 national parks and natural areas home to diverse natural beauty. The Grand Canyon is only one of three Arizona national parks—along with the Petrified Forest National Park and Saguaro National Park.
While these don’t get as much credit as the Grand Canyon, they are still full of stunning sights and worth taking the time to visit. Also, less credit means less foot traffic, perfect for those seeking an uninterrupted experience of nature’s beauty.
9. Music Is Big Business in Arizona
If you’re a music lover and you’re visiting one of the major cities in Arizona, you won’t be disappointed. There’s a world-renowned symphony house to visit in Phoenix and hundreds of local venues.
Also, if you play an instrument, feel free to check out the Phoenix musical instrument museum. You’ll be able to see the history of all different types of musical instruments from different cultures worldwide. It’s a truly unique experience.
10. Speaking of Museums…
The Phoenix Art Museum is undoubtedly the best in the state and arguably in the region. Of course, not everybody will be traveling to Phoenix, but this is a great destination to add to your itinerary if you are an art lover.
You can also head to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Prima Air & Space Museum, and the Tucson Museum of Art located in Tucson if you won’t be visiting the capital.
11. Arizona has Plenty of Lodging Options
One of the great things about Arizona is that it still has that Old Western charm in certain areas. You can still find cozy bed and breakfasts, old-school inns, or other quaint, Americana accommodations that appeal to you.
Of course, there are plenty of mainstream hotels in the cities, but if you’re looking for a more scenic experience, check out some of the lodging options around Flagstaff.
12. Arizona has Wineries Abound
Do you love wine? Arizona boasts over 100 wineries, making it a popular destination for wine lovers. The craft beer scene is certainly catching up with 75 licensed breweries in the state (mainly in the major cities), but wine is still the drink of choice around the state.
While California gets all the credit for US wine production, 22 varieties of wine are produced in Arizona. Check them out for yourself!
13. In Arizona Wildlife Viewing Is Unrivaled
Throughout different spots in Arizona, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife. There are dozens of protected natural land in the state, including many wildlife preserves.
Some of the best wildlife you may spot while out in nature include:
- Black bears
- Desert bighorn sheep
- Mountain lions
- Coatimundi (a raccoon relative with a uniquely striped tail)
- Javelina (a pig-like animal)
- Arizona Ridge Nosed Rattlesnake
- Arizona tree frog
You may also encounter unique birds, including raptors, California condors, and falcons.
Of course, in the desert areas, you’ll find plenty of reptiles like Gila monsters, ornate box turtles, desert tortoises, rattlesnakes, and more. Amphibians, such as the endangered Sonoran tiger salamander, live near lakes and ponds.
Most of the creatures mentioned above are native to the Grand Canyon State—except for black bears and mountain lions. So if you enjoy viewing unique wildlife, Arizona could be your ideal vacation spot.
14. Arizona Is a Road-Tripper’s Paradise
We strongly believe that Arizona is best enjoyed by car.
If you’re interested in mountains, rivers, cities, tourist attractions, or deserts, you’ve come to the right place. Arizona is the perfect place for a road trip—with scenic views, open roads, and vast patches of rural land. There are plenty of places to stop and admire the scenery throughout the state.
Arizona has something for everyone. Plus, it’s big enough that you could travel for days and not see the same thing twice.
15. Arizona’s State Bird Is (Unsurprisingly) a Cactus Wren
That’s right; the State Bird of Arizona is the Cactus Wren. Equally, as appropriate, the State Flower is the Saguaro Cactus Blossom (only found in the Sonoran desert, the State Tree is the Palo Verde Tree, and the state motto is, “God enriches.”
Just be sure not to quiz an Arizonan on any of this; you’ll likely embarrass them!
But here’s something they will be proud of… The state regularly performs above average on numerous important national rankings, from the happiness index to life expectancy. It might not top the lists, but the scores are better than most US states.
Arizona is also home to a few of America’s major cities, notably Phoenix and Tucson. Mesa has a similar population to Tucson, but it is located so close to Phoenix that it’s considered part of the metro area. After that, the population drops below 300,000 in each of the remaining cities.
Finally, did you know that Arizona is home to two of the highest-rated waterfalls in the United States? Well, it is, and we recommend visiting both! Grand Falls and Havasu Falls are breathtaking sights, hidden away in a state most people associate with harsh desert environments.
Facts About Arizona: Find Out for Yourself
Now that you know some interesting facts about Arizona feel free to take a trip down and see it for yourself. It truly is a beautiful place filled with diversity, culture, and well-preserved natural beauty.
Photographs and documentary videos just don’t do it justice! They don’t call it the Grand Canyon State for nothing. So load up the car, fill the tank, and head out on the open road to see this stunning state with your own eyes.