June 12, 2024
Best hidden places to visit in Arizona

Hidden Places to Visit in Arizona

Arizona is a state that is full of stunning natural beauty, from the towering red rock formations of Sedona to the grandeur of the Grand Canyon. But beyond the well-known attractions, many hidden places in Arizona are worth exploring.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the best-hidden places to visit in Arizona that are worth adding to your itinerary.

1 Kartchner Caverns State Park

hidden places to visit in Arizona
Photo by Mike Lewis from Wikimedia commons

Kartchner Caverns State Park is a remarkable underground destination located approximately 9-10 miles south of the town of Benson.

It is a fascinating geological wonderland that boasts some of the most pristine and complex limestone cave formations in the world. The park was opened to the public in 1999, and the lower caverns opened after 4 years in 2003.

This park offers guided tours of the caverns that allow visitors to experience the beauty and wonder of the cave formations.

The tours take visitors through two large rooms, the Rotunda/Throne Room and the Big Room, which are filled with massive stalactites, stalagmites, and other unique formations.

It is a great place to explore for those interested in geology, ecology, or outdoor recreation.

2 Meteor Crater

best hidden places to visit in arizona
Photo by Strange Happenings from Pexels

Meteor Crater, also known as Barringer Meteorite Crater, is a massive impact crater located in the west of Winslow.

You can explore the rim of the crater with guided hiking tours, which provide a stunning view of the surrounding desert landscape. There are also 4 lookout points with spectacular views of the crater.

The crater also features a visitor center that offers exhibits, interactive displays, and educational programs about the geology and history of the site.

Meteor Crater is a hidden place to visit in Arizona that offers a unique insight into the geology and history of our planet.

3 The Wave

arizona hidden gems
Photo by Mark Nemenzo on Unsplash

“The Wave” is a mesmerizing and highly sought-after geological wonder located in the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness.

The unique layering and composition of the rock create the illusion of a three-dimensional landscape painting, with smooth curves, vibrant colors, and intricate lines that resemble the ripples of a wave frozen in stone.

Access to The Wave is limited to protect its delicate formations and ensure a sustainable visitor experience. A permit is required to visit, and only a limited number of permits are granted each day through a lottery system.

Visiting The Wave requires a moderate hike over rugged terrain, and navigation skills are necessary as there is no designated trail.

Recommended: Best places to visit in Arizona for couples.

4 Wupatki National Monument

unique places to visit in arizona
Photo by Patrick Boucher on Unsplash

Wupatki National Monument is located in north central Arizona and is home to several ancient Pueblo ruins.

Pueblos in this monument are from one story structure to a multi-level 100-room structure. More than 800 ruins spread around the desert within this monument, but the largest five are WupatkiWukokiLomakiCitadel, and Nalakihu.

You can explore the ruins and learn about the ancient civilizations that lived in the area. The monument also features unique geological formations, including a blowhole where you experience the “breathing earth“.

There are four easy hiking trails in the monument which offer stunning views of the surrounding desert landscape.

5 Tonto Natural Bridge State Park

hidden gem Tonto Natural Bridge of arizona
Image by Macphysto from Pixabay

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park is located in the mountains of Arizona, and it is home to the world’s largest natural travertine bridge.

The bridge is 183 feet high over a 400-foot-long tunnel. You can hike down to the base of the bridge and explore the cool, shady caverns that lie beneath it.

Must visit this hidden place to escape the summer heat and enjoy the beauty of the Arizona mountains.

6 Chiricahua National Monument

Arizona hidden gems
Photo by Tom Fournier from Pexels

Chiricahua National Monument is a stunning natural wonder that offers a unique and unforgettable experience to you.

The park’s most distinctive feature is the “Wonderland of Rocks,” a series of towering rock spires and balancing rocks that have been formed over millions of years by volcanic activity and erosion.

Some of the most popular trails include the Echo Canyon Trail, which takes you through a narrow canyon surrounded by towering rock formations, and the Heart of Rocks Trail, which leads you through a maze of rock formations. It’s a challenging loop but worth the effort.

7 Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

hidden places in arizona
Photo by Burley Packwood

This hidden gem is home to a diverse array of desert plants and animals, including the rare organ pipe cactus, which is found only in this part of the world.

In addition to its natural beauty, Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is also an important cultural and historical site.

The park’s hiking trails take you through stunning desert landscapes, past towering cacti and unique rock formations.

8 Grand Falls

Arizona Grand Falls
Photo by Frank Kovalchek

Grand Falls is a stunning natural wonder that offers you a unique and unforgettable experience.

From the distinctive brown color of the falls to the stunning desert landscapes that surround them, Grand Falls is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Arizona.

The fall is fed by snowmelt from the nearby White Mountains into the Little Colorado River. So, March and April are the best months to see the falls.

9 Montezuma Castle

Hidden gem of arizona Montezuma Castle
Photo by Donald Teel on Unsplash

This was built by the Sinagua people around 1425 AD and is one of the best-preserved ancient dwellings in the state.

The five-story structure into a limestone cliff 80 feet above the valley floor and consists of 20 rooms. It is believed to have housed around 50 people at its peak.

Today, the cliff dwelling is a popular tourist attraction and is easily accessible to visitors. The National Park Service has built a paved trail that leads to a viewpoint where visitors can see the dwelling up close.

In addition to the cliff dwelling, Montezuma Castle National Monument also features a museum that showcases artifacts and exhibits related to the Sinagua people and their way of life.

10 Sycamore Falls

Hidden gem of Arizona
Photo by Thomas L. Dauenhauer. Credit the Kaibab National Forest

Sycamore Falls is a breathtaking natural wonder located in the state of Arizona, known for its stunning beauty and serene surroundings. Nestled within the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness, this hidden place offers visitors a captivating experience in the heart of the Coconino National Forest.

Upon reaching the falls, you’ll be rewarded with an awe-inspiring panorama. The thunderous sound of rushing water and the misty spray create a refreshing atmosphere that rejuvenates the senses.

The vantage points along the canyon rim provide ample opportunities for photography enthusiasts to capture the beauty of Sycamore Falls.

11 Havasu Falls

best hidden places to visit in arizona
Photo by Traveling Man

Renowned for its vibrant turquoise waters and cascading waterfalls, Havasu Falls is a beautiful hidden place in Arizona that fascinates you with its breathtaking beauty.

As you approach Havasu Falls, the sound of rushing water becomes more prominent, heightening the anticipation.

The falls drop approximately 98 feet into a series of turquoise pools, creating a mesmerizing sight that seems almost surreal.

Havasu Falls is not the only gem in the area. Mooney Falls, located just downstream, is equally captivating. Plunging approximately 200 feet, it is a sight to behold.

12 Emerald Cove

unique place in Arizona
Photo by Lynn Rosentrater 

The name “Emerald Cove” perfectly captures the essence of this beautiful destination. The cove’s waters boast a vibrant shade of green that is reminiscent of a tropical paradise.

This unique hue is a result of the river’s limestone deposits and the interplay of sunlight filtering through the surrounding cliffs.

Accessing Emerald Cove can be an adventure in itself. The most common way to reach the cove is by boat or kayak, as the narrow waterway leading to the cove is not accessible by road.

This adds to the allure of the experience as visitors navigate through the calm waters, surrounded by towering cliffs and scenic vistas.

13 Secret Canyon

Secret canyon hidden gem of arizona
Photo by davidpinter

As the name suggests, Secret Canyon is not as widely recognized as its famous neighboring canyons like Antelope Canyon, but it exudes its own unique charm and allure.

The canyon features narrow passageways, towering sandstone walls, and intricate rock formations, creating a mesmerizing environment that is often described as a hidden sanctuary. It is one of the best-hidden places to visit in Arizona.

Access to Secret Canyon is restricted to guided tours, ensuring the preservation of its delicate ecosystem and protecting its natural beauty.

These tours are led by knowledgeable guides who provide insights into the geology, history, and cultural significance of the canyon.

14 Cave of the Bells

The Cave of the Bells is not only a geological marvel but also a testament to the hidden wonders that lie beneath the Earth’s surface.

Its unique formations, cathedral-like atmosphere, and remarkable acoustics make it a must-visit destination for those seeking a truly extraordinary experience.

Upon entering the cave, you are greeted by a maze of chambers adorned with an array of stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones, and other formations.

The cave’s intricate features are a result of thousands of years of slow and gradual mineral deposition.

15 Redwall Cavern

Arizona unique place
Photo by Drenaline

This massive sandstone cavern is a hidden gem that offers a unique and awe-inspiring experience for you exploring the depths of the canyon.

Formed by the erosive forces of the Colorado River over millions of years, Redwall Cavern is a vast alcove carved into the towering Redwall Limestone cliffs.

Unlike traditional caves, it lacks a roof, making it more akin to an enormous open amphitheater.

16 Goldfield Ghost Town

unique destination in arizona
Image by Brigitte Werner from Pixabay

This unique destination offers you a glimpse into the Wild West era and the rich history of the American gold rush.

Located near Apache Junction, Goldfield Ghost Town takes visitors back in time to the late 1800s when the area was a bustling gold mining town.

For those seeking a taste of adventure, Goldfield Ghost Town features thrilling attractions such as the Goldfield Gunfighters Wild West Show, Gold Field Mine Tours, Apache Trail Tours, Superstition Zipline, and Superstition’s O.K. Corral Stables.

17 Colossal Cave Mountain Park

hidden place in arizona
Photo by Eegorr

Nestled within the scenic Rincon Mountain Range, this unique park offers visitors a fascinating combination of geological wonders and cultural heritage.

The centerpiece of the park is the stunning Colossal Cave, a massive limestone cavern that has been forming for millions of years.

This impressive cave system spans over three miles in length, with breathtaking chambers adorned with stalactites, stalagmites, and other intricate formations.

One of the park’s highlights is the La Posta Quemada Ranch, a historic site that dates back to the 1800s. The ranch served as a stagecoach stop and later as a working cattle ranch. Today, it has been restored to showcase the history and lifestyle of the early pioneers.

18 Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Arizona hidden gems
Image by Aline Dassel from Pixabay

This majestic monument showcases the stunning beauty of the canyon and preserves the rich history and traditions of the indigenous Navajo people.

You can explore the canyon rim viewpoints, which provide stunning panoramic views of the rugged landscape.

The Spider Rock Overlook is particularly noteworthy, offering a breathtaking view of the towering sandstone spires that rise dramatically from the canyon floor.

One of the highlights of a visit to Canyon de Chelly is the opportunity to view the ancient cliff dwellings and petroglyphs.

Sites such as the White House Ruin, Mummy Cave, and Antelope House showcase the architectural and artistic skills of the Ancestral Puebloans.

It is important to note that some areas of the canyon are restricted to protect the privacy and cultural integrity of the Navajo people who continue to live and farm within the canyon.

19 Walnut Canyon National Monument

best hidden gem in the Arizoan
Photo by Mike Peel 

This captivating monument showcases the ancient cliff dwellings of the Sinagua people, offering visitors a glimpse into the rich history and cultural heritage of this fascinating civilization.

Walking through the dwellings, you can imagine what life might have been like for Sinagua, gaining a deeper appreciation for their ingenuity and perseverance.

The structures feature multiple rooms, storage areas, and communal spaces, offering a glimpse into their social organization and daily activities.

Beyond the archaeological wonders, Walnut Canyon National Monument also offers stunning views from its rim trails.

20 Petrified Forest National Park

best hidden places to visit in arizona
Image by Brigitte Werner from Pixabay

The park gets its name from the abundance of petrified wood found throughout its landscapes.

The park is divided into two sections: the Painted Desert in the north and the petrified wood area in the south.

The Painted Desert showcases stunning geological formations characterized by vibrant shades of red, orange, and purple, creating a breathtaking vista that stretches as far as the eye can see.

As you venture further into the park, you’ll discover the petrified wood area, where ancient trees transformed into stone lie spread across the landscape.

The park features several designated hiking trails that take you through the petrified forest, allowing for a closer look at these fascinating specimens.

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