Really, Arizona Has It All

Arizona is a land of endless beauty from desert to mountain peaks

It’s that time of year when we look back and ponder the year we leave behind. In 2020, that feels like a challenge. This has been a year of pandemic and interrupted travel. Lives have been disrupted. Stress levels seem to be at an all-time high. Yet ultimately none of the trials and tribulations of these past months alter one very significant fact.

Grand Canyon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

I love wintering in Arizona.

It’s the old real estate mantra: location, location, location. This is a land of endless beauty and staggering diversity. That’s not something to be taken for granted. Here are some of the things I love about living the RV dream in Arizona.

Cathedral Rock, Sedona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Really, Arizona has it all

Jump in your RV or car in the morning and by afternoon you can…

Peer into the Grand Canyon. Kayak on a lake. Cruise down Historic Route 66. Walk across London Bridge. Tour a cave. Explore a ghost town. Search for wild horses along the Salt River. Hike among the red rocks of Sedona. Feed the burros that wander into Oatman. Watch a gunfight in Tombstone. Picnic in the desert. Ski down a mountainside. Sit on a sandy beach.

Lake Powell and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s just a matter of deciding which direction to drive and what clothes you need for that day. How many other states offer such a delicious range of options so easily accessible?

Catalina State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hiking trails are practically at your RV site

Here’s a detail I just made up but I’m sure it’s true. Wherever you choose to RV in Arizona you’re within 15 minutes of a trailhead. For snowbirds like us who travel from city to small towns, national parks to state parks, and wildlife refuges to county parks, trails are even closer.

Apache Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Abundance of open space and moderate winter temperatures pulls us outdoors where the scenery soothes us. This is where we can relax, refresh, and breathe a little deeper. Every minute spent hiking or biking on an Arizona trail is an investment in health and happiness.

Mexican poppies at Picacho State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Flowers bloom every month of the year

Such a small thing but such a wonderful thing!

Arizona is loaded with mountains

The Grand Canyon State is rugged and snowy and surprisingly vertical. Arizona has 3,928 mountain summits and peaks poking holes in its azure skies. There are 26 peaks that top out above 10,000 feet. That’s a lot of cool hiking opportunities in summer as well as winter.

Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Autumn brings a luxurious leafy display

Dead Horse Ranch is a beautiful state park for camping and hiking all year long. But something truly special happens starting in late October. The cottonwoods and willows that provide such welcome shade during summer turn golden. When it comes to fall colors, cottonwood trees are not as consistent as aspens, maples, and other showboats of the forest. Yet some years they are absolutely dazzling. It’s as if someone flipped a cosmic switch and the riparian corridor that lines the Verde River bursts into shimmering yellow hues.

As the season winds down in the Verde Valley, nice colors linger on at Boyce Thompson Arboretum, east of Phoenix near Superior.

Shootout in Tombstone © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Arizona history is full of weird quirkiness

I love all of Arizona’s rich and storied history. But some of my favorite tales are the small and odd ones. For example:

The longest poker game in history took place downstairs at the Birdcage Theatre in Tombstone. It started in 1881 and despite the $1,000 buy-in the action ran continuously for eight years, five months, and three days when the Birdcage closed. Plenty of famous names handled the cards during the marathon session including Bat Masterson, Diamond Jim Brady, Adolph Busch, George Randolph Hearst, and Doc Holliday.

Alamo Lake State Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Criminals in Wickenburg once were sentenced to sit outside in the shade. From 1868 to 1890, legend says Wickenburg scofflaws were chained to a mesquite tree that served as the town hoosegow.

Arizona has its own Bigfoot. The reclusive creature said to stand over 7 feet tall was first reported in a 1903 edition of the Arizona Republican in which I.W. Stevens said he encountered the hirsute humanoid near the Grand Canyon. He discovered it drinking the blood of two young cougars it had killed. Sightings continue and today it is known as the Mogollon Monster.

Organ Pipe Cactus Parkway © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The open road calls to us

It’s hard to imagine a place more perfectly designed for road trips than Arizona. It’s a big state, the sixth largest in the US covering nearly 114,000 square miles. Most of the population centers are clustered in bunches leaving vast tracts of backcountry to explore. Arizona is sprinkled with just the right number of small towns to keep travelers gassed up and well fed.

Peralta Trailhead © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are 27 officially designated scenic and historic roads rambling across Arizona including five national scenic byways. They include classics like Apache Trail, Patagonia-Sonoita Scenic Road, Organ Pipe Cactus Parkway, Sedona-Oak Creek Canyon Scenic Road, Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway, and Coronado Trail National Scenic Byway.

Pillsbury Winery in Old Town Cottonwood © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Dare to be grape

There are more than 100 wineries producing some 22 varietals of wine in Arizona. Cheers!

Canyon Vista RV Resort, Gold Canyon © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Winter is here

That sounds ominous in a weird way! As those of us who live elsewhere know how bleak and soul-draining those dark and cold months can be. Not so in Arizona where much of winter is spent under a clear sky. During winter the sun is “candy-sweet” and most welcome to locals and snowbirds alike.

Worth Pondering…

Newcomers to Arizona are often struck by Desert Fever. Desert Fever is caused by the spectacular natural beauty and serenity of the area. Early symptoms include a burning desire to make plans for the next trip “south”. There is no apparent cure for snowbirds.