Commonly known as the Grand Canyon State, Arizona is and for the many deserts that cover large masses of the state that are filled with the famous saguaro cacti as well as prickly pears. Fewer people, though, realize that a quarter of the state is covered in lush forests -including the biggest virgin Ponderosa pine forest in the USA.
With sunshine around 85 percent of the year, southern Arizona has been giving Florida and California a run for their money as a holiday destination. a perfect destination for vacationers filled with amazing places to visit, a rich history, and multiculturalism in every aspect of life. The southern part of Arizona is also known as Gadsden or Baja Arizona (the later meaning Lower Arizona in Spanish).
Spectacular Natural Beauty
The Sonoran Desert is spread out across the Southern parts of the state mesmerizing any visitors with some of the most amazing sunsets available on the planet. Aside from the desert landscape people come to Arizona for other outdoor activities in Tucson as well as other parts of Southern Arizona. A few things to consider when planning a visit to the southern parts of the Grand Canyon State are that Arizona has more mountains than Switzerland, more parks than any other American state, more national monuments than other American state and it beats Scotland in numbers of golf courses.
As the state’s symbol, the saguaro cactus is a part of life in Arizona, but the most important zone is Saguaro National Park located west of the city of Tucson. This is where these amazingly emblematic plants are protected by law. Considering the fact that it takes 50 years for a saguaro to grow one arm, it should be protected as a species everywhere across the state. They also blossom from April through May and the blossom turns into an edible fruit once the flower fades.
Whether you’re close Tucson or in other parts of southern Arizona, you will find plenty of mountain ranges that are filled with hiking and biking trails. From the most approachable to the most difficult, with proper hiking attire, you will be able to enjoy the amazing air quality and will be rewarded with some of the most spectacular views. We’re not only talking about those aforementioned sunsets but also landscapes that will make you want to build a house on top of a plateau just so that you’ll have the chance to wake up every morning with that view.
As a leader of the USA's copper-mining boom, beginning in the 19th century and with ten sites still active today, Arizona has plenty of copper mines throughout its southern mountains that can be explored in slightly different and, most importantly, safer conditions than back in the day. In Tucson, you can visit the Colossal Cave Mountain Park for a quick walk through the history of this area. In Bisbee, close to a scenic monument, the Lavender Pit, you can visit man-made caves and learn more about the area's history.
A Colossal Rose Tree
If you ever find yourself in Tombstone, make sure not to miss the world’s most largest rose tree Planted by newlyweds from Scotland in 1885, this Scottish rose tree managed against all odds, to thrive and flourish in the arid Arizona desert and still stands tall and wide today. With a 14-foot diameter, the tree is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest.
Settled by precolumbian peoples, then Spain, Arizona upon Mexican independence became part of the state of Sonora, with most of the population centered in Tucson. Then in 1854 a large part of what is today southern Arizona was bought in the Gadsden Purchase from Mexico by the United States. A number of the state's cities and towns still show the legacy of this history.
In Arizona's dynamic second largest city (above, with a population around 554,000), for a piece of southern Arizona history the best place to go Old Tucson. Located in Tucson Mountain Park, this old part of Tucson has been used as a set for a number of Western movies, which helped introduce people from all over the world to the U.S. southwest and helped to establish the saguaro cactus as an indelible symbol of the state.
Another very important part of the Tucson area are the tribal reservations that can be found to the south and southwest of the city, including the Pascua Yaqui and the Tohono O'odham, helping keep their way of life alive. There are also several Spanish colonial missions in the area, one of the most famous of which is San Xavier del Bac, founded in 1692 and located on the Tohono O'odham reservation.
Aside from the many historic buildings, reservations and breathtaking natural beauty, throughout the city of Tucson, there are also a large number of new residential buildings with wonderful units for sale. Tucson is popular as a destination for retirees as well as those looking to experience the Arizona lifestyle, and real estate agents in Tucson AZ are happy to help you plan your next move.
As mentioned above, copper mining became big business, and many settlements sprang up a mining boomtowns. Most eventually became ghost towns as mining waned, but Bisbee (above, population just under 6,000) is an exception. Located about two hours southeast of Tuscon and just a few miles north of the Mexican border, it was founded in 1880 and reinvented itself after the shutdown of the last mining operations in the 1950s by turning its Copper Queen Mine into a tourist attraction as well as attracting the creative and the countercultural, who transformed it into an eclectic place filled with art galleries, restaurants, and quirky little hotels, and ruled by an open, welcoming, and accepting ethos.
Even a little closer to Tuscon, to the southeast, as well as a half hour north of Bisbee, “the Town Too Tough To Die” was founded in 1877, turned into a boomtown by silver mining, and quickly became something of a bastion of the Wild West thanks to cattle rustlers, gamblers, and assorted outlaws. That set the stage for one of the West's best known tales, when lawman Wyatt Earp along with his brothers and their associate Doc Halliday came to town and had conflict with the local outlaws, which culminated in the infamous shooting at the OK Corral back in 1881.
Today you can see you can see this iconic gunfight re-enacted (including a 30-minute narration) along with various other aspects of the Wild West re-enacted. In the Bird Cage Theater, a little more than 120 bullet holes pay witness to this famous gunfight, and there are a number of artifacts from that era on display. Boothill Graveyard is another iconic local spot. On a rocky hill on the edge of town, this cemetery (named for the many gunslingers who died with their boots on) is home to a slew of tombstones inscribed not just with the name of the deceased and the date of death, but also sometimes why they died and the name of the outlaw or sherriff whom killed them).
Southern Arizona is a truly compelling land for natural, historic, and cultural reasons, and an indelible part of U.S. history. Come see for yourself!