Arizona is packed with a bountiful assortment of well-known natural wonders, including Grand Canyon National Park, Horseshoe Bend and Saguaro National Park. While these places attract millions of visitors each year, the Grand Canyon State also boasts countless other travel destinations that, even without the visibility of the state’s most famous attractions, still deliver amazing, memorable experiences for visitors.
“Our state has no shortage of hidden gems that even longtime residents may not be aware of,” says Lisa Urias, Director of the Arizona Office of Tourism. “It feels like you’ll never run out of interesting places to discover or even rediscover. That’s what makes Arizona so great!”
Here’s a quick look from Arizona Office of Tourism at underrated Arizona travel spots to help kick off a summer travel itinerary.
This charismatic town along Arizona’s Historic Route 66 served as the inspiration for Radiator Springs in Pixar’s beloved film “Cars.” Adventure-seeking guests can stay at the Hualapai Ranch, where they’ll learn how to quick draw, along with other important cowboying skills, and spend evenings listening to stories by a campfire while making s’mores.
In addition to exploring its charm, decor and interesting characters, Peach Springs can also function as a great base camp for adventure in Northern Arizona, with access to activities including cave exploring at Grand Canyon Caverns, whitewater rafting and the famous Grand Canyon Skywalk.
Peach Springs is located just 50 miles northeast of Kingman and about three-and-a-half hours north of Phoenix.
Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In
While traveling along Historic Route 66, especially with children in tow, Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In is a must-see underrated Arizona travel spot. This historic eatery and roadside attraction in Seligman was built by hand out of scrap lumber in 1953 during the heyday of the Mother Road. Brimming with oddities and a humorous menu including “cheeseburger with cheese,” Delgadillo’s is a fun, iconic pitstop and perfect photo op. The spot even earned a 2022 Guinness World Record for Largest Display of Milkshake Varieties with 266 flavors and counting.
Apache Lake’s relative calmness is a great contrast to busier summer hotspots such as Lake Havasu. Apache Lake Marina & Resort offers a campground with RV hookups and a few designated areas for tent campers keen on snagging a lakeside site with a view. The Apache 88 Bar & Grill serves up casual fare like pizza, sandwiches and salads Thursday through Sunday. During the day, kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, Jet Skis and a 20-ft. pontoon boat, all await at the marina for rent.
Chiricahua National Monument
The profile of one of the Apaches’ most noted leaders dominates the horizon within Chiricahua National Monument in the far southeast of the state. With towering vertical rock spires that can be several hundred feet tall dominating the landscape and 17 miles of hiking trails, the monument known as the “wonderland of rocks” is worth a visit all by itself.
Plus, observant visitors can spy the resemblance to the profile of Chief Cochise among the monument’s formations, created solely by time and erosion. There’s even a tall evergreen tree in the distance that stands in for the leader’s eyelashes. The best view is a short hike above the hoodoos, from the peak of Sugarloaf Mountain.
X Diamond Ranch – White Mountains
For a more leisurely underrated Arizona travel spot, including kicking back at a luxurious cabin with a hot tub, consider booking a stay at the X Diamond Ranch nestled in the White Mountains of Eastern Arizona. The luxury property offers six spacious units loaded with amenities and is just a 20-minute drive from the town of Greer and 15 minutes from Eagar. Visitors looking to learn something fun can book private fly fishing lessons along the Little Colorado River, which runs right by the property.
Homolovi State Park
Homolovi State Park near Winslow is home to four 14th-century pueblos built and inhabited by the ancestors of the modern-day Hopi tribe, with two of the pueblos visible from short, well-maintained trails. The Tsu’vo Trail leads to several petroglyphs, as well as milling stone areas. Over 300 archaeological sites have been identified within the park boundaries, and the museum features a collection of pottery and other ancient artifacts. The park is also an excellent spot for wildlife watching, so visitors should keep their eyes peeled for everything from collared lizards to wild burros.
Little Painted Desert County Park
Petrified Forest National Park in Northeastern Arizona offers over a dozen short trails and viewpoints, making it an ideal underrated Arizona travel spot to visit in the summer. The one-mile Blue Mesa Trail weaves right though colorful badlands, and all of the vistas on the northern stretch of Petrified Forest Road are easily accessible to folks more interested in roadside scenery.
The nearby Little Painted Desert County Park also offers equally impressive views, and it’s open 24 hours a day. The park is no longer maintained by the county so you won’t find facilities here, but there are plenty of turnouts on the dirt road above the badlands. A 4×4 vehicle is not necessary, and if you park and take just a few steps from your car, you’ll be rewarded with amazing views.
Arizona is home to fresh destinations to keep your wanderlust satisfied all summer long. Discover more travel tips close to home at www.VisitArizona.com.
–Josh Coddington, Arizona Office of Tourism, Director of Communications and PIO