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Top Five Desert Southwest Destinations of Arizona

There are four places that are famous in the United States outside its borders: Manhattan, Hollywood, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon and even Yellowstone may not be at the tip of the tongue for everyone. So, if I list desert destinations in Arizona, hiking down the Grand Canyon to stay at Phantom Ranch or rafting the Colorado River with the Grand Canyon rising to the sky on both sides would be the top two spots.

The gorgeous Southwest

But, that’s just too easy. I could come up with five cool things to do at the Grand Canyon and this essay would finish itself. That’s not going to help you. Go to the Grand Canyon at some point and treat yourself to one of the natural wonders of the world. Until you do that though, until you devote a good week to exploring the Grand Canyon, there may be other times when you dip into Arizona for the Fiesta Bowl, a business meeting, spring training in Phoenix or maybe spring break in Lake Havasu City. When you do that, here are five things that could make the trip a bit more memorable.

1. Eat at Pizzeria Bianco

A good friend introduced me to the additional writings of baseball writer Keith Law, where he reviews books, board games and food. As I am used to his writings, I know that he is a tough but fair critic. When he recommends a place, I know from experience that I will be treated to good food. (I’ve been able to try Bludso’s BBQ once, and as a fan of BBQ, it was wonderful. Not only that, but while waiting for my order to finish, I had a great conversation on the difference between Hollywood and Compton hookers. A dining experience I won’t soon forget and I can’t wait to go again.) Law describes Pizzeria Bianco as “otherworldly,” “The pizza nearly defies description; it must be tasted to be understood,” and “a magical experience that reminds you – as it did me – of how wonderful food can be.” That kind of review to me means that Pizzeria Bianco could be the basis of an entire trip to Arizona, or at least as the number one spot on my list. If you can’t get into eat there, check out Keith’s other Phoenix recommendations.

2. A Horseback Tour of Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Normally, I like to hike as I don’t have to plan anything ahead of time except for what boots to bring and what trail to hike. Seeing Canyon de Chelly seems like it takes a bit more planning. To that end, a five-hour, one-way horseback ride to see White House Ruins and Spider Rock led by a Navajo guide from Totsonii Ranch seems like a great way to see some beautiful sights and to get a true glimpse at the history and culture of the area.

3. Tour Sedona Vortexes

I’m a bit of a skeptic and I’m not afraid to let people know. Still, I have quite a few friends that have extolled the virtues of Sedona and the metaphysical properties of its vortexes. I don’t know if I’d buy into the increased meditation energies, power points and medicine wheels, but I figure a tour of all of this magical hokum would at least offer me great views of the natural wonders and at the most give me a lot of time to snicker at things like “ley lines.”

4. Desert Dune Buggies

After horseback riding and hiking tours, you may want to do your own thing for a while. Why not explore on a dune buggy? Extreme Arizona will rent you and teach you to drive a Polaris Ranger RZR or a Tomcar, both of which look to me like my idea of a dune buggy. Once behind the wheel, I’m sure I’d figure out the cool places and things to do, like everywhere and everything. As the website says, “We rent you the motor sport equipment and Tonto National Forest does the rest.”

5. Ghost Tour in Tombstone

Lastly, how about a little history of the Old West? To the southeast of Tucson is the town of Tombstone, home of the OK Corral. Wikipedia tells us that the town motto is: “The Town Too Tough To Die.” The movie “Tombstone” gave us a fictional retelling of the events leading up to the Gunfight at the OK Corral where three outlaws died. So, why not take a ghost tour to see how the afterlife is treating these residents of the town’s Boot Hill cemetery. For only $8.00, it’s a good way to spend the first part of the evening. (The rest will be spent cowering under your sheets, you ninny.)

That’s my top five for the many places in the different parts of the Arizona desert. Any suggestions for things that I missed? Any restaurant/greasy spoon recommendations for the area? Just let me know in the comments.

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About Jason McClain Jason is an aspiring novelist, which means there is a lot of time to put off writing and watch baseball or go fly-fishing, hiking and traveling. By "a lot of time", Jason means "procrastination."

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