Arizona is full of natural wonders, from the Grand Canyon to Saguaro National Park, with ample outdoor fun ranging from mountain biking to horseback riding. Much of the state is occupied by the Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan deserts, but start exploring and you'll quickly discover that Arizona is more than just jackrabbits and cacti—there are lakes, rivers, mountains, forests, and miles of hiking trails. It's also a great place for sleeping under the stars, and while parts of Arizona can get a bit too hot for comfort in summer, those same places offer pleasant camping weather throughout much of the year.
While northern Arizona's best-known attraction is the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, there’s plenty more to see and do, from visiting Lake Powell on the Colorado River to backcountry tent camping among the ponderosa pines in the Coconino National Forest, Prescott National Forest, and Kaibab National Forest. Sedona, just south of Flagstaff, also makes a great base for hiking among Arizona's Red Rocks or swimming in Oak Creek Canyon’s Slide Rock State Park.
Dubbed Arizona's "West Coast," this part of the state offers all sorts of outdoor activities, much of which revolve around the Colorado River. The town of Yuma near the southern border is a popular spot, featuring an old Wild West prison and serving as a good base for visiting the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge. Attractions further north include Lake Havasu State Park, where you can swim, camp, or even check out the 19th-century London Bridge. Further north, the massive Lake Mead National Recreation Area offers year-round camping and easy access to two lakes.
While it's easy to associate central Arizona with Phoenix sprawl, this region offers a lot for outdoorsy types, all within a short drive of the city. Popular spots for outdoors lovers include the Superstition Mountains in the Tonto National Forest, Lost Dutchman State Park, and the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest. If you're interested in archaeology, the Montezuma Castle National Monument is also worth a visit.
Southern Arizona is full of Wild West spirit, with a mix of historic ghost towns and scenic desert landscapes, plus plenty of forests, particularly in the Chiricahua Mountains. Must-visit parks include Saguaro National Park and Catalina State Park—both just outside Tucson. If it gets too hot, make like a local and head to Patagonia Lake State Park, a prime spot to swim and cool off from the Arizona heat.