Did you know that Arizona has the second most visited national park in the United States? The Grand Canyon is an incredible view, but Arizona has plenty more sights to see--especially in Southern Arizona! These natural landmarks include everything from creeks and canyons to caves and craters. Whether you’ve lived in the state for a long time or are just visiting over summer vacation, plan an adventure to see these National Natural Landmarks in Arizona!
Located in north-central Arizona, one of the state’s most fascinating locations is the Barringer Meteor Crater. This incredible landmark is about 560 feet deep and stretches almost 4,000 feet in diameter — and is believed to have formed nearly 50,000 years ago.
Formerly known as Canyon Diablo Crater, it is the first meteorite impact site to be discovered in the world. Today the crater is named after Daniel Moreau Barringer, a mining engineer from Philadelphia. Against common public and scientific belief, he believed the crater was the result of a meteorite impact. A self-taught biologist, Barringer worked to prove his theory, and the idea was eventually accepted within the scientific community.
Today, the crater is a popular tourist attraction run by the Barringer family. The Barringer crater is a breathtaking spectacle if you are willing to make the time to see it!
While primarily located in Utah, this 80-mile long ridge spreads into northeast Arizona. First designated a National Natural Landmark in 1976, this site is ideal for any historian, geologist, paleontologist, or individual interested in these topics. Comb Ridge has some of the most interesting sandstones and rock formations which date back to the Jurassic era. It’s also a fossil hotspot, as it’s the only place in North America where tritylodon fossils have been discovered (tritylo-don’t bother trying to pronounce it).
For history buffs, Comb Ridge is also the location of ancient Native American cultures, such as the ancient Pueblo peoples. The Ridge still has various petroglyphs and cliff dwellings today! Comb Ridge also serves as one of the final battle locations of the Posey War--the last Indian War in American history. Millions of years in the making and full of meaningful history, Comb Ridge is an incredible place to visit!
One of the less aesthetically pleasing National Natural Landmarks, the Willcox Playa is a large endorheic dry lake. Endorheic basins are basins with limited drainage and no outflow to nearby water sources such as oceans or rivers. Formerly a military bombing site for the U.S., the site has now been designated a National Natural Landmark for its preservation. The playa is valued for its large population of sandhill cranes, the extreme diversity of beetle life, and high quantity of fossil pollen--which can be used to track the history of plant life in the area. If you want more of a view, it also happens to be located in the Sonoran Desert, which is teeming with diverse wildlife. If you live in or near Southern Arizona, the Willcox Playa might be a sight worth checking out.
Appeal to your inner geologist and dive deep into Onyx Cave. Located in the Santa Rita Mountains of Southern Arizona and part of the Coronado National Forest, this is certainly an adventurous place to visit. With almost half a mile of underground passages, Onyx Cave has an abundance of unique rock formations, making it an incredible opportunity for anyone interested in geology or cave diving. Schedule your tour of the Onyx cave soon!
Are these locations not enough to satisfy your fix for the natural environment? Take an ATV tour! Arizona ATV tours provide adventurous journeys through Southern Arizona with incredible views. Schedule your tour today at +1 928 282 8540, or browse our website!