The tourism industry in ARIZONA has, literally, one colossal advantage – the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River, the single most awe-inspiring spectacle in a land of unforgettable geology. Several other Arizona destinations have a similarly abiding emotional impact, however, thanks to the sheer drama of human involvement in this forbidding but deeply resonant desert landscape.
Over a third of the state still belongs to Native Americans, who outside the cities form the majority of the population. In the so-called Indian Country of northeastern Arizona, the Navajo Nation holds the stupendous Canyon de Chelly and dozens of other Ancestral Puebloan ruins, as well as the stark rocks of Monument Valley. The Navajo surround the homeland of the stoutly traditional Hopi, who live in remote mesa-top villages. The third main group, the Apache, in the harshly beautiful southeastern mountains, were the last Native Americans to give in to the overwhelming power of the American invaders.
The southern half of the state holds ninety percent of its people and all its significant cities. State capital Phoenix, a five-hundred-square-mile morass of shopping malls and tract-house suburbs, is larger and duller than lively Tucson, while there’s some great frontier Americana in the southeast corner, especially in Tombstone.