Are you a geotraveler? During your Arizona adventure do you want to support a local culture, savor a unique sense of place, deeply connect to the state’s natural wonders…even protect the environment?

This type of stewardship of Arizona’s treasures provides unforgettable, sustainable experiences in nature, history, traditional architecture and local culture.

The state’s wealth of such destinations speaks to the geographical character of our place. Here’s a very small sampling of Arizona’s geotourism and ecotourism must-sees chosen by National Geographic, National Geographic Traveler, Condé Nast Traveler and the US Travel Association.

Plan your trip now, and satisfy the geotraveler within you.

Earth-Friendly & Unforgettable

Grand Canyon National Park’s South Rim

Lodging, dining and tour operations include such icons as El Tovar Hotel, Bright Angel Lodge & Cabins, Phantom Ranch and mule and rafting tours. Operator Xanterra Parks & Resorts attempts to reduce the environmental stress on the national park with, among many initiatives, clean-burning hydrous alcohol injection systems in the tour buses, retrofitted propane boilers and florescent lights.

Grand Canyon Railway, Williams

Travel between Williams and the Grand Canyon in a ride reminiscent of the 1901 railway. Today, however, the locomotives that pull the cars burn reclaimed cooking oil from Grand Canyon restaurants. On-site heaters use recycled fossil-based oil. The gift shop sells organic goods and BPA-free water bottles.

FireSky Resort & Spa, Scottsdale

As part of the eco-conscious Kimpton Hotels & Restaurant Group, this boutique hotel allows you to conserve water with low-flow systems, recycle with in-room bins and reduce negative impacts by dining on organic or fair-trade foods.

Sustaining Local Cultures

Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa, Chandler

20100301.pngOperated by the Gila River Indian Community, the 500-room resort and spa offers fine dining, luxury accommodations, recreational facilities and Rawhide Western Town and Steakhouse. Immerse yourself in the culture and heritage of the Pima and Maricopa tribes with native cuisine supported by community farms and gardens, displays of traditional arts and crafts and a program that shares ancient songs and stories.

Petrified Forest National Park, east of Winslow

While visiting this ancient conifer forest of 200-million-year-old fossilized wood, stop by the Painted Desert Oasis, which has a gift shop, café and gas station. The operation purchases locally grown Navajo flour packaged in cloth bags for use in the café, then returns the bags to be refilled. Worn-out bags get second lives as aprons, which are used by the kitchen staff or sold in the gift shop.

The View Hotel, Monument Valley

The only hotel within the magnificent Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is surrounded by natural landscaping and Navajo-inspired decor. Owned and operated by Navajos, it allows locals to work within the Navajo Nation and stay connected with their culture.

Providing a Sense of Place

Arizona-Sonora Desert Region

20100303.pngA National Geographic geotourism map-guide highlights the people, history and nature of the vast Sonoran Desert that stretches from central Arizona through northwestern Mexico. It mentions more than 80 Arizona sites, including the Yuma Crossing, Elgin vineyards, Mission San Xavier del Bac and Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge.

Arizona Biltmore, Phoenix

Acclaimed architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s consult resulted in the incorporation of his signature geometric blocks throughout the 1929 resort.

Price Canyon Ranch, north of Douglas

Surrounded by the craggy Chiricahua Mountains, this working cattle ranch allows horseback riding on the open range.

La Posada Hotel & Gardens, Winslow

This 1929 railway hotel boasts tin chandeliers, cast-iron tubs and other restored elements that speak to its hacienda-style opulence.

Rancho de la Osa Guest Ranch, south of Tucson

This remote 1923 guest ranch in the rolling grasslands of the Sonoran Desert offers such relaxing recreation as horseback riding, birdwatching, nature walks and guided hikes.

Offering Immersion into Arizona’s Natural Wonders

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson

Nestled within the saguaro-studded Sonoran Desert, this zoo, natural history museum and botanical garden compellingly presents the surrounding natural environment.

Grand Canyon National Park

The North Rim and river corridor provide the most natural, least crowded experiences within this seventh wonder of the world.