86 Interesting Facts About Arizona

Fun facts about Arizona state USA

Find out what Arizona, the Copper State, is known for with this comprehensive list of interesting facts.

Arizona is home to numerous national monuments and iconic natural landmarks, including the one-and-only Grand Canyon.

General Arizona Facts

1. Arizona is located in the Western and Southwestern regions of the United States.

2. It is also one of the Sun Belt states and is sometimes classified as a Mountain State at the far southern end of the Rocky Mountains.

3. Arizona borders the states of Baja, California, and Sonora in Mexico to the south and southwest, California and Nevada to the west, Utah to the north, and New Mexico to the east.

4. The Four Corners Monument, where the corners of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado meet, is at the state’s northeastern corner.

5. Arizona is the 6th largest state in the US, with a land area of 113,990 mi² (295,234 km²), sitting between New Mexico and Nevada in terms of size.

6. Arizona is similar in size to the Philippines or Ecuador.

7. The state has a population of 7.4 million, making Arizona the 14th most populous state in the nation sitting between Washington and Massachusetts in terms of population.

The skyline of Phoenix, Arizona with mountains in the background and an orange sky
Phoenix, Arizona

8. Phoenix is the capital city of Arizona. With a population of 1.6 million (or 4.6 million in the greater metropolitan area), it is the 5th largest city in the US, after New York City, LA, Chicago, and Houston.

9. Arizona has just 15 counties, with the largest being Maricopa County, where Phoenix is located.

10. Other major cities include Tuscon, home to the University of Arizona (note: Arizona State University is also in Phoenix), and Mesa, which is in the greater Phoenix area.

11. People from Arizona are called Arizonans or Arizonians.

12. The acronym for Arizona is AZ.

13. 1 in 8 people in Arizona are immigrants.

Huge stone towers in Monument Valley, Arizona
Monument Valley in Arizona’s Navajo Nation

14. The state is home to 27 federally recognized Native American tribes, including the Navajo (the largest tribe in the US) and Hopi in the Four Corners area.

15. Navajo is Arizona’s third most spoken language after English and Spanish.

16. The name Arizona may come from the Spanish word Arizona, which means “place of little spring,” or it may come from the Basque words Haritz Ona which means “the good oak tree.”

17. That Arizona is derived from the Spanish words for “Arid Zone” (zona arida) is a misconception.

18. Arizona’s motto is “Ditat Deus,” which is Latin for “God Enriches.”

A copper mine in Arizona
A copper mine in the “Copper State”

19. The official slogan of Arizona is “The Grand Canyon State”.

20. Arizona’s official nickname is “The Copper State,” as the state leads the nation in copper production. Other nicknames include “The Apache State,” “The Aztec State,” “Sand Hill State,” “Sunset State,” and “Sweetheart State.”

21. Two more nicknames for Arizona are “The Baby State”, because it was the last of the Lower 48 States to join the United States (only Alaska and Hawaii were later), and “The Valentine State”, because it joined on Feb. 14, 1912.

22. Arizona is rich in turquoise, which is why it is the official state gem.

A saguaro cactus with many branches in Arizona
The iconic saguaro cactus in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert

23. The Arizona state flower is the white blossom. The flower grows on the saguaro cactus, which is the largest cactus in the country and is only found in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert, Sonoran state in Mexico, and a few places in California.

24. Arizona has an official state neckwear, the bolo tie.

25. The state mammal is the adorable ringtail cat from the raccoon family. A ringtail cat can squeeze into a hole the size of a golf ball.

The flag of Arizona
The Arizona state flag

26. Arizona’s flag features alternating yellow and red rays, representing the western setting sun and the 13 original colonies. The colors are based on the Spanish flag, which was carried into the region by Coronado. The bottom half of the flag features the same shade of blue as the US flag. There’s a copper star that represents the state as the largest copper producer in the nation.

Random Interesting Facts About Arizona

27. Lake Havasu City, dubbed “Arizona’s Playground,” has the original London Bridge from London, England. The city bought it for $2.5 million when London replaced their original one.

28. There are 21 national parks and monuments in Arizona. The three national parks are the Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest (with a high concentration of 225 million-year-old petrified wood), and Saguaro National Park (a desert with a staggering amount of wildlife, including the namesake cactus).

A whole tree in broken sections that have turned into petrified wood in Arizona
A petrified tree in Petrified Wood National Park

29. Grand Canyon is the 4th most visited national park in the US, after the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee, Zion National Park in Colorado, and Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. It saw 4.5 million visitors in 2021.

30. Spanning 1902 mi2 (4926 km2), Grand Canyon National Park is larger than Rhode Island. However, it is not the deepest canyon in the US. That title goes to Hells Canyon in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.

31. Arizona also has six state forests and 36 state parks. 83% of Arizona is made up of public lands, reservations, and forests. Arizona is home to more Native American land than any other state.

A castle built into a cliff at Montezuma Castle in Arizona viewed from below
Montezuma Castle National Monument

32. With 18 national monuments each, Arizona and California are tied for most national monuments in any state. Some of Arizona’s include Casa Grande Ruins, Grand Canyon-Parashant, Organ Pipe Cactus, Montezuma Castle, and Sunset Crater Volcano.

33. Arizona’s Barringer Crater (AKA Meteor Crater) is the best-preserved crater on the planet. Believed to be 50 thousand years old, the crater measures 557.7 feet (170 m) in depth and 3,937 feet (1,200 m) in diameter.

34. Antelope Canyon is known for its five incredibly dramatic slot canyons. It is located on a Navajo reservation in the far north of Arizona. Walking tours of Antelope Canyon such as these are very popular.

Looking upward at a narrow slit in a rock gorge in Antelope Canyon, Arizona
Antelope Canyon

35. The 800 mi (1300 km) Arizona Trail traverses Arizona from north to south at the Mexico border and is used for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, and more.

36. Grand Falls, Arizona, is also called Chocolate Falls because of the muddy color of its water. It is taller than Niagara Falls, which is between Ontario and New York State.

37. Arizona has over 100 wineries and produces 22 varieties of wine, mostly in the state’s southeast. There are also around 100 breweries in the state.

38. Arizona’s major employment sectors include manufacturing, electronics, aerospace, business services, tourism, back-office operations, agriculture and mining.

39. Arizona is home to the Gila monsters, the only venomous lizard in the country. They have a black and orange pattern on their backs.

A gila monster on the ground in Arizona
A gila monster

40. Arizona’s highest point is Humphreys Peak, at 12,633 ft (3851 m), while its lowest point is the Colorado River, at 70 ft (21 m).

41. Arizona has a desert climate, with mild winters and hot, dry summers (it is the fourth driest state after Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming). The weather varies a lot; in fact, Phoenix is the state capital with the most days above 100°F, while Flagstaff, Arizona, is the city with the most days below freezing in the Lower 48 States.

42. The hottest temperature ever recorded in Arizona was 128°F (53.3°C) on June 29, 1994, at Lake Havasu, while the lowest temperature was -40°F (-40°C) on January 7, 1971, at Hawley Lake in the White Mountains.

43. Chimichangas (basically a deep-fried burrito) are Arizona’s unofficial state food. Despite the common misconception that the food was invented in Mexico, the chimichanga was an Arizonan creation.

44. Indian tacos, a taco made on Indian fry bread, have also been voted the state food of Arizona.

45. The first ever McDonald’s drive-through opened in Sierra Vista, Arizona in 1975.

46. Despite the desert heat in Arizona, many fruits grow there, like pears, apricots, peaches, and persimmons. You can even go apple picking in Arizona!

A plate with a chimichanga on it and some other side dishes around it
Arizona’s chimichanga

47. Celebrities from Arizona, including singers Alice Cooper, Joe Jonas, Linda Ronstadt, and Jordin Sparks, Tonight Show host Steve Allen, football player Randall McDaniel, and actresses Busy Phillips and Emma Stone.

48. Arizona bands include Flotsam and Jetsam, the Gin Blossoms, Jimmy Eat World, Meat Puppets, and Calexico.

49. Arizona was the location of many famous films, including Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, Star Wars: A New Hope, Casablanca, Tank Girl, Raising Arizona, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Natural Born Killers, and Planet of the Apes.

50. PetSmart, Circle K, and U Haul started and are headquartered in Arizona.

51. Arizona has professional teams in all four major sports: the Arizona Cardinals (NFL), Phoenix Suns (NBA), Arizona Diamondbacks (MLB), and Arizona Coyotes (NHL).

A mosaic of some famous people and brands from Arizona
Arizona celebrities and brands Alice Cooper, Linda Ronstadt, Randall McDaniel, Circle K, U Hal, and Petsmart (clockwise from top-left)

52. The Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station in Arizona is the largest nuclear factory in America by net generation and the only one in the world that is not near a large body of water.

53. Arizona is one of two states in the US that doesn’t observe Daylight Savings Time (the other is Hawaii).

54. The saguaro cactus is endangered. Cutting one down is a class 4 felony, equivalent to one year in prison.

55. Hanging a clothesline in El Mirage, Arizona, is against the law. You’ll be fined a minimum of $350 if you get caught.

56. According to Arizona’s “Stupid Motorist Law,” anyone driving around barricades into a flooded area must be rescued at their own cost.

A flooded area in Arizona
Arizona is prone to flash floods

57. Hunting camels is against the law in Arizona; the animals were once brought from Egypt and Turkey to form the US Camel Corps.

58. If you try to sell fake drugs in Arizona, you can face prison time, as it’s a class 6 felony.

59. In Arizona, you can get a misdemeanor if you attempt palmistry, palm-reading, or fortune-telling.

Historical Facts About Arizona

60. Native American tribes have lived in Arizona for 10–12,000 years.

61. From around 3000 to 500 years ago, Ancestral Puebloan, Hohokam, Mogollon, and Sinagua peoples inhabited the Four Corners area, including Arizona. Some of them built cliff dwellings such as those at Montezuma Castle.

A petroglyph of an animal found in Arizona
Puebloan petroglyph in Monument Valley

62. From the 1400s to the 1500s, most of these civilizations mysteriously disappeared.

63. The first Europeans to arrive in Arizona were the Spanish. In 1539, Marcos de Niza arrived with his missionary group.

64. In the 1680s, the Spanish began building missions in southern Arizona. They also built presidios (forts) in the mid-1700s.

65. Arizona was part of the Province of Las California and later Alta California in New Spain.

66. In 1822, Arizona became part of the Mexican state of Sonora after Mexico gained independence.

Exterior of Mission San Xavier del Bac in Arizona
Spanish Mission San Xavier del Bac

67. In 1848, at the end of the Mexican-American War, America acquired what is now Arizona.

68. In 1849, thousands of people traveled across Arizona because of the California Gold Rush, which led to development in the area.

69. In 1850, Arizona became part of the New Mexico Territory.

70. In the 1853 Gadsden Purchase, the US purchased another 30,000 mi2 from Mexico, including parts of southern Arizona.

71. During the Civil War, battles between the Apaches, Confederates, and Union forces took place in Arizona. The westernmost battle in the war took place at Picacho Peak, Arizona in 1862.

Remains of stone walls at Fort Bowie, Arizona
Remains of Fort Bowie from the Civil War

72. In 1863, the Arizona Territory was created.   

73. The state’s economic boom began in 1858 with massive growth in the mining industry. Thousands of migrants arrived with the aim of striking it rich in gold and silver fields.

74. In 1868, the city of Phoenix was created.

75. The most famous shootout in the American West, the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, took place in Tombstone, Arizona, in 1881. It lasted for 30 seconds, and three people died.

76. In 1886, Apache leader Geronimo surrendered, marking the end of the Indian Wars in the Southwest. People now shout “Geronimo!” to show they have no fear.

A USA stamp showing the Apache leader Geronimo holding a rifle
The fearless Geronimo

77. In 1901, President William McKinley visited Arizona 4 months before he was assassinated.

78. In 1912, Arizona became the 48th state of the nation.

79. During World War II, many Navajo people from Arizona became secret agents. The Navajo were great at their job, especially because the enemies couldn’t identify or translate their language. In 1948, Native American residents of Arizona gained the right to vote.

80. The first Arizonan to serve on the Cabinet was Stewart Udall in 1961 as Secretary of Interior.

Exterior of Arizona State Capitol, with some cacti in front of it
The Arizona State Capitol, completed in 1900

81. Miranda v. Arizona, a landmark case in 1966, established the right to remain silent when being questioned.

82. The first female governor of Arizona, Rose Mofford, was appointed in 1988.

83. Hundreds of Arizona residents reported seeing UFOs flying through the sky in Phoenix one night in 1997.

84. Arizona passed a strict and contested law, “SB 1070,” in 2010, which imposes harsh restrictions and regulations on immigrants and aliens.

85. In 2013, Kayla Mueller, a human rights activist, died under ISIS captivity in Syria, receiving international attention.

86. In 2020, President Trump visited Yuma, Arizona to celebration the completion of 200 miles of the Mexico-USA border wall.

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