Via magazine
Via magazine - Your AAA Magazine

The Via Blog travel news + notes + tasty tidbits

Via editor in chief Anne McSilver

An Arizona Superfan's Favorite Adventures

Posted by Anne McSilver on July 17, 2017
of
  • the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Hans Wagemaker/Shutterstock
    Photo caption
    From the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, lucky onlookers may glimpse soaring condors.
  • a bright orange blossom at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, Arizona, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Anne McSilver
    Photo caption
    An eruption of orange beckons pollinators among the spring blossoms at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
  • a bright pink flower blooms on a cactus in Arizona, picture.
    Photo credit
    Photo: Anne McSilver
    Photo caption
    There's no filter needed to amplify an electric pink flower crowning a prickly cactus.
  • a tortoise in Saguaro National Park in Arizona, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Anne McSilver
    Photo caption
    A desert tortoise looks almost as dry and dusty as its surroundings in Saguaro National Park.
  • floating tubes on the lazy river at the Arizona Grand's Oasis Water Park, Phoenix, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Anne McSilver
    Photo caption
    Floating tubes await on the lazy river at the Arizona Grand Resort's Oasis Water Park in Phoenix, Arizona.

I fell in love with Arizona years ago when I landed in Tucson as a lowly intern at a now-defunct newspaper. In the course of writing obituaries, crime stories, and daily front-page weather poems, I came to adore the boundless desert landscape, lavish sunsets, and outstanding Southwest food.

Little did I know then that I’d one day be editor in chief of Via, the West’s largest-circulation travel magazine, and that I’d have reason to return to Arizona many times in search of the best adventures to share with readers. Here are some of my favorites:

Admiring cactus blooms in Phoenix and Tucson

Every kind of flower is a tiny miracle but none more so than those that flourish in the desert. During a visit to Tucson this past spring, I encountered a beauty pageant of yellow, pink, and ruby-red blossoms at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Another prime spot, the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, curates an outstanding collection of botanical exuberance. My favorite cactus flowers cap each plant like crowns, showing that desert splendor reigns supreme. 

Gawking at condors on the Grand Canyon's South Rim 

The largest North American land birds—once extinct in the wild—occasionally swoop over popular tourist areas near the landmark El Tovar hotel. I love these audacious avians and have stalked their growing number of haunts, from California’s Pinnacles National Park to Utah's Cedar Breaks National Monument. But what could be better than seeing this grand creature soaring over our grandest canyon?

Soaking up thrills in Saguaro National Park

Sitting still in a single spot rarely delivers exhilaration, but in April I found a comfortable rock along the Hugh Norris Trail in Saguaro National Park’s western district and sat down to watch one of Arizona's famous Technicolor sunsets. It was thrilling to experience a landscape packed with extraordinary life beneath the vivid sky. I even spied a rare desert tortoise—an excellent role model for taking things slowly. (Get a 360-degree look at the Hugh Norris Trail in the video below.)

Becoming hopelessly spoiled in Sedona

There is a precise moment in time when I officially became a marshmallow: Stepping into the Mii Amo spa at the Enchantment Resort. The level of luxury here seems precisely tuned to transform human beings into puffy, easily melted confections. Fortunately, I could shrug off the lazy haze and enjoy hiking amid the scenic riches of nearby Oak Creek Canyon. 

Surfing an infernal heat wave in Phoenix

High temperatures bedevil those who toil under the sun, but a pampered pleasure-seeker can thrive on a day when the entire outdoors becomes your salubrious sauna. During a 118-degree spell this past June, I savored the world's most relaxing combo at the Arizona Grand Resort’s Oasis Water Park: blasting heat, blended margaritas, and a lazy river.

What’s next on my road map? Via is launching a new Arizona edition, so I can’t wait to experience many more Arizona adventures.