“We have serious enemies and growing threats around the world. Unfortunately, we have an administration whose idea of a rogue state is Arizona.” ~Mitt Romney
What’s so interesting about Arizona? It’s hard to even decide where to begin! Here is a list of fun and fascinating facts that you may not know about the Grand Canyon State.
In 1912, President William Howard Taft was ready to make Arizona a state on February 12, but it was Lincoln’s birthday. The next day, the 13th, was considered bad luck so they waited until the following day.
Arizona became the 48th state and last of the contiguous states on February 14, 1912. (Alaska and Hawaii were admitted many years later in 1959.)
Arizona was once part of the territory of New Mexico, until President Abraham Lincoln signed the Arizona Organic Act on February 24, 1863, creating the Arizona Territory.
The Castilian and Burgundian flags of Spain, the Mexican flag, the Confederate flag, and the flag of the United States have all flown over the land we now know as Arizona.
Phoenix is the largest city in the Mountain Time Zone.
Daylight Savings Time is not observed in Arizona (except for the Navajo Nation).
Arizona is the 6th largest state in terms of land area and 16th largest according to population.
All of New England plus the state of Pennsylvania would fit inside Arizona.
The state of Massachusetts could fit inside Maricopa County.
Arizona’s land ownership is 48% federal and state, 28% American Indian, and 24% private.
Arizona has the largest percentage of land designated as Indian tribal land in the United States, and the largest American Indian population of any state. More than fourteen tribes are represented on twenty reservations.
The lands of the Navajo Nation span 27,000 square miles across three states (Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico) including scenic mountains, mesas and canyons in the Four Corners region, but the Navajo Nation capital is seated in Window Rock, Arizona.
The first Spaniards set foot in what is now Arizona 76 years before the settlement of Jamestown, 80 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, and 236 years before the Declaration of Independence. They were in search of the legendary Seven Cities of Gold.
The Hopi village at Oraibi is the oldest continually occupied settlement in America. The village was built around A.D. 1100 and was discovered in 1540 by Pedro de Tovar, a lieutenant of Spanish conquistador Francisco Vásquez de Coronado.
Between the years 1692 and 1711, Spanish missionary Father Eusebio Kino did more than just found missions in Arizona; he also taught many tribes the basics of agriculture and supplied them with cattle and seed grain.
Tubac was the first European Settlement in Arizona (1752).
Many of the founders of San Francisco in 1776 were Spanish colonists from Tubac, Arizona.
Montezuma never visited Montezuma National Monument – he was born 100 years after the prehistoric dwelling was abandoned. The monument was misnamed for the Aztec emperor when it was rediscovered in the 1860’s.
The negotiations for Geronimo’s final surrender took place in Skeleton Canyon near present day Douglas in 1886.
The only place in the United States where mail is still delivered by mule is the village of Supai at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
The world’s largest antique, London Bridge, is located in Lake Havasu City. This is the only place in the United States that has World War II damage to it. (It was damaged in London prior to its relocation to Lake Havasu.) When England’s famous London Bridge was replaced in the 1960s, the original was purchased, dismantled, shipped stone by stone and reconstructed where it still stands today.
The Empire State building is 1,250 feet tall. The Grand Canyon is about a mile (5,280 feet) deep, equivalent to 4.224 Empire State Buildings stacked on top of each other.
The tallest building in Arizona is the Chase Tower in downtown Phoenix, which is 40 stories tall and 483 feet high, completed in 1972. Of the 20 tallest buildings in Arizona, 18 are located in Phoenix. However, no Phoenix buildings are among the tallest in the United States.
Phoenix is the largest city in the nation in square miles. The city limits extend several miles north of populated areas along Interstate 17.
Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, located about 55 miles west of Phoenix, is the largest nuclear power plant in the country and generates more electricity than any other U.S. power plant.
The “Five C’s” of Arizona are: cattle, copper, cotton, citrus, and climate.
More copper is mined in Arizona than all the other states combined, and the Morenci Mine is the largest copper producer in all of North America.
It would take more than 4.8 million pennies to equal the amount of copper used to make the dome on the roof of the Arizona Capitol building.
Bisbee is known as the Queen of the Copper Mines because during its mining heyday it produced nearly 25 percent of the world’s copper.
At one time, Bisbee was the largest city in the Southwest between Saint Louis and San Francisco.
Arizona is the only state in the nation that elects a Mine Inspector.
There are at least six open pit mines in Arizona.
Beginning in the 1940’s, widespread mining and milling of uranium ore for national defense and energy purposes led to a legacy of 520 abandoned uranium mines located on Navajo Nation lands.
As of May 1, 2010, there were nine Superfund sites on the National Priorities List in Arizona. Three other sites have been cleaned up and removed from the list; no additional sites are currently proposed.
Camels were imported in the 1850s to make a wagon road across northern Arizona, which would one day become Route 66.
The longest remaining intact section of Route 66 can be found in Arizona and runs from Seligman to Topock, a total of 157 unbroken miles.
The Lost Dutchman, Jacob Waltz – who is alleged to be the owner of the yet-undiscovered Lost Dutchman Gold Mine in Arizona’s Superstition Mountains – was actually a German.
Jerome, Arizona was named for Eugene Jerome of New York City, who never visited the town.
Flagstaff might have been the movie capital of the world. Pioneer filmmaker Cecil B. DeMille originally traveled there to make his first film, but he arrived in the middle of a storm and decided to move further west to Hollywood, California. His film, The Squaw Man (1914), was wildly successful and launched the fledgling movie industry in Hollywood.
Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, two of the most prominent movie stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age, were married in Kingman on March 18, 1939.
Billy the Kid killed his first man, Windy Cahill, in Bonita, Arizona.
Wyatt Earp was neither the town marshal nor the sheriff in Tombstone at the time of the shoot-out at the O.K. Corral. His brother Virgil was the town marshal.
The worst range war and family feud in the West, which claimed the lives of dozens of ranchers, ironically occurred in a place called Pleasant Valley, Arizona.
The westernmost battle of the Civil War – Arizona’s only Civil War battle – was fought on April 15, 1862, at Picacho Pass near Picacho Peak.
Chino Valley’s Fort Whipple was a U.S. Army post founded in January 1864 that served as Arizona Territory’s first capital prior to the founding of Prescott. The post was moved to Granite Creek near present-day Prescott in May 1864.
Prescott got its start as a gold mining town and because President Lincoln wanted to ensure that the Arizona Territorial capital was far away from the Tucson confederates.
Prescott is home to the world’s oldest rodeo and Payson is home to the world’s oldest continuous rodeo – both of which date back to the 1880s.
Phoenix originated in 1866 as a hay camp to supply military post Camp McDowell.
The city of Phoenix was named for the mythical Egyptian phoenix bird—which burst into flame and was reborn from its ashes—because the town sprouted from the ruins of a former civilization.
Downtown Yuma is one of only two designated National Heritage Areas west of the Mississippi.
Kartchner Cavern near Benson is a massive limestone cave with 13,000 feet of passages, two rooms as long as football fields, and one of the world’s longest soda straw stalactites measuring 21 feet 3 inches.
The best-preserved meteor crater on earth is located about 40 miles east of Winslow.
Arizona is home to Biosphere II, which was once the largest airtight research facility in the world.
The Navajo Nation Zoological and Botanical Park is the only tribally-owned zoo in America.
The world’s largest solar telescope is located at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Sells, Arizona.
The world’s tallest Kachina doll is located in Carefree, Arizona. The 39-ft. tall concrete version of a traditional American Indian doll stands at the entrance to the Tonto Hills residential community six miles east of town on Cave Creek Rd.
The University of Phoenix Stadium’s retractable roof and rollout field combination is a first in North America.
The state’s land grant university is the University of Arizona in Tucson.
The Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona holds more archives and individual works by 20th-century North American photographers than any other museum in the nation. Its archives contain an estimated 3.8 million items.
The Phoenix Art Museum is the largest institution of visual art in the Southwestern U.S.
Sun City, built by Del Webb in 1960, was the first 55-plus active adult retirement community in the country.
South Mountain Park in Phoenix is the largest municipal park in the country.
The Arizona towns of Adair and Alamo Crossing are now underwater, having been swallowed up by the formation of dams that created Fool Hollow Lake and Alamo Lake (respectively).
Arizona has one of the most efficient irrigation networks in the world. Massive irrigation projects with dams for water storage in lakes and reservoirs provide a large portion of the state’s water.
Located on Arizona’s western border, Parker Dam is the deepest dam in the world at 320 feet.
The two largest manmade lakes in the nation are Lake Mead and Lake Powell, both located in Arizona.
There are 15,600 farms in Arizona with an average farm size of 1,670 acres, resulting in total farmland of 26.1 million acres.
Most of the state’s farming occurs in the alluvial basins of the Colorado, Salt, Verde and Agua Fria rivers. The southern half of the state is good for year round crop growth in irrigated areas.
Beef and dairy goods are Arizona’s most valuable farm products. There are approximately 1 million head of cattle in Arizona, and 186,000 milk cows in the state.
Arizona also has over 165,000 hogs, 150,000 head of sheep, and 1,600,000 laying hens (which produce over 5.8 billion eggs a year).
The top agricultural crop commodities in Arizona are lettuce, cotton and hay.
The top agricultural crop exports are vegetables, hay, cotton, and cottonseed.
Arizona alfalfa yield led the nation at 8.3 tons per acre compared to 3.4 tons nationally.
Arizona ranks second nationally in its production of cantaloupe and honeydew melons, head and leaf lettuce, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, and lemons.
Yuma is the winter lettuce capitol of the world, as well as the country’s highest producer of other winter vegetables.
Arizona is part of the Cotton Belt, a group of southern states that have three things in common: lots of sunshine, water, and fertile soil, all very important to growing a good cotton crop.
Cotton in Arizona, which is mostly the upland variety but includes a small amount of higher-quality Pima cotton, is grown primarily along the Interstate 10 corridor from Tucson to Phoenix. The majority of the harvest begins in October.
Arizona grows enough cotton each year to make more than one pair of jeans for every person in the United States.
One-fourth of the state is forested, with 11.2 million acres of National Forest in Arizona.
Arizona has the largest contiguous stand of Ponderosa pine forest in the world, stretching from near Flagstaff along the Mogollon Rim to the White Mountains region.
There are more wilderness areas in Arizona than in the entire Midwestern U.S. Arizona alone has 90 wilderness areas; the Midwest has 50.
Arizona is home to 31 State Parks, 25 National Parks, 18 National Monuments, and 6 National Forests.
Established in 1919, the Grand Canyon National Park is perhaps the most famous of America’s national parks. It is an enormous stretch of canyon: 277 miles long (measured by the length of the river at its bottom), 6,000 vertical feet at its deepest and as much as 18 miles across in some places. It takes about two days to get to the bottom of the canyon and back on foot. And it receives close to 5 million visitors each year.
Arizona is on the western end of the Rocky Mountain chain and the northern half of the state is very mountainous.
Arizona has 3,928 mountain peaks – more than any one of the other Mountain States (Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming).
Arizona has 26 mountain peaks that are more than 10,000 feet in elevation.
Arizona’s highest point is Humphrey’s Peak at 12,633 ft.
Near Yuma, the Colorado River’s elevation dips to 70 feet above sea level, making it the lowest point in the state.
The average state elevation is 4,000 feet.
Bisbee is the Nation’s southernmost mile-high city.
Mount Lemmon, in the Santa Catalina Mountains, is the southernmost ski resort in the United States.
The geographic center of Arizona is 55 miles southeast of Prescott near the community of Mayer.
Rainfall averages for Arizona range from less than three inches in the deserts to more than 30 inches per year in the mountains.
The temperature average for southern Arizona is lows of 30°F in the winter to over 100°F in the summer. In the northern portion of the state, the temperature fluctuates from 20°F to 95°F.
Arizona’s diverse topography and varied climate can yield both the highest temperature across the nation and the lowest temperature across the nation in the same day.
The hottest temperature recorded in Arizona was 128 degrees at Lake Havasu City on June 29, 1994.
The coldest temperature recorded in Arizona was 40 degrees below zero at Hawley Lake on January 7, 1971.
The “Valley of the Sun” around Phoenix is noted for its average of 350 clear sunny days per year.
The state has an average rainfall of 13.6” per year giving Arizona very low relative humidity.
A major climate feature of the Southwest is the North American monsoon (a distinct seasonal change in wind direction of at least 120°). Arizona receives a majority of its rainfall during this late summer period.
Most Arizona soils have very low levels of organic matter, usually less than 1% by weight, and top soils around the state average only about one-half inch.
The Sonoran Desert is the most biologically diverse desert in North America.
The Saguaro cactus, native to the Sonoran Desert, is the largest cactus found in the U.S. The average life span of a saguaro is 150 years, but some plants may live more than 200 years. A 20 foot tall saguaro weighs approximately 1 ton (2,000 pounds). A saguaro cactus can store up to nine tons of water.
It’s not easy, practical, or legal to get water from a barrel cactus. Even if you got past the spines, it would be like sucking on a bad-tasting dish sponge.
More hummingbird species can be found in Sierra Vista, located in the southern portion of the state, than in any other state – earning its title as “the Hummingbird Capital of the United States.”
If you cut down a protected species of cactus in Arizona, you could spend more than a year in prison.
Javelinas are able to eat spiny prickly pear pads with no obvious harm to their mouths, stomachs or intestinal tracts. Javelinas are not true pigs; they are peccaries, which are native to the Americas.
Arizona is home to 28 species of bats, more than almost any other state.
Thirteen species of rattlesnakes live in Arizona, more than in any other state.
The Gila Monster is one of only two venomous lizards in the world. The other is the similar Mexican Beaded Lizard. Their venom is a defensive rather than offensive weapon.
Roadrunners in Arizona can be seen running up to 17 mph.
The black bear is the only bear species still found in Arizona.
The mountain lion (also called cougar, puma, catamount, and panther) is the largest cat native to North America. Mountain lions can be found throughout all portions of Arizona.
Coyotes are curious, clever, and adaptable. They quickly learn to take advantage of any newly discovered food source, and are often attracted to yards with abundant fruit and wildlife. Coyotes will eat pet food and knock over unsecured garbage cans, or may walk along the tops of walls around homes in search of unattended dogs and cats.