When you think of Arizona, you likely picture dusty deserts, towering cacti, and rust-colored sunsets sinking over the horizon. But did you know that the Grand Canyon State is also a hotspot for craggy, sometimes snowcapped, mountain peaks? Nestled beneath a rocky range of summits and valleys, the most beautiful mountain towns in Arizona are a must-see for any itinerary through the Southeast USA.
Coming in hot with world-famous canyons and bizarre rock formations hidden in national parks, these Arizona mountain resort towns are hubs for outdoor tourism. Lace up those hiking boots and get ready to be awed—these pristine landscapes will inspire anyone’s inner artist.
Need some inspiration for your next alpine holiday? This guide to the top-rated Arizona mountain towns in Arizona will have you planning your trip in a jiffy!
Looking for a charming alpine setting for a Hallmark movie-like vacation? The historic main street in Bisbee leads right to the foot of the Mule Mountains; talk about the perfect photo op!
As you make your way through the old mining town of Bisbee, you’ll find yourself intrigued by its past. There’s no better way to cure this curiosity than to take a tour of a Bisbee mine itself.
One of the most popular spots to visit in Bisbee is the Lavendar Pit Overlook, with a birds-eye view of copper-toned ridges and a steely lake below. You can also hop on a tram and be guided into the darkness at Queen Mine.
Of course, there’s no better way to end a day of touring than with a nice cold pint, especially when you’ve been out in the mines. When happy hour hits, head on down to the Old Bisbee Brewing Company, where your microbrew comes with unlimited free popcorn. Looking for something non-alcoholic? Their artisanal root beer is out-of-this-world!
Settle into the quaint Arizona mountain town of Springerville at the base of the White Mountains. This little gem is the unofficial “Home of the Ranchers” with an obvious “western” vibe, plenty of working farms, and vast expanses of land.
Want to spend the day exploring under the Arizona sun? Give one of Springerville’s premier outdoor attractions a try. You can wander the ruins of the Casa Malpais Archeological Park or buy a day pass and head into Petrified Forest National Park. This American beauty is famous for its rainbow forest with colorfully-preserved trees, petroglyphs, and striped mountains.
Traveling with a kiddo who loves dinosaurs? Be sure to make time for a walk through the White Mountain Dinosaur Exploration Center. This is no ordinary museum filled with stuffy no-touch exhibits. Here, you’ll get down in the dirt with hands-on tours of local paleontology dig sites and aid in real research projects!
Nestled in the foothills of Mount Lemmon, Summerhaven is a land of big skies and even bigger attractions. Stradling the line between lush rolling hills and dusty desert, this destination is absolutely breathtaking.
It’s not often you’ll find rushing waterfalls, sparkling lakes, seven-foot cacti, and sandy desert all in one place, but you will at the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. This is a popular Summerhaven hiking area with ample wildlife-watching opportunities, but you don’t have to navigate it on foot. You can also take the trolley tour or check out Houston’s Horseback Riding if you want to gallivant through the mountainside like you’re living in a western film.
When the dark falls over the desert, and the temperature starts to drop, why not get cozy at the Mt. Lemmon Sky Center observatory? A peaceful evening of laying back and watching the stars is exactly what you need to relax after a busy day of sightseeing.
If you’re looking to take a deep dive into the world of outdoor tourism, Alpine is the Arizona mountain town for you. Whether you want something slow-paced under the sun or an adventure that’s sure to get the adrenaline pumping, you’re sure to find it aptly-named Alpine.
Black River is highly rated as one of the best fly-fishing destinations in Arizona, so get yourself some hip-waders and give ‘er a try! Or, for an alternative outdoorsy activity in Alpine, hit the hiking trails on foot and keep your eye out for wildlife like bears, mountain lions, elk, and Mexican Grey Wolves.
Traveling throughout the winter season? You might actually see snow here! In fact, two of the most popular winter activities in Alpine are cross-country skiing or taking a quick drive to Greer (listed below) for slope-style escapades.
Tubac is the ideal Arizona destination for tourists who love to learn about the local cultural heritage and arts scene. If this sounds like you, be sure to check out this surprisingly green community located just a hair above the Mexican border.
For a unique deep dive into the multicultural history of local Native Americans, Mexican, and colonial communities throughout history, plan a trip to the Tubac Presidio State Historic Park and Museum. Here you’ll find genuine buildings from the first European settlement in AZ and a whole cast of historical interpreters who will bring these scenes to life.
Of course, art lovers will want to hear all about the Tubac Center of the Arts, where you can explore pop-up exhibitions, purchase the works of local artisans for the ultimate souvenir, or take an art class yourself.
(Can you imagine painting the landscape before your eyes? What a lovely way to keep your holiday memories forever!)
Welcome to the Wild West! Cottonwood is a lovely little city that has maintained its historic, Western facade. If you’ve ever wanted to step inside a classic cowboy movie, visiting the town of Cottonwood is the next best thing.
For a true cowboy experience, be sure to make your way to Blazin’ M Ranch, Cottonwood’s saloon-themed dinner theatre. The BBQ ribs and gut-splitting entertainment come highly reviewed, but it doesn’t end there.
When you’re not hootin’ and hollerin’, you can take roping lessons, learn to fire a pistol in the shooting gallery, and take a commemorative photo in the old-time studio, costumes and all.
Did you know that Arizona has a decent wine region? If a little wine-tasting tour piques your interest, the Spanish casa-style Alcantara Vineyards and the bright, Main Street tasting room from Burning Tree Cellars are great places to start. You may also want to venture a little further into Sedona for a full-fledged wine tour. (More on that next…)
One of the most popular mountain towns in Arizona, Sedona has grown in a big way over the last few decades. This desert destination is now at the top of so many American (and international) travelers’ bucket lists; let’s go over why it should be on yours, too!
Sedona is home to some of Arizona’s most-photographed rock formations and geological landmarks that are recognized all around the world. For a few different ways to trek them, starting your day in Sedona hiking your way through Red Rock State Park, scrambling up to Devil’s Bridge (this is not for the faint of heart!), or doing some meditation at one of Sedona’s four energy vortexes.
If you feel like splurging and taking your desert sightseeing to the next level, consider embarking on an iconic Pink Jeep Tour or reserving an early morning hot air balloon ride over the mountains.
The sun-drenched desert gets hot, but here’s your solution: The swimming hole at the infamous Cathedral Rock is one of the best places to visit Sedona; be sure to bring along a bathing suit unless you’re comfortable taking a dip in your skivvies.
You can also pack a picnic and a book for an all-day outing, so you can slip into the water and stay cool all afternoon long.
Whether you’re interested in Arizona’s mining history, sipping wines from regional vineyards, or the hybrid art styles displayed in local galleries, Jerome is an excellent choice for your next vacation. This Arizona alpine town, dappling its way up the hillside, is sure to impress even the pickiest traveler.
Why not start your journey exploring the top tourist attractions in Jerome with a relatively easy morning hike? Climb Cleopatra Hill for a jaw-dropping view of Jerome’s historic neighborhoods below. It’s also a great place to have a picnic, take some photographs, or simply stop and smell the roses.
Discover Jerome’s gold rush past with a trip to the Gold King Mine Museum and Ghost Town. When you’re not roaming the eerie ruins of a mine shaft and rusting antique cars, you can try your hand at panning for gold and gemstones. The best part is that you can keep anything you find!
Known as “the Gateway to the San Francisco Peaks,” Flagstaff is a destination full of blazing red rock formations, wide-open skies, and a historic downtown core.
Though the Grand Canyon is a reasonable day trip from many of the destinations on this list, Flagstaff is one of the closest home bases you’ll find. If you want to see this “wonder of the world,” be sure to put that at the top of your itinerary.
The Grand Canyon isn’t the only canyon around, though. Right in Flagstaff, you’ll have access to the Walnut Canyon National Monument, offering a completely different landscape known for its whiter rockface dappled by pines.
What about nightlife? Well, it may not be loud and boozy, but the Lowell Observatory is where everyone in Flagstaff seems to go after the sun sets. One of the top tourist attractions in Flagstaff, this was the first designated International Dark Sky Area in the world and is home to one of the largest telescopes in the United States. If you’re fascinated by the cosmos, take a tour of the constellations with the help of a resident astronomer.
Lush by summer and snow-capped by winter, Greer is a popular resort destination amongst Arizona’s more adventurous crowd all year round. Whatever you do, don’t forget to pack a sturdy pair of shoes and some athletic gear when preparing for a holiday in this hidden gem!
The forests in Greer are surprisingly lush, which is one of the biggest draws to the area. Want to get out and explore them? Take a hike through the White Mountain Grasslands Wildlife Area, featuring woodland, meadows, and watersheds, as well as lots of local fauna.
Pronghorn antelope are among the most sought-after residents in the forest, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled and your camera ready. Looking for wildflowers? The Government Springs Trail is in full bloom pretty much from early spring to early fall.
Visiting during the winter months? Greer is one of the few places you can go downhill skiing in Arizona, with several mountainside runs at the Sunrise Ski Resort.
Tourism in Pinetop-Lakeside is all about outdoor recreation. Whether you want to spend your days at a luxurious golf club or get some dirt between your toes, this town offers dozens of options that’ll encourage everyone in your crew to get outside and enjoy the sunshine.
One of the best ways to indulge your inner naturalist in Pinetop-Lakeside is to hike the Thompson Trail. You could also book a sunset horseback riding tour with Porter Mountain Stables for a picturesque evening. And if that’s just not enough to satisfy your craving for the great outdoors, you can take your new equine pals on a longer ride through the day to The Ice Caves or the Mesa Overlook.
Traveling with the youngins? White Mountain Family Fun Park is exactly what you need. From go-karts and mini-golf to laser tag and arcade games, everyone in the family is sure to have a blast at this fun amusement center.