If you would have asked me three years ago what I thought about Arizona, I would have mumbled some nonsense about senior citizens, golf courses, and intolerable heat. Before moving here, I was very much a propagator of negative Arizona stereotypes, and would have laughed at the idea of living here. Fortunately for me, two of my siblings ended up in Flagstaff, AZ and shattered all of the stereotypes I held. In response to my change of heart, I felt the least I could do is write an article to debunk some of the commonly held misconceptions about the Grand Canyon state.
Myth 1: Arizona is just one giant hot desert with nothing to offer
Response: This has been the biggest misconception I’ve encountered. Before living here, I pictured Arizona as an arid wasteland with virtually zero biological or geographical diversity. Little did I know, Arizona has the 3rd greatest diversity of species of all the states, ranking 2nd for reptiles, 3rd for both birds and plants, and 5th for mammals. Furthermore, Arizona ranks 8th among the states for endemism, meaning that many of the species in Arizona can’t be found anywhere else on the planet. Arizona is home to beautiful deserts, massive forest-covered mountains, and incredibly deep canyons.
By simply driving two hours from Phoenix to Flagstaff, temperatures can vary by as much as 40 degrees, offering residents the ability to escape extreme temperatures on a whim.
Myth 2: Arizona is just a bunch of old people
Response: It’s true that Arizona’s arid climate and beautiful winters attract a large chunk of the nation’s elderly population, but Arizona is also home to the largest undergraduate university in the country – Arizona State University, with just under 60,000 undergrads. Throw in the University of Arizona, Northern Arizona University, and numerous other colleges, and you have a massive population of young people to counterbalance the concentration of retirees who reside in the state.
Myth 3: There is no water in the entire state
Response: Coming from the Land of 10,000 Lakes, this myth was the source of much of my anxiety. Though it is true that water sources are far and few between in Arizona, the water that does exist will blow your mind. Massive reservoirs like Lake Powell and Lake Mead rise out of the high desert. The blue-green water of Havasu Creek rushes out of a natural spring and falls over 200 feet of redwall limestone cliffs, creating an impossible contrast of Gatorade-blue water, magical hanging gardens, and vibrant red rock.
Numerous crystal clear streams like Oak Creek and West Clear Creek snake through and form beautiful canyons. You may have to strap on a pair of hiking shoes to find it, but the water is certainly worth the effort.
Myth 4: People from Arizona don’t know how to drive
Response: I’m sorry Arizona, I can’t do anything to refute this myth. If you decide to visit or live in Arizona, be prepared to experience symptoms of road rage.