Probably one of the best parts of Arizona (as in most Western states) is the vastness of its natural beauty. Historically, the federal government had enough foresight to preserve these national treasures and Arizona has 22 of these. Unfortunately, with the government shutdown (as of this posting), the national parks, monuments and recreation areas are closed (including the roads into them if you're thinking about driving in). It's sad that national parks (and their employees and local businesses) are out of business, especially since most of the money to operate them comes from private donations with limited federal funding. Please come to visit when the government gets back to work, but in the meantime, here's a small sample of what you're missing:
The Grand Canyon - Governor Brewer offered to operate the Grand Canyon a few days ago, but that offer was rejected by the Park Service. This gorgeous picture from the Sierra Club shows what is now hidden from view.
Petrified Forest National Park - During our recent vacation we stamped our passport in the Arizona Painted Desert where quartz dazzles in giant trees. It's closed. In fact, nearly all of the places we visited on our vacation - Bryce Canyon (and nearby Zion National Park), Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Devil's Tower, Battle of Little Bighorn Battlefield, the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, Fort Laramie, Rocky Mountain National Park, Pecos National Historic Park and Minuteman Missile National Historic Site - are closed.
Saguaro National Park - Located near Tuscon, this is a great park for driving or riding a bicycle. Although we live in the Sonoran Desert and see saguaro cactus all around us, I must say the Saguaro National Park was still visually stunning for me.
Lee's Ferry - This was another one of our stops during our vacation before we left Arizona. It's the place where the Colorado River comes into Arizona and it is a stunning view north of the Grand Canyon.
Canyon de Chelly - Pronounced "Canyon du Shay" This is a place on my bucket list. You need some hiking boots for this place to see the optimal sites. Gorgeous slot canyons, hieroglyphics and ancient ruins are hidden from view until the federal government opens for business.
As I mentioned previously, there are 17 more sites owned by us that are closed. Let's hope we can visit our national treasures soon.