Visit The Arizona Strip: Remote, Wild, & Sparsely Populated Beyond The Grand Canyon
The Travel (December 3, 2022) by Aaron Spray
While Arizona may appear to be a regular rectangle, its northwestern corner is isolated and tenuously linked to the rest of the state, much like a panhandle. This vast arid region is called the Arizona Strip and is largely split off from the rest of the state by the Grand Canyon. The region is mostly protected and offers some of the wildest and least developed parts of Arizona.
The entire region around the Grand Canyon is worth exploring – take the time to visit the Havasu Falls on the Havasupai tribal lands while there. Arguably, October is the best month to visit the Grand Canyon and the Arizona Strip. To really experience the full beauty of Arizona, consider hiking the 800-mile-long Arizona National Scenic Trail.
The Isolation & Peculiarity Of The Arizona Strip
The Arizona Strip lies to the north of the Grand Canyon and includes a variety of landscapes and climates. It has historically been extremely difficult to reach the Arizona Strip from the rest of Arizona.
At around 7,811 sq miles (20,000 km2), the Strip is larger than the state of Massachusetts, and yet it has a population of only around 8,000 people.
The area has always been isolated and remote. While the first Europeans visited the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in 1540, it wasn’t for another 236 years, in 1776, that the first European visit to the North Rim was recorded.
The region is better connected with Utah than the rest of Arizona (for a while in the 19th century, both Utah and Arizona claimed the area north of the Grand Canyon – this was only resolved in 1912). Still, it is culturally and economically more connected with Utah.
How To Access The Arizona Strip
The largest settlements in the Strip are Colorado City, Fredonia, and Beaver Dam. The only three major roads in the region are the I-15 in the northwestern corner, the Arizona State Route 389, and US Route 89A. Of these, it’s the US Route 89A that crosses the Colorado River on the historic Navajo Bridge and is the only direct route connecting the Strip with the rest of the state (other than the Glen Canyon Dam bridge).
It is not possible for residents of Littlefield to get to the rest of Arizona without leaving the state and going through Utah, Nevada, or California. The core of the Strip is accessed via four primary unpaved roads (unsuitable for vehicles with low ground clearance).
The BLM Arizona Strip Field Office is responsible for managing almost 2 million acres of land in northwestern Arizona (including the Old Spanish National Historic Trail and the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument).
Most Of The Land Of The Strip Is Protected
Most of the land of the Strip is protected and managed by the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the US Forest Service.
Much of the land of the Arizona Strip is held in national monuments, wilderness areas, or the Kaibab Indian Reservation. It is a stunning mosaic of canyons, cliffs, valleys, and picturesque landscapes. It ranges from low deserts to pine-covered mountains.
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