Arizona in December for sun and natural scenery
Replies: 11 - Last Post: Oct 30, 2012 1:29 PM Last Post By: Nemo_Dat
Oct 21, 2012 12:16 PM
Arizona in December for sun and natural sceneryHi, my girlfriend and I are thinking of flying into Phoenix between roughly Dec 10 and 23 to do some sight-seeing and escape our Canadian winter. The landscape around Sedona looks amazing and I'm sure we'll pay a visit - but it's quite cold so we are also looking for warmer places to visit. Phoenix has beautiful weather in December, but not much in terms of scenery and we're not golf/shopping mall types. Also, we'll definitely take the drive out to the Grand Canyon at some point. The challenge with this trip is to see the natural beauty and also enjoy some warm weather in a nice spot (by "warm weather" I'm thinking daytime highs in 60s or 70s). It would be great to find a spot with the natural beaty of Sedona but with warmer temperatures...
We'd be grateful for any suggestions, as well as any driving routes in the SouthWest as we'll have a rental and are definitely game for some driving/motels to see the highlights.
Oct 21, 2012 1:31 PM
1The southern half of the state is rather pretty, and will be about as warm as anywhere. With two weeks, you could spend a while in Sedona and around GC before heading back south to thaw out... If you enjoy hiking at any level, wildlife, and pretty scenery, the broad area area south and southeast of Phoenix (a good place to fly into, but you'll want to flee ASAP!) is superb.
Check the last half of this thread
and most of
Oct 21, 2012 5:49 PM
Oct 21, 2012 9:06 PM
4Does it have to be Arizona? Depending on ticket pricing ,you could also fly/drive into Las Vegas and go on to visit Zion National Park (Springdale, Utah) daily average temperature range 30 - 53 and/or Death Valley National Park (Furnace Creek, California) daily average temperature range 38 - 65.
Five hour drive from Sedona to Las Vegas, Grand Canyon and Sedona would best be done as a 4-day or more side-trip from Las Vegas.
Oct 21, 2012 11:36 PM
5There is no guarantee of highs in the 70's anywhere in the SW.
Tombstone's elevation is around 4000 feet, making it a decent 'average' for the area's climate. http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/cgi-bin/cliFTrec.pl?az8619
As you can see, anything from teens to to 80+ is possible, with highs in the upper 50 to low 60's likely. Add a few degrees for lower terrain like Saguaro NP and Organ Pipe. Subtract a few if visiting Chiricahua, etc.
Oct 22, 2012 8:12 AM
Oct 22, 2012 2:46 PM
7I live in Scottsdale for part of the year and it can get chilly in December.
Camelback and Apache Canyon offer some nice hikes and aren't far from PHX.
Even a drive thru Fountain Hills southbound can get nice.
Tucson has some great options as well. I can recommend Mt. Lemon (go to the observatory), or Pima Airforce base, or Suguaro Nat. Park.
Tucson is consistently warmer than PHX, but regardless of where you are it will get cold at night.
Tombstone is very tacky and touristy so unless you are into full scale kitsch give it a miss.
Oct 22, 2012 5:22 PM
8Yea, Tombstone was perhaps a poor choice of reference. Apart from the Old Courthouse, there's little to recommend. If you find yourself in the area, flee the Tourons! Take Middlemarch Rd. NE to the Cochise Mountains, and hike the Sheepshead area. Very pretty!
Oct 22, 2012 10:05 PM
9@homerj - Tucson is consistently a little cooler than PHX, especially at night. This is true based on climate stats, matches my personal experience, and general expectation given that Tucson is about 1500 feet higher in elevation.
You don't have time for southern Arizona, AND Sedona/Grand Canyon AND the national parks of southern Utah. Although I'd certainly not dispute the scenic glories of the Utah parks, they are not someplace you'd go for a "warm" winter vacation. Even the lower elevation areas like Zion can be subject to wild temperature and weather shifts - spring-like one day, unquestionably wintry the next.
Southern AZ combined with a quick trip up to Sedona and Grand Canyon will offer plenty of scenic beauty, and much more reliably warm-ish weather. You could do a nice loop south to Organ Pipe Cactus national monument, east to the Tucson area, back north via the scenic secondary highways to Flagstaff for quick visits to Grand Canyon and Sedona (this is the only part of the trip where you'd likely encounter winter conditions).
Alternatively, you could skip Organ Pipe Cactus and head directly east from PHX to the Superstition Wilderness, which is just as scenic and requires less driving. In any event plan a couple days around Tucson, where you'll have more than your fill of sunny days to explore the surrounding desert mountains, which are really quite impressive.
Oct 23, 2012 7:36 AM
10I will bow to Flagstuffs weather stats as I have never been in Tuscon earlier than Feb/Mar and its always a bit warmer than scottsdale then.
Superstition area is great and one of my fave places to go. You can do the drive through Apache Canyon in that area which is a very nice afternoon out (dont be afraid of the dirt road or the fact that in some places the road is really only wide enuf for one car).
Also since its pre Christmas if you golf you can get some excellent deals on some beautiful desert courses.
Oct 30, 2012 1:29 PM
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