World-famous for the Grand Canyon, popular for its foodie vibe, and recognized for its natural beauty, Arizona has something for every taste. But picking the wrong time to go can make for a very unpleasant trip.
Below, we’ll share all about the best time to visit Arizona, as well as tips on how to steer away from the busy crowds and secure affordable accommodation rates.
The Best Time to Visit Arizona
The overall best time to visit Arizona is in spring (March—May). This season welcomes visitors with mild temperatures and a pleasant climate (as pleasant as Arizona can get).
Not only that, but it’s one of the best periods of the entire year to pay the national parks and forests a visit, do some sports, go camping, attend birding events, go for a hike, and so on.
Visiting around this time lowers the risk of wildfire encounters, which are far more frequent in the summer. These warmer months also bring about fresh blooms in the desert, with the wildflower season experiencing its peak in May.
If you head to Saguaro National Park, you can see Arizona’s famous cactuses with white flowers. Spring is also ideal for exploring the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, home to more than 50,000 plants and cactuses.
Note that the arrival of spring also brings occasional showers and wind, however, it shouldn’t impact your itinerary in any significant way. Also, spring sees an influx of tourists, as most travelers flock to Arizona to take advantage of the comfortable climate.
If you visit Arizona in spring, don’t forget to plan your visit around some of the more popular events around this time, such as the Tucson Festival of Books (March) and the McDowell Mountain Music Festival (March).
Cheapest Time to Visit Arizona
The cheapest time to visit Arizona is in the fall (September—November). Fall is the perfect season for visitors who want to avoid peak-season crowds.
Also, engaging in outdoor activities during this time is a blast, as the temperatures are agreeable. Plus, this is a good time to see some of Arizona’s wildlife in their natural habitat.
That said, note that although this is the least busy season to visit Arizona, there are plenty of festivals, which leads to more traffic and moderate crowds in some areas.
Some events in the fall include the Arizona State Fair (September), featuring amusement rides, live performances, versatile food options, and games.
Sedona Arts Festival (October), displaying the work of more than 1000 artists from the ceramics, painting, sculpture, and jewelry industry, Oktoberfest at Tempe Town Lake (October), promising German beer, fun, a carnival, and food, Arizona Taco Festival (October), the first-ever festival of this kind in the world.
There’s also the Arizona State Fair (October), welcoming guests each year with live entertainment, exciting rides, exhibitions, contests, and diverse food options.
Next, the fall period also coincides with the harvest season, so use your time to sample some local wines and visit local wineries. You can find popular tasting rooms in Sonoita, Wilcox, and the Verde Valley.
November also sees the beginning of ZooLights at the Phoenix Zoo, hands down one of the most spectacular light displays you’ve ever seen.
Least Busy Time to Visit Arizona
The least busy time to visit Arizona is in winter (December—February). If you want to steer away from the cold weather in other states, heading to Arizona might do just the trick.
Considering Arizona’s winter conditons, you’ll feel pretty much comfortable most of the time. Warmer cities such as Tucson and Phoenix are still suitable for outdoor recreational activities.
If you visit the Grand Canyon at this time, you may enjoy snow-capped views, minus the peak season crowds and high temperatures. Winter visitors should be on the lookout for the Fiesta Bowl, an American college football bowl game played yearly in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
The January Tucson Jazz Festival, brings jazz enthusiasts together. If you’re there in February, keep your eyes peeled for the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show, the world’s biggest gem and mineral show.
ZooLights at the Phoenix Zoo is still on the table as well. Beer lovers rejoice! February sees the entertaining Arizona Beer Week, an opportunity to sample and celebrate local craft beers.
Devoted to promoting the spring training industry, the Cactus League Spring Training (February-March) is baseball fans’ haven. Finally, keep in mind that high-elevation cities such as Flagstaff and Sedona have a skiing season.
If winter sports resonate with you, by all means, add this activity to your Arizona itinerary. Do note that icy roads and occasional snow storms may mean getting there will be challenging, although this is very rare.
Worst Time to Visit Arizona
And the worst time to find yourself in Arizona? Definitely in summer (June—August). Summers in Arizona are hot, dry, and seeing temperatures with triple digits isn’t unheard of.
Also, the monsoon season beginning in late summer makes insects such as mosquitos and animals such as scorpions make an appearance. That said, don’t let these weather conditions deter you from planning your potential summer holiday in Arizona.
The desert is way cooler at night, and getting an early start in the morning might help you avoid the intense day temperatures. Visiting art galleries and museums or heading to the nearest pine forests might also help you cool off.
To make your stay more dynamic, consider joining the Independence Day festivities in Tucson, Phoenix, or Flagstaff and experience the fireworks and parades.
An event honoring creativity, culture, and community, the Navajo Festival of Arts and Culture is a must for culture enthusiasts. If you’re into photography, consider Sedona’s yearly PhotoFest.
Things to Consider
We want you to have the best holiday possible in Arizona, so we put together a list of our favorite travel tips to make sure you have a whale of a time:
- If you’re an international traveler, take note of the time differences — in summer, the state follows the Pacific Time Zone, whereas, in winter, the Mountain Standard Time is used instead.
- Arizona is generally a safe destination, with a much lower crime rate than other regions in the US. That said, like all states, it does have its fair share of crime issues, so common precautions apply, as they do elsewhere.
- Banks, government offices, post offices, shops, restaurants, and museums are closed on these public holidays: January 1 (New Year’s Day), the third Monday in January (Martin Luther King, Jr., Day), the third Monday in February (Presidents’ Day), the last Monday in May (Memorial Day), July 4 (Independence Day), the first Monday in September (Labor Day), the second Monday in October (Columbus Day), November 11 (Veterans’ Day/Armistice Day), the fourth Thursday in November (Thanksgiving Day), and December 25 (Christmas).
- Considering how unpredictable the weather in Arizona can get, we recommend packing carefully. If you visit in summer, wear loose and comfortable clothes. Hats, sunscreens, and sunglasses are a must too. If you visit in winter, pack jackets and sweaters. Hikers should also bring comfortable shoes and clothes they won’t sweat easily in.
- Never hike alone — many visitors end up getting lost all the time, so make sure you have a hiking buddy with you at all times.
- Always carry a bottle of water with you, especially during the warmer months, as it’s easy to get dehydrated in the hot, dry weather.
- Respect all park rules — each national park in the state goes by its own rules, so make sure you’re acquainted with them before visiting.
- Lyft and Uber are available in the entire state, except in more remote towns. Opt for biking, scooters, or walking whenever possible. With that said, note that while smaller towns such as Bisbee and Flagstaff are pedestrian-friendly, the cities are not as much.
- Those planning to visit the Grand Canyon should plan their trip months in advance as campsites and accommodations fill up dizzyingly fast.
- Get travel insurance.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions to know before visiting Arizona:
How many days is enough in Arizona?
Considering how huge Arizona is, you’ll need at least 10 days to explore different regions, cities, and attractions. If you don’t have that much available, we’d advise you to focus your Arizona trip on the main areas such as Phoenix, Sedona, the Superstition Mountains, and of course, Grand Canyon National Park.
Is Arizona cheap or expensive?
To spend three days in Arizona’s capital, Phoenix, you’ll need $735 if you’re going solo, $1250 if you’re with a partner, and $$1620 if you’re a family of four. Hotel prices in the center vary between $195 and $485 (on average, $245 per night).
You’ll need around $80 per day per person for eating out and transportation.
That said, keep in mind that this is budget information based on past visitors’ experiences, and it serves as an estimate — your expenses will depend on the accommodation you book, what you spend your money on in Arizona, where you fly from, and so on.
Do you need a car when visiting Arizona?
Yes, you’ll need a car to navigate Arizona, as it’s a large state (the sixth largest in the country, to be more precise), and most of its top points of interest include national parks and national monuments, so you’ll need a car to get from one point to another.
What is a nice city in Arizona?
Arizona is home to many beautiful cities, the best ones being:
5. Lake Havasu City
Where do you fly into to see the Grand Canyon?
Most people fly into the Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, as it’s the closest major international airport to the most popular area of the national park, the South Rim (231 miles distance).
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|👍 Best Time to Visit||March to May|
|💲 Cheapest Time to Visit||September to November|
|🗓️ Least Busy Time to Visit||December to February|
|👎 Worst Time to Visit||June to August|
With that said, there are ways to be flexible and make the weather work for you instead of against you, such as getting an early start in the morning, opting for indoor activities midday, and going on night walks.
All in all, going to Arizona may seem challenging at times due to the extreme weather conditions; however, it’s a state absolutely worth exploring — it has so much to offer that chances are the weather conditions will be the last thing on your mind during your stay there. Happy travels!