California Bucket List ~ Deserts Region

As we head to a new state today in our bucket list series, we cross the western border of Arizona into the desert area of California. This is one of  a dozen tourist regions located in California, and I’m beginning to think you could live in the area for years and still not see it all!


  • Amboy Crater: Remains of a volcanic eruption.


  • Mojave National Preserve: Tons to explore: from singing sand dunes to volcanic cinder cones and Joshua trees.


  • Afton Canyon Natural Area: Known as the “Grand Canyon of the Mojave.”
  • Desert Discovery Center: Area to learn more about the Mojave Desert.
  • Rainbow Basin Natural Area: Explore the multi-colored rock formations.
  • Route 66 “Mother Road” Museum: Travel back in time to the routes heyday.

Borrego Springs

  • Anza-Borrego Desert State Park: California’s largest state park.

California City

  • Desert Tortoise Nature Area: Come find some of the areas oldest living residents.


  • Red Rock Canyon State Park: Explore the El Paso Mountain’s colorful buttes and badlands.

China Lake

  • U.S. Naval Museum of Armament and Technology: Learn about the Navy’s weapons.

Death Valley Junction

  • Death Valley National Park: Explore the hottest and driest place in America.


  • Ladder Canyon: Explore this canyon area via a hike filled with ladders and narrow spaces.

Morongo Valley

  • Big Morongo Canyon Preserve: Another fun canyon area to hike.

Palm Desert

  • Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument: Visit 5 distinct life zones within this park.
  • The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens: Unique zoo specializing in desert wildlife.

Palm Springs

  • Moorten Botanical Garden: View thousands of cacti and other desert plants.


  • Fossil Falls: Dry riverbed with obsidian glass.
  • Trona Pinnacles: See the otherworldly geological features often seen on Star Trek.

Twentynine Palms

  • Joshua Tree National Park: Enjoy the landscape filled with the park’s namesake trees.

All attractions can be found in the 2019 California Travel Guide.

Arizona Bucket List ~ West Coast Region

Greetings all! Today we enter into our final bucket list region for Arizona. I will be taking a few days break following this, as we will be traveling for a church workers conference over the next few days, but will be back next Monday with the start of our California Bucket List series! If I am remembering correctly, California has 12 regions to explore, so it will last us just over 2 weeks worth of my 5 weekly posts! I still won’t have any new actual travel experiences of our own, as most of our meals will be provided for us at the conference and we are staying at the same hotel in Sioux Falls that we did the last time we stayed!

It’s interesting to me that Arizona has a region labeled “west coast” since they aren’t technically on a “coast”, but they have so much to do along the river that borders the western edge of the state, they give it a region of it’s own. This is probably actually my shortest list for the state, but it still has some unique fun things to explore!


  • Arizona Powerhouse Route 66 Museum: This museum details the history of the great Mother Road and is located in the town’s historic powerhouse.

Lake Havasu City

  • Lake Havasu State Park: Located on the shore of beautiful Lake Havasu, this park has something for all water lovers and several miles of hiking trails.
  • London Bridge: This bridge links an island in the middle of the Colorado River to the city of Lake Havasu. The bridge originally spanned the River Thames in London, and was bought, deconstructed, and then reconstructed at its current location.
  • Miniature Lighthouses: Lake Havasu City is home to several scaled replicas of lighthouses located throughout the country.

Peach Springs

  • Grand Canyon West-Skywalk: A chance to explore the western portion of the Grand Canyon, especially the newer famed see through skywalk!


  • Poston Memorial Monument: The monument marks the locations of a WWII Japanese Internment Camp.


  • Yuma Territorial Prison State Historic Park: Tour the site of the old territorial prison.

All attractions found in the 2019 Arizona Travel Guide.

Arizona Bucket List ~ Tucson and Southern Arizona Region

Today’s region takes us to the far south of the state and features, most prominently, the city of Tucson.


  • Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument: Home of the famed organ pipe cactus, a rare type of cactus.


  • Fort Bowie National Historic Site: This was a 19th century outpost of the United States Army.


  • Patagonia Lake State Park: Popular for swimming and camping.


  • Titan Missile Museum: Visit an old missile site dating back to the Cold War era.


  • Kitt Peak National Observatory: Located high above the Tuscon area, this observatory hosts a visitor center and several nighttime programs.


  • Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park: Home to many sites in the legendary Wild West town of Tombstone.


  • Tubac Presidio State Historic Park: Preserves the ruins of the Presidio and also gives a timeline of the settlement of the area.
  • Tumacacori National Historical Park: Park protects ruins of three Spanish mission communities.


  • Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum: Contains a zoo, aquarium, botanical garden and natural history museum.
  • Ironwood Forest National Monument: Preserving the forest of ironwood trees, this is located in the Sonoran Desert.
  • The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures: Come explore the history of the world through the use of miniature dioramas.
  • Mission Garden: This is a living agricultural museum.
  • Sabino Canyon: Beautiful canyon area to explore north of Tucson.
  • Saguaro National Park: Home to the giant saguaro cactus!


  • Chiricahua National Monument: Area protects extensive hoodoos and balancing rocks.

All attractions can be found in the 2019 Arizona Travel Guide.




Arizona Bucket List ~ Phoenix and Central Arizona Region

Home of the “snow birds” that don’t head to Florida, Phoenix is a well visited part of the state, especially in the winter! Here are some fun things to check out in that area!


  • Casa Grande Ruins National Monument: Preserves structures from the Pueblo III and IV eras.


  • University of Phoenix Stadium: Home of the Arizona Cardinals. I’d love to take a tour of the facilities.

Litchfield Park

  • Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium, and Safari Park: This huge zoo has a focus on African and South American animals.


  • Biosphere 2: This is an American Earth system science research facility. It would be so neat to tour.


  • Arizona Science Center: Hands-on learning fun!
  • Desert Botanical Garden: Experience the beauty of desert plants.
  • Heard Museum: Museum dedicated to American Indian art.
  • Japanese Friendship Garden: Beautiful and relaxing garden in which to take a stroll.
  • Musical Instrument Museum: Fun place for a music major like me to explore.
  • Phoenix Zoo: Largest privately owned zoo in the United States.
  • South Mountain Park and Preserve: Fun place to go hiking.


  • Butterfly Wonderland: Huge rain forest habitat that is filled with butterflies of all kinds.
  • Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West: Tour this architectural wonder.
  • OdySea Aquarium: This is the largest aquarium in the Southwest.


  • Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park: The largest and oldest botanical garden in Arizona.


  • Arizona Heritage Center: Arizona’s center for history.

All attractions can be found in the 2019 Arizona Travel Guide.


Arizona Bucket List ~ North Central Region

Today we hit up a lesser traveled area of Arizona: The North Central Region.

Camp Verde

  • Fort Verde State Historic Park: This park preserves parts of the Apache War-era fort.
  • Montezuma Castle National Monument: Preserves an old cliff dwelling.
  • Tuzigoot National Monument: Preserves a 2-3 story pueblo.


  • Arcosanti: Take a tour of this experimental town.


  • Verde River Hot Springs: Come relax in the man made pools still filled by the hot springs that once were part of a now abandoned hot spring resort.


  • Tonto Natural Bridge State Park: This natural bridge is believed to be the largest natural travertine bridge in the world.


  • Tonto National Monument: Showcases two Salado-style cliff dwellings.


  • Red Rock State Park: Features trails along a red rock canyon just outside of Sedona.


  • Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park: This park was created to memorialize the 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots who died here while fighting the Yarnell Hill fire in 2013.

All attractions found in the 2019 Arizona Travel Guide. 

World’s Largest Pheasant ~ Huron, South Dakota

Our final pit stop on our route back home from the Black Hills was to see the World’s Largest Pheasant in Huron.  Those who know us well, know that we love our large roadside attractions. Bonus is they tend to be free!


Not going to lie, it’s a little concerning to see all the for sale signs around the property. Hopefully whoever buys the property either maintains the pheasant or they find somewhere else in town to move him, because he’s pretty cool!

The other really neat thing is that they have a platform to stand on (shown above) to be in the picture and another platform that you can take the pictures from. This makes the photo op so much simpler and easy to do!

If you happen to be passing through Huron (also home to the South Dakota State Fair), just take a ride down the highway and check this big bird out!

Also please note, for the time being, we are now caught up on blog posts about our own travels and have no big trips planned until the third week of March. From this point on, it will just be more of a focus on our Bucket List series as we build up our knowledge prior to other travels!

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Arizona Bucket List ~ Northern Region

Today we move to a new state! Arizona! Our Arizona Bucket List posts will be broken into five segments. Today we tackle Northern Arizona, home to the Grand Canyon and larger city of Flagstaff.


  • Canyon de Chelly National Monument: While of course the Grand Canyon is the most well known canyon in Arizona, this one is not to be missed either! Canyon de Chelly is on Navajo land and still contains remnants of old pueblos.


  • Museum of Northern Arizona: Discover the rich history of this land and people at this state history museum.
  • Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument: Hike along the crater of an old volcano at this park!
  • Walnut Canyon National Monument: Another fun canyon to hike and visit ancient pueblos.
  • Wupatki National Monument: More ancient pueblos located among the red rocked area.


  • Pipe Spring National Monument: Learn about conflict and comprise faced by Mormon ranchers and the Native Americans who both called this area home.


  • Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site: Old meeting site between the Navajo and settlers that moved to the area.

Grand Canyon

  • Grand Canyon National Park: Does this one even need an explanation? It’s one of the great wonders of the USA!


  • Petrified Forest National Park: This park has always been high on my list! There’s something so intriguing about a petrified forest. Time frozen in those trees.

Navajo Country

  • Monument Valley Tribal Park: This park straddles the Arizona/Utah border and is known for its towering sandstone buttes among the desert.


  • Glen Canyon National Recreation Area: Another park shared by both Arizona and Utah, this stunning area is great for water lovers.
  • Vermilion Cliffs National Monument: This area features towering cliffs and canyons.


  • Navajo National Monument: This area preserves 3 dwellings of the Anceint Puebloan People.

Tuba City

  • Coal Mine Canyon: This canyon is located just east of the Grand Canyon and at the edge of the painted desert.


  • Bearizona Wildlife Park: I loved Bear Country USA here in Rapid City, SD, so would gladly visit another similar park!


  • Meteor Crater: Check out the site of an old meteor crash and the impact it left on the area.
  • Standin on the Corner Park: This park commemorates the song “Take it Easy” made famous by the Eagles.

All attractions found in the 2019 Arizona Travel Guide.