In November 2019, Arizona Bucket List Adventure Guide & Journal author Paul Fiarkoski joined Kristen Keogh on the Here With Her podcast to share insights from his first book.
Kristen is a longtime resident of Arizona. She was surprised that she’d never heard of a handful of destinations on Paul’s bucket list.
Paul talks about a big move that inspired this book and how a hike into the Grand Canyon led him to a life of adventure in Arizona. He also shares five underrated sites from the fifty must-see natural wonders highlighted in his book.
“I’m the biggest Arizona-obsessed person in the world, and on your list of five, I’ve only been to one of these,” Kristen said.
Five underrated spots to put on your Arizona Bucket List
Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified Forest National Park is like an outdoor museum for trees from a prehistoric era. They fell many thousands of years ago, then were fossilized by minerals in the ground. Now they look more like stone than wood and are scattered around this amazing high desert landscape for all to see. Colors of the petrified wood are most brilliant when the sun angle is low. In the northern half of the 28-mile long park, you can also experience the beauty of Painted Desert.
Lower Salt River
Lower Salt River is a spectacular oasis that flows from the Superstition and Goldfield Mountains and into the Valley of the Sun. Flatter stretches of the river closest to Mesa draw hundreds of wild horses and birds. People floating by on kayaks, stand-up paddle boards and tubes marvel at the animals. Further upstream sits a series of gorgeous reservoirs that store water in deep canyons: Saquaro Lake, Canyon Lake and Apache Lake.
The Mindeleff Cavates – all 89 of them, with 343 total rooms – are believed to have been dug out by hand as early as 700 AD by ancestral Sinagua people of Arizona’s Verde Valley. Although most artifacts were removed long ago, many pottery shards remain. So does the spirit of community and ingenuity of the people that called this place home. This adventure requires wading across the waist-deep Verde River. You’ll want to wear clothes and shoes you can get wet in. Give yourself a couple hours to explore caves on both walls of the canyon.
Madera Canyon is an unexpected surprise so far south in a state that’s synonymous with desert. Runoff from 9,452-foot-high Mt. Wrightson gives life to a system of cascading creeks and a forest that supports a menagerie of birds and other wildlife. Managed by the U.S. Forest Service, Madera Canyon caters to diverse needs and interests with well-maintained trails, campgrounds and day use areas. For a special treat, find the hidden waterfall just a three minute walk from the Proctor Trailhead as you enter the park.
Keet Seel Canyon
Keet Seel Canyon consistently earns high marks from hikers. Pronounced Kįtsʼiil, the Navajo translation is “broken pottery scattered around.” The highlight of this difficult, 17-mile round-trip hike is a guided tour of well-preserved cliff dwellings. Due to the dry climate and protection from the elements in an alcove, the site’s ruins and artifacts have stood the test of time. Most hikers carry a tent and a day’s worth of supplies in their pack to camp overnight at the primitive campground near the ruins site.
About Arizona Bucket List Adventure Guide & Journal
Arizona Bucket List Adventure Guide & Journal is a 122-page spiral bound paperback book that takes you on a quest to discover 50 must-see natural wonders in the Grand Canyon State.
For each of the 50 destinations there’s a page that tells you the best time to go, how to get there and how to get permits or passes, if needed. On the opposite page, you check it off your bucket list and journal about your experience.
About Paul Fiarkoski
In 2014, Paul went on a hiking trip to world-famous Havasupai Falls in the Grand Canyon. After three days of hiking and wading in the turquoise pools beneath 100-foot waterfalls, his perspective of Arizona changed forever. He created an Arizona bucket list and began checking places off.
Fast forward to today: Paul has logged thousands of miles, chipping away at adventures in the Grand Canyon State. He narrowed down a list of 50 of the top natural wonders and included them in Arizona Bucket List Adventure Guide & Journal.
About Kristen Keogh
You may recognize Kristen Keogh from TV, but her life began in a much different setting. Kristen grew up on the outskirts of Surprise, AZ with no bright street lights and no paved roads. Her passion for sports guided her into a journalism career as she joined the entertainment teams for both the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Arizona Coyotes, becoming a cheerleader and in-game host. Kristen is also the weekend weather anchor and co-host of the show Cardinals Locker Room on NBC 12.
Regardless of how much time you’ve spent in Arizona or how many places you’ve seen, you’re bound to find a few new destinations to discover. Grab a copy of Arizona Bucket List Adventure Guide & Journal and set out on a quest check all 50 must-see natural wonders off your bucket list.