Arizona is the last of the contiguous 48 states to achieve statehood and just recently celebrated its centennial on February 14, 2012. While it's known primarily for its hot, dry desert environment, Arizona is actually quite diverse both environmentally and geologically. In the southern portion of the state, the hot Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts are punctuated by sky islands...small mountain ranges with cooler, wetter climates than the surrounding desert. The northern half of the state is dominated by a higher desert geological area known as the Colorado Plateau. This area is known more for its rugged red rock environment (in places like the Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Sedona, etc.). Once again the area is interspersed with larger mountain ranges and their associated alpine environments. The San Francisco Peaks and the White Mountains are the most notable of these ranges and tower to elevations over 12,000 ft. Those wanting a more civilized adventure can gravitate to the large metropolitan areas of Phoenix and Tucson. Phoenix is the state's capital and the ranks as the 14th largest city in the United States.
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