Known for its spectacular spots and abundant flora and fauna, Arizona is a perfect destination for locals and foreigners alike. It doesn’t only boast about its wonderful sights—it also propagates the richness of American history and culture through its various activities and day-to-day lifestyle.
While it is a given fact that Arizona has made its name prominent not just in the U.S. but also in numerous countries abroad, there are some unusual trivia facts that can either raise your eyebrows or fill your heart with great awe.
So, brace yourself, for we are about to unveil 10 unusual Arizona trivia facts you may be learning about for the first time! Kindly read on.
1. Don’t Anger the Tooth Fairy!
It was once unlawful in Tombstone, Arizona to have a visible missing tooth when smiling.
Notwithstanding the fact that Phoenix is one of the country's most progressive cities, many people still consider Arizona as the home of the Wild Wild West—and this is quite a reasonable claim. This is partly due to the fact that Arizona has some of the weirdest and most out-of-date laws ever drafted in the country.
In Tombstone, AZ, for instance, it was once illegal to smile with a missing tooth visibly seen on one’s mouth. Hilariously strange, isn’t it? Thankfully, this city ordinance is no longer on the books and everyone can freely put on an ear-to-ear smile, with or without a complete set of pearly whites.
2. Cheers to Mickey D’s Historic Drive-thru.
McDonald’s first-ever drive-through is located in Sierra Vista, Arizona.
Sierra Vista, approximately three hours southeast of Phoenix, shares an amazing slice of history that has played a vital role in the success of one of the world's most renowned fast-food restaurants. In today's America, a McDonald's branch without a drive-thru would be uncommon, but in 1975, there was just one McDonald's drive-thru where people could pull up in their car and buy their food.
Soldiers were not allowed to go around in uniform in the 1970s. Thus, the location's first owner, Dave Rich, had to come up with a different approach to accommodate those men in uniform from Fort Huachuca. Consequently, he built a sliding window into the wall so that soldiers could easily place and pick up their orders without having to get out of their vehicles. That was the start of McDonald's drive-thru initiative.
3. An Icon Sitting on the Desert
The famous saguaro cactus can only be found in the Sonoran Desert.
The saguaro cactus (pronounced "sah-wah-roh") is a popular emblem of the United States. It is widely known as the biggest cactus in the U. S., growing up to 40 feet tall in its natural habitat. This variety develops at a relatively slow rate as a column, with all growth taking place at the tip, or top, of the cactus. The tallest saguaro cactus yet recorded reached a height of 78 feet. And you know what’s more special about it? It only thrives in our precious Sonoran Desert!
These massive green columnar cacti are a symbol of the American desert that natives witness throughout their lives. A visit to the Sonoran Desert would be incomplete without a look at one of these well-known desert flora. Moreover, the saguaro cactus is considerably more important to the local Tohono O'Odham people. For them, these huge cacti are not just mere plants, but rather a distinct kind of mankind who are esteemed members of the Tohono O'Odham Tribe.
4. Speaking of Saguaros - Don’t You Dare Cut a Cactus!
It is unlawful to cut down a saguaro cactus. You might face up to 25 years in prison if you do so.
This law is in place because the saguaro cactus, which is common in Arizona, takes an extremely long time to grow. If these plants aren't cut down and are given the right conditions, they can live for 150 to 200 years.
As a result, those who cut them down face hefty penalties from the authorities. It could take millennia for them to grow back if they were plucked hastily. Any harm caused by a person will be remembered for the remainder of that person's life. While trees can be replaced and some will regrow rather quickly, the saguaro cactus doesn’t share the same characteristic.
5. The Grand Wonder of the United States
The majestic Grand Canyon is among the 7 Natural Wonders of the World and is the only one situated in the United States.
Referred to as the “basement of history,” the Grand Canyon is universally recognized as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. It is located in northwestern Arizona and is indeed a spectacular sight every tourist should see. Expanding to 227 miles long and over 10 miles broad, the canyon is larger than the state of Rhode Island! It was naturally carved by the meandering Colorado River, erosion, wind, and rain and can even influence weather. With rocks ranging in age from 250 million to 2 billion years old, the Canyon's inner depths reveal the Earth's past.
As this marvelous sight is a haven to countless visitors, both local and foreign, it is worth noting that the temperature in the canyon varies a lot. It might vary by more than 25 degrees from the rim to the lowest point. The gorge's depths are notoriously torrid in the summer, and the North Rim is frequently below freezing in the winter. Although visitors may experience extreme temperatures, they also get to enjoy the cleanest air in the U.S.
6. “London Bridge Is Falling—Into the Right Hands.”
The original London Bridge was disassembled and rebuilt in Lake Havasu City, brick by brick.
The iconic London Bridge started sinking into the Thames River during the early 20th century due to the weight of motor traffic spanning the bridge. It became more complicated when the east side of the bridge was three to four inches (9-12 cm) shorter than the west side by the year 1924. Realizing it would soon collapse and bring about more damage when unattended, the City of London's Common Council began looking for a buyer of the London Bridge in 1967. Robert P. McCulloch, Sr., the founder of Lake Havasu City, saw a once-in-a-lifetime possibility. When he won the bid, the bridge was disassembled brick by brick, with the blocks carried to California via the Panama Canal and trucked from there to Arizona.
He believed that recreating this gigantic icon in his foreign city would draw tourists and potential home purchasers to his business. And fortunately enough, he was right. Apart from the Grand Canyon, Arizona’s recreated London Bridge is one of the leading spots to visit in Arizona even up to this day.
7. Oklahoma Inside Arizona?
The world-renowned 'Oklahoma! ' was filmed in Nogales, Arizona.
Because there wasn't enough undeveloped terrain in Oklahoma, the blustery plains of Santa Cruz County were chosen as a better site to film the 1955 film "Oklahoma!" So when Curly McLain sang about the "bright golden haze on the meadow," he was actually referring to Arizona, not Oklahoma.
The nicest part is that they could film it in the same place today because it's still a lovely, unspoiled part of Arizona. The grasslands and green hills of Sonoita, Elgin, and Patagonia have some truly wide-open places that truly make perfect venues for the film.
8. Italy of America
Arizona is the 6th biggest state in the U.S. and is almost the same size as Italy!
Arizona is the sixth largest state in terms of physical mass, garnering a total land area of 113,990 square miles. It is best known for its climate and topography. Northern Arizona has forests, mountain ranges, and canyons, whereas southern Arizona has a hot desert environment. And guess what? This beautiful state is almost as big as Italy, with the latter's land area totaling 116,348 square miles. Interestingly, 28% of the state is reservation land with 21 different federally recognized tribes and the largest number of people who speak indigenous languages.
Aside from the nickname “Italy of America,” Arizona is also called the Grand Canyon State, Copper State, Apache State, Aztec State, and plenty more.
9. Half-hour Drive
A half an hour drive through a backroad in Arizona can allow you to see most of the life zones existing from Mexico-Canada.
The Great Western Trail, which runs from Mexico to Canada, is a 3000+ mile multi-use route. This is the first stretch of the said trail in Arizona. Mount Lemmon, Pioneer Pass, Four Peaks, Seven Springs Rd, Cherry Rd, and a number of other Arizona scenic drives are included in the pathway.
In around half an hour, you can travel through a condensed backroad on the outskirts of Tucson. On the journey up the Mount Lemmon Highway, you pass through practically all of the diverse life zones you'd see if driving from Mexico to Canada: from the saguaro-filled Sonoran desert to meadows, spruces and oak trees, pines, and eventually, a mixed-conifer woodland.
10. The Real “Sunniest State”
Arizona is the true sunniest state in the US, not Florida.
This may surprise a lot of people (though not those of us who live here!), but Florida isn’t actually the sunniest state in the U.S.—Arizona is! With a heat density of 5,755 kJ/m² (kilojoule per square meter), Arizona dominates the World Population Review’s list of all states in the U.S. that acquire the most sunshine annually.
Yuma, AZ even carries the distinction of being the sunniest place in the entire world!
Completing the list of the sunniest states in the U.S. are the following:
2. New Mexico - 5,642 kJ/m²
3. Nevada - 5,296 kJ/m²
4. Texas - 5,137 kJ/m²
5. California - 5,050 kJ/m²
6. Colorado - 4,960 kJ/m²
7. Oklahoma - 4,912 kJ/m²
8. Kansas - 4,890 kJ/m²
9. Utah - 4,887 kJ/m²
10. Florida - 4,859 kJ/m²
So these are 10 amazing Arizona trivia facts you may just have heard for the first time. No matter what fun fact we may know about Arizona, the truth remains that it is a gem of a state to treasure.
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