Hot. Dry. Barren. Sandy. Flat. Before moving to Arizona, that's what I imagined the state was like: a simmering desert where nothing grew and people had to stay inside or risk spontaneous combustion when going outside in the heat. I could not have been more wrong!

I moved to Arizona in May of 2013 when ABC15 in Phoenix offered me a job. I loaded everything I owned into the back of my pick-up truck, put the dog in the passenger seat and headed west. Thirty-two hours later, I crossed into Arizona. Thirty minutes after that, I knew I had made the right decision.

I fell in love with Arizona because there is just so much to see and do. There are mountains for skiing, hiking, and climbing; there are lakes for boating, paddle boarding, and relaxing; forests for camping, fishing, and biking. And of course, the desert, which is actually astonishingly beautiful and full of life.

What really makes this Falling in love AZ (2)1.jpgplace special though is just how close together all those mountains, deserts, lakes and forests are to each other. In just three hours, you can get from the heart of downtown Phoenix to the snow-capped San Francisco Peaks of Flagstaff.  And then from there, you’re just an hour drive to the red rocks of Sedona or the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

It's a closeness that's allowed me to go on some really cool and wide-ranging adventures. Since moving here a year ago, I've been lucky enough to do the following:

Paddle boarding in the Granite Dells, near Prescott

Hiking in the red rocks of Sedona

Swimming in the refreshing rivers of the Mogollon Rim near Payson

Dog sledding in Flagstaff

Skiing in the White Mountains near Pinetop-Lakeside

Rock Climbing in Queen Creek Canyon near Superior

Cliff jumping in Canyon Lake near Tortilla Flats

This is all while never spending more than three hours getting there from Phoenix. I am really looking forward to future adventures throughout this grand state!

Nick VinZant is a reporter for ABC15 in Phoenix. An avid hiker, rock climber, and paddle boarder Nick loves exploring his new home in Arizona. For more of Nick's blogs visit www.fuistetravels.com. Nick is a part of the Arizona Office of Tourism’s Guest Blogger program.