The Arizona High Five

By: Lori K. Baker

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January 4, 2012

For a fun history lesson (with a road trip), experience Arizona's Five Cs: climate, copper, cattle, citrus, and cotton

About the author

Lori K. Baker

Lori K. Baker

Lori K. Baker is an award-winning journalist and nationally published writer whose work has appeared in some of the nation's top magazines - Family Circle, Glamour, Ladies' Home Journal, Parenting and others - as well as Arizona Highways, where she worked as a research editor. Writing about travel and health are her specialties. To learn more about her work, visit her Web site,

Arizona enters the ripe old age of 100 in February 2012, and here’s a great way to celebrate: Take a fun and nostalgic look at the Five Cs that defined the state in 1912 and that still play a key role today.

While everyone can recite the three Rs we learned in school, even native Arizonans often stumble on the Five Cs emblazoned on the state seal: cattle, copper, citrus, cotton and climate.

Embark on a road trip to explore what’s new – and unchanged – in these five driving forces at the center of Arizona’s heart and soul.

Cattle: Arizona Rodeos

Hold on to your saddle, partner, because exploring Arizona’s bovine roots will land you at the World’s Oldest Rodeo in Prescott, where rough-and-tumble cowboys have been climbing atop bucking broncos each year since 1888. It’s all part of the annual Prescott Frontier Days celebration (June 28–July 4, 2012) that includes a parade, a fine arts and crafts show and dances.

Make sure you “move ’em out” to the Tucson Rodeo, the main event of La Fiesta de los Vaqueros, which translates to “celebration of the cowboys.” This nine-day festival (February 18–26, 2012) features a parade with more than 200 floats, a dance and other events.

For city slickers, Scottsdale’s annual Parada del Sol Parade (February 11, 2012), billed as the “world’s largest horse-drawn parade,” features Western-themed floats, bands, costumes and, of course, horses along Scottsdale Road. It wraps up with a trail’s end celebration and block party where you can whet your whistle. Later, the Parada del Sol Rodeo features three action-packed performances (March 2–4, 2012) at WestWorld.

Climate: Arizona Sunshine

Arizona owns the bragging rights to more than 330 days of sunshine a year in many spots, so it’s no surprise that it’s become a winter mecca for snowbound Easterners, Midwesterners and Canadians starved for a little vitamin D.

For some fun in the sun, Arizona offers everything from golf on championship courses to opportunities to lounge poolside at such posh escapes as Tucson’s Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa and Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort in Phoenix.

There are also countless trails to explore on foot – from Phoenix hiking trails in South Mountain Park, the largest municipal park in the country, to Papago Park, which features an exotic landscape of ruddy cliffs (including the landmark Hole-in-the-Rock) and towering saguaros.

For many, the ultimate urban Arizona hiking experience is Camelback Mountain, whose 2,700-foot summit offers quiet serenity and a birds-eye view of Phoenix’s sprawling cityscape.

For other adventurers, nothing can beat hiking in Sedona. Less than two hours north of Phoenix, trails flaunt panoramas of red-rock spires and wend past rock-strewn creeks lined with fragrant piñon pines.

Citrus: Arizona’s Juicy Fruits

Tourists aren’t the only ones who love Arizona’s climate, which makes the state a natural greenhouse for high-quality citrus production.

That fact can be savored every morning with locally grown, freshly squeezed orange juice at popular restaurants such as Matt’s Big Breakfast in downtown Phoenix and The Breakfast Club in Scottsdale.

Frank & Albert’s at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix also utilizes local citrus. Each breakfast entree is served with a side of fresh fruit that includes oranges picked from the resort grounds.

Copper: Arizona Mining Towns and Metal Arts

While the quest for gold drove prospectors out West, the discovery of copper put Arizona on the map and gave rise to big-time copper towns like Bisbee, Jerome, Clifton, Globe and Miami and to regions like Copper Basin Arizona, which lies in the Gila River Valley about 80 miles southeast of Phoenix.

Today, these areas are ripe for exploring, whether you’re looking for a taste of Arizona history or a one-of-a-kind piece of art from a local artisan.

Meanwhile, look for Arizona’s stunning red metal as an ingredient in jewelry, fountains, ornaments, light fixtures and hammered pots and pans found in galleries, boutiques and shops throughout the state.

Cotton: Arizona Fibers

While you’re shopping for copper, be on the lookout for clothing and bed and bath items made of Pima or Supima cotton, brands of Arizona-grown cotton.

The state’s extra-long staple cotton – known for its superior luster and silkiness – graces the racks and shelves of such well-known retailers as Brooks Brothers, Lands’ End, Ralph Lauren and Target.

On a pleasant autumn drive through the state’s desert regions, you may even be able to spy fields of the white puffs before they are harvested. The blooms are usually gathered in mid-fall.

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