1. Texas might lay claim to NASA, and Nevada to the mysterious Area 51, but Arizona has its share of achievements in the outer space game. Pluto was discovered from the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff in 1930 (by observatory newbie Clyde Tombaugh, following founder Percival Lowell’s 24-year-long hunt for the planet).
2. Speaking of space, Arizona boasts a particularly noteworthy meteorite crater: the creatively named Meteor Crater. The 50,000-year-old impact site lays claim to being the best preserved meteorite crater on Earth … at least as far as its legal owner, the Barringer Crater Company, is concerned.
3. Skydive Arizona is the largest skydiving center in the world, averaging approximately 135,000 jumps per year.
4. Arizona also takes pride in the world’s largest rose bush. Planted in Tombstone in 1885, the Guinness World Record-holder has a 12-foot circumference trunk and covers an area of 9,000 square feet.
5. One more for the “big list”: Arizona is home to the majority of the Navajo Nation. The largest Native American reservation in the U.S., the Navajo Nation covers 27,000 square miles of Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico—it's larger than 10 of America's 50 states.
6. The Navajo Nation’s Arizona territory is also home to the first ever college established by and for the Native American community. The facility was founded in 1968 as Navajo Community College and is presently known as Diné College.
7. London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down … and being shipped overseas to Mohave County? In 1968, the bridge was sold to American businessman Robert P. McCulloch, systematically broken into numbered pieces, transported to California, and then trucked to Arizona’s Lake Havasu City, where it was reconstructed and stands today.
8. The Apache trout, the official state fish of Arizona, can be found in the waters of the state’s White Mountain range—and nowhere else in the world.
9. On the other hand, you won’t find any camels roaming free near the Four Corners … anymore. But in the mid-1800s, the United States Army imported the humped beasts of burden to transport soldiers and goods across the state’s arid desert.
10. If you haven’t had much trouble in southwestern mines lately, you can thank Joe Hart: Arizona’s official State Mine Inspector since 2007. Arizona is the only state to employ this position.
11. Only one McDonald’s in the world has turquoise arches. Sedona officials thought yellow clashed with the natural red rock.
12. One of Arizona’s top tourist destinations is Kartchner Caverns State Park: an underground limestone cave system that stretches almost two and a half miles long. Even more fascinating than its existence is the fact that Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts, local cavers who discovered the natural phenomenon in 1974, managed to keep the caves a personal secret for 14 years.
13. But even if Tenen and Tufts had managed to keep their find a secret forever, Arizona wouldn’t be hard up for tourist attractions. The state has 18 national monuments, more than any other state: the Agua Fria, Canyon de Chelly, Casa Grande Ruins, Chiricahua, Grand Canyon-Parshant, Hohokam Pima, Ironwood Forest, Montezuma Castle, Navajo, Organ Pipe Cactus, Pipe Spring, Sonoran Desert, Sunset Crater Volcano, Tonto, Tuzigoot, Vermilion Cliffs, Walnut Canyon, and Wupatki National Monuments.
14. Arizona consistently produces more copper than any other state in the country. This mineral output is used primarily for alloy, roofing, and decorative purposes, and generates approximately 50,000 jobs and $5 billion for the state of Arizona.
15. But what about the Arizona that might have been? Back before Los Angeles was the de facto capital of the film industry, titanic director Cecil B. DeMille stopped over in Flagstaff, hoping to shoot his developing movie The Squaw Man. The film was supposed to take place in Wyoming, but DeMille realized that Flagstaff looked nothing like Wyoming. Eventually, he settled on Hollywood.