Top 10 Arizona Myths Busted

Sep 20, 2010

Top 10 Arizona Myths BustedOne of my favorite TV shows is Mythbusters on the Discovery Channel. On this highly entertaining show, the hosts set out to prove or disprove the truth behind popular myths and legends in the name of science. There is a lot of misinformation out there about the State of Arizona, so I thought it would be best to investigate what I feel are the Top 10 Myths About Arizona.

10. There's nothing to do in Arizona.
Just pick up a travel guide and you will discover how much more Arizona has to offer besides the Grand Canyon. The Mogollon Rim and Colorado Plateau regions of Arizona offer four full seasons of indoor and outdoor activities. If you're planning on visiting the Phoenix area, be sure to check out my list of 101 Things to Do in Phoenix. Whether you come to visit for a weekend or forever, there's no shortage of things to do here!

9. Arizona has no culture.
Arizona has a rich history in mining, agriculture, and Native American history. Check out the ruins at Casa Grande, the Tumacacori National Monument, and of course the San Xavier del Bac Mission near Tucson. Modern day historic buildings include the Tovrea Castle, the Wrigley Mansion, the Mystery Castle, and Hunt's Tomb. Check out the Heard Museum, AZ Historical Society, or the National Register of Historic Places to learn more. Check out the historic mines in Wickenburg and Bisbee to learn about Arizona's mineral history.

8. Everybody is from somewhere else.
People often remark that it's rare to run into someone in Arizona who was born in Arizona. The myth is that the majority of Arizona's population were not born in Arizona, but is it true?

According to data I researched on the US Census Bureau website, 36.3% of Phoenix residents (with a 0.5 margin of error) were born in Arizona. Compare that with 44.9% of Flagstaff residents and 41% of Tucson residents who are Arizona-born natives. Nationwide, 43.1% of Los Angeles residents were born in California, 49.5% of New Yorkers were born in New York, 58.7% of Chicagoans were born in Illinois. However, just 22.3% Las Vegans were born in Nevada and 28.6% of Miami residents were born in Florida.

So what does all of this information tell us? It means that Phoenix has a smaller native-born population than Flagstaff, Tucson, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City. However, Phoenix has a larger native-born population than Las Vegas and Miami. We're not the best or the worst when it comes to people from other states relocating here.

7. The roads are terrible.
If you think Arizona roads are terrible, maybe you need to get your car inspected. Our state has some of the newest freeways in the country! Many of them are coated with rubberized asphalt for the smoothest and quietest ride possible. Surface streets are excellent compared to wetter climates where snow and ice cause cracks in the pavement. You can always check the Arizona Dept of Transportation website for the latest construction news and updates.

6. The summer heat is unbearable.
It's true that summer temperatures can top 115 degrees or higher. But is it unbearable? Somehow over 4 million people survive the summer here every year. It is entirely possible to live comfortably in the desert if you adapt to your environment. Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Drink lots of water, and try to minimize your strenuous outdoor activities during the summer months.

5. All the houses look the same.
Phoenix has a bad rep as a city of endless subdivisions of "cookie cutter" homes. The truth is, the City of Phoenix has 35 different historic neighborhoods representing a variety of architectural styles from the 1880s through the 1940s. View the complete list of Historic Phoenix Neighborhoods.

4. You can fry an egg on the sidewalk.
The United States Department of Agriculture recommends a minimum internal temperature of 160*F for cooking eggs. Does the sidewalk here get that hot? The one source I found claims that asphalt can reach a high temperature of 158*F during the summer, and in rare cases have been recorded as high as 172*F on dark colored pavement. Concrete (the material most sidewalks are made of) tops out at around 130*F. It is plausible that you might fry an egg in the street, but certainly not on the sidewalk.

3. Arizona is a barren desert wasteland.
Only the lower third of Arizona is a desert because it receives an annual average rainfall of less than 6 inches. The Mogollon Rim and Colorado Plateau regions of AZ are not desert at all. Although Southern Arizona is home to the Sonoran Desert, it is home to a diverse ecosystem of plants and wildlife and a thriving metropolis called Phoenix.

2. There are no natural lakes in Arizona.
Contrary to popular rumor, NOT all of Arizona's lakes are man-made. The majority of them are artificial (created by dams) but there are a few natural ones in Northern Arizona. Mormon Lake, Ashurst Lake, Kinnikinick Lake, Stoneman Lake and Upper Mary Lake are all natural lakes located in the Coconino National Forest near Flagstaff, AZ.

1. Arizona has never observed Daylight Saving Time.
It may surprise you to know that Arizona did in fact observe Daylight Saving Time during World War II. It was also observed briefly in 1967, but was exempted by the Arizona State Legislature starting in 1968. I favor this decision and am glad that Arizona does not have to mess around with changing our clocks (with the exception of the Navajo Nation, of course).

So there you have it! As you can see, there is a lot of misinformation out there about Arizona. I hope this clears up some of the controversy and that we can finally put some of these persistent issues to rest.


zebra said...

Please be aware that the Governor is eliminating the mineral museum. This is NOT a cost reduction. She is spending millions to replace it with a history museum. Details are available on "Mineral Museum Madness" at

Anonymous said...

Hey - I am really delighted to discover this. Good job!


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