Arizona shares some qualities with Egypt. Both have a subtropical hot desert climate, a thriving agriculture industry and ancient civilizations. Even the southwest part of the state, including Tempe and Tucson, have tribes that have sketched pyramids into petroglyphs. Arizona might not have pharaohs of ancient Egyptian culture, but the state does have several pyramid-like structures. Although you won’t see structures as grand as Egypt’s Great Pyramids in Arizona, you can visit pyramids in the Grand Canyon State with their own local legends and lore.
The Hohokam Indians, who lived throughout Arizona territory, built man-made structures that closely resemble the Mayan pyramids found in Mexico as well as the mounds in the Eastern U.S. The Hohokam built their structures in stages, using compacted dirt to make each level higher. Walls made out of hard caliche, stone and other natural materials provided both the frame for each level’s earthwork and rooms for living. In Mesa, visit Mesa Grande or Pueblo Grande, or in Phoenix, Pueblo Grande; travel to Clarkdale to see Tuzigoot National Monument. Visiting these pyramid-like structures in the desert environment provides an up-close look at how ancient peoples lived and survived.
Sacred Natural Pyramids
Arizona has several mountain peaks that at first look like long-forgotten great pyramids. In northern Arizona, the highest ground in the state has three triangular mountain peaks that closely resemble the orientation of three of the major pyramids of Giza in Egypt. The San Francisco Peaks comprise a sacred site for Native Americans, said to house the Hopi kachinas, friendly spirits that assist with the growth of crops during the spring and summer.
Look for the famous pyramid shapes on a drive around the San Francisco Peaks Loop, a scenic route that begins and ends in the city of Flagstaff and serves up scenic leaf-peeping, ponderosa pine forest and aspen-flecked meadows just right for pitching a tent.
Head east to Tuba City on U.S. Highway 160 from Flagstaff to journey along the Hopi Arts Trail and discover stories and artwork related to the Hopi kachinas. The three pyramid-like mesas forming the center of the Hopi world correspond to the stars in the belt of the constellation Orion, similar to the situation of the Giza pyramids.
A Pyramid Legend
The Grand Canyon is a must-see when visiting the state, and it has its own pyramid lore that connects it to Egypt. Many who visit the South Rim information desk question if this story was even real, but park rangers assure many visitors that the story is accurate. In 1909, the Arizona Gazette reported that two Smithsonian archaeologists discovered an ancient civilization deep inside a vast Grand Canyon cavern, complete with mummies, Egyptian-style artifacts and Great Pyramids. Although the Smithsonian ascribes the story to urban legend, you can find the news clipping online, explore part of the enormous subterranean cavern system, and view numerous rock formations in the canyon with Egyptian names like the Tower of Ra and Cheops Pyramid.
Learn about verified civilizations that lived in the vast Grand Canyon when you visit the national park. Scenic outlooks have maps that point out the names of monoliths and geologic features impacted by the Colorado River. Take a side trip to Grand Canyon Caverns in Peach Springs to explore a vast cavern 21 stories underground, dine in its subterranean restaurant or even spend the night.
Papago Park in Phoenix
This park is a historical site as well as an outdoor adventure site. There is so much to do from hikes to learning more about the single white pyramid that rests within the park. This structure is the resting place of Arizona's first governor George WP Hunt. Governor Hunt died in 1934 and then joined his wife in what’s now called Hunt’s Tomb.
Poston Butte, Florence
There is a single pyramid at the top of Poston Butte which is the final resting place for Charles D. Poston. He was an explorer and surveyor in the southeastern part of Arizona during the 1850s.