For me at least, it seems that every time I meet someone new and tell them I’m from Arizona, I’m usually met with an incredulous look that says, “You’re from that crazy state?” And I’ll admit that some things can be crazy here, like my inability to find a decent cell signal in most rural areas. But this state has so much going for it that a lot of people either don’t understand or just ignore for how they want to perceive Arizona.
With that in mind, here are some of the top stereotypes of Arizona people from out of state tend to have.
1. The heat is terrible.
You don’t have to tell us twice that it gets hot in the summer here and, in some areas, excruciatingly hot during the day. But people tend to forget that summer is only one season. During the rest of the year, temperatures can be quite nice in the southern half of the state and freezing in the northern half.
2. An unending desert.
Some people think Arizona is just one big desert and that usually brings about images of sand dunes or only a lone tumbleweed drifting by every few hours.
Some people are even surprised to hear we have an amazing amount of natural vegetation! Four deserts run through our state and each one has its own unique environment, many of them with riparian habitats.
Oh, and don’t forget our forests!
3. “There’s nothing there.”
This one is especially bothersome because, like the comments above, people tend to think we just live in sand dunes amongst the sand people like Obi Wan Kenobi. Sorry to disappoint all you out-of-staters looking for a barren wasteland!
4. It never rains.
Hey, we get rain! Maybe not as much as Hawaii or Louisiana but it’s still enough annually to cause flooding and other water-related incidents.
5. Cactus, cactus everywhere!
We love our cacti and other desert flora enough to protect them under state law.
6. The Grand Canyon is it in terms of sightseeing.
There’s a reason we’re called the Grand Canyon State; the national park is a breath-taking sight but we have plenty of other natural beauties in the state. Anyone who visits Arizona to just see the Grand Canyon is truly missing out.
7. Conservatism reigns here.
Traditionally, Arizona has long been a conservative state and its politicians of late certainly influence that thought. Oddly enough, though, the state’s political history shows that it has always swung between Republican and Democratic parties until the last couple decades when conservatives really took hold of state offices. These days, registered voters are almost evenly divided between Republican, Democratic, and Independent parties.
8. Arizonans love their guns.
Arizonans enjoy some of the most lax gun laws in the country but that doesn’t mean we’re a bunch of gun nuts storing assault rifles and Uzis in our closets. (Well, most of us aren’t.)
9. Border issues are the worst.
News in recent years has shown that issues with the border are heated and divided among Arizonans. However, if you don’t live or work near the border, chances are you aren’t terribly savvy to the numerous issues it presents. Undocumented immigration is only a small portion of the debate. There’s also illegal drug smuggling and the intrusion of drug cartels, the disruption of natural animal migration patterns caused by the border wall, time-consuming and invasive checkpoints miles away from the border, and a disruption of Indigenous culture for tribes who always lived in the area.
10. ASU is the number one party school.
This is a stereotype that refuses to die. It seems that no matter how many accolades the research university and its diverse student body collect, people always assume parties are the number one reason to become a Sun Devil.
11. Everything looks the same.
Okay, in terms of architecture, I’ll give them this. Because urban areas of the state expanded so fast over the past few decades, many of our buildings tend to look astonishingly similar. However, we still have a wide range of architectural styles that exist and plenty of historical buildings that escaped demolition.
12. Water actually runs through the rivers at all times.
Plenty of rivers, creeks, washes, and canals run through the state but most of them are seasonally dry. Visit any after the rains and you’ll hopefully see plenty of flowing water.