Discover the Most Beautiful College Campus in Arizona

Written by Micky Moran
Updated: October 4, 2023
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Arizona is one of the more recent states to be added to the rest of the country. With just over 100 years as part of the United States, it offers many beautiful college campuses for anyone who loves the painted sunsets. Whether you like to journey through the Red Rock Mountains in Sedona or see a recreation of the Old West closer to the border, Arizona delivers one natural beauty after the next.

The most beautiful college campus in Arizona is the University of Arizona in Tucson. Let’s talk about what makes this institution so special.

Fast Facts About the University of Arizona

  • Current student population: 49,471
  • Total size of campus: 392 acres
  • Minimum SAT/ACT scores: 1140/21
  • Minimum GPA: 3.0
  • Distance from the state capital (Phoenix): 113.7 miles
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: 17:1
  • Student clubs and other organizations: 400+
  • Year established: 1885

The Home of the University of Arizona – Tucson

The only place you can find the University of Arizona is in Tucson. The hot desert climate is a relief for anyone who hates the humidity of the coastline but doesn’t want to give up the warmth. Winters are mild, but summertime becomes incredibly hot for much of the year. Towards the end of summer, locals get relief from the weather with monsoons.

Currently, the total population is 542,629 people. With 241 square miles of adobe buildings, cactus, and mountains, this place isn’t for the faint of heart. Luckily, there are many ways to make yourself feel more at home in the desert.

Local Cuisine

The most famous regional dish in Tucson is the Sonoran hot dog. This local delicacy is wrapped in bacon, grilled, and served on a bolillo roll with beans, onions, and more. Some rumors say that the chimichanga was invented in Tucson by Monica Flin, the founder of El Charro Café in the 1920s. Much of the local restauranteurs lead on Sonoran-style Mexican food, but there’s something for everyone.

Local Historical Sites

History buffs get a taste of local culture and monuments with a few of the most popular sites in the entire state.

San Xavier del Bac Mission

Father Eusebio Kino founded San Xavier del Bac Mission, a Catholic mission, in 1692. Workers completed construction on the church that stands today in 1797, making it Arizona’s oldest intact structure from Europe. Murals and original statues fill its halls, allowing tourists and locals to tour a small fraction of 18th-century Arizona.

St. Augustine Cathedral

Constructed in 1776, the Cathedral of St. Augustine continues to go through many rebuilds. In 1897, the original plans dictated a Gothic structure to be built. However, with the spires left incomplete, architects abandoned the work. Then, in 1928, new work changed the building into the ornate design it features now, adding a Mexico-inspired cast stone façade. The most recent restoration projects completed the original plans in the 1960s.

Pima Air & Space Museum

For anyone who has a little free time, the Pima Air & Space Museum offers plenty of interactive and educational exhibits. It is the largest aerospace museum without government funding, displaying 400 different aircraft across 80 acres. As of 1991, it earned a place in the Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame.

Local Wildlife


With their familiarity with locals, dangerous javelinas often trek to populated neighborhoods for food.

©Dennis W Donohue/

Tucson’s desert wildlife is abundant everywhere. In many city and rural areas, animals like javelinas and coyotes are a regular appearance. Many animals come out at night when the air gets cooler, making it the prime time for deer, rabbits, and even bobcats to come out safely. Recent news reports even indicate that mountain lions make their way near civilization intermittently.

Along with many desert mammals, this city has an eclectic array of reptiles, like lizards and snakes. Some of the most dangerous pets for any dog lover are toads. One local species releases toxins through pores on its back to defend itself, though it is fatal to dogs.

Local Plant Life

Though most people think of cactus in the desert, the Russian olive tree is one of the rare invasive species that thrive near the University of Arizona.

©Anna Gratys/

Tucson’s mountain ranges span across much of the high-altitude desert. Desert grassland and desert scrub are the most common vegetation in the area, though some are invasive species. The Tucson Mountains have over 600 species of flora with few exotic species. If you venture near the Santa Catalina Mountains, you’ll see the Cochise adder’s mouth orchid, a rare flower that only grows in limited groups throughout the landscape.

What Makes the University of Arizona So Beautiful?

It is hard to imagine the state of Arizona without the orange and pink landscapes at dusk each night, making every view a little sweeter. However, the University of Arizona continues to receive praise as the most beautiful college in the state. Here’s why!

A Perfect View of the Santa Catalina Mountains

View of Mount Lemmon from West Saguaro National Park near Tucson, Arizona

The highway that goes through the Santa Catalina Mountains ends after 27 miles at the highest point – Mount Lemmon.

©WClarke, CC BY-SA 4.0 – License

As soon as you step outside and look around, the Santa Catalina Mountains greet you. Surrounded by desert scrub and saguaro cacti, the highest elevations allow the perfect climate for Douglas fir and other trees. Wildfires in 2002 and 2003 destroyed a lot of vegetation, but the last two decades paved the way for slow regrowth. The rugged terrain is covered in slopes and canyons to watch out for.

Constructed with Red Bricks

Red brick of the University of Arizona

The red bricks are part of the original design of the University of Arizona.

©Creative Commons – License

While red brick doesn’t seem significant at face value, it plays a major role in telling the university’s story. Many of the original buildings erected after Arizona’s official induction into the country use this red brick. The University of Arizona is one of the few structures locally that still have remnants of this former architectural choice.

In recent years, new construction and repairs shied away from using red brick to make the building more sustainable. Still, the presence of red brick through these buildings tells the story of where the college’s history lies and what its future holds.

Early 20th Century Architecture

Old Main is one of the oldest buildings with 20th-century architecture.

©Bill Morrow / CC BY 2.0 – License

The influence of early 20th-century architecture features prominently throughout the university. With 179 buildings on campus, structures like the main library and Centennial Hall reflect the original construction. When architects drew up the original plans, their main influence was the University of Virginia, which Thomas Jefferson designed.

The university focuses on preserving and caring for the historical structures, preserving this time in the 1900s when it opened its doors. To protect this slice of history, enaction of the Historic Preservation Plan was built on the existing goals of the 2003 Comprehensive Campus Plan.

The Grassy Mall

Many students congregate at The Mall, a grassy spot that gets regular care and mowing from the institution.

©Bill Morrow / CC BY 2.0 – License

One of the most popular places for the student body to congregate is simply called “The Mall.” The Mall separates the north and south sides of the campus, covering the stretch with lush and soft grass. Local Roy Place designed the expanse in 1931, working to create the same ambiance that New Yorkers enjoy at Central Park.

With plenty of space to relax, gather, or play with friends, The Mall offers an opportunity. To maintain this space, the school mows the lawn weekly to keep the grass fresh and soft.

Sunsets Over the Saguaro Forest

The breathtaking views of the sunset over a sea of cacti make the Saguaro National Forest a must-see.

©A. Dombrowski / CC BY-SA 2.0 – License

There’s no way to explain what makes the University of Arizona this beautiful without mentioning the sunsets over the Saguaro National Park. Spanning from the Tucson Mountains to the Rincon Mountains, a stroll nearby gives you a look at over 2 million saguaro cacti. This part of the desert is one of the most notable ideas of what the Old West looked like, and there’s no better demonstration than Tucson.

Even though the saguaros hold a prominent place in the landscape, this desert forest also includes the creosote bush, the barrel cacti, and the prickly pear cacti. When the local temperatures come down at night, this forest becomes alive with the noises of local wildlife.

Bats, Gila monsters, roadrunners, and white-tailed deer all call this forest their home. Keep a look out for these dangerous predators, or you might find yourself face to face with a Mexican spotted owl or an Arizona mountain king snake. Even worse, far too many tourists and locals alike end up coming face to face with a black bear when they don’t pay attention.

More to Know About the University of Arizona

Arizona Wildcats Stadium

At the University of Arizona, anyone can pursue different majors, graduate programs, extracurricular activities, and research studies.



With 150+ different majors and 200+ graduate programs, the University of Arizona is a helpful place for students to pursue their careers. They have advisors available to the student body for help with their academic plan, though they also have many resources at the campus libraries.

Athletics and Recreation

Students have the chance to participate in team sports or individual physical activities. While anyone focused on their personal growth could try one of the 50+ classes offered weekly, the university provides friendly but competitive intramural sports teams. If you want to try out hiking or backpacking nearby, check in with the outdoor recreation center.

Research and Innovation

UArizona’s Research, Innovation & Impact office is responsible for over $824 million in current research. They have opportunities to engage in NASA-funded projects and physical sciences research. Their work continues to build a better future for Arizona and the rest of the world, which is evident by the 500+ patents issued to them.

What Other Beautiful Colleges Does Arizona Have?

Along with the picturesque University of Arizona, the state is known for a few other beautiful campuses, including:

  • Arizona State University (Tempe)
  • Grand Canyon University (Phoenix)
  • Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff)

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Kevin Dooley / CC BY 2.0 – License / Original

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About the Author

Micky Moran is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering mammals, travel, marine life, and geography. He has been writing and researching animals and nature for over 5 years. A resident of Arizona, he enjoys spending time with family, going on adventures across the United States with his wife and kids by his side.

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