Arcosanti is a unique, experimental town nestled in the Arizona desert, designed by the visionary architect Paolo Soleri. The town serves as an ongoing demonstration of Soleri’s concept of arcology, which combines architecture and ecology. As a visitor, you’ll be captivated by the fusion of nature, art, and architecture that Arcosanti offers.
When Is the Best Time
The best time to visit Arcosanti is early to mid-week, earlier in the day, with fewer visitors, and slightly cooler temps. Easier to photograph and those that live at the site will be more energized to share stories.
Arcosanti is an experimental town in the desert of Arizona, built to embody Paolo Soleri’s concept of arcology – the fusion of architecture with ecology. In addition to hypothesizing gigantic city-size structures, he designed projects including the ‘Hyper Building’ and ‘Hexadredon’.
In my experience, traveling to places classified as “experimental”, typically doesn’t disappoint. Like traveling through someone’s thoughts, you can roam the grounds seeing structures that boast their own unique form.
If you have an interest in at least one of the following, you’ll discover some aspect that appeals to you:
- outsider art
- metal works or ceramics.
However, Arcosanti might not be the perfect site for everyone. More about that later.
The site allows for both guided and self-guided tours. Because it is an active, self-sustaining community, it is best to enter the space realizing the grounds are their home. There is a gallery, bakery, and cafe on the premises.
Here is a quote by Soleri that brings to life the odd but still inspiring ideas of the architect.
“A process architecture, space organizing itself, aware and use of the sun presence, in moving incrementally (the six phases) into higher degrees of complexity, the urbanizing process.
Each apse exedra leaf “knows” more than the preceding, not out of magic, but out of the experience (of the preceding). The enriching experience of a growing urban effect. It is the prototypical instrument adding accesses to the richer sound which the players, residents, and guest, might want to employ while growing from 100 to 5000 or so.” —Paolo Soleri
For more information consider taking a look at their website, there you will see what they call Arcosanti 5,000 – their vision for the future.
Visiting hours are 9am – 5pm, 7 days a week.
Arcosanti is closed on major holidays (New Year’s Day, Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day)
- Phone: 928.632.7135
How to Get There
Arcosanti is located about 70 miles (112 kilometers) north of Phoenix, near the town of Cordes Junction. You can reach the site by car or by taking a shuttle from Phoenix. The drive is scenic, and it’s an easy day trip if you’re already in the area.
Visitor Center and Guided Tours
The Arcosanti Visitor Center is your first stop when you arrive. There, you can learn about the history and vision behind the project, as well as purchase tickets for guided tours. Guided tours are offered daily and provide a deeper understanding of the design principles and philosophy behind Arcosanti. Tour options include:
- General Tour: A one-hour overview of the site and its history.
- Behind-the-Scenes Tour: A two-hour in-depth exploration of the community, workshops, and residential areas.
Exploring Arcosanti on Your Own
If you prefer to explore at your own pace, you can take a self-guided tour by following the marked paths around the site. As you walk, you’ll encounter striking architectural structures, such as the Vaults, the Ceramics Apse, and the Music Center. Be sure to also visit the Soleri Windbells foundry, where you can see artisans creating the famous bronze and ceramic bells.
Accommodation and Dining
For a truly immersive experience, consider staying overnight at Arcosanti. The town offers a range of accommodation options, from basic guest rooms to cozy apartments. As for dining, the on-site Café at Arcosanti serves delicious, locally-sourced meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Arcosanti is beautiful all year round, but the weather can vary. Here’s an overview of the average monthly temperatures to help you plan your visit:
|Month||Average High °F (°C)||Average Low °F (°C)|
|Jan||55 (13)||31 (-1)|
|Feb||58 (14)||34 (1)|
|Mar||63 (17)||37 (3)|
|Apr||70 (21)||43 (6)|
|May||79 (26)||51 (11)|
|Jun||89 (32)||60 (16)|
|Jul||94 (34)||66 (19)|
|Aug||91 (33)||65 (18)|
|Sep||86 (30)||58 (14)|
|Oct||75 (24)||48 (9)|
|Nov||63 (17)||38 (3)|
|Dec||55 (13)||31 (-1)|
Is It Worth Visiting With Kids?
Arcosanti is a great destination for families with children. Kids will enjoy exploring the unique architecture and natural surroundings, and the experience can be both educational and inspiring. The guided tours are suitable for older children, while younger ones may prefer a self-guided tour at their own pace. Visiting the Soleri Windbells foundry can also be a fascinating experience for children, as they can watch artisans create the beautiful windbells.
What Others Say (Visitor Reports)
- A Unique Experience – Many visitors describe their trip to Arcosanti as a one-of-a-kind experience, praising the striking architecture and the visionary concept behind the project. They often express a newfound appreciation for sustainable living and innovative design.
- Friendly and Knowledgeable Guides – Tour-goers frequently comment on the friendliness and expertise of the Arcosanti tour guides. They appreciate the in-depth information provided during the tours, which helps them gain a better understanding of the site’s history and vision.
- Peaceful and Inspiring Atmosphere – Visitors often mention the serene atmosphere at Arcosanti, noting that it provides a perfect setting for reflection and inspiration. Many find themselves reevaluating their own lifestyles and considering more sustainable practices after their visit.
- Delicious Dining at the Café – The on-site Café at Arcosanti receives high praise from visitors, who appreciate the fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and tasty meals. Some even say that the dining experience is a highlight of their visit.
- Great for Families – Families with children also share positive experiences at Arcosanti, mentioning that the unique environment and educational aspects make it an enjoyable and memorable trip for all ages.
Potential Drawbacks: Is Arcosanti for Everyone?
While Arcosanti is a fascinating and inspiring destination for many, it might not be the perfect fit for everyone. Here are a few potential drawbacks to consider before planning your visit:
- Limited Accessibility – The site’s unique architecture and natural terrain can make it challenging for people with mobility issues to navigate. If you or someone in your group has accessibility concerns, it’s essential to contact the Arcosanti staff in advance to discuss potential accommodations.
- Remote Location – Arcosanti is located in a relatively remote area of the Arizona desert. While this adds to the site’s charm and tranquility, it may not be ideal for visitors who prefer bustling urban environments or who want a wide variety of nearby attractions and amenities.
- Not for Young Children – Although Arcosanti can be a fun and educational experience for older children, it might not be suitable for very young kids or toddlers. Parents should consider their children’s age, interests, and attention span before deciding to visit.
By considering these potential drawbacks, you can make an informed decision about whether Arcosanti is the right destination for you.
- Arcosanti is an experimental town in Arizona, showcasing the fusion of architecture and ecology.
- The site is easily accessible from Phoenix, making it a great day trip destination.
- Guided tours offer an in-depth understanding of Arcosanti’s history and vision, while self-guided tours allow for exploration at your own pace.
- Stay overnight at Arcosanti for a truly immersive experience, and enjoy locally-sourced meals at the on-site Café.
- Arcosanti is beautiful year-round, but be mindful of the varying weather conditions when planning your visit.
With its unique blend of art, nature, and architecture, Arcosanti is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in sustainable living and innovative design. Whether you choose a guided tour or explore on your own, you’re sure to leave with a deeper appreciation for the potential of combining human ingenuity with the natural environment.