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Daylight-saving time can be a bit of a headache for most citizens of the United States of America; the twice-annual changing of the clocks can get confusing at times and causes mild sleep deprivation for a few days! However, if you aren’t a fan of trying to keep track (is it fall forward? Spring backward?!), you’ll be happy to know that there are two states in the country that don’t “celebrate” the time change: Most of Arizona, and Hawaii.
As native Arizonan myself, (and thus you can call me an expert on the subject ;-)) I will explain in detail why Arizona have two time zones, and how to not get confused when crossing Arizona during the Daylight-saving season.
You’ll understand everything in a few short minutes!
Let’s get started!
Does Arizona Have Two Time Zones?
Yes, Arizona can have two time zones depending on the period of the year: The Mountain Standard Time (MST) used by most of the state, and the Daylight Saving Time (DST) used by the Navajo Nation inside of Arizona.
The southwestern desert state of Arizona (with the red color in the map above) is one of two in the whole country that have chosen NOT to adopt daylight-saving time. Ask any Arizonan during the usual time switch in March and November and you’ll be likely to hear us brag about how our state is superior to all others for this one reason!
While the rest of the country “springs forward” or “falls back”, Arizona’s time zone stays consistent throughout the year, except for one area of the state: the Navajo Nation reservation in the northeast corner (in yellow in the map above), near New Mexico. So, does this mean that Arizona has two time zones? Technically, yes!
The vast majority of Arizona is in the Mountain Time Zone and remains on Mountain Standard Time for the duration of the year. From the second Sunday in March until the first Sunday in November, the Navajo Nation’s clocks are set an hour ahead of the rest of the state (for example, if it is noon in Phoenix, then it is 1 pm on the Navajo reservation). This is known as Mountain Daylight Time.
Why Does the Navajo Nation Follow Daylight-saving Time?
The Navajo Reservation near the Four Corners region has chosen to adhere to daylight-saving time like the rest of the country (with the exception of the rest of Arizona and the state of Hawaii). The reservation area is huge (over 27,400 square miles) and because parts of it reach into neighboring states that do observe daylight saving time, the decision was made in 1968 to stick to the time change.
What is even more interesting is that there is a different Native American reservation that is situated inside the Navajo Nation; the Hopi reservation (also in red in the map above) is surrounded on all sides by the Navajo reservation, and they do NOT adhere to daylight-saving time! This means if you were to drive from one side of the Navajo reservation, through the Hopi reservation, and back into Navajo land, you would change time zones several times in less than 100 miles!
If you think you’ll never have reason to visit the Navajo Nation, think again! The world-famous Monument Valley is located here, as well as the beautiful and sacred Canyon de Chelly. You’ll also find the looming mountain formation known as Shiprock, and many charming small towns full of hospitable people.
Why Does Arizona Not Follow Daylight-saving Time?
In the 1960s, a bill was put forth in Arizona that would keep the state’s clocks on the same time year-round. The argument for observing daylight-saving time is that it gives workers more light in the evenings and less light in the mornings through the spring and summer.
Arizona’s legislature decided that since the state has much more sunny days and overall daylight than other states, that we didn’t need an extra hour of sunlight in the hot summer months. The majority of Arizonans would agree; not having to change the clocks twice a year is a nice perk!
Not being in the same time zone as the neighboring states can sometimes be inconvenient for road trips across state lines, but luckily with today’s technology most phones, and even cars will make the change automatically for you.
While Arizona technically has two time zones, you’re not likely to have to worry about checking your watch unless you’re traveling to the far northeast corner of the state. For the majority of the state, the time will stay the same year-round, even while the rest of the country jumps back and forth.
Mountain Standard Time is the time zone you’ll adhere to throughout the state, but if you enter into the Navajo Nation between the months of March and November, you’ll notice a jump into Mountain Daylight Time. Be sure to wow your friends with this obscure piece of trivia that yes, Arizona does have two time zones!
Alicia is a trail runner, hiker, ultra-marathoner, and adventurer. She previously worked as a physical therapist assistant for 8 years, and now works as a travel writer while being a stay-at-home mom to her little girl. Alicia is a native Arizonan going back 4 generations and has also lived in Utah and Montana. She is happiest in the mountains with her family, running long miles on trails, and bagging peaks with her baby in tow. Alicia currently resides with her husband, baby, and chocolate lab Maggie in Mesa, Arizona.