The Surprising Reason One McDonald’s Uses Turquoise Arches

Sedona, Arizona, is celebrated not just for its stunning red mountainous scenery but also for housing the world’s only turquoise McDonald’s arches, deviating from the chain’s traditional golden color scheme. This distinctive choice reflects the city’s deep cultural ties and architectural norms influenced by the natural beauty and colors of the Southwest.

Turquoise, a color embedded in local heritage for over a millennium, symbolizes “Mother Earth” and “Skystone” to the native people, resonating in their jewelry and art.

The decision to adopt turquoise arches in 1993 was driven by Sedona’s strict building codes, which aim to maintain harmony with the desert’s rich palette of reds, oranges, and tans—colors derived from the region’s mineral-rich landscape. Local officials were concerned that McDonald’s iconic gold would clash with these hues, leading to the unique color adaptation.

This ethos of cultural respect extends beyond Sedona. For example, Roswell, New Mexico, boasts a UFO-shaped McDonald’s, aligning with the town’s quirky, artsy vibe and extraterrestrial fame. Similarly, various McDonald’s locations across the U.S. embrace local aesthetics—from a New York outlet in a 1700s farmhouse to a Las Vegas site featuring giant arches that mirror the city’s bold architecture.