4 Labor Day Adventures to Escape the Crowds

August 25, 2022

PHOENIX – Enjoy the outdoors with only the sounds of nature surrounding you, get a selfie without strangers in the background, find fun and relaxation without lines or traffic. It’s not anti-social, it’s pro-solitude! The way we see it, Arizona is big enough for us to all stretch out and find a unique adventure. Escape to these lesser-known but much-beloved Arizona destinations to have a holiday weekend without the crowds. 

Picnic and paddle at Roper Lake State Park
Pack a lunch to enjoy lakeside on the clean beach or under the shady ramadas at this hidden gem of a park in Safford, Arizona. Stretch your legs with a stroll at nearby Dankworth Pond as you take in the scenery of the impressive Mount Graham towering nearby. Beginner paddlers will love launching a kayak or paddleboard on this 32-acre lake. If you’re a fan of fishing, don’t forget your rod and reel! Roper Lake and Dankworth Pond are home to outsized largemouth bass, eager schools of crappie, tons of bluegill, sunfish, and channel catfish.

Take a walk back in time at Lyman Lake State Park
At 6,000 feet in elevation, you get can get your hiking fix after all these months of Arizona’s hot summer temps. Sitting in the perfect high 80-degree weather, you can take your time wandering the few miles of trails that offer spanning high country views. Marvel at the petroglyphs found along the park’s trails–signs of Ancestral Puebloans who occupied the area sometime after 6000 BC. If the water is calling your name, bring your boat. Lyman Lake is one of the few bodies of water in northeastern Arizona with no size restrictions on motors.

Get up close and personal with Arizona’s wildlife at Oracle State Park
What better place to have a wildlife encounter than at a 4,000-acre wildlife refuge? Oracle State Park has over 15 miles of trails so you can spread out, take a seat on one of the benches or wildlife blinds, and wait to spot birds like scrub jays, Gambel’s quail, owls, and Harris’s hawks. You may even see one of the park’s commonly spotted mammals like Coues white-tailed deer, javelina, gray fox, or cottontail rabbits. Learn more about the wildlife that call this oak-woodland, rolling hills, and desert grassland home.

Refocus and reflect at Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park
This hike holds special meaning for Arizonans, firefighters, and first responders from around the world. Throughout the 7-mile round trip trail, memorial plaques are spaced commemorating each of the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew. At the end of the trail, you can pay your respects to the 19 members who lost their lives fighting the Yarnell Hill wildfire on June 30, 2013. An experience full of meaning, the legacy of these heroes will inspire you. Remember to bring plenty of water for this journey.

Now that you have some ideas, check the weather, round up your family or best pals, and pack some snacks and plenty of water for a scenic drive. Then enjoy your own slice of Arizona paradise!


Managing and conserving Arizona's natural, cultural and recreational resources for the benefit of the people, both in our parks and through our partners.

For information about the more than 30 Arizona State Parks and Natural Areas, trails, Off-Highway Vehicle Program, and State Historic Preservation Office, call 1-877-MY-PARKS or visit AZStateParks.com

PRESS CONTACT: Michelle Thompson at (480) 589-8877 - Email: pio@azstateparks.gov