Arizona State Parks and Trails Announces the Opt Outside Photo Contest

November 16, 2023

PHOENIX – To encourage amazing outdoor adventures this winter, Arizona State Parks and Trails will be holding the Opt Outside Photo Contest starting on Black Friday and running through January 15, 2024, inviting photographers of all levels to submit their best shots in Arizona's state parks for the chance to win prizes and recognition.

The contest is open to both amateur and professional photographers who are 18 years of age or older. All photos must be taken within one of the more than 30 Arizona state parks, with awards to be presented in five categories:

  • Living creatures, spotlighting Arizona plants, animals, and insects
  • Friendly faces, featuring visitors enjoying the parks 
  • Outdoor activities, showcasing the many recreational activities available in the parks, like kayaking, fishing, hiking, camping, etc.
  • Landscapes, exhibiting the dramatic views from within the state parks
  • Arizona history, illustrating our state’s rich cultural resources and storied past

The photo contest is a fantastic opportunity for photographers to showcase their talent and the beauty and diversity of Arizona's state parks. This contest will celebrate the creativity of photographers but also highlight the importance of preserving and protecting our state's natural, cultural, and recreational resources. Instead of spending the winter holidays shopping or indoors, explore the parks and capture your memories.

Incredible prizes are in store for photo contest winners. Each category will boast a first, second, and third place winner. A grand prize winner will be selected for the contest overall, and will receive an exciting package any outdoor enthusiast will love. The grand prize package includes a two-night stay in a Pin Drop micro-camper at an Arizona state park, a cave tour for two at Kartchner Caverns State Park, an Arizona State Parks annual pass, an REI gift card for $15, and an AppreciateAZ gift box. 

First-place winners will each receive an Arizona State Parks annual pass, second-place winners will receive two day-use passes, and third-place winners will receive one day-use pass. All winners will also receive a limited-edition Arizona State Parks and Trails sticker and AppreciateAZ water bottle. Honorable mention may also be given to photos of particular merit.

The contest judges include Arizona State Parks and Trails staff, Tim Elinski, mayor of the city of Cottonwood and co-owner of Pin Drop Travel Trailers, as well as Lauren and Owen Steinwall of the popular Arizona adventure social media account, The AZ Hikeaholics. Entries will be judged anonymously on creativity, uniqueness, clarity/composition, and effectiveness in conveying a story within a state park. 

Photos must be submitted between November 24, 2023, and January 15, 2024 at midnight. Each contestant may submit up to five entries and may be entered in multiple categories. Winners will be announced in February 2024.

For more information, including a full list of state parks and a detailed list of submission requirements and contest rules, please visit


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


PRESS CONTACT: Michelle Thompson at (480) 589-8877 - Email: