Appreciate AZ is Arizona’s brand for responsible tourism. This program ensures we are doing our part to educate visitors and residents on how to recreate responsibly in Arizona and to keep our state beautiful for this and future generations. Through a partnership with the Arizona Office of Tourism, we're sharing the seven principles below.
It’s no secret, Arizona is loaded with beauty and has tons of opportunities to explore it throughout the state. Some of these spots are really accessible, yet others take a little work to get to. Arizona’s outdoor spaces all share something in common, however. The impact of recreation often leaves a mark and may detract from the overall experience if too many of us turn a blind eye to it.
Read on to learn how you can help ensure future generations are able to enjoy Arizona’s beautiful places by recreating responsibly.
Plan Ahead and Prepare
If you’re prepared for your trip, you will more effectively leave a light footprint while eliminating potential problems along the way. Planning involves area research before you even leave the house and preparation will help reduce resource damage while you’re recreating. Luckily Arizona's state parks are set up for your success, but it's still a good idea to plan.
- Reference online resources before your trip to learn about restrictions, special area instructions, and weather patterns
- Plan your trip to align with your ability, skills and goals
- Prepare by packing to minimize waste. Repackage food, bring a waste control system with you. Remember to bring trash bags, and a receptacle, and to leave plenty of room while packing for your trash on the return trip.
- Camp and hike in small groups to minimize impact. Plan to split larger groups into smaller groups before your visit.
- Have navigation capabilities with you during your trip. There are plenty of online apps for this that work great and help you stay on the trails.
Minimize Trail Impact
In the campgrounds of Arizona’s state parks, this is easy! Most campsites reside on durable surfaces that are regularly maintained by park staff. While recreating, please pay attention to the following tips to minimize impact.
- Don’t drive on muddy roads or OHV trails while exploring outside the parks
- Walk or bike single file on trails
- Use existing trails only while recreating in the parks
- While fishing or exploring, try to walk where the land is dry instead of the muddy areas near shore.
Pack it in Pack it Out!
Proper planning will make disposing of waste much easier and with time, you will become very efficient at waste removal! For small trash associated with fishing bait containers, etc. please use the receptacles provided around the park.
- Pack it in, pack it out…Simple as that!
- Inspect the campsite and other areas you’ve visited before vacating the area
- As a general rule, leave campsites, trails, lakes, rivers and parks cleaner than you found them
- Use park restroom facilities for human waste. We’ll take it from there.
Leave What You Find
You’ve heard the saying…” Take only pictures, leave only footprints.” This phrase holds a powerful meaning and can be a mantra used to ensure you leave the least impact as possible while enjoying the outdoors. This is especially true for any artifacts, plants, or animals you find in the parks!
- Refrain from building structures such as cairns in the parks or on the trail
- Don’t introduce invasive species. Quagga mussels, for example, are easily transported from one body of water to the next. Take precautions to reduce the chance of transfer.
- Never remove historical artifacts from where they are found. Please admire them but leave them there for the next person to enjoy.
- Don't remove plants or wildlife (besides legally caught fish) from the park.
- Exception: Northern pike, a predatory fish species found in Fool Hollow Lake, can decimate the populations of other fish in the lake. We hope that anglers will keep these fish for their delicious white, flaky meat and to protect the other sportfish in the lake.
Be Fire Smart
This one is easy in the parks because all campsites and cabins come standard with an established fire ring. Take note of the following suggestions to help minimize your impact if you choose to have a fire.
- Check the agency fire safety page for any restrictions that may be in place. If a fire ban is in effect, don’t have a fire.
- Keep fires small and use only firewood that you have purchased locally or at the park
- Burn fires completely, then stir in water to drown completely
- You don’t need a fire to have a good time…Try using a lantern instead or a small propane heat source to keep warm.
Be Mindful of Wildlife
Arizona’s state parks are great places for a wildlife encounter, and we can keep it that way with your help! Learn how to respect wildlife so they remain present, healthy, and available for amazing memories.
- Ensure your campsite trash is secure
- Watch wildlife from a respectable distance. Many species feel threatened if consistently approached and may leave the area.
- Keep pets on a leash so they’re not tempted to chase wildlife
- Never feed the wildlife!
- Give wildlife extra space during mating and nesting seasons or when they are raising their young
No one should intentionally or accidentally detract from the experience of other visitors as a result of their behavior or actions. Please be courteous in the parks so everyone can enjoy their stay.
- Be courteous and helpful. Yield to other hikers and be a resource with directions if asked.
- Enjoy and share the sounds of nature. Avoid using loud voices or creating loud noises.
- Manage your pet
- As a general rule, treat others and their experiences as you would like them to treat yours.
We Can Do This Together
It takes a team to manage a resource sustainably. We can all make a difference together. Please share this message and the actions you've learned above with other outdoor enthusiasts. We're more than happy to add like-minded members to our team!
Reserve your spot!
It's so easy to reserve your adventure today and apply your newfound knowledge...Click below and begin your path to gorgeous outdoor memories in Arizona's state parks!