With so many things to do in Arizona, you have plenty of options of how to spend your free time. Luckily, the diversity within Arizona's state parks will not only show you the most amazing hidden gems Arizona has to offer, but will give you a chance to experience the most memorable adventures of your life. Want to hike amid a sea of wildflowers in the Sonoran Desert? Okay, go for it! How about experiencing river life along the Colorado River? Yep...You can do that too. The best part is that within all corners of the state there's these memorable adventures waiting for you; and most of them you haven't even thought of yet...
Outdoor recreation is a big deal to Arizonans and they know how to use their time wisely in pursuit of adventure. Arizona's state parks make it easy for you to pack up the car and kids and drive in almost any direction to explore the most beautiful places in the state. Make memories this year with those special people in your life. Take a look at the following activities and choose your adventure!
Arizona has endless opportunities for sleeping under the stars! Patagonia Lake State Park puts you in the heart of southern Arizona, among rolling hills and blue skies! The shoreline is an idyllic getaway perfect for an Arizona road trip.
By day, iscover hiking trails in the foothills, and keep an eye out for rare birds (this is a popular birding spot, especially in winter!) and other wildlife nearby. Camp out by the lake in a tent, RV, or camping cabin and enjoy the night skies, fishing, and more!
If you'd rather keep closer to the city, Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, Ariz., is a great spot for fall colors and amazing views! Three lagoons, the Verde River, horseback riding, a playground, and more offer recreation opportunities abound!
Hike trails near Tuzigoot and Montezuma Castle national monuments, and explore the awesome Verde Valley, then return to homebase for a cozy evening in a campsite or camping cabin! At just 90 minutes north of Phoenix, it's a quick getaway to seasonal wonders, cooler days, and some time off the grid.
It's cooling in the desert, so it's the perfect time to hit the trails! Sedona's Red Rock State Park is a wonderful conservation area full of wildlife, red rock views, and awesome hiking trails! Make your way through the lower riparian areas to see fall colors among the red dirt trails, and hike to the top of Eagle's Nest for panoramic Sedona views!
Enjoy the serenity of the park and keep an eye out for local wildlife, like otters, deer, and various birds! Red Rock's year round residents are joined in winter by birds escaping the chillier lands of the northern US and settling into beautiful destinations like Sedona.
Lost Dutchman State Park offers a wide variety of trails, expansive views, and some very adventurous hiking! Check out Siphon Draw trail to the Flatiron if you're daring, and share your selfie when you reach the top! The Flatiron hike is a 5.8-mile roundtrip, through the Superstition Mountains, to an awesome overlook! Remember to take plenty of water, even in cool weather.
If you're after a bucket list hike, Picacho Peak is your go-to! The Hunter's Peak trail is a tough, 3.2-mile hike to the summit that gives you 360º desert views and a sense of accomplishment to boot! Bring gloves for the cables, plenty of water, and your determination!
Believe it or not, the desert offers plenty of spots to hang out in the water! The Colorado River lines Arizona's "west coast," and makes for some awesome recreation, from boating and fishing to hiking and relaxing! Party it up at Lake Havasu State Park on the water, or kick back on the beach. Whatever your speed, the Colorado River has got you!
Find a chill vibe at Cattail Cove, just downstream from Lake Havasu! White sand beaches, awesome trails, and Colorado River access gives you all the amenities of Lake Havasu on a smaller scale!
Parker, Ariz. boasts even more Colorado River fun, with grassy banks, shady trees, and immaculate vibes. From the dog park to the sandy shore, these river parks will keep you busy all weekend long!
Head to high country and enjoy the fall colors at Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area! Fool Hollow Lake brings you to a cozy forest getaway, relaxing on the water, tucked away between the pines. This is an awesome park for a classic pine-tree getaway nearby Show Low, with camping, boating, fishing, and more!
Though it lies only about an hour from Fool Hollow Lake, Lyman Lake offers a starkly different experience! Nestled in the foothills of the White Mountains, this high desert lake forgoes boat restrictions to let you sail to heart's desire on a quiet shore full of adventure!
Arizona’s state parks offer beginning and experienced anglers awesome fishing opportunities throughout the state. Within a variety of landscapes, several sport fish species thrive in the fresh waters of our lakes and rivers. During the winter months, rainbow trout are stocked in several parks and provide a fun, sometimes challenging, way to catch a meal and memories! In the spring, largemouth and smallmouth bass are engaged in their annual spawn and susceptible to a well-placed lure or bait. When summertime hits, channel catfish are stocked in many of our lakes to provide good times for anglers that want to ride out the oppressive heat by the water!
Spend the weekend at one of your favorite state parks with the whole family! Join in the Family Campout program to learn the ropes of camping, fishing, hiking, and more! Leaders take you on guided hikes through the great outdoors of the American Southwest! There are so many fun things to do in Arizona State Parks for all ages and skill sets! Camping and stargazing are just the beginning of your incredible adventure outdoors! Start exploring in Arizona today to find your best adventure!
Family campouts give beginning campers a great opportunity to learn something new while enjoying time with loved ones outside! Spending a weekend outdoors could be just what the family needs to reset and refresh! You can participate at any of 12 state parks in Sedona, Cottonwood, Show Low, Lake Havasu, and other beautiful places around Arizona. Activities like animal demonstrations, archery, fishing, hiking and campfire stories are fun and exciting for kids and families of all ages!
One of the best places for a family bonding experience is on the trail. Everything is so new and exciting for the kids and their attention is easily captured with all of the cool plants and animals encountered within your state park trail system. There are plenty of easy to moderate hiking trails available that are great for kids!
Kids at the parks also have the opportunity to become a Junior Ranger! Check in with one of the Park Rangers to see what activities kids can complete like scavenger hunts, activity books, and more before they take the oath to be sworn in as an official Arizona State Parks Junior Ranger!
You’ve put in a long week at work and this is your chance to recharge, relax, and seek out fun things to do in Arizona this weekend! Diversity, beauty, and opportunity: we truly are lucky to have so many amazing recreation options within the our state! Seek adventure this weekend and check out these amazing options with Arizona State Parks and Trails.
Slide Rock State Park, just north of Sedona, Ariz., is set in one of North America’s most picturesque regions. This park features stunning views and showcases amazing fall colors. Wander the shores of the Oak Creek and enjoy the cool breezes and smell of autumn in the air. Looking up, you realize the red rock escarpments, the result of thousands of years of erosion, will never be exactly the same. In a way, this moment was made specifically for you to soak in, enjoy, and remember the next time you need a mental escape. Slide Rock State Park is here for you and will take your worries downstream and replace them with beautiful memories.
Closer to the greater Phoenix and Mesa areas, Lost Dutchman State Park offers adventure with the option to stay a while. The expansive trail network takes you through the history-charged Superstition Mountains and will challenge you or take you on an easy stroll through the Sonoran Desert, an iconic ecosystem of the American Southwest. Many birds and mammals call Lost Dutchman home and can be seen or photographed year-round. If you just can’t see it all in one day, campgrounds and rental cabins are available all year long to help you get the most out of this Sonoran Desert experience.
During spring, the southern region parks have beautiful displays of wildflowers. Catalina State Park is between Phoenix and Tucson, and offers gorgeous trails along the Catalina Mountains. Pitch a tent or park your RV at Catalina State Park to step up your adventure and see the wildflowers! Another incredible park to see the sun sink over the Arizona horizon is Picacho Peak State Park, where you can take a more challenging hike to enjoy panoramic views, or enjoy the simplicity of the wildlife all around.
The southern region has some of the best fall-weather parks to visit, so make sure you're heading out prepared, with plenty of water (turn around before you get halfway through your water supply!), good shoes, a hat, and sunscreen even when it's cooler. Take these opportunities to enjoy the reason why people love Arizona this time of year!
Arizona evenings offer moderate temperatures and incredible sights, like the sunsets in Arizona! Head out to hike as the sun starts to sink to take advantage of that gorgeous view and stunning show.
Arizona’s night sky is dazzling, and some of the best places to stargaze are right inside your state parks! Several nearby parks are designated Dark Sky Parks, and many host frequent Star Parties! Star Parties give you an incredible opportunity to gaze up at the night sky away from the city lights, with professional telescopes and local astronomers to guide you. Even with the cooler weather, it's still the perfect time for Star Parties! Red Rock, Kartchner Caverns, Oracle, Lost Dutchman and more stateparks all give you the experience of a lifetime when you spend your evening under the stars!
In addition to Star Parties, many parks also host moonlight hikes! Held during the full moon, these guided hikes allow you to glimpse the landscape after dark, taking in the scenery cast in the glow of the moon and stars! Keep an eye on the events page for updates!
Check out events all over the state HERE.