Arizona is home to some breathtaking examples of the great outdoors. While some colder states may still be experiencing trail closures or heavy snowfall, many spots for outdoor recreation – especially in southern and central Arizona – are open. Even better, spring can be one of the best seasons to explore the outdoors in Arizona thanks to milder temperatures, making this state a great option for your upcoming adventure.
This list looks at seven Arizona state parks to consider checking out on your next excursion.
1. Lake Havasu State Park
This lakefront park is the perfect destination for those who enjoy camping or a variety of water activities. Lake Havasu State Park offers options for both RV camping and tent camping. After a little under 4 hours from Phoenix, it’s possibly a bit far for a day trip, but it is perfect for a weekend getaway. You’ll be able to look forward to activities such as fishing, hiking, and boating with a visit to this park. The park does charge an entry fee – $20 per vehicle or $3/person for those arriving without a vehicle.
2. Tonto Natural Bridge State Park
This state park is home to the largest naturally occurring travertine bridge in the world. Follow Waterfall Trail or Gowan Trail to the observation deck to take in the natural wonder the park is best known for. You’ll also want to check out the various exhibits at the historic Goodfellow Lodge to learn more about the area. Finally, the park is a little under 2 hours from Phoenix, Arizona, making this a viable day trip option from the city.
3. Catalina State Park
Catalina State Park is nestled at the base of the gorgeous Santa Catalina mountains. This park is perfect for a wide variety of outdoor activities – hiking, horseback riding, and wildlife viewing are all possibilities. If you’re looking to check out the trails, the park offers eight routes that cover a wide span of hiking abilities. Those looking for a beginner-friendly hike will want to check out Nature Trail or Birding Trail, both of which are a mile long. If you’re up for a challenging hike, Sutherland Trail is 9.1 miles and has a total elevation gain of 5,900 feet. Catalina State Park is also located nearby the town of Tucson, making this a great option if you prefer to have nearby amenities to return to after exploring.
4. Lost Dutchman State Park
Lost Dutchman State Park is named after the legend of a lost gold mine. A great place for either day trips or overnight trips, the park offers opportunities for camping as well as cabins for rent. During your stay, you can look forward to enjoying a hike through the desert. Visiting in the early spring will mean you won’t have to worry as much about hiking in the desert heat, though you’ll want to be sure to bring plenty of water on any hike regardless of the time of year. It’s also an amazing place to view wildlife such as coyotes, bobcats, and mule deer.
5. Picacho Peak State Park
If you’re looking to enjoy the serenity of the Arizona desert, Picacho Peak State Park is a great option. The park is home to several different hiking trails ranging from beginner-friendly to more difficult. It also offers opportunities for both tent camping and RV camping, and reservations can be made for both online.
6. Patagonia Lake State Park
Enjoy a lakefront retreat with a visit to Patagonia Lake State Park. Surrounded by trees and other lush greenery, this park looks drastically different than the surrounding desert. An amazing place for all manner of water activities, the park also offers boat tours of the lake that are perfect for seeing more of the area even if you don’t have a boat of your own.
7. Red Rock State Park
Head a bit outside of the city of Sedona to experience Red Rock State Park. This gorgeous state park is most recognizable for its stunning red sandstone canyon. As a nature reserve, it’s also a fantastic place to see a wide variety of desert animals as well as plants in their natural habit. Traverse the 5 miles of trails winding through the park to see it all first hand, and don’t forget to take some awe-inspiring pictures of the area’s iconic red rocks during your visit. Staying inside the park is not an option at this time – thankfully, it’s less than a twenty-minute drive from Sedona.
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