Top 13 State Parks in Arizona to Explore in 2023

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Arizona is home to a variety of beautiful state parks that often get overshadowed by the more popular national parks. These state parks offer stunning natural beauty and historical significance, making them hidden gems worth exploring. From desert landscapes to mountain peaks, Arizona’s state parks offer something for everyone. Here are some of the best Arizona state parks that you should add to your itinerary.

1. Kartchner Caverns State Park: This unique park is known for its massive cave complex, featuring the longest soda straw stalactite formation in the world. It also offers above-ground trails and even a chance to experience a nighttime bat tour.

2. Oracle State Park: Unlike many other Arizona state parks, Oracle State Park offers forest trails for hiking and biking. It is also home to the Kannally Ranch House, where you can explore more of the area’s history and artwork.

3. Catalina State Park: With its abundance of saguaros and scenic trails, Catalina State Park is a top contender for Arizona state parks. It offers opportunities for hiking, wildlife spotting, and even horseback riding.

4. Slide Rock State Park: This family-friendly park is famous for its natural waterslide, where visitors can spend a day picnicking and sliding down the rock into the plunge pool below. It also offers opportunities for animal spotting and trout fishing.

5. Fort Verde State Historic Park: Step back in time at Fort Verde, an open-air museum that showcases the history of Arizona’s mining industry. It offers restored buildings and exhibits from the Apache Wars era.

6. Red Rock State Park: Known for its vibrant red rock formations, Red Rock State Park offers scenic trails and opportunities for wildlife viewing. It is located just outside of Sedona, making it easily accessible from popular tourist areas.

7. Dead Horse Ranch State Park: Despite its morbid name, Dead Horse Ranch State Park is full of life and offers activities such as boating, fishing, and camping. It is divided by the Verde River and offers a slower-paced experience in nature.

8. Jerome State Historic Park: This park focuses on the mining history of Arizona and is centered around Douglas Mansion, which now runs as a museum. It offers insights into the state’s mining past and is located just outside the town of Jerome.

9. Tonto Natural Bridge State Park: This park is home to the longest natural travertine bridge in the world and offers hiking trails and mysterious geological history. It is located in a somewhat isolated region near small towns and minor attractions.

10. Colorado River State Historic Park: While not a traditional park, this historic site in Yuma offers restored buildings and exhibits that tell the story of Arizona’s settlement past. It is located just outside of Yuma and is easily accessible for visitors.

11. Patagonia Lake State Park: Situated around a beautiful lake, Patagonia Lake State Park offers opportunities for boating, fishing, camping, and wildlife viewing. It is a family-friendly destination with waterfront camping areas and stunning cabins.

12. Picacho Peak State Park: Known for its hiking trails and stunning views, Picacho Peak State Park is a must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts. It offers a variety of trails, including a summit trek, and is located just an hour’s drive from Phoenix or Tucson.

13. Lost Dutchman State Park: This park offers a desert experience in the Superstition Mountains and is perfect for hiking, stargazing, and learning about Arizona’s mining history. It is located in Phoenix’s outskirts and is easily accessible by car.

Arizona’s state parks provide a unique and diverse outdoor experience. Whether you’re interested in hiking, history, or simply enjoying the beauty of Arizona’s natural landscapes, these parks are worth exploring. So, plan your visit and immerse yourself in the beauty and history of Arizona’s state parks.

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