Most know Fred and I love to travel around by visiting state parks and volunteering our time at the parks. We have found this a great way to really see this nation in a natural, nature environment plus give back by volunteering. As we get to a state we try to see as many state parks as we can and only overnight in a RV Resort/Campground when we have to.
Arizona has 28 state parks and we got to 13 of them as we traveled through Arizona. Here is information of those 13 in alpha order and not in timeline as we saw them.
BOYCE THOMPSON ARBORETUM: What a neat place. This is a park that we would love to go back to as park host at some point. This park is just an hour from Phoenix. I talked about the park in an earlier blog right after we visited it. There are more than three miles of paths and trial over 100 acres and the gardens and pathways are just amazing. There is no camping in this park but it is worth you time to visit. They do sale native plans and have a wonderful gift shop. Plan a full day to visit as you will be amazed at the different gardens. Those of you that are bird watchers there birds are everywhere and there is a special hummingbird garden that is very nice and busy with hummingbirds.
CATALINA STATE PARK: This is the park that we stayed in while we were in Tucson. Really nice park and again one that we would consider hosting in as it is just outside of Tucson and there is lots to do and see in the area. Park sits at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains and you feel like you can reach out and touch them from your campsite. There is lots of wildlife in the park and the bird watching is fantastic. While we were there a mother mountain lion with her cub was spotted on the birding trail. Park covers 5500 acres and even has an Equestrian Center for those of you that have horses. Trails are everywhere and some even take you up into the Catalina Mountains. There is both electric/water RV parking/camping and primitive/tent camping available. I would recommend making a reservation as the park does stay busy. They also offer day use area with great picnicking area. Those of you that are traveling through Tucson and are looking for a peaceful/quiet place to stay just for the night, the park is about 12 miles off I-10 and really worth the stay. You will end up wanting to stay two nights as it is great.
DEAD HORSE RANCH STATE PARK: We stopped to look around at this park as we were out sightseeing. We planned a picnic lunch here on our day out and I was glad we did. The park covers 423 acres and has a nice camping area and lots of places to fish and hike. As we drove through the park the Boy Scouts were there with a jamboree so I can truly say their group camping area is neat. It was cool seeing all these boys running around, yet staying in the area so they were not bothering other campers. This is also one of three state parks that has cabin. They are on their on loop within the park along the Verde River and are very neat. There are electric/water sites available as well as tent/primitive site and even has an Equestrian area. Truly a full service state park. Another one that we would like to host at sometime.
HOMOLOVI STATE PARK: This is another state park that we spend time. This is an archaeological site but does have a camping and day use area. It is located right off if I-40 and many use it as an overnight place as they travel. You can see the freeway from the campground but you are so far away you do not hear the noise. The land is wide open and you can see for miles over the vast desert area. The park runs along the Little Colorado River and was the home of ancient people during migrations period. These people eventually joined the Hopi Indians that were living upon the Mesas in the areas. The park is a archaeology study area where there are two major ruins of the “communities” and homes of these people. There are hiking trails with interpretative signage through the ruins and numerous picnic tables and pull out areas where you can sit in quiet and watch the wildlife within the park. The Hopi people still consider the site as part of there homeland and continue to make pilgrimages to renew their ties with the people of the land. During the summer there is a Suvoyuki Day Festival in which visitors are invited and a celebration is held to honor those that have helped to protect the Hopi ancestral villages. Great place to stop at over night and/or spend some time hiking.
JEROME STATE HISTORICAL PARK: This park is strictly a day use park and is really interesting to get to. If you take the time to go to Jerome stop in the state park first as you can learn the history of this mining town – but this is not a place you can take your RV with you, so camp down at Dead Horse Ranch and make plans to go up the mountain to visit Jerome and this park. The town dates back to 1876 when copper mining was first started in this area became the largest producing copper min in the Arizona Territory in the early 20th century. The park was the Douglas Mansion and looks out over the town and the copper mine. It stands out as you drive up the curves and switchbacks of the mountain to get to Jerome and is the first think you will see. The Mansion is a museum of the area and has a wonderful picnic area that looks out over the area and town.
KARTCHNER CAVERNS STATE PARK: You are not allowed to take pictures within the caverns so I don’t have pictures of here. We had a friend that was park hosting so we made a day trip there to visit with here and see the park. The caverns are wonderful and truly amazing. There are two different rooms that you can visit; we only got to one and it was amazing. The park has some great camping area and is very busy so make sure to make reservation. If you want to take a tour of one of caverns make sure to make a reservation for that as they stay busy. There is a café at this park so getting a snack/lunch is quick and easy. This is park off I-10 just north of Bensen, AZ and is great place to stop.
LOST DUTCHMAN: The park sits at the base of Superstition Mountain and has several hikes that will lead you up the mountain. It is names after the fable lost gold mine located in the Sonoran Desert just east of Phoenix. There are number of ghost towns just outside to park that are neat and an old mine with a unique museum about the Lost Dutchman’s Mine. There are both electric/water sites and tent/primitive site. Great park for exploring Superstition Mountain, hiking and/or just relaxing and getting away.
PICACHO PEAK STATE PARK: Really a neat park. You can spot this park from I-10 easy as the peak stand outs against the skyline. Located just west of Tucson as you travel I-10 west just right off the freeway. One of those parks that can be spotted from the freeway yet the noise from the freeway is not a problem when camping. We went there at a time when wild flowers were blooming and wow it was nice. Lots of great hiking trials. There is even a special trial that is set up for kids with interpretative information that is in an language that kids can understand. Another park we would like to host at some point in time.
RED ROCK STATE PARK: This was a park that I was looking forward to walking around an exploring, but we were not allowed in the park as we had the dogs with us. There are no pets allowed in the park and even though you request just to be allowed to drive through we were denied access with the dogs in the car with us. The park the Center of Environmental Education so I don’t know if that has something to do with it or not as all the Ranger could tell us why we could not just drive through – we were not even allowed to park and go into the visitor to look around and find out information about the park. I did take pictures of the drive to the park and the area around though. The park is close to Sedona, AZ and the area is unique. If you decide to go to this park just know that you will not be granted access even to the visitor center if you have your pets with you. Here are some pictures I took of the area outside the park.
RIORDAN MANSION STATE HISTORIC PARK: This is a duplex mansion that was the home of Timothy and Michael Riordan who were big lumber barons instrumental in the growth of Flagstaff, AZ. The park is located with Northern Arizona University. The mansion was built 1904 by Charles Whittlesey, the architect of the El Torvar Hotel in the Grand Canyon. This was the first structure built in the area with hot and cold running water, central heat and electric light. There is a center living area with two separate living wings for the brothers and their families. Day use area with guided tours of the mansion by reservation only. Make sure to plan ahead if you would like to see the place. Unique mansion.
ROPER LAKE STATE PARK: This is the park that Fred and I were park host during January – April 2015. Great park and we really enjoyed our stay there. This is another one of the three state parks in Arizona that has cabins. The cabins look out around the lake and have big porch swings on the front porch of each. Good fishing and great birding at the park. There is also a nature hot springs hot tub in the park to soak in after that long day on the road. There is also a sub-park that is three miles down the road that is called Dankworth Pond that is a day use area only with great fishing. The lake allows boat but only electric motors – no gas motors. Park is located 30 miles off I-10 on Hwy 191. I strongly recommend reservation and plan on two nights as the park is no nice that once you get there you want to stay an extra night as there is a lot to see and do in the area. Nice quiet place for just that over night stay though, you will not be disappointed with your stay here. Look back over my previous blog for more information about the park.
SLIDE ROCK STATE PARK: Very unique park and a very scenic drive to the park. The area was once the homestead for the Pendley and was an apple farm located in Oak Creek Canyon. The home, barn, and other building of the homestead still stand on the park for viewing. The park got it’s name by the natural “slide rock” in the creek . This is a 80 foot slippery shoot that is worn into sandstone that visitors are allowed to slide down while enjoying the creek itself. There is a market located within the park that sell things you find in the regular visitor center of a park but also has products from the apple orchards that are still located on the park. This is a day use only park and really a neat place. We enjoyed our visit here as it is very beautiful.
TOMBSTONE COURTHOUSE STATE HISTORIC PARK: Set back into the old west visiting this old courthouse. The courthouse has been turned into a museum of the town of Tombstone and its rich history. It was built in 1882 and housed the sheriff’s office at one time, plus was the center of many hanging as orders were issued from the Judge. Beautiful old place that has been preserved with rich history. So much to see in Tombstone when you go there but be sure to place this on your list of place to go and see in Tombstone. You will not be disappointed.
This cover the 13 state parks that we have gone to in Arizona as of now. We hope to get back at some time and see the other 15. Hope you enjoyed and that will give you some idea of some state parks you might want to see. On to our next adventure . . . .