20 Arizona State Parks

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The west coast state of Arizona is brimming with incredible natural landscapes, including an array of state parks. Arizona’s state parks are often overlooked by overseas or out-of-state visitors because many head straight to one of America’s most famous state parks, the Grand Canyon. But Arizona’s state parks are varied and well worth visiting to enjoy a plethora of fun outdoor activities. From hiking to camping, swimming and boating, these Arizona state parks are worth adding to your list.

Arizona State Parks

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20 State Parks In Arizona 

1- Slide Rock State Park

WPA poster art of Slide Rock State Park located in Oak Creek Canyon in Sedona, Arizona
Slide Rock State Park

One of Arizona’s most popular state parks is Slide Rock State Park, which is just over two hours drive north of Phoenix.

It’s set in a beautiful valley where the water of Oak Creek meanders through.

If you want to escape the often scorching Arizona heat, then Slide Rock State Park is the place to go.

Head down to the creek to the 80-foot natural channel, a perfect swimming spot.

Slide Rock State Park is at 6871 AZ-89A, Sedona, AZ 86336.

2- Lake Havasu State Park

Head to the scenic shores of Lake Havasu to enjoy this next Arizona state park, less than three miles outside of Lake Havasu City on the border with California.

Enjoy beaches, nature trails and camping in this watersports haven.

In the park, there are three boat launches, 54 campsites as well as 13 beachside cabins.

It’s the perfect park for a day trip or weekend getaway. There’s also a picnic area and beach.

The Mojave Sunset Trail winds through the lowland desert of the park and along Lake Havasu.

The Arroyo-Camino Interpretive Garden within the park is a beautiful place to see local plants and wildlife.

Lake Havasu State Park is at 699 London Bridge Rd, Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403.

3- Alamo Lake State Park

Alamo Lake State Park Arizona water view
One of the relaxing state parks in Arizona to visit is Alamo Lake State Park.

Are you a keen angler? Alamo Lake State Park is the place in Arizona to fish for bass.

You will find this park in western Arizona tucked away in the Bill Williams River Valley.

It is a fantastic place to escape busy city life.

This lake is surrounded by stunning landscapes including mountains, cacti, wildflowers and brush.

Visit during spring after some rain to see wildflowers. 

Wildlife on the lake includes waterfowl, foxes, coyotes, mule deer and wild burros.

This state park is tucked away around 40 miles from the nearest city and is a fantastic place to stargaze.

Alamo Lake State Park is at Alamo Rd, Wenden, AZ 85357.

4- Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Abandoned Wood Cabin In Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Arizona
Abandoned wood cabin in Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Arizona.

Don’t let the sombre name of this state park put you off from visiting.

Close to the city of Cottonwood and somewhat close to Sedona, this state park is great for a family getaway.

There’s a lake, hiking trails, a playground and a campground.

The park gets its name from the Ireys family, who moved to Arizona from Minnesota.

While looking for a ranch to buy during the 1940s, they found a large dead horse lying by the road at one of the ranches they visited.

After some days of viewing different ranches, the father of the family asked his children which ranch they liked best, they said “the one with the dead horse”.

The park was later acquired by Arizona State Parks in 1973.

Dead Horse Ranch State Park is at 675 Dead Horse Ranch Rd, Cottonwood, AZ 86326.

5- Picacho Peak State Park

Spring Beauty At Picacho Peak State Park In Arizona
Hedgehog cactus in bloom and towering saguaro at Picacho Peak State to the north of Tucson.

Around 40 minutes drive outside of Tucson is Picacho Peak State Park.

The main feature of this park is Picacho Peak which stands at 1500 feet.

Enjoy the expansive views of Arizona as you hike up the trails to the peak.

If you visit this state park in spring, you will be treated to the beautiful wildflowers as you hike.

The unique shape of Picacho Peak has been used throughout history as a landmark by travellers.

The park’s visitor centre is worth visiting for its exhibits and store. There’s also a playground, a campground and a picnic area.

It’s not just the hike up Picacho Peak that’s on offer; there are also some scenic hiking routes to enjoy.

Picacho Peak State Park is at 15520 Picacho Peak Rd, Picacho, AZ 85141.

6- Kartchner Caverns State Park

A 15-minute drive outside of Benson and close to Tucson is Kartchner Caverns State Park.

The limestone columns that stretch from the floor to the ceiling of the cave are mighty impressive and some of the best formations of their kind in the state.

To see this remarkable cave, you must take a guided tour.

There are two different lengths of hikes and tours to suit your needs.

The Throne Room and the Big Room are two of the highlights when visiting Kartchner Caves.

The brushite moonmilk formations in the Big Room are some of the world’s largest.

Kartchner Caverns State Park is at 2980 AZ-90, Benson, AZ 85602.

7- McFarland State Historic Park

From nature to the town of Florence in southern Arizona, the McFarland State Historic Park allows you to travel back in time.

The building at the centre of this park showcases the transition between Sonoran and Anglo-American architecture.

The original building was constructed by hand in 1878.

You can see the preserved courthouse as well as other 1800 buildings.

There’s also a visitor centre and museum with a number of exhibits providing information on Florence and the 200-year history of the surrounding area.

McFarland State Historic Park is at 24 W Ruggles, St Florence, AZ 85132.

8- Yuma Territorial Prison State Park

Yuma Territorial Prison stone building
Yuma Territorial Prison State Park is one of the more unusual state parks in Arizona.

Head to southwestern Arizona to the small city of Yuma and you will find the Yuma Territorial Prison State Park.

The prison dates back to 1879 but is now open to the public but don’t worry, you don’t have to interact with any inmates.

Check out the guard tower, prisoner cemetery and dining hall.

The original cell blocks are also open to explore.

This is an interesting Arizona state park that offers an insight into the life of prisoners in Arizona during the 1800s.

In complete juxtaposition to the prison, head to the modern visitor centre to learn more about the area’s history.

Yuma Territorial Prison State Park is at 220 Prison Hill Rd, Yuma, AZ 85364.

9- Patagonia Lake State Park

For somewhere to cool off from the Arizona summer heat, check out Patagonia Lake State Park in southern Arizona.

Surrounded by desert landscape, Patagonia Lake provides visitors with a refreshing oasis to pitch a tent or hook up an RV at the campground.

The campground’s facilities include hot showers, toilets and a convenience store.

You can rent a boat from the marina and explore the lake from the water.

Be sure to grab lunch and enjoy it at one of the park’s picnic spots.

Patagonia Lake State Park is at 400 Patagonia Lake Rd, Nogales, AZ 85621.

10- Catalina State Park

Catalina State Park is on the outskirts of Oro Valley, just north of Tucson.

Tucson residents love this state park as it’s full of outdoor recreational fun at the base of the Santa Catalina Mountains, with miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails for you to enjoy.

These trails meander through the Sonoran Desert, and if you fancy a challenging hike, head on the Romero Pools trail.

Catalina State Park is at 11570 N Oracle Rd, Tucson, AZ 85737.

11- Jerome State Historic Park

mansion on a hill and blue sky
One of the state parks in Arizona for history lovers is Jerome State Historic Park

Jerome State Historic Park is in central Arizona, around two hours’ drive from Phoenix.

The Douglas Mansion has been the most dominant landmark in Jerome since 1916.

James S. Douglas built it on the hill above Little Daisy Mine.

Once a home, this building is now a museum that showcases the history of Jerome and the Douglas family.

In the museum, you can see various photographs, artifacts, minerals and a 3D model of the town and mines.

Head outside for a picnic with a view of the Verde Valley.

Jerome State Historic Park is at 100 Douglas Rd, Jerome, AZ 86331.

12- Riordan Mansion State Park

Riordan Mansion State Park building close up
Riordan Mansion State Park in Arizona is a great spot for history and architecture.

Located in Flagstaff, the Riordan Mansion State Park showcases the 1904 Riordan Mansion, which offers insights into a life of luxury in a small logging town.

This state park preserves the wonderful arts and crafts of that era as well as the unique architectural style.

The home features volcanic stone arches and a whopping forty rooms.

The mansion also had 13,000 square feet of living area and servant quarters.

You can wander around the grounds or join a guided tour of Riordan Mansion (lasting one hour).

Riordan Mansion State Park is at 409 W Riordan Rd, Flagstaff, AZ 86001.

13- Homolovi State Park

Homolovi State Park ruins
Another Arizona state park to explore is Homolovi State Park.

Homolovi means “Place of the Little Hills” in the language of the Hopi tribe.

This state park is now a place of research looking into the migration of the Hopi between the 1200s and the late 1300s.

People visiting the park can check out the visitor centre and museum for more information about the local people and history.

There are also several trails to explore some petroglyphic and old ruins as well as a campground, perfect for staying overnight. 

Homolovi State Park is at AZ-87, Winslow, AZ 86047.

14- Tonto Natural Bridge State Park

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park natural landscape
One of the best state parks in Arizona for stunning geographical features is Tonto Natural Bridge State Park.

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park, on the Mogollon Ridge in central Arizona, is a huge natural bridge hidden deep in the valley of this state park.

Tonto Natural Bridge is 393 feet long, from one end of the tunnel to the other, and is 183 feet high.

To see this natural geological feature, you can enjoy three hiking trails.

There is also a picnic area and to learn more about the geology and history of the area after a bite to eat, head to the Tonto Natural Bridge Visitor Center.

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park is at Nf-583A, Pine, AZ 85544.

15- Tubac Presidio State Park

Tubac Presidio State Park aerial view
Tubac Presidio State Park and St Ann Catholic Church.

Head south down the I-19 from Tucson, and you will reach the Tubac Presidio State Park in around 45 minutes.

This was the first Arizona state park created to preserve the oldest Spanish presidio.

This presidio dates back to 1752!

The presidio ruins are on display as well as seven additional buildings, including a schoolhouse, captains house and the Rojas House.

Within the park, there is the four-mile-long Anza trail which leads to the Tumacacori National Historic Park.

Be sure to combine a trip to this park with a shopping trip at the local Tubac marketplace.

Tubac Presidio State Park is at 1 Burruel St, Tubac, AZ 85646.

16- Roper Lake State Park

Roper Lake State Park is just outside the small census-designated Cactus Flat and around two hours drive from Tucson.

This aesthetically pleasing lake in Graham County is a wonderful place to go camping.

There are three different campgrounds to enjoy: fishing, bird watching and different water activities.

Surrounding the lake are stunning views of rolling mountains and tall grasses.

If you are searching for hiking trails, you can head to the neighbouring Dankworth Pond State Park.

Roper Lake State Park is at 101 E Roper Lake Rd, Safford, AZ 85546.

17- Red Rock State Park

Cathedral Rock In Sedona, Arizona
Cathedral Rock can be seen from the hiking trails in Red Rock State Park.

Red Rock State Park is just a short drive west of Sedona and is where you can see one of the area’s most famous views.

The state park’s signature feature is its striking red sandstone formations sculpted by millions of years of geological forces.

These towering red cliffs create a stunning backdrop against the clear blue skies, making it a photographer’s paradise.

Hiking trails wind through the park, and there’s a chance to spot diverse wildlife, including birds and deer.

Join a Moonlight Hike to enjoy the sunset and moonrise from a trail overlook.

Red Rock State Park is at 4050 Red Rock Loop Rd, Sedona, AZ 86336.

18- Lost Dutchman State Park

Lost Dutchman State Park rocky feature with cactus in the foreground
One of the state parks in Arizona with stunning views is Lost Dutchman State Park.

30 minutes east of Phoenix is the Lost Dutchman State Park, named after a lost gold mine in the area.

If you are into hiking, camping and exploring, the Lost Dutchman is a wonderful state park.

The mountains on display in this park are called the Superstition Mountains and they dominate the landscape.

Some of the trails in the park include the challenging Siphon Draw Trail and the more scenic Native Plant Trail.

Head there in spring and cross your fingers that the rain has brought an array of beautiful wildflowers into view.

Lost Dutchman State Park is at 6109 N Apache Trail, Apache Junction, AZ 85119.

19- Lyman Lake State Park

Arizona’s Lyman Lake State Park is in the east of the state, just 13 miles outside St Johns.

Lyman Lake was created to be an irrigation reservoir by damming the Little Colorado River.

This state park is 1,200 acres, and the reservoir itself is 1,500 acres.

All types of boats can be found on Lyman Lake.

It’s one of the few places in northeastern Arizona with no boat-size restrictions.

There’s a no wake area west of the land, making it an excellent spot for anglers to catch walleye, channel catfish and largemouth bass.

Fishing, swimming, leisure boating, water skiing and hiking are some activities in the park.

This is an excellent spot to relax with friends or family, especially in spring, summer or fall.

Lyman Lake State Park is at 11 US-180, St Johns, AZ 85936.

20- Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park

This state park is in the slightly unusually named city of Tombstone in southwest Arizona.

In 1881, Tombstone served as the county seat of Cochise County.

This Victorian-style two-storey courthouse was built from red brick in 1882.

Today, people heading to Tombstone can enjoy the museum inside the building to learn about local life and history and view interpretive exhibits about the sheriff’s office, mining exhibits and the saloon and gaming room.

If you are into local history and want to learn more, check out this state park.

Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park is at 223 E Toughnut St, Tombstone, AZ 85638. 

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Harriet Comley
Harriet Comley is a travel enthusiast, freelance travel writer and a lover of safaris. Since 2017 she has been travelling the globe living in the UK, Canada, Vietnam, China and now Zambia, where she is completing her PhD in Sustainable Tourism. For 3 1/2 years she taught English in Vietnam and China. Now she has turned her attention to writing, having contributed to a number of travel blogs and websites always focusing on what she loves most…exploring!