24 National Parks In Arizona

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Arizona, ‘The Grand Canyon State’ may be home to one of the most famous capital letter National Parks in America, but it has other incredible national parks to see. Of course, many people heading to the state will choose to visit the Grand Canyon. Around 5.9 million people visit the Grand Canyon annually, making it the second most popular national park in the United States after the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina and Tennessee.

On a two-week holiday, you wouldn’t even be able to explore a fraction of the incredible national parks in Arizona. There are 24 national park service sites in Arizona, including three capital letter National Parks, 13 national monuments and a littering of historic sites, memorials, recreation areas, and trails. There are so many different national park sites in Arizona, whether you love the great outdoors or something more historical, there is a place for you. Check out these 24 best national parks in Arizona for when you plan your next vacation.

National Parks In Arizona

National Parks

1- Petrified Forest National Park

pertrified forest national park in arizona
The Pertrified Forest is one of the national parks in Arizona to tick off your list.

Petrified Forest National Park is full of colourful petrified wood.

You can start at the visitor centre to learn more about the area.

There’s an 18-minute orientation video that will help you to become acquainted with the park.

The visitor centre also has a bookstore, exhibits, a restaurant, and a gift shop.

As well as admiring the landscape and petrified wood, it would help if you also visited the Rainbow Forest Museum, that’s home to a fascinating paleontology exhibit.

There are also many access points for the park’s hiking trails and the Petrified Forest National Wilderness Area to explore.

Activities within the Petrified Forest National Park include cycling, hiking, and horseback riding. Book your Petrified Forest Ultimate Adventure.

The Painted Desert Visitor Centre at the Petrified Forest is at 123 1 Park Road, Petrified Forest National Park, AZ 86028.

2- Saguaro National Park

sunset over saguaro national park in arizona
Sunset over Saguaro National Park East near Tucson, Arizona.

In the south of Arizona, across the Sonoran Desert, is the Saguaro National Park.

On either side of Tucson, there are two forested areas that have been well-preserved.

It’s odd to have a city plonked in the middle of a national park.

The city’s location has created a distinctive east and west side of the national park and it takes around 30 to 45 minutes to drive between the two areas.

One of the features of the Saguaro National Park is the Saguaro Cactus.

This large cactus is the size of a tree and can live up to 250 years.

If you want to see these trees and the beautiful surroundings, you can do so by hiking, biking, or horseback riding.

The Cactus Forest Scenic Loop Drive is beautiful on the park’s east side. And head to the west, and you can drive along the Scenic Bajada Loop Drive.

The east side of the Saguaro National Park is at 58RG+CM, Tucson, AZ 85748. The west side is at 2700 North Kinney Road, Tucson, AZ 85743.

3- Grand Canyon National Park

grand canyon national park in arizona
The Grand Canyon is a steep-sided canyon carved by the Colorado River and the top national park in Arizona.

You’ve been kept in suspense, waiting for Arizona’s big capital letter national park…the Grand Canyon.

No mention of Arizona feels complete without a nod towards one of America’s most awe-inspiring national parks.

The Grand Canyon is around two billion years old, half the earth’s lifespan.

The mighty Colorado River, the reason for its creation, continues to cut its way through the 277 miles of canyon, just like it did at the beginning of the landscape’s formation.

If you have never been to the Grand Canyon, visiting this immense 4,926 km² geographical landform might feel overwhelming.

The Grand Canyon is a whopping 18 miles across its widest point, so don’t worry if you get there and find it unfathomably large…because it is!

The Grand Canyon has two main viewing sections: the South Rim and the North Rim. The South Rim has the most viewpoints, hotels, and visitor services.

The North Rim is mightily impressive at more than 1,000 feet high.

As a result, it gets a lot of snow and is only open between May and October.

Then there’s the West Rim which is home to the tribal lands of Hualapai and is the location of the Grand Canyon Skywalk.

Finally, the East Rim is home to the Navajo Nation and has several small canyons carved by the Little Colorado River. You may like this tour of the south and east rims.

Entry into the Grand Canyon is $30 per vehicle. A top tip for those wanting to visit multiple national parks is to purchase the $79 ‘America the Beautiful Pass.

This allows you entry into all the national parks, forests, and monuments for free.

The time you spend at the Grand Canyon will determine what you can see. Here’s a list of the top attractions at each of the rims.

North Rim Attractions
national parks in utah and arizona Girl hiker hiking on landscape trail in Grand Canyon National Park,
Grand Canyon National Park is the top Arizona national park to visit.

– North Rim visitor centre
– North Rim scenic drive
– Cape Royal Trail
– Ken Patrick Trail

South Rim Attractions
arizona national parks near phoenix
Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon.

– Ride a mule into the Grand Canyon (from Grand Canyon Village)
– Helicopter ride of the South Rim
– Yavapai Geology Museum
– Trail of Time walking route
– Hiking on the South Kaibab Trail
Hike the Bright Angel Trail
– Camp at the bottom of the Grand Canyon
– Mather Point Viewpoint

East Rim Attractions
national parks in arizona
Desert View Watchtower in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.

– Desert View Watchtower
– Tusayan Ruin
– Marble Canyon
– Horseshoe Bend

West Rim Attractions
arizona national parks and monuments
The glass skywalk observation bridge is suspended four thousand feet above the Colorado River on the edge of the Grand Canyon West.

– Drive Hermit Road
– Grand Canyon Skywalk
– Guano Point
– Sky View Restaurant

National Monuments

4- Canyon de Chelly National Monument

how many national parks are in arizona
Spider Rock in Canyon de Chelly National Monument.

Located in northwest Arizona, Canyon de Chelly National Monument is in the Navajo Nation and offers incredible views of an impressive canyon and the famous Spider Rock spire.

The name “de Shelly” is a Spanish interpretation of the Navajo word meaning “rock canyon”.

The history of this place dates back to the first Navajo people and then the Spanish explorers.

The canyon itself formed millions of years ago.

Unlike some of Arizona’s deserts, this area provides a valuable water source and rich soil, which has sustained families, plants and animals for years.

Canyon de Chelly National Monument is off Highway 191 near Chinle.

5- Casa Grande Ruins National Monument

The Casa Grande Ruins is a small national monument 50 miles southeast of Phoenix.

At this site, you’ll discover a well-preserved four-floored building that dates to the Hohokam period in the 14th century.

On-site, there is also a visitor centre, Sonoran Desert plants and a picnic area.

If you visit during summer, be careful with the temperatures.

This place often records the hottest temperatures in the state, the highest of which was 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument is at 1100 W Ruins Drive, Coolidge, AZ 85128.

6- Chiricahua National Monument

chiricahua national monument in aeizona
Chiricahua National Monument.

Set in the Chiricahua Mountains in the southeast of Arizona, the Chiricahua National Monument is an impressive and less populated national park service site.

Because it’s far from other Arizona attractions and it’s not so accessible, you may have the place almost to yourself.

The main geographical feature of this monument is the eroded volcanic rock that has formed these impressive pinnacles, hoodoos, and canyons.

While you are there, you can also check out the visitor centre.

Chiricahua National Monument is at 12856 East Rhyolite Creek Road, Willcox, AZ 85643.

7- Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument

The Parashant National Monument is a less crowded and more rugged national monument than the Grand Canyon.

Desert cacti, canyon walls, enormous ponderosa pines and rugged rocks define the wild landscape here.

This is a great place for nature photographers to visit because the almost year-round blue skies contrast beautifully with the dark rocks.

The Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument is at 36°21’43.2 “N 113°38’09.6 “W in Mohave County.

8- Montezuma Castle National Monument

map of arizona national parks
Montezuma Castle National Monument near the town of Camp Verde, Arizona, was actually a prehistoric apartment complex built and used by the Sinagua people, between approximately 1100 and 1425 AD, before Montezuma was even born.

The Montezuma Castle became a national monument in 1906 and was the third of its kind to preserve Native American culture.

These Native Americans were able to carve the equivalent of 20-room high-rise apartments right into the limestone rock.

Whilst visiting this fascinating historical site, you can see an array of artifacts, including hunting weaponry, basketry, jewellery and pottery.

Montezuma Castle National Monument is at Montezuma Castle Road, Camp Verde.

9- Navajo National Monument

list of national parks in arizona panoramic view
Navajo National Monument is within the northwest portion of the Navajo Nation territory in northern Arizona, which was established to preserve three-cliff dwellings of the Ancestral Puebloan People.

This national monument isn’t widely visited, with tourists tending to go to Arizona’s big-name attractions instead.

This site contains three ancient cliff dwellings right on the Shonto Plateau.

You’ll find this national monument right in the middle of the Navajo Indian Reservation.

Of the three sites, the Inscription House is closed indefinitely to the public. But you can take a ranger-led hike to the other two dwellings.

The walk to the first site, Betatakin, is two miles and a further six miles to the Keet Seel ruins.

Both are open daily during summer, but it’s best to check ahead of time whether they will be open when you visit.

The Navajo National Monument is at AZ-564, Shonto, AZ 86054.

10- Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

national parks in arizona map
Arizona Organ Pipe Cactus soaring up to the sky.

Near the Mexican border, this national monument is dedicated to protecting the Sonoran Desert.

Inevitably the site is covered in an array of organ pipe cactuses. Not only is this a top Arizona national park site, but it’s also an International Biosphere Reserve.

Visit and you will see a thriving variety of plants and animals.

You can explore several trails at this site, including a 1-mile Campground Perimeter Trail, the 1.2-mile Desert View Trail, and the 2.6-mile Palo Verde Trail. 

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is at 10 Organ Pipe Drive, Ajo, AZ 85321.

11- Pipe Spring National Monument

Located in the Arizona Strip, Pipe Spring is a reliable water source in an arid desert.

During the mid-19th century, Pipe Spring became a prominent site for the Mormon settlers.

The Mormons even built various buildings and a small fort named Winsor Castle.

Because of the site’s isolated location, hardly anybody visits, you might be lucky and have the place to yourself.

Pipe Spring National Monument is at 406 N Pipe Spring Rd, Kaibab, AZ 86022.

12- Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

Northeast of Flagstaff, this small national monument is excellent. If you are into geography and geology, you have to check out Sunset Crater Volcano.

Colourful cinder cones, twisted lava, and black hardened molten lava define the landscape. You might think the last eruption had been recent, judging by the landscape, but the last eruption was way back in 1065.

If you want to go camping somewhere cool, this is a great spot. There are also several hiking routes to explore too.

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument is at 6082 Forest Service Road 545, Flagstaff, AZ 86004.

13- Tonto National Monument

Tonto is a great historical national monument located outside Roosevelt in Gila County.

This site preserves the ruins of two Salado Indian cliff dwellings that date back to 1300.

Surrounded by cactuses and rocky outcrops, these are a fascinating display of history.

Tonto National Monument is at 26260 AZ-188, Roosevelt, AZ 85545.

14- Tuzigoot National Monument

Close to the towns of Clarkdale and Cottonwood, Tuzigoot was the site of a 12th-century Sinaguan settlement that had 80 rooms.

Head to this national monument to see the ruins of Tuzigoot and the surrounding marshland next to the river.

There is also a museum located at the visitor centre.

Tuzigoot National Monument is at 25 Tuzigoot Rd, Clarkdale, AZ 86324.

15- Walnut Canyon National Monument

10 miles east of Flagstaff, you’ll find the Walnut Canyon National Monument.

This 600-foot-deep canyon was home to the Sinagua people during the 12th and 13th centuries.

In the Canyon of Walnut Creek, you’ll find several dwellings in protected alcoves high up in the canyon’s walls.

You’ll find Walnut Canyon National Monument at 3 Walnut Canyon Rd, Flagstaff, AZ 86004.

16- Wupatki National Monument

Wupatki is home to five ruined pueblos from the times of the Sinagua and Anasazi people.

Located on the desert plain of northeast Flagstaff, you can access these pueblos via a short trail.

These settlements were constructed from local sandstone that are vibrantly deep red in colour.

The Wupatki National Monument is at 25137 North Wupatki Lane, Flagstaff, AZ 86004.

National Memorial

17- Coronado National Memorial

The Coronado National Memorial is on the border with Mexico and commemorates Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, who led the first European expedition to America in 1540.

There’s a visitors centre where you can discover their historical exhibits, but most people head to the rugged scenic terrain where there are a couple of hiking trails.

The Coronado National Memorial is at 4101 E Montezuma Canyon Road, Hereford, AZ 85615.

National Historic Site

18- Fort Bowie National Historic Site

The Fort Bowie National Historic Site stands in the southeast of Arizona, in the Chiricahua Mountains.

In the 19th century, it was a U.S. military post for attacks on the native Chiricahua Apache.

In 1886 the last Indian leader surrendered, and the fort was abandoned in 1894.

After arriving at the site, there’s a 1.5-mile hike along a meandering trail to visit the old historic relics, which include the fort and an old cemetery.

The Fort Bowie National Historic Site is at 35000 Apache Pass Road, Bowie, AZ 85605.

19- Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site

The Hubbell Trading Post is at Ganado on the Navajo Indian Reservation.

The trading post is still in use today and is the oldest in Arizona.

When you visit the site, you can explore the outbuildings, including the large barn home to historic equipment and the Hubbell homestead.

Hubbell Trading Post is at ½ Mile West Highway, 191 Ganado, AZ 86505.

National Recreation Area

20- Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

arizona national parks road trip
Horseshoe Bend on Colorado River in Glen Canyon, Arizona, USA.

The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, which straddles Utah and Arizona, is the home of Lake Powell, the USA’s second-largest man-made lake.

This recreation area is huge, from the start of the Grand Canyon at Lees Ferry in Arizona right to the Orange Cliffs in southern Utah.

If you are searching for a place to enjoy water sports and outdoor recreation, this is the place to be.

There are opportunities for boating, swimming, fishing, hiking and wildlife viewing.

The Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is at 691 Scenic View Road Drive, Page, AZ 86040. This is a fabulous day trip.

21- Lake Mead National Recreation Area

what national parks are in arizona
Lake Mead Recreation Area in Nevada and Arizona USA.

The Lake Mead National Recreation Area is in both southeast Nevada and northwest Arizona.

Lake Mead was formed in 1935 by the construction of the Hoover Dam.

If you want to cool off from the scorching Arizona sun, head to Lake Mead for water recreation activities you can enjoy, like boating, canoeing, kayaking, scuba diving, fishing, and swimming.

You can also bike, hike, and horseback ride.

The lake is 640 km², so if you want to explore, it’s best to decide on a specific location like Hemenway Harbor, Boulder Harbor or PWC Beach.

National Historic Trail

22- Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail

This 1,210-mile trail extends from Nogales in Arizona through the desert to San Francisco and commemorates the 1775/76 journey led by Juan Bautista de Anza to the native settlement at San Francisco Bay.

This trail links historical sites, culture, and outdoor recreation areas across the Arizona desert and the California coastline.

23- Old Spanish National Historic Trail

This trail traces the mule pack train routes between New Mexico and Los Angeles across the US Southwest.

Mexican traders used the routes to transport goods across six states.

National Historic Park

24- Tumacácori National Historic Park

best national parks in arizona
Tumacacori Mission in Arizona, USA.

This national historic park in southern Arizona protects the historic ruins of three missions founded by the Spanish: Los Santos Ángeles de Guevavi, San José de Tumacácori and San Cayetano de Calabazas.

The historic park displays a collection of original buildings, artifacts, and a courtyard garden.

The Tumacácori National Historic Park is at 1891 I-19 Frontage Rd, Tumacacori-Carmen, AZ 85640. 

If you love exploring national parks, you might like to read:

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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!