If you only have one day to explore, check out these suggested itineraries starting from Phoenix, Flagstaff, or Tucson. Also check out the Arizona State Parks Map or, if you're looking for specific facilities, activities, or parks visit Find a Park. Clicking on a park name in the descriptions below will lead you to more information about the park, including photo galleries, downloadable park maps, and interactive driving directions. You can also pick up a copy of the Green Guide. Explore your Arizona State Parks!
Escape the desert by heading north from Phoenix and you’ll be surprised at the changes in the landscape as you rise in elevation to the Verde (“green”) Valley. In the town of Camp Verde experience Arizona frontier history at Fort Verde State Historic Park. Stroll among the grounds and historic buildings and get a glimpse of military life in 1870s. Imagine the parade ground bustling with activity as the military performed drills. At special events throughout the year history comes to life with historical re-enactors.
After touring the fort’s exhibits, continue north to Sedona for a natural excursion at Red Rock State Park. The visitor center offers a fun introduction, for all ages, to the area’s natural environment. Step outside and experience over five miles of hiking trails with breath-taking views of the area’s famous red rocks. Check the daily activity schedule and you might be treated to a guided nature walk.
Located next to the university in Flagstaff, Riordan Mansion State Historic Park is a remarkable example of Arts and Crafts style architecture featuring a rustic exterior of log-slab siding, stone arches, and hand-split wooden shingles. Guided tours reveal small details, from period pieces and original décor that allow you to travel back in time and experience life in a territorial logging town. The 13,000 square-foot house was built for two brothers and their families who were instrumental in the lumber industry, and the development of the Flagstaff community.
If you head east an hour to Winslow you can see the remains of an even older community at Homolovi State Park. The park now serves as a center of research for the late migration period of the Hopi from the 1200s to the late 1300s. The Hopi are one of 22 recognized tribes in Arizona. To begin your appreciation of the Hopi culture, stop by the visitor center and see a computer re-creation of the ancestral Hopi villages. When you head out and explore the archaeological sites on foot, you can better appreciate the community, culture and their connection with the landscape.
Fifty miles southeast of Tucson is Kartchner Caverns State Park, one of Arizona’s greatest treasures. See elaborate cave formations, also known as speleothems, on two different cave tours. The Discovery Center tells the tale of two young cavers in 1974 crawling through the original sinkhole, and the resulting steps that have made the caverns one of Arizona’s top 25 natural attractions. Keep your eyes open for birds and butterflies in the Hummingbird Garden, located next to the Discovery Center. Outside, visitors stretch their legs on the hiking trails that lead into the Whetstone Mountains.
After a cave tour, grab a bite to eat at the Bat Cave Café then head south another 24 miles to Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park where you can relive the spirit of the Old West. The 1882 courthouse, now a museum with exhibits on ranching and mining help debunk western Hollywood movie stereotypes. After exploring the courthouse, stroll the bustling streets of Tombstone and enjoy entertaining re-enactments or perhaps take a stagecoach ride through town.
Learn more about Arizona State Parks; check out our Feature Stories