Patagonia Lake State Park by Lori Adamski-Peek

Get Out of the House and into the Park!

By: Arizona State Parks

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Diverse landscapes, rich cultural history, and outdoor recreation opportunities make Arizona home to the most unparalleled parks in the country.

About the author

Arizona State Parks

Arizona State Parks protects and preserves 31 state parks and natural areas. We provide over 1,400 camping and RV sites throughout the parks and manage 8 of the top 25 most visited natural attractions in Arizona. Our agency also supports the State Trails Program, Outdoor-related Grants Program, State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), Off-Highway Vehicle Program (OHV), and more. Managing and conserving Arizona's natural, cultural and recreational resources for the benefit of the people, both in our parks and through our partners.

Our lands, lakes, rivers, historic buildings, and rich natural areas offer ample recreational and educational opportunities to individuals, families, and communities. Head out of the house, out of the city, out of the heat and into our treasured parks.

Waterways carve winding canyons lined with riparian oases and scenic vistas open up to reveal spectacular views. In summer, cool off with a refreshing swim and in fall, find a quiet cove to cast your fishing line. Make it an extended visit with a stay a nearby campground or cabin.

Fishing, swimming and sports

Tucked away in the rolling hills of southern Arizona you'll discover Patagonia Lake State Park, a relaxing sanctuary thriving with wildlife, fishing, and gentle sandy beaches. At night, enjoy the cool evening breezes while you relax around a crackling campfire. For those farther west in the state, search no further for premier bass fishing than Alamo Lake State Park (about 80 miles northwest of Wickenburg). And wherever you are, cast your eyes to the sky at night for the best stargazing opportunities around.

During the summer, as temperatures rise, cool off in Arizona's natural water slide. Grab your swimsuit, towel, and sunscreen to spend the day in the refreshingly shallow waters at Slide Rock State Park in Sedona.

Water sports enthusiasts will enjoy the 45-mile-long lake at Cattail Cove State Park near Lake Havasu City. Clear, blue waters are ideal for water skiing, tubing and boating out on the open lake. Drift into a quiet cove to fish for small, largemouth and striped bass, channel and flathead catfish, bluegill and crappie. Geology lovers will find paradise by exploring the volcanic rock, geodes, jaspers, obsidian, turquoise, and agate found at the park. Travel down the road a bit to enjoy the beautiful beaches, nature trails, and peaceful camping at Lake Havasu State Park.

Cave exploration

Tour participants at Kartchner CaveCredit: An Pham

If you're more of an indoor-outdoor person, you won't want to miss Kartchner Caverns State Park in southern Arizona. Experience the stunning limestone, wide variety of unique minerals and formations of this "living" cave once voted "Best Cave" by USA Today. Tour guides unveil this captivating underground landscape during an unforgettable 90-minute tour that is entirely accessible for all abilities. Spend the day exploring the cave and escape into a relaxing campfire at the park's serene campground.

Relive history

History buffs can experience life through the eyes of a frontier soldier at Fort Verde State Historic Park. Home to the best-preserved army fort from the post-Civil War era, visitors can venture back in time by exploring the furnished historic homes and four original adobe buildings.

If you journey west you'll discover the history behind Jerome, Arizona's copper boomtown, and the five C's that helped establish the small town. Explore Jerome State Historic Park's Douglas Mansion, a historic landmark built by James S. Douglas in 1916. The mansion was built on the hill above the Daisy Mine and is now a museum featuring photographs, artifacts, and minerals along with a 3D model of the town and underground mines.

Story updated in 2018.

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