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Arizona National Parks – Fun Family Vacations
Arizona National Parks

Arizona National Parks

Grand Canyon National Park - sign

Arizona National Park sites are plentiful – 20 in all!  From one of the World’s Natural Wonders to the Painted Deserts to amazing cliff dwellings, cacti-covered deserts, a volcanic crater, and many more.

In addition to the Grand Canyon’s 1.2 million acres, central & southeastern Arizona have over 7.6 million preserved acres in the Kaibab National Forest, Apache-Sitegreaves National Forest, Fort Apache Reservation, and the San Carlos Reservation. Many of the Arizona National Park sites are contained in this collective preservation area.

We grouped the National Park sites by state quadrants below (Northeast-NE, Northwest-NW, Southeast-SE and Southwest-SW).  Keep in mind that a few (like Walnut Canyon National Monument) are close to the center of the state near Flagstaff, Arizona.


Arizona National Park Sites (NW):

Grand Canyon National Park: Located in northwest Arizona approximately 75 miles north of Flagstaff, this magnificent 1.2 million square-acre gorge frames the Colorado River and is one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World!  The south rim is the more popular tourist area with multiple lodging options, including the historic El Tovar Hotel on the rim, the Hopi House, Desert Watch Tower and many more attractions.  The northern rim offers more secluded beauty, several hiking trails and a scenic drive that includes Point Imperial and Cape Royal.

Pipe Spring National Monument: Located just south of the Utah border in the Kaibab Indian Reservation in northwest Arizona, you can take a tour Winsor Castle, hike the beautiful ridge trail, or attend a ranger-led program and learn about the Paiute culture.

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument: Located just north of Flagstaff, this was the location of a volcanic eruption nearly 900 years ago.  Attend a ranger-led hike up Lava Flow trail or take in the transition from the sweet air of the Ponderosa Pine forests to the red rocks of the Painted Desert.

Grand Canyon National Park - Family photo
Grand Canyon National Park – Family photo

Arizona National Park Sites (NE):

Canyon De Chelly National Monument: Located in northeastern Arizona and jointly managed by the National Park Service and the Navajo Nation, these 83,840 acres preserve ancient ruins of the Pueblo tribes along with homes and farmland of the Navajo people.  Access to these lands can be arranged with a National Park Service representative or a Navajo guide.

Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site: Located off of Arizona 191/264 in northeastern Arizona, this small trading outpost has Native American art, groceries, coffee and more (since 1878!).  This site was purchased by the Hubbell homestead 10 years after the Navajos were permitted to return to their homeland.  This was one of the foremost Navajo trading posts of its time and was owned and operated by the Hubbell family until 1967 when it was bought by the National Park Service.

Montezuma Castle National Monument: Located a 100 miles north of Phoenix adjacent to the massive Kaibab National Forest, these amazing ruins provide a glimpse in the past.  The Montezuma Castle is an 800 year-old, high rise apartment and one of the best-preserved cliff dwellings in the United States.

Navajo National Monument: Located in northeast Arizona, this 360-acre site contains Navajo cliff dwellings and a historic view into tribal life in Southwest America in 1250 A.D.  There are free tent and RV campsites with composting toilets, charcoal grills, and running water.

Petrified Forest National ParkLocated right off of I-40 in northeast Arizona, the Petrified Forest is home to 200 million year old, late Triassic age petrified wood in the beautiful painted desert of Arizona.  The park is over 200,000 acres and has plenty of room to explore for backpackers, hikers, campers, along with tours and programs for aspiring archeologists and paleontologists.

Walnut Canyon National Monument: Located 20 miles east of Flagstaff within the Kaibab National Forest, take a stroll on the Island Trail to see cliff dwellings of the Sinagua people that lived there 700 years ago.  There are 20 rooms visible and several scenic canyon vistas along this trail which is at an elevation of over 7,000 feet!

Wupatki National Monument: Located 30 miles northeast of Flagstaff, you’ll find 900 year old pueblos, a scenic loop drive, several hiking trails, and a 1/2 mile loop trail from the visitor center to the 100-room largest pueblo.  In all, there are over 3,500 acres to explore!

Northern Arizona
Northern Arizona

Arizona National Park Sites (SW):

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument: Located near the U.S.-Mexico border, just off of the North Ajo Sonoita Highway (Arizona-85), this site is an International Biosphere Reserve.  A great place for desert camping and hiking, where you can find 26 species of cactus, open desert landscapes, and the hearty wildlife that continues to survive in these austere conditions.

Tuzigoot National Monument: Located just 20 miles west of Sedona, Arizona within the Kaibab National Forest, this site offers glimpses into those that lived in the Verdi Valley nearly 1,000 years ago.  There’s a museum, a self-guided 1/3-mile trail that explores a 110-room pueblo, and a scenic trail with great views of Verdi River and the Tavasci Marsh.

Arizona National Park Sites (SE):

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument:Approximately 50 miles southeast of Phoenix, Casa Grande is one of the largest prehistoric structures ever built in North America.  Archeologists believe that this site was built by the ancient Sonoran Desert people and included farming, complex irrigation systems with canals, and a trading post.  In 1892, President Harrison set aside 1 square mile to preserve this cultural treasure.

Chiricahua National Monument: Located in the southeastern corner of Arizona approximately 100 miles east of Tuscon (37 miles off of I-10), Chiricahua’s 11,000+ acres, 8-mile scenic drive, and 17 miles of trails provide access into the ‘Wonderland of Rocks’.

Coronado National Memorial: Directly south of Sierra Vista, Arizona, this 4,000+ acre site commemorates the Francisco Vásquez de Coronado Expedition of 1540-1542.  The site has beautiful views of the US-Mexico border and the San Pedro River Valley.

Fort Bowie National Historic SiteLocated in southeastern Arizona, Fort Bowie is just 15 miles south of Bowie, Arizona (off of I-10).  Just under a 1,000 acres, this site commemorates a western outpost in our young pioneer nation, a small cemetery, and a location of bloody clashes between the Apaches and the U.S. Army.

Hohokam Pima National Monument: Located southeast of Phoenix near Sacaton, Arizona, this National Monument is an ancient village in the Gila River Indian Community. As this National Monument does not have any public access, you can visit the museum in Coolidge, Arizona to see some of the ancient artifacts from Snaketown.

Saguaro National Park: Located in Tuscon, Saguaro National Park is home to the largest U.S. cactus that bears the park’s name.  With over 165 miles of hiking trails and vast desert landscapes that encompass over 91,000 acres, there is much to see and explore!

Tonto National Monument: In southeast Arizona, just south of Theodore Roosevelt Lake, Tonto National Monument is the location of 700 year-old native American cliff dwellings.  Ranger-led tours of the cliff dwellings along with a museum and movie are just a few of the attractions available to park guests.

Tumacacori National Historical Park: Located approximately 50 miles south of Tuscon, just off of I-19, Tumacacori was the site of a series of Jesuit and Franciscan missionaries ousted from ‘New Spain’ in the late 1700s.  The original abode and brick structures have been preserved for visitors to explore and learn the rich missionary history.

Arizona Road Trip - Beautiful Desert!
Arizona Road Trip – Beautiful Desert!

Arizona State Parks

Arizona State Parks protects and preserves 30 State Parks and Natural Areas. Of the top 25 most visited natural attractions in Arizona, the State Park system manages 8 of them!  Check out the Arizona State Parks Location Map to find one that fits your itinerary.

Our family recommends:

 

1.  Historic Route 66!

2.  The Grand Canyon – above & below the rim

Route 66 - Arizona

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