Arizona became the 48th state of the United States on February 14, 1912, making it one of the youngest states. This is also true for the Arizona State Parks system, established in 1957, which is young compared to other state park systems. Following numerous unsuccessful attempts to create a state parks system in Arizona, a 1956 article written by Ben Avery, the outdoor reporter for the Arizona Republic, catapulted support by interested citizens who joined together for the creation of Arizona State Parks. Through these efforts, the department was created to acquire and manage park and cultural areas.
Today Arizona State Parks is nearing a milestone and is proud to celebrate its 60th “Diamond” Anniversary in 2017! During the last 60 years, the agency has grown to include management of your 32 parks. We invite you to explore and uncover the many secret places and stories that are still to be found in Arizona’s state parks. Adventures in camping, fishing, hiking, boating and much more await those individuals with an adventurous attitude.
Arizona State Parks is hosting events throughout the year to celebrate Arizona and your parks. We will continue to offer events and initiatives that will strengthen communities through economic growth, improved public health, social equity and natural resource conservation. Join one of our signature events including the opening of our new Outdoor Recreation Information Center in Phoenix, Arizona State Parks Day, Mariachi Festival at Patagonia Lake, First Day Hikes at every state park on January 1, 2017, Cave Fest at Kartchner Caverns and much more throughout the year.
Outdoor Recreation Information Center
The information center provides visitors information on Arizona’s recreation opportunities and cultural treasures. Stop by our new offices at 23751 N 23rd Ave. #190 in Phoenix to get information about outdoor opportunities in the area and around the state. Purchase your state parks annual pass and get some last-minute gear you might need on your excursions.
Arizona State Parks Day
For 60 years, Arizona State Parks has been working to preserve Arizona’s outdoor and cultural resources. We plan to celebrate on March 25, 2017, by planting trees all over Arizona! We will start in the morning by planting a tree at the Arizona State Capitol to commemorate 60 years of parks, trails, historical places and all the people who have contributed to protecting them.
First Day Hikes
Each year every state park system in the nation holds “First Day Hikes” on Jan. 1. It is the opportunity to start off the year on a healthy note. In honor of the Diamond Anniversary, Arizona will offer 60 hikes at 30 parks throughout Arizona. So get out those boots and start hiking. You can find a hike near you at AZStateParks.com.
Spice up your spring and head south for the sounds of traditional and modern Mexican Mariachi Band music and dancers. The Festival is held at Patagonia Lake’s Boulder Beach, one of our newest swimming beaches. There will be authentic Mexican food, hot dogs, hamburgers, kettle corn and shaved ice. Enjoy the sounds, bring your family for some dancing and spend the day swimming, relaxing and lounging on the beach.
Kartchner Caverns State Park’s “Cave Fest” is an annual celebration of the parks underground world. The event offers something for everyone with family friendly activities, captivating talks about the science of the cave and opportunities for cave tours in both the Rotunda/Throne Room and Big Room Tours. Experience one of the world’s longest soda straw stalactites, the tallest and most massive column in Arizona, Kubla Khan and the world’s most extensive formation of brushite moonmilk. Tour guides will unveil this fascinating underground landscape during a memorable 90-minute tour.
Come out to one of our events and explore the beauty of Arizona’s state parks. Reserve a campsite amidst mountain backdrops and lakeside views or spend the day at the beach, right here in Arizona. Dogs love Arizona’s state parks too! Pack their leash and water bowl for a hike, nature walk or even a full camping adventure. Your RV spot is waiting, the trail is groomed and an epic Arizona sunset waits to be photographed and shared. Visit AZStateParks.com or call 1-877-MY-PARKS to plan your next adventure!
By Monica Enriquez
Photos courtesy of Arizona State Parks