Arizona boasts 22 national parks and monuments, including the second-most visited park in the country—Grand Canyon National Park. Together they comprise some of the most thrilling and memorable landscapes in the United States. People come from all over the world to visit Arizona’s natural and historic offerings. What they find: Vivid blue skies, red-rock canyons, conifer-scented mountains, and cactus-studded deserts that are the domain of coyotes, jack rabbits, and javelinas. Arizona holds the stories of ancient peoples and European explorers, and preserves a raw landscape tossed by volcanoes and scoured into Daliesque patterns. You never know what’s around the next bend, over the next ridge, or at the end of the next canyon.
Great family memories are made in places like this.
It’s hard to pick favorites, but here’s a top-10 list of the best (and lesser-known) parks of the 48th state. Each of them preserves a unique piece of Arizona’s cultural and biological diversity. Pick one or two you’ve never heard of, or go back and see one for the second or third time. You can never get enough Arizona.
Chiricahua National Monument
If Dr. Seuss had dreamed a park, he would have come up with something like Chiricahua National Monument. You and your family will be constantly amazed in this 12,000-acre wonderland of ancient rock spires, caves, mountains, and lava flows. Situated in the southeastern corner of Arizona, the monument started out with a volcanic eruption some 27 million years ago. Chiseled by the elements over the eons, the area became a rock garden of weird hoodoos and sculptures, towering up to several hundred feet. The Apaches called it the “Land of Standing-Up Rocks”. Do they look like buildings? Stone men? Giant petrified flowers? Let your imagination go wild as you explore the park’s 17 miles of trails or take the 8-mile scenic driving tour. And stop by Faraway Ranch, a historic pioneer homestead, for a glimpse at 1880s outback life.