Guide To Arizona National Parks
National Parks in Arizona
Grand Canyon National Park
Everyone knows that Grand Canyon National Park is in the beautiful state of Arizona, but what you may not realize is that Arizona actually has 3 National Parks.
In the northwestern region of the park is the stunningly epic Grand Canyon National Park.
Click here to read our guide to Grand Canyon National Park.
Petrified Forest National Park
In the northeastern section of the state, you’ll discover Petrified Forest National Park where you can take in the gorgeous Painted Desert.
And in southern Arizona, on the Mexico border, lies Organ Pipe National Monument. No matter what Arizona National Park you choose you’ll be treated to the beautiful desert landscape and technicolor sunsets. Use this guide to the Arizona National Parks to find the perfect park for you.
Click here to read our guide to Petrified Forest National Park
Saguaro National Park
In southern Arizona, you can find Saguaro National Park. The park was named after the Saguaro cactus that grows only in the Sonoran Desert. The park was actually established to protect these mighty Saguaro Cactus, and the park is home to an estimated 180 million of them.
Click here to read our guide to Saguaro National Park
National Landmarks in Arizona
- 1956 Grand Canyon TWA – United Airlines Aviation Accident Site
- Air Force Facility Missile Site 8 (Titan II ICBM Site 571-7)
- Apache Pass and Fort Bowie
- Awatovi Ruins
- Casa Malpais Site
- Mary Jane Colter buildings
- Desert Laboratory
- Desert View Watchtower
- Double Adobe site
- El Tovar
- Fort Apache and Theodore Roosevelt School
- Fort Bowie
- Fort Huachuca
- Gatlin Site
- Grand Canyon Depot
- Grand Canyon Lodge
- Grand Canyon Park Operations Building
- Grand Canyon Power House
- Grand Canyon Village
- Hermits Rest
- Hoover Dam
- Hopi House
- Hubbell Trading Post
- Jerome Historic District
- Kinishba Ruins
- Klagetoh (Leegito) Chapter House
- Lehner Mammoth-Kill Site
- Lookout Studio
- Los Santos Ángeles de Guevavi
- Lowell Observatory
- C. Hart Merriam Base Camp Site
- Murray Springs Clovis Site
- Navajo Nation Council Chamber
- OK Corral
- Old Oraibi Painted Desert Community Complex Historic District
- Painted Desert Inn
- Phelps Dodge General Office Building
- Point of Pines Sites Poston Elementary School, Unit 1, Colorado River Relocation Center
- Pueblo Grande Ruin and Irrigation Sites
- Sage Memorial Hospital School of Nursing
- San Bernardino Ranch
- San Cayetano de Calabazas
- San Xavier del Bac Mission
- Sierra Bonita Ranch
- Taliesin West
- Titan Missle Museum
- Tombstone Historic District
- Tumacacori Museum
- Ventana Cave
- Winona Site
- Yuma Crossing and Associated Sites
National Monuments in Arizona
- Agua Fria National Monument
- Canyon de Chelly National Monument
- Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
- Chiricahua National Monument
- Coronado National Memorial
- Fort Bowie Historic Site
- Grand Canyon–Parashant National Monument
- Hohokam Pima National Monument
- Hubbell Trading Post National Historical Site
- Ironwood Forest National Monument
- Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail
- Montezuma Castle National Monument
- Navajo National Monument
- Old Spanish Nationa Historic Trail
- Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
- Pipe Spring National Monument
- Sonoran Desert National Monument
- Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
- Tonto National Monument
- Tumacácori National Historical Park
- Tuzigoot National Monument
- Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
- Walnut Canyon National Monument
- Wupatki National Monument
National Recreation Areas in Arizona
- Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
- Lake Mead National Recreation Area
National Wildlife Refuges in Arizona
- Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge
- Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge
- Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge
- Cibola National Wildlife Refuge
- Havasu National Wildlife Refuge
- Imperial National Wildlife Refuge
- Imperial Reservoir
- Kofa National Wildlife Refuge
- Leslie Canyon National Wildlife Refuge
- San Bernardino National Wildlife Refuge
Grand Canyon National Park
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 129, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023
Hours: South Rim – 24 hours
Cost: All permits are good for 7 consecutive days
Individual Permit: $20 per person
You can buy a digital entrance pass here.
The Grand Canyon is split up into 4 distinct sections. Only 2 of those sections are in Grand Canyon National Park, the South Rim, and the North Rim. The Grand Canyon West Rim is managed by the Hualapai Tribe and is about 4.5 hours from the park’s popular South Rim. Grand Canyon East Rim is located north of the South Rim and is known for bringing guests closer to the Little Colorado River.
Things To Do At Grand Canyon National Park
Hiking The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon National Park has some great options for hiking, whether you are looking for a challenge or an easy family-friendly hike, some of the most popular include…
Bright Angel Trail
Distance: 15.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 4,478 ft
For a day hike, you can’t beat the Bright Angel Trail, which drops into the canyon right at the village, making it an incredibly convenient hike. This hike is not for the faint of heart with a rating of difficult and a distance of 15.3 miles. Bright Angel Trail is also one of the most popular trails in the park, but it’s an out-and-back trail making it possible to go as far as you would like.
South Kaibab Trail
Distance: 2.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,102 ft
The South Kaibab Trail is another popular south-rim trail that begins at Yaki Point. It is a day hike to the mule-hitching post of Cedar Ridge. Be prepared because this trail offers very little shade, no water, and a steep incline. In the winter and early spring, it can also become incredibly icy. The South Kaibab Trail is also the quickest way to the bottom of the canyon.
Grand Canyon Rim Trail
Distance: 12.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 583 ft
This dog-friendly trail takes you around the entire South Rim in an easy 12.7 miles. This easy trail is great for all skill levels and is paved. You’ll notice markers telling you how far you’ve traveled both in feet and in years. This easy walk provides stunning views of the South Rim and there are several shuttle bus stops along the trail.
Boat The Colorado River
There are 2 different ways to boat the Colorado River, you can either use a paddle raft or a motorized raft. The motorized rafts are immense at around 30 feet and are packed with riders. While the human-propelled counterpart provides a more nature-friendly option. There are dozens of rafting companies that offer boat rides on the Colorado River. These companies offer everything from 1-day trips down Colorado to 18-day epic adventures. Here are some of the most popular…
Zipline The Grand Canyon
Starts at $39
In the West Grand Canyon, adrenaline junkies can fulfill their need for speed by zip lining over the Grand Canyon. You’ll be soaring 500 feet above the canyon floor on 3,200 ft of line. Not for the faint of heart, you’ll reach speeds of 40 mph! There are 4 runs per line making this the perfect experience for the whole family! You can find out more about zip lining the Grand Canyon here.
Lodging In The Park
Bright Angel Lodge
9 Village Loop Drive, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023
The Bright Angel Lodge is one of the most popular lodging options near the South Rim. There are 90 lodging units with free wifi access. If you choose the Bright Angel Lodge you’ll have quick and easy access to some of the park’s most beloved hiking trails and attractions. Find out more here.
El Tovar Hotel
9 Village Loop Drive, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023
El Tovar opened in the early 1900s at the end of the railroad lines and was regarded as one of the most elegant lodges west of the Mississippi. This 78-room lodge offers on-site restaurant and concierge services. You can find out more here.
202 Village Loop Drive, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023
You’ll find the Maswik Lodge is nestled in a Ponderosa Pine Forest. The lodge gets its name from a Hopi Kachina who legend has it, guards the Grand Canyon. This 280-room lodge is in a great location and is a little more budget-friendly than other lodging in the park. Find out more about the Maswik Lodge here.
Saguaro National Park
- Rincon Mountain District – 3693 S. Old Spanish Trail, Tucson, Arizona 85730
- Tucson Mountain District – 2700 N. Kinney Road, Tucson, Arizona 85743
Hours: Open 24 hours
Cost: The entrance fee is good for 7 consecutive days in the park
Individual: $15 per person
You can purchase your entrance pass here.
Saguaro National Park is located in southern Arizona and is split into two distinct districts, the 16,476-acre Rincon Mountain District and the 25,391-acre Tucson Mountain District.
Things To Do In Saguaro National Park
Hiking At Saguaro National Park
Saguaro National Park offers a ton of options for hiking, whether you are looking for easy nature trails, scenic loops, or a challenging day hike. Here are some of the most popular hikes at Saguaro National Park…
Freeman Homestead Trail
Distance: 1.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 108 ft
The Freeman Homestead Trail is a 1.1-mile moderately trafficked loop trail located in Saguaro National Park. This trail is flat and great for all skill levels, it’s perfect for an easy family hike.
Loma Verde Loop
Distance: 3.7 miles
Elevation Gain: 157 ft
This easy 3.7-mile hike is great for all skill levels and it features beautiful wildflowers and gorgeous desert views.
Wild Horse To Garwood Dam
Distance: 3.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 331 ft
This easy 3.9-mile hike features a beautiful cactus forest that actually inspired the park’s creation. Not only that, but you’ll get incredible views of the Santa Catalina Mountains.
Take The Cactus Forest Loop Drive
You’ll love this scenic drive through one of Arizona’s most beautiful desert landscapes. Make sure you have your camera ready as you take the twists and turns of the Cactus Forest Loop Drive. This 8-mile loop drive has several viewpoints and trails that you can hike. Take in the stunning beauty of the cacti with mountain backdrops and gorgeous desert flora.
Visit The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum
2021 N Kinney Rd, Tucson, AZ 85743
Located in West Saguaro, the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum features the wildlife and plants that live in this beautiful desert. A combination museum and zoo, the museum has programs and activities for every age! Animals who call the museum home include javelinas, wolves, mountain lions, and bighorn sheep.
Where To Stay Near Saguaro National Park
720 W Silverlake Road, Tucson, Arizona 85713
This trendy, retro 60-inspired hotel is just 3 miles from the Tucson Museum of Art and only 19 minutes and 15 miles from Saguaro National Park. This hotel offers an outdoor pool and free daily breakfast perfect for fueling up before heading to the park.
Candlewood Suites Tucson
1995 W River Road, Tucson, Arizona 85704
If you’re on a budget this is a great option for a relaxed hotel that features all suites. It offers a gym, BBQ area, and an outdoor pool. At only 16 minutes and 8.4 miles from the park, you really can’t go wrong at the Candlewood Suites.
JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort & Spa
3800 W Starr Pass BLVD, Tucson, Arizona 85745
If you’re looking for a bit more luxury, just 23 minutes and 12 miles from Saguaro, consider staying at the JW Marriott Tucson Starr Pass Resort. This property features multiple dining options, 3 golf courses, and a full-service spa.
Petrified Forest National Park
Address: 1 Park Road, Petrified Forest National Park, AZ 86028
Hours: 8 am – 5 pm
Cost: Park entrance valid for 7 consecutive days
Vehicles – $25
Motorcycles – $20
Bicycles/Pedestrians – $15 per person
What Is Petrified Wood?
One of the things that make Petrified Forest National Park truly unique is that these petrified trees are 225 million years old. This area, which now encompasses the National Park, was part of the massive supercontinent of Pangea. After these massive trees fell they were buried in a river channel.
So how do trees become petrified? Well, the river water mineralizes slowly from crystal quartz. After the tectonic movement nearly 60 million years ago, the petrified trees were unearthed. Take a close look at the trees and you will notice beautifully colorful quartz crystals within.
It’s important that visitors to the park do not disturb the petrified wood. Do not try to take petrified wood from the park, it’s illegal! If you want to take some home with you after visiting the National Park check out the local wood shops in Holbrook. This petrified wood is taken from private land and is therefore legal to purchase.
Things To Do In Petrified Forest National Park
Hiking In Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified Forest National Park has some great hiking options, whether you are looking for a challenge or an easy family-friendly walk, these are some of the most popular hikes in the park…
Painted Desert Rim Trail
Distance: 1.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 49 ft
The easy loop trail features one of the most famous relics in the entire park, a massive 10-foot wide petrified log known as Old Faithful. This trail is both kid and dog friendly and is great for all skill levels.
Long Logs and Agate House Loop Trail
Distance: 2.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 98 ft
On this easy 2.6-mile trail you’ll find the park’s largest concentration of fossilized logs. The Agate House trail leads to a fascinating 8-room pueblo construction of petrified wood. This trail is both kid and dog friendly, it’s even stroller friendly!
Blue Mesa Trail
Distance: 1 mile
Elevation Gain: 111 ft
The Blue Mesa Trail is one of the most scenic spots in Petrified Forest National Park. The bentonite clay here is tinged blue, purple, and gray and makes for a truly spectacular sight. This kid and dog-friendly trail is partially paved and great for all skill levels.
Take A Scenic Drive In Petrified Forest National Park
It’s easy to experience Petrified Forest National Park by car, in fact, there is a 28-mile stretch of road that runs from one end of the park to the other. There are a total of 8 overlooks that provide stunning views of the painted desert and petrified forest. You’ll see the stunningly colorful buttes, mesas, and badlands that make Petrified Forest National Park unique. On the north side of the park make sure not to miss the 1932 Studebaker, it’s a remnant of where Route 66 used to run through the park.
While driving to the south end of Petrified Forest National Park you’ll be treated to an overlook where you can see nearly 600 petroglyphs at Newspaper Rock. Those who love history and anthropology will appreciate that some of these petroglyphs are 2,000 years old. Another can’t-miss stop on the south side of the park is the Tepees Overlook where you can take in the incredible teepee-shaped rock formations.
Where To Stay Near Petrified Forest
Brad’s Desert Inn
301 W Hopi Drive, Holbrook, AZ 86025
If you’re looking for a kitschy budget-friendly hotel, then Brad’s Desert Inn is perfect for you. This modest inn is just a mile from Route 66 and 19 miles from Petrified Forest National Park. Previous guests rave about the friendly service and amazing homemade donuts. You can find out more about Brad’s Desert Inn here.
La Quinta Inn & Suites
2705 Navajo Blvd, Holbrook, AZ 86025
This relaxed hotel provides all the comforts of home with the addition of an indoor pool and full fitness center. At just 25 miles from Petrified Forest National Park, this is a great base while visiting the park. Book a room at La Quinta here.
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
Address: 10 Organ Pipe Drive, Ajo, AZ 85321
Hours: 9 am – 5 pm
Cost: Entrance pass good for 7 consecutive days
Person: $4 – $10
Safety At Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
The park shares a border with Mexico and visitors need to be cautious while visiting. There have been some issues with smuggling and immigrants crossing the borders through Pipe Organ Cactus National Monument. You’ll notice warning signs throughout the park. Border Patrol also has a very heavy presence within the park.
Things To Do In Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
Hiking At Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
There are trails for all skill levels in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. With a total of 13 trails to explore, the park has plenty of hiking opportunities. It’s important to remember that due to the park’s close proximity to Mexico, you need to be cautious while hiking.
Bull Pasture Trail
Distance: 3.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,076 ft
This easy 3.9-mile trail is a great hike for most skill levels, although the elevation gain does make it slightly more difficult. Make sure to keep an eye out for the bull on the cliff.
Victoria Mine Trail
Distance: 5.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 311 ft
This solid easy 5.2-mile trail comes from one of the campgrounds and features many gorgeous and huge organ pipe cacti.
Desert View Trail
Distance: 1.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 190 ft
This easy and informative trail is great for all skill levels. You’ll learn about the desert flora that grows in the area and there are many places to stop and take photos along the way, so don’t forget your camera!
Ajo Mountain Drive
This 21 mile gravel road is best suited for cars and provides fantastic views of organ pipe cactuses and the Sonoran Desert. You’ll also find several beautiful picnic areas along the way, so make sure to pack a picnic lunch.
The scenic road dips and twists through gorgeous vistas filled with organ pipes, chollas, and barrel cacti. The majestic mountain backdrop will take your breath away. It’s a one-way loop, so make sure to pack some snacks and don’t forget your camera.
Gaze At The Night Sky
During the cooler months in the park, Rangers hold presentations on constellations and invite visitors to explore the desert sky. It’s a great time of the year to see the milky way with the naked eye. The park’s remote location also helps its skies to be incredibly dark making them perfect for stargazing.
Where To Stay Near Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
Sonoran Desert Inn
55 South Orilla Ave, Ajo, AZ 85321
This stylish hotel is set in a former school and is great for relaxation in a laid-back atmosphere. At only 16 miles from the park, this is the closest lodging and some of the most luxurious in the area. The Sonoran Desert Inn makes a great base for your time at Organ Pipe, you can book a room here.
Copper Sands Motel & RV Park
3711 N Ajo Gila Bend HWY, Ajo, AZ 85321
This small family-owned motel in the small town of Ajo, Arizona is only 23 minutes from Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. It’s also centrally located and 3 miles from the downtown Ajo area in the gorgeous Sonoran Desert.
La Siesta Motel & RV Park
2651 N Ajo Gila Bend HWY, Ajo, AZ 85321
You’ll find these cozy cabins in an RV Resort 30 miles from Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. This is a great base for time spent in the park as the rooms are clean, the staff is courteous, and the atmosphere is perfect for relaxing.
No matter which Arizona National Park you choose, you’ll find amazing desert views, stunning immense cacti, and a deep appreciation for gorgeous desert sunsets.