Phoenix- If you can’t stand the heat…get out of the kitchen, bedroom and the living room and head for your favorite family retreat, the State Parks! Rural State Parks in Northern Arizona can be five to 20 degrees cooler than Phoenix or Tucson. Adventures include camping, fishing, swimming, boating, hiking, wildlife watching and learning about Arizona’s history.
“Vacation & Camping Central” is located at the State Parks headquarters at 1300 W. Washington in Phoenix. Just stop by the office in Phoenix for a free State highway map, park brochures, and information about all of Arizona’s campgrounds. Find out where to hike, fish, hold reunions, weddings, special events and business retreats. In the State Parks alone there are 1,450 campsites. So whether you are a tent camper, RV camper or need a nice cozy camping cabin, your State Parks will take the sizzle out of your summer.
Few people think of the wonderful vacation spots they already own at the State Parks when they are making weekend plans. Camping in high elevation cool country, just hours from the hot valley, is an economical solution for families. When you decide on a location, reservations for camping can be made 24-hours-a-day at AZStateParks.com or by calling (520) 586-2283 between 8am and 5pm seven days a week. Commercial tour group rates are available and reduced for Slide Rock this year to $2 per person.
Lake Havasu, Buckskin Mountain, River Island, and Cattail Cove are four State Parks on the Colorado River where visitors can swim, boat, fish, go tubing, lounge, or play on the white sand beaches. On the Colorado River the air temperature is usually 100 degrees but the water is 80 degrees, so spending the day swimming in the river is the trick to staying cool.
Four State Parks in Eastern Arizona include Roper Lake, Lyman Lake, Homolovi and Fool Hollow Recreation Area. Roper Lake State Park is warm at night, but the top of Mount Graham is only 45 minutes away with an alpine climate and trout fishing. Lyman Lake in northeastern Arizona has beach camping, fishing or waterskiing and a slalom course on a quiet reservoir. If you are not a camper, stay in a cabin or a local motel and spend the day on the beach. Homolovi, along I-40, has a great campground, ancient Hopi villages, and Hopi elder audio tours.
Day-trippers can head out to the historic parks in the Verde Valley such as Fort Verde, Jerome, Slide Rock (upper area only) Dead Horse Ranch, and Riordan Mansion in Flagstaff. Environmental State Parks such as Oracle and Red Rock are good destinations for exploring and Kartchner Caverns is always 70 degrees year round. Tonto Natural Bridge SP in Payson has the world’s largest travertine bridge with a lush, cool waterfall splashing into Pine Creek.
For information about all 27 Arizona State Parks, the Trails and Off-Highway Vehicle Programs and State Historic Preservation Office call (602) 542-4174 (outside of the Phoenix metro area call toll-free (800) 285-3703), visit the website and online camping reservations at AZStateParks.com, Twitter/Facebook AZStateParks.