Summer vacation may be over for Rim Country students, but there is a long weekend coming up soon. And with the central location, there is more often than not, plenty of time to pack up and take off Friday afternoon to make it to one of the 1,156 campsites at Arizona State Parks.
Those campsites are at some pretty amazing places, such as on river islands, in cabins, yurts, historic forts and beaches. They provide access to caverns, rocky slides through cool creeks, moonlight hikes, fishing, waterskiing, horseback riding, mountain biking, tubing, picnicking, lounging, a travertine arch, and birding.
An annual pass for day-use is $75 or $200 for the premium river pass and four people can go to the state parks every day of the year. Did you know there are 800 hiking trails in the State of Arizona Trails System and maps of each one available? Another new update is that the state parks camping reservations can be accessed online this summer for the first time.
In southern Arizona, the best good news is that Catalina State Park, just north of Tucson, has re-opened after the recent rains.
Daytrippers can head out to day-use and historic parks or environmental parks such as: Kartchner Caverns State Park; Yuma Quartermaster Depot and Territorial Prison State Parks; Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park; and Tubac Presidio State Historic Park.
In northern Arizona a nice one-day turnaround vacation in the Sedona Verde Valley is: Fort Verde, Jerome, Red Rock, and Slide Rock State Parks. Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area in Show Low is a cool mountain retreat with top fishing areas and Lyman Lake near Springerville will be open through Oct. 17. Cabins, yurts, swimming beaches, and water skiing are favorite activities in this northern park. Near Payson, Tonto Natural Bridge State Park is now open seven days a week and Riordan Mansion, in Flagstaff, is open seven days a week through Labor Day as well.
Go west a couple of hours from Phoenix and reach the three Colorado River State Parks for camping, swimming, boating, and fishing. Alamo Lake near Wenden is a nice, quiet bass fishing lake, but mostly used by water skiiers in the summer. Water play is great along the river with air temperatures ranging around 100 degrees and the water a nice, cool 80 degrees, making this area wildly popular all summer long.
No matter where you camp, be sure to check about campfire restrictions. Remember if you cause a fire under fire restrictions it may result in substantial fines and jail time. To keep your family and public lands safe, it is best to use a propane stove and only smoke in vehicles.
To make a reservation for camping in a state park, go to AZStateParks.com or call (520) 586-2283.
Northern Arizona State Parks
• Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Cottonwood, (928) 634-5283 — 150 campsites — fishing, boating (non-motorized), hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, guided trail rides.
• Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area, (928) 537-3680 — 92 hookup sites, 31 campsites, fishing, swimming.
• Lyman Lake State Park, (928) 337-4441 — 61 campsites and four yurts and four cabins, fishing, waterskiing.
• Homolovi State Park, (928) 289-4106 — 53 campsites, Ancestral Hopi villages, podcast tours, hiking.
Southern Arizona State Parks
• Catalina State Park, (520) 628-5798 — Taking reservations online for 40 campsites; horse trails and corrals, day-use hiking.
• Kartchner Caverns State Park, (520) 586-2283 — 60 campsites — cave tours (call for reservations).
• Lost Dutchman State Park, (480) 982-4485 — 70 campsites, hiking into Superstitions.
• Patagonia Lake State Park, (520) 287-6965 — 75 campsites, boats to rent, fishing, beach.
• Roper Lake State Park, (928) 428-6760 — 71 campsites — hot tub, fishing.
Western Arizona State Parks
• Alamo Lake State Park, (928) 669-2088 — 250 campsites, excellent bass fishing, waterskiing, swimming.
• Buckskin Mountain State Park & River Island, (928) 667-3231 — 126 campsites, water sports, cabanas, beach.
• Cattail Cove State Park, (928) 855-1223 — 61 campsites. launch ramp, dog beach.
• Lake Havasu State Park, (928) 855-2784 — 47 campsites — boat launches, great park areas and swimming beach.
Camp cook stoves only, no smoking on trails.
For information about Arizona State Parks call (602) 542-4174 (outside of the Phoenix metro area call toll-free (800) 285-3703 or visit the Web site at AZStateParks.com to make campground and cave reservations.