The Best State and National Parks Close to Liv Communities
Although your Liv community offers numerous amazing features and chances to enjoy the outdoors, everyone occasionally desires something new. Suppose you've been yearning to explore Arizona’s natural attractions, all conveniently accessible for a day trip. In that case, you'll be overjoyed to learn that several of them are close enough for a day-long excursion.
Although some national parks are located a bit further away, they can still be reached in a reasonable amount of time for a weekend getaway. Continue reading to find out more about these great parks near you.
Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most popular parks in Arizona for a reason: it's breathtaking. The Grand Canyon should be on every North American's bucket list.
With many viewing areas available on the south rim, you can take in views of the canyon's rocky walls and colorful ridges, as well as its depth as it drops to the Colorado River.
The most daring may want to go on a mule or foot tour down into the canyon. This excursion isn't for everyone; it's physically demanding and might not be appropriate for those with certain impairments or young children. If you're interested in taking a guided trip, prepare ahead of time. Many of these tours have lengthy waiting lists.
Petrified Forest National Park
The Petrified Forest National Park trees are no longer made of wood, as they were preserved by minerals absorbed over 2 million years ago. Instead, the trunks are composed of quartz and other minerals that sparkle and glisten in the sunlight.
The rocks in the forest are beautiful and have a wide variety of quartz, reflecting light in brilliant shades of brown, green, and pink. They're rather stunning.
The petrified trees, in and of themselves, are not the only things worth seeing in Jasper. Take the time to walk the Jasper Forest Trail if you're a hiker; it's well-maintained but far from the most used. You may be alone with nature soon after leaving the starting area, ready to witness nature in all its glory.
Saguaro National Park
Saguaro cacti are widely known to symbolize desert environments. Saguaro National Park is filled with these old and slow-growing cacti that naturally reside in the Sonoran Desert.
The park is divided into two portions, with the city of Tucson in between them. Saguaro National Park is a hikers' paradise with beautiful views provided by well-maintained hiking routes. The park also has vehicle access roads where you can go on a scenic drive through the different sights and cacti if you don't have the ability or desire to hike in the desert sun. If you're visiting Saguaro National Park, consider visiting at either end of spring or summer when the cacti bloom and their huge white flowers add to their beauty.
Canyon de Chelly National Monument
If you're searching for a weekend excursion and are intrigued by ancient civilizations and their ruins, then Canyon de Chelly National Monument might be the place for you. There, you will see the cliff dwellings of the Anasazi people up close.
For almost a millennium, the Anasazi lived in this region and constructed their culture and homes around the stunning red rock slopes of the canyon walls. They departed, leaving their dwellings and cliff-dwelling lifestyle behind, for reasons that are not entirely clear.
The Navajo Nation later populated the area and established their homes in canyons sheltered by cliffs. They remain there to this day. If you're interested in exploring the Anasazi ruins, you first have to go to the visitor center so that they can set you up with a Navajo guide who will take you on horseback or four-wheelers into secluded areas of the monument.
This national park has free campsites in certain areas for those who enjoy camping. If you want to make the most of your time away and stay at one of these locations, get there early and prepare for alternative arrangements. These campsites cannot be booked in advance. They are available on a first-come, first-served basis, with the caveat that if they fill up before you register, you will have to spend the night elsewhere.
Chiricahua National Monument
The Chiricahua National Monument, better known as the Wonderland of Rocks, is a protected area in southwestern Arizona with some of the world's most stunning natural rock formations. The Chiricahua Apache aptly named this region "the land of standing up rocks" for good reason.
This destination is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts and those who love more mellow activities. In total, there are 17 miles of hiking trails as well as an 8-mile scenic drive to enjoy the monuments' beauty.
There are campsites available at this national park, although reservations must be made. However, because the waiting list to use these sites is lengthy, prepare ahead of time. Stop by the visitor center to learn more about the indigenous peoples who used to reside in this region.
The Painted Desert
Although the Painted Desert is not a national or state park in and of itself, it falls within the boundaries of both the Petrified Forest National Park and Grand Canyon National Park. The Navajo Nation comprises the area between those two national parks.
If you're up for an adventure, the national parks that border this desert offers some of the most stunning views and hiking trails.
Walnut Canyon National Monument
The Walnut Canyon National Monument, located just 10 minutes from Flagstaff, Arizona, offers glimpses of the Sinagua people's homes and way of life from the 13th century.
The tour of these ancient ruins provides vividly clear evidence of the skill and dedication of the builders. It is easy to access and still in great condition thanks to the lack of moisture in the air. This will leave you feeling awestruck by those who came before us and with a completely new understanding of history.
Wupatki National Monument
The Wupatki National Monument is another goldmine of historical sites. The ruins of the Sinagua people who lived on the grasslands rather than on the cliffs may be seen here. You can trek along the same pathways the Native Americans used for thousands of years and admire an adobe structure that has withstood time in a way that puts today's construction methods and materials to shame.
Catalina State Park
Another location to see the magnificent saguaro cactus and other desert plants and animals is Catalina State Park. It's a favorite destination for birders who come to observe the more than 150 species of birds that make their home at this park. Unlike many other Arizona parks, this park has pathways that allow horseback riding and biking.
Various Parks in Verde Valley
Verde Valley boasts many splendid parks, one of which is Jerome State Historic Park. There, you can find the Douglas Mansion turned visitor center and museum. With a stunning view of Verde Valley and the former working mines now abandoned below, it's worth a visit! Tuzigoot National Monument's main feature is the Tuzigoot Pueblo, an ancient 110-room village. You can explore it by taking a self-guided tour via a ⅓ mile loop trail. The monument also boasts other attractions worth seeing. Slide Rock State Park is an apple farm with a creek in Oak Creek Canyon and a rock slide, which is also named after the park.
While you're in the neighborhood, why not explore some of the area's other natural landmarks? There are many to choose from, including Fort Verde State Historic Park, Dead Horse Ranch State Park, or the Verde River Greenway. Just keep in mind, most of these parks are a ten to thirty-minute drive away from each other.
Lost Dutchman State Park
Situated in the Sonoran Desert of central Arizona, Lost Dutchman State Park is a compact state park covering only 320 acres. Hikers and bikers can explore the remains of an old goldmine, making it the perfect spot for those who are looking for a challenge.
Kartchner Caverns State Park
Kartchner Caverns State Park is the perfect destination for anyone who wants to escape the heat and explore something new. The Kartchner Caverns are always cool and shady, making them a refreshing change of pace from your average sunny vacation spot.
This cavern was discovered in 1974 by local cave explorers and is boast-worthy for its impressive display of limestone formations, some of which are estimated to be more than 50,000 years old. You can journey through the 2.4 miles of the open cavern on a guided tour, learning about the history of the caves, the rock formations within them, and the wildlife that calls them home along the way.
The Options to Explore are Endless
Here are just a few of the many Arizona state and national parks that you may visit without having to go far from your Liv community. If you'd like to join our communities and be close to all these natural wonders — contact us at Liv.