McFarland State Historic Park is located in the beautiful town of Florence only 50 miles southeast of Phoenix. This historic park consists of a preserved courthouse and other buildings that date back to the late 1800s during the Arizona Territory Period.
The town of Florence’s visitor center is also housed inside this historic building. Both the visitor center and museum feature displays, exhibits, photographs and other historical information that commemorates Florence and its surrounding area for the last 200 years or so.
Activities at McFarland State Historic Park
Stop by for a few hours and learn more about the town of Florence, this old building and this area’s history. Bring a picnic and sit outside under the trees in the courtyard.
Plan ahead and stay in the area for a few days so that you can also see some of the other interesting sites in and around Florence. And visit some of the other state parks nearby while you’re at it.
Here are some of the activities that you can do during your visit to this Arizona state Park and Florence:
Museum at McFarland State Historic Park
The historic courthouse building at McFarland State Historic Park features a museum, gift shop and visitor center and offers visitors a glimpse back into time. This building was originally built in 1878 and its structure represents a combination of Sonoran and Anglo-American architecture.
The building’s wood shingled roof and adobe brick walls were constructed by hand with native materials.
At the time when this now historic building was built Florence was known as the ‘garden city,’ a green respite from the desert all around. The courthouse became the centerpiece for the town and where everyone would congregate (for business and social affairs). Each week a public dance was held at the courthouse and all of the townspeople would attend.
This building served other roles over the years as well, from a jail house to a hospital. When it was the first Pinal County Courthouse it held the sheriff’s office, the courtroom, judge’s chambers and a jail. When you visit this historic building today you’ll get a real sense of what life might have felt like circa 1900.
The museum also highlights other eras of history experienced inside this small town. The courtroom itself can be reserved by groups and has a bench that seats 4 people plus 35 chairs. The park was named for Ernest W McFarland, who was a US Senator, Governor and Arizona Supreme Court Justice. He was a part of the founding of the State Parks system in 1957.
Become a Junior Ranger at McFarland State Historic Park
Junior Ranger Pledge: ‘As an Arizona State Parks Junior Ranger, I pledge to help the park rangers protect and preserve habitat, wildlife, and help keep the park clean and safe for visitors and wildlife.’
Encourage younger generations to do their part and help preserve the beauty of the parks for future visitors. If your child is between the ages of 6-12 they can become a Junior Ranger at McFarland State Historic Park.
All they need to do is download and complete the Junior Ranger Activity Sheet and then request a Junior Ranger booklet at the park’s visitor center once you’ve arrived at the park. Complete each of the activities during your stay.
When all of the activities have been completed report back to a Park Ranger who will swear your Junior Ranger in and award them with a Junior Ranger Button. Kids can become a Junior Ranger at most Arizona State Parks and earn each park’s unique Junior Ranger Button. Check out the For Kids section on each park’s website.
Wildlife Viewing at McFarland State Historic Park
While walking around or having a picnic outside of McFarland State Historic Park you’ll have an opportunity to see squirrels and probably many different types of birds. Some of these birds may include some that are commonly spotted in Arizona such as hummingbirds, hawks, falcons, quail, cardinals, wrens and finches.
For more wildlife viewing opportunities, drive over to Tonto National Forest and explore some of the 600,000 acres of wilderness within it.
Pets at McFarland State Historic Park
Pets are not allowed inside any facility buildings at McFarland State Historic Park.
Lodging Near McFarland State Historic Park
McFarland State Historic Park is a museum and day use area only so they don’t have any overnight accommodations. There are plenty of choices nearby for places to stay overnight, whether you want to camp, stay in your RV or hotel.
Here are a couple of those options:
Green Tree Inn & Suites – 240 W, AZ-287, Florence
This nearby hotel (only one mile away) is pet friendly and has comfortable rooms, free breakfast and an indoor pool.
Rancho Sonora Inn & RV Park – 9198 AZ-79, Florence
Picturesque desert retreat with both an RV park with full hookups and comfortable inn style rooms. They have a clubhouse, pool and are also pet friendly.
The Cozy Peach Campground at Schnepf Farms – 22601 E Cloud Rd, Queen Creek
Glamping environment with full hookups and pet friendly.
Attractions Near McFarland State Historic Park
Nearby state parks:
- Lost Dutchman State Park – 36 miles
- Picacho Peak State Park – 37 miles
- Catalina State Park – 53 miles
- Oracle State Park – 56 miles
- Tonto National Forest
Museum & Visitor Center Hours:
Monday – Saturday (9:00 am – 5:00 pm: October through April 30)
(9:00 am – 2:00 pm: May through September)
Park Entrance Fees:
$5.00 per person
Ages 18 and under are free
McFarland State Historic Park
24 W Ruggles St
Florence, AZ 85132
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at McFarland State Historic Park: