There’s much more to Arizona than just its abandonment of Daylight Savings Time.
This state is home to stunning deserts, incredible geological features, and a wealth of natural locations worthy of visiting right nearby Phoenix, AZ.
Not only is Arizona home to incredible flora and fauna (and oppressive desert heat during the day), but the nights open up a cosmos of stars, and some of the state parks take you far from the light pollution, allowing you to view the splendor of the cosmos uninterrupted as you spend time in nature.
While all Arizona state parks are worth visiting, these five state parks are within driving distance from Phoenix, AZ, making them ideal for both day trips and also easy overnight destinations.
Map of State Parks Near Phoenix AZ
Here is a map of the Arizona state parks covered in this post:
List of State Parks Near Phoenix
While every state park in Arizona is worth a visit, these are the closest state parks to Phoenix, AZ, most of them within an hour or two of the large city.
With several campsites available, any day trip can turn into an extended stay with just a little planning.
Each park has plenty of activities, from hiking to water sports, as well as incredible natural views that are sure to stun.
1. Tonto Natural Bridge State Park
Location: Nf-583A, Pine, AZ 85544
This park gets its name from the natural travertine bridge located within the boundaries of the park. This bridge can be viewed from your car, or adventurous visitors can hike closer to get a better look of the sublime scenery.
At 183 feet tall and covering a 150-foot wide tunnel, this natural bridge is clearly the centerpiece of the park, but there are plenty of other attractions to see when you visit.
The park is home to 4 hiking trails, which span locations from the bridge itself to the gorgeous Pine Canyon.
Tonto Natural Bridge State Park is very car-friendly, as visitors can take photos of the bridge from many of the parking lots.
However, for those looking to visit the park up close and personal, there are plenty of noteworthy locations in the park, including placards that go over the history of the area, as well as the Gowan family’s restored lodge, which is a lovely location to grab a souvenir or take a break after a long day.
Thankfully, there are plenty of lodging areas available near the park, as well as campsites within the park itself. However, it is worth noting there are no dogs allowed on the park trails.
2. Lost Dutchman State Park
Location: 6109 N Apache Trail, Apache Junction, AZ 85119
While this park is home to biking, hiking, camping, and more, most visitors will be enticed by the story of the Lost Dutchman gold. Have we caught your attention?
The legend of the Lost Dutchman goldmine may be the source of some of this park’s intrigue, but the gorgeous scenery and beautiful, serene natural views are a treasure in it of themselves.
People have been searching for the legendary mine in the Superstition Mountains for over 100 years, but no one has yet to find the fabled location.
However, what are pure gold are the six hiking trails available to explore within the park itself.
Mountain bikers will be happy to note the park is home to a single mountain trail, and there are also plenty of picnic areas in the park.
There are 134 camping sites throughout the park, as well as some RV locations, meaning that staying at the park is easier than ever.
While you may not find gold, you’re sure to leave with a wealth of happy memories.
3. Dead Horse Ranch State Park
Location: White Spar Hwy #89, Yarnell, AZ 85362
While the name of this park is rather morbid, the activities are to die for.
Named in the 1940s by the Irelys family, the keeping of the park name was marked as necessary in order for the land to be purchased, so the name stayed.
This park has hiking trails across both this state park and those within Coconino National Forest. These trails make up 20 or more miles of hiking trails that are open to non-motorized use.
Mountain bikes are also welcome on some of the trails, and there are ADA accessible trails so that visitors of all mobility levels can experience the gorgeous natural views.
The views of Mingus Mountain, Verde Valley, and Dead Horse Ranch itself are breathtaking, and with plenty of tent and RV campsites within the park, visitors can easily spend several days exploring this gorgeous location.
4. Granite Mountain Hotshots State Park
Location: White Spar Hwy #89, Yarnell, AZ 85362
Named for the brave sacrifice of 19 firefighters who passed away fighting a nearby wildfire, Granite Mountain Hotshots State Park is home to gorgeous views, incredible trails, and breathtaking natural areas that are sure to captivate your imagination.
The park is home to a couple trails, one of which includes monuments to each of the hotshots, only one of which survive the fire.
Those who walk the trails can learn more about the various firefighters, as well as explore the stunning flora and fauna of the park itself.
While the park itself does have picnic areas, it does not have camping locations, so this area is more of a day trip instead of an overnight location.
However, with its close proximity to Phoenix, AZ, driving in for the day is more than doable.
5. Red Rock State Park
Location: 4050 Red Rock Loop Rd, Sedona, AZ 86336
The stunning red rock formations that make up the park are sure to leave you breathless.
The local desert and hiking trails will keep visitors entertained for hours, and with picnicking areas available, this is a perfect day trip location.
A 5-mile system of trails with elevation gains of up to 300 feet make for an incredible hiking experience, and the various hiking, biking, and equestrian trails throughout the park provide plenty of entertainment for explorers of all modes of transportation.
While there are plenty of day-use sites available, including a visitor center and picnicking areas, there are no overnight facilities on the park, making it a perfect stop for day visitors from Phoenix.