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Experience Arizona’s Untamed Spirit In Its State Parks System

If an “outlaw” spirit still lives and thrives in the modern-day U.S., it could most readily be found in the American Southwest. Long before settlers went out to the frontier West of the Mississippi River, roustabouts and ramblers, explorers, and rustlers often found themselves pointing their ponies West. 

Perhaps it was because there was a marshal hot on their trail. Perhaps it was because they had a wanderlust that couldn’t be corralled in “polite” society in the young cities popping up all along the eastern half of the country in the early decades of the settling of America. Perhaps it was because some people prefer the wide open and wild to the safe confines of domestication.

Whatever the reason, the road always leads West for those with an itchy traveling foot. Few states personify this adventurous spirit and provide a place as perfect for the wanderer as Arizona, and it’s easy to see why!

As beautiful as it is still untamed in many places, Arizona is a place to escape. The locals take great pride in their independent streak, where one can be and live as they wish, and be who they are, how they are, and just as they are. To your average resident, that is the true definition of the “outlaw” spirit.

Like many areas in the American Southwest, The Grand Canyon State — named for its most famous attraction — has a story that stretches back to the earliest days of American expansion westward. Arizona’s story is the story of the completion of America as a truly continent-spanning country.

There is so much to see and learn in Arizona, and it boasts an impressive and varied array of State Parks. Below are some favorites which hold some of its greatest natural wonders and historical treasures for all to enjoy:

Red Rock State Park: This park lies right in the heart of one of the most treasured areas in the whole state of Arizona: Sedona. A hotspot for outdoorsy types and spiritually minded seekers, the awe-inspiring beauty of the landscape and legendary “healing” power of the area draw visitors by the thousands yearly. Exhibits abound to learn more about the history of the area and its long-ago inhabitants, and miles of hiking trails through the Arizona high desert are second to none. This site is a must-visit destination!

Photo Courtesy Arizona State Parks 

River Island State Park: River Island is quite literally an oasis in the desert. A popular spot for “beach” lovers, watersports enthusiasts, and anglers of all kinds, this Arizona State Park also offers ample campground and miles of hiking trails in and around the water. A favorite hike is to the summit of Wedge Hill, where intrepid climbers can enjoy stunning vistas of the surrounding Colorado River country. 

Photo Courtesy Arizona State Parks 

Picacho Peak State Park: This site might have some of the most stunning vistas in the state! With hiking trails for all skill levels, everyone can enjoy the best of what the Sonoran desert has to offer, with a favorite hike being to the top of the titular peak for a 360-degree view of the gorgeous Arizona desert. Bird watchers also frequent the park, and wildlife of all kinds abound here, including mule deer, javelinas, and foxes. One of the more unique features of the spot is that it is designated as an International Dark Sky Park with minimal outside light pollution, making it some of the best stargazing in the Southwest. There is a little bit of everything at this destination!

Photo Courtesy Arizona State Parks

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