We’ve spent all year talking about taking care of your home. If you are a DIYer who spends all weekend crossing tasks off your honey-do list, it’s time to take care of yourself. Put down the caulking gun, hammer, weed whacker, or whatever gadget you are using, and go explore Arizona! The weather is perfect!
From museums, monuments, state and national parks, Arizona is home to a bounty of activities that fit the adrenaline junkie to the leisurely stroller and everyone in between.
Planning Your Adventure
The Arizona Office of Tourism (AOT) is a great resource to plan activities throughout our state. Their website is full of ideas and links to visitor centers that allow you to dig a little deeper into your planning.
Be sure to check our Arizona State Parks & Trails (ASPT) for a comprehensive list of places to visit and things to do. Their Eight4Two Trail Challenge kicked off on Black Friday. Hike or bike eight different trails in at least four of your state parks, and you’ll receive two day-use passes and a limited-edition sticker!
ASPT offers regular events featuring bird and nature walks, photo tours, camping, and so much more!
Fun Fact – One of the ROTH staff members led tours of the Riordan Mansion State Historic Park when she was a student at Northern Arizona University (NAU). Add that to your to-do list next time you visit Flagstaff.
Our Favorite Places
Each ROTH staff member, affectionately known as “the Rosiebuds,” has their favorite places to explore throughout our glorious state.
Bruce | I love Kaibab National Forest, from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to the forest south of Williams. My family and I enjoy camping up there for the natural beauty and the escape from the Valley’s summer heat!
Garry | Red Rock State Park in Sedona with five miles of interconnecting trails among Sedona’s red rock scenery. Plus, lush greenery along Oak Creek, pinon and juniper pine woods, it’s a wonderful place the entire family can enjoy. I make it a point to visit every time I’m in town.
Bonus Photo Opportunity: Sedona Airport Scenic Lookout. The best place to get a wide view with the Red Rocks behind you.
Jen | I always liked going to Goldfield Ghost Town. It’s a fun place to take out of town family when they come to visit, and it’s enjoyable to be temporarily transported back in time. It’s fun to, in a way, experience what folks back in the day would have seen, especially being so close to the Superstition Mountains.
Jennifer | My favorite places have to do with riding my horse. My favorite days are when Rosie and I take our gaited horses out for a ride and take the dogs along to explore. In the winter months, I am fond of Tonto National Forest. The vistas are amazing, and the footing is perfect for gaiting the horses. There is a variety of plants and wildlife. We have seen owls, quail, deer, and jackrabbits galore.
In the summer, we like to go north to ride. The rim country affords beautiful overlooks and the cool shade of the pine trees. On one of our trips, we ran upon a herd of elk. It was a group of moms with a couple of babies. The moms started moving off, but the baby was curious; Rosie bugled to it, and it stayed and talked back to him for a few minutes! The mom soon had enough and whisked him away. We have so many great memories of just getting out to enjoy the big blue skies of Arizona!
Joanna | Tonto Natural Bridge State Park. This is one of our favorite day-trip adventures in Payson: Enjoy a short hike (easy enough for children) to one of the most beautiful natural bridges in the United States, uniquely formed of travertine. Take a refreshing dip in one of many pools of natural spring water with views of the cascading waterfall. For an after-hike treat, be sure to stop at Old County Inn, in the neighboring town of Pine, for a slice of wood-fired pizza. Sip on a pint of Arizona craft-beer from their Taproom while enjoying the stunning views of the rim, listening to live music, and watching the kids play cornhole or Connect Four. It’s perfect way to spend a day up in Payson with the whole family!
Julia | A few places: Montezuma’s Castle is a great spot that I love and is fun for the whole family. Growing, up Four Peaks Road was always a favorite, but I know it is so darn crowded now. Prescott for the courthouse square. Mormon Lake is a favorite. When I lived in Flagstaff, Walnut Canyon and Turkey Hill were a few of my favorite hikes.
Lauren | Jerome or Cave Creek. I love riding motorcycles with friends up to both places, especially during biker month in October.
Susan | Sweetwater Wetlands in Tucson is a hidden gem. Just off Prince Road and west of I-10, its 60-acre park is a flat loop featuring ponds and a lot of trees. A nice nature walk when I don’t have time for a hike. It’s great for bird and critter watching. I never know what I will come across each time I visit — like an iguana being rescued. I like to bring my sketch pad and colored pens and pencils, park myself in a secluded area and draw what I see.
Rosie | He loves hearing about your favorite places. Though he is not keen on sharing his specific favorite places because they are remote, hard to get to, and do not have any services. They are places you probably won’t want to visit. However, Rosie will tell you some of the best places are in Cochise and Greenlee Counties. They are the least populated counties and tend to be small, rural communities with big, open skies in which to stargaze. He relishes these quiet, unpopulated, remote spots on his exploring days to pitch a tent and enjoy the sounds that are only nature-made.
Romey | Amanda and I take the kids caping for a week every summer to “someplace new” in Arizona! Each place has a special, unique memory for our family and it’s hard to pick a favorite. What we hear the kids talking about the most is the water and wildlife we found in the White Mountains and the Buffalo we saw in the North Rim of the Grand Canyon!
Accessibility for Everyone
Arizona includes people of all abilities, including people with mobility, visual, and hearing needs. Many lodging facilities, attractions, and events comply with the guidelines set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
AOT and Teresa Bitler, an award-winning travel writer, suggest these 13 wheelchair-accessible trails.
- Rim Trail
- Crescent Moon Ranch
- Dead Horse Ranch State Park
- Montezuma Castle National Monument
- Woodland Lake Park Trail
- Boyce Thompson Arboretum
- Tempe Town Lake
- Papago Park and Papago West Park
- Brown’s Ranch
- Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch
- Saguaro National Park
- Coronado National Forest
- Homolovi State Park
Learn more about them and their accessibility here.
Make Safety A Priority
The number one rule of hiking is NEVER hike alone. Always take a buddy and tell someone who will not be with you where you are going and what time you expect to return.
Nothing can spoil your adventure more than an accident or illness. Before you head out the door, make sure you have the proper accouterments in the event a problem arises.
Hat | A full brim, a cowboy, outback, safari hats, sun, or breeze hats are ideal for keeping your face protected. The lighter the color, the cooler your head.
Water Bottle/Canteen | Whether it’s summer or winter, it’s still the desert and you must carry water if you are out and about. One gallon, per person, is the standard. Stainless steel containers such as Klean Kanteen.com and Hydro Flask are good options.
Handkerchief | Tie it around your neck to keep the sun off or use it as a dust mask.
ColdRush Towel | Soak it in water to keep your neck cool.
Watch | Today many watches provide more information than just the time and date.
Pocket Knife | Here are some of our favorite American Made knives.
Emergency Call List | Your phone’s battery can die, or the phone could break or fail when you are out on the trail. If you had to borrow a phone, how many numbers of family and friends do you have memorized? Keeping an index card in your wallet with phone numbers will help you or someone trying to help if you are unconscious or unable to communicate.
Cash/Coins | Having currency is essential for an emergency. Gas, tire patch, food, or hotel room all cost money. If there was a problem with your account or the credit/debit card machines are down, how long could you wait for them to be fixed? Have enough cash and/or a few silver coins to hold you over for at least 48 hours.
Additional Items to Consider
- Lip Balm
- Food (non-perishable 3-day supply)
- Manual can opener
- Battery operated radio, preferably a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries
- Consider something a bit more robust like a radio with solar and hand crank power sources like these: 12 Best Hand Crank Radios Reviewed and Rated in 2021
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First Aid Kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Plastic sheeting, garbage bags, and duct tape
- Printed local maps and a GPS or app on your phone, like AllTrails.
- Hygiene items
If you are planning on going super remote/off the grid, it’s great to have a Satellite Phone for backup. It’s what all the river rafts that go on 3-14 day trips through the Grand Canyon carry to contact emergency services if they have a medical emergency or get stranded due to boat failure. Check out the Inmarsat IsatPhone.
For more information on outdoor adventure emergency preparedness, visit Romey’s Must-Haves When Leaving The House and Home Preparedness Resource Guide .
As of December 8, 2021, the pandemic is still causing issues. Contact venues directly to determine their hours of operation, safety information, and available activities before leaving home. Click here to access COVID-19 updates.
According to the Heard Museum, Arizona is home to 22 Tribes. Their lands are vast with stunning landscapes. Each operates under its unique governmental structure and establishes its own rules for visitors. Click here for an updated status of open Tribal businesses and parks.
Bang for Your Buck
Exploring can get expensive. Before exploring Southern Arizona, check out the Southern Arizona Attractions Alliance (SAAA). This 501 (c)(6) non-profit organization offers the Tucson Attractions Passport, a discount book available in digital, and the original “Book of Fun” paper format. The Passport provides exclusive savings at more than 50 Southern Arizona attractions. Click to see the current Open List of Attractions in Southern Arizona. According to SAAA’s executive director, Thomas Moulton, it is the only one of its kind in Arizona.
Supporting Military Families
SAAA has teamed up with the Desert Thunder Squadron, a non-profit that assists the airmen stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson. For every Passport sold, SAAA will donate one to DM’s airmen and their families so they can explore the region.
AOT offers more articles written by travelers and Arizona’s best travel writers. Let them inspire you to embark on your own adventure at www.visitarizona.com/like-a-local.
Now that you know what’s out there, grab your backpack, put on your hiking boots, and hit the trails!
All those home ‘honey do’s’ can wait. The weather is perfect for exploring Arizona!! Award Winning Author Roger Naylor talks about his favorite hikes from high elevation to low level trails anyone can enjoy. Deputy Director Becky Blane of Arizona Office Of Tourism talks about the many landmarks, museums and of course the Grand Canyon that you should explore. Plus we explain Barrier Free Travel for wheelers, walkers and baby boomers.
- Julia Drake
- Susan Kregar
- Joanna Lawson
- Rosie Romero
- Southern Arizona Attractions Alliance