By Michelle Thompson
If you’re like many Arizonans, you’re looking for safe, healthy ways that you can get out of the house during this national crisis. One great way to escape cabin fever is to head to Arizona’s state parks, which remain open for hiking and outdoor recreation.
To get started, check out the list of parks near you and pick one that looks intriguing. If the park you want to visit is not in your own community, plan your trip for a later date. There are maps and descriptions of each park available at AZStateParks.com, and you can decide if you want to camp and stay for a weekend in the future.
Before you head out, go Google Maps and type in the name of the park. Drop your navigator onto a trail and take a virtual hike. See what the terrain is like, the views, and the difficulty. Make sure you are ready for the hike. Pack plenty of water, and don’t share your water bottle with others. Call ahead to find out if the park is busy. Don’t count on using water fountains at the park and be prepared for some facility closures. Pack some hand sanitizer and wash your hands before you head out. Wear the right shoes, take some sunscreen, and choose an alternate trail if the first one is busy.
Park a safe distance from other cars when you arrive. If the trailhead is crowded or busy, leave and pick a different trail. Park rangers are doing their best to follow distancing guidelines, but it’s everyone’s responsibility. As you pass other hikers on the trail, give them six feet of space and announce yourself to allow them to give you room. Be courteous. Pack out all your trash. Don’t take risks or push your limits. Emergency response personnel may be restricted at this time.
Plan Now, Park Later
Have you ever been to Sonoita Creek State Natural Area? It’s a beautiful area in southern Arizona, with trails, birds, and sprawling views. Located next to Patagonia Lake State Park, this choice of park will surprise you with its scenery and atmosphere. Oracle State Park is a 4,000-acre wildlife preserve and has more than 15 miles of trails, and it’s only 30-45 minutes northeast of Catalina State Park near Tucson. You can connect to the 800-mile long Arizona Trail here at the park, and trails are available for walking, biking, or horseback riding. Plan your future adventure at a new park and explore Arizona. You can even plan a great road trip to explore more than one great park during your vacation. Visit our handy guide for great family trips.
Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @AZStateParks to see inspirational views, learn quick camping and hiking tips, and of course get the latest information about COVID-19. We also offer a podcast (available on Google Play and iTunes) and have a special page set up to teach and entertain while we stay home. Visit AZStateParks.com/play for fun ideas.