Compiled by Michelle Talsma Everson
Spring is officially here and the weather is gorgeous outside. Now is the time to go explore the active outdoors before triple digit temps hit. Hiking, biking, fishing, camping—it’s all fair game this spring and into early summer. We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite places to get active and explore both locally and across the state.
Red Rock State Park, Sedona
Head north to Sedona for a plethora of fun activities at Red Rock State Park, a gorgeous nature preserve and educational center. Not only do you get to explore some of the world-famous rock formations, but also you can take a guided hike to learn more about geology, archaeology, or ethnobotany. You’ll cross over Oak Creek and maybe catch sight of wildlife among the leaves, or you can choose a trail to explore on your own. Kids will love hiking under the light of the full moon during special monthly events. Arizona State Parks and Trails is also offering a Family Campout April 27-28. Bring your family and let them teach you how to camp like an expert – they even provide the tent! Plus, they’ll be celebrating Earth Day at Red Rock State Park on April 27.
Lake Pleasant Regional Park, Peoria
The largest lake in the Metro Phoenix area, Lake Pleasant offers boating, camping and fishing opportunities perfect for a weekend away or day trip. For boating, there are two main marinas. When it comes to camping, there are plenty of campgrounds with small fees. Camping not your style? It’s a great place to picnic for the day, too. “Surrounded by the Sonoran desert, it is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream destination for action and adventure, “ describes VisitPeoria.com. “With more than 23,000 acres of water and beautiful, unblemished desert landscape, Lake Pleasant Regional Park is one of the most scenic recreation areas in the Valley. There are a number of adventures to embark upon including kayaking, fishing, scuba diving, camping, stargazing and even scorpion hunting.”
Lost Dutchman State Park, Apache Junction
Looking for fun, nearby options to get your kids offline and outside? Lost Dutchman State Park is just outside the Phoenix Metro area and gives kids a chance to explore the Sonoran Desert in a stunning setting. This park is loaded with great trails for the whole family to hike, bike, and explore through the Superstition Mountains. Colorful wildflowers, a variety of birds, and chances to spot wildlife make this a perfect adventure. A variety of events can help kids learn at the same time at Lost Dutchman State Park. Take an evening hike during warmer months, then join park staff for a Star Party afterwards! Educational guided hikes and fun programs to showcase the park’s amazing features are available. Regardless of skill level or physical abilities, there’s something for everyone at Lost Dutchman State Park.
Catalina State Park, Tucson
Start your experience in Catalina’s beautiful Sonoran Desert among towering 200 year-old Saguaro cacti, prickly pears, and colorful spring flowers. Explore more than 30 miles of hiking trails on foot, mountain bike, or bring your own horse. On your trip, you may spot desert wildlife, including roadrunners, coyotes, jackrabbits, horned lizards, falcons, and countless other birds. Complete your Junior Ranger activities, get sworn in as a park ranger, then head back to your campsite to enjoy gooey s’mores around the campfire while you watch the sky come alive with stars. In the morning, check out a ranger-led hike to the 1,500 year-old Romero Ruins to learn about the ancient home of the Hohokam Indians or try out geocaching or a geology walk in the park. Catalina has something for the whole family.
Tempe Town Lake, Tempe
Home to more than 40 special events throughout the year, according to the city of Tempe, Tempe Town Lake is the state’s second-most visited public attraction. “The more than 2-mile long lake was created by damming a portion of the dry Salt River and adding water. Today, the lake continues to act like a river to convey rainwater and snow run-off by lowering the dam when needed and raising it again to maintain the water within the lake,” according to the city. “…A system of paths allow people to walk, jog, bike and more along its edges. It’s also a great place for electric, wind and human-powered boats.” And, being man made, it has water all year long, making spring a perfect time to visit, picnic, and enjoy.
Ft. Tuthill County Park, Flagstaff
Perfect for a weekend away or a day trip, Ft. Tuthill County Park is home to 633 acres of year-round recreational fun. “Throughout the year, outdoors enthusiasts can enjoy the multi-use trails, archery, and the many events and outdoors recreations programs offered,” according to Coconino County. Ft. Tuthill is home to a bike park, disc golf course, horseback riding options, and Flagstaff Extreme, the state’s only adventure and zip line course. There are also several museums on site and camping opportunities. And, when the temperature heats up in Phoenix, Ft. Tuthill is home to a variety of outdoor events.