Times Spent Outdoors: Priceless!

Start With New Years Day Hikes

Then, Make A Resolution To Visit All of Arizona's State Parks In 2016

The State Parks in Arizona are offering guided hikes for New Years Day as part of a program called 1st Day Hikes. Guided hikes are great, even if you are an experienced hiker, because the guides will have lots of information about the area that you might not have known.

The State Parks are great places to visit at any time, and the opportunity for a free guided hike is a bonus.

Generally, the weather is cool on New Years Day, but at higher altitudes, you should add layers. Also, bring your own water and wear sturdy boots or hiking shoes. You should also bring binoculars and a camera.

At Alamo Lake State Park near Wenden there will be a one-mile hike where Ranger Ron Logan will show and tell about the plants and animals at the park. Alamo is a beautiful lake and you're almost sure to see wild burros and lots of beautiful birds. This hike is recommended for ages 10 and up and starts at 9 am.

A Boyce Thompson Factoid

There are three events offered at Boyce Thompson Arboretum. If you have never been to this park, you are totally missing out. It is absolutely gorgeous, nestled in the mountains near Superior. There are awesome trails here - one of my favorites takes you past a pond. You'll see lots of plants from all over the world here.

Here's a factoid about Boyce Thompson: It was named after a wealthy miner, William Boyce Thompson, whose great nephew happened to be Bill Thompson, better known as Wallace of the Wallace and Ladmo Show.

The three New Years Day events are a bird walk at 9:30, a guided walk on the Main Trail (1-1/2 miles) at 10 a.m., and a Native American Style Sage Smoke Blessing and concert. Leashed dogs are welcome at Boyce Thompson.

Learn As You Hike

At the Buckskin Mountain State Park near Parker you can join Rocky Ringtail, the park mascot, for a 2-hour, 1-1/2-mile hike. They say this hike is moderately difficult, but it's open to all ages. Your dog is welcome, but it must be on a leash.

Catalina State Park near Tucson offers an amazing seven-mile hike on the 50-Year Trail loop starting at 8 a.m. It's long, but there's only a 450 foot elevation gain so it's pretty easy going.

Cattail Cove hike starts at 10 a.m. at the ramp and it's a 2-3-mile hike that will take about three hours. You'll learn about the history, plants, and animals of the area from Bill and Betty Noble.

Deadhorse Ranch near Cottonwood is one of my favorite State Parks. There are several pretty ponds and lots of birds. Meet at 9 a.m. at the West Lagoon parking lot and hike the riparian area of the Verde river and along the lagoons. You never know what kinds of cool birds and critters you'll see here. Plan on an hour and a half or two hours for this hike.

History In Many Forms

At Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area at Showlow, the park admission is waived for 1st Day hikers. Meet at 10 am at the Bluebird Ramada for a hike just under a mile and a half along the lake.

The hike at Homolovi State Park near Winslow doesn't start until 1 p.m. Hike with a Park Ranger to Diné Point on the Tsu'vö trail. You'll see petroglyphs on this two-mile hike.

At Kartchner Caverns State Park near Benson there is a nature walk and scavenger hunt from 1-3 pm. The Foothills Trail Loop is about 2-1/2 miles and you'll learn about the plants and their uses.

Lake Havasu State Park offers a ranger-led hike along Sunset Trail starting at 10 am. Meet at the trailhead in the main lot.

Lost Dutchman State Park is another of my favorites. The Superstitions are so beautiful, and have so much folklore and history! We did our New Years Day hike here last year and loved it.

For the 1st Day hike here, meet at 9 a.m. at the Saguaro day-use area for a hike on the Treasure Loop Trail where you'll learn about the plants and animals and the rich history of the Superstitions and the Lost Dutchman Mine. The hike is about 2-1/2 miles and will take a couple of hours.

One Of The Favorites

I know I keep saying this, but Lyman Lake is another of my favorite State Parks. We love to go up here and stay in one of the lakeside cabins for a few days, hike the trails, fish, and visit the little museum in St. John.

The 1st Day hike here is an all-day event where you just show up whenever and guide yourself along the Petroglyph Trail. We've hiked this trail many times and it takes you up a hill that has petroglyphs scattered all over.

There is even a small tunnel that my grandkids still love, and a glorious view from the summit. The Rangers have photographed ten petroglyphs, and you can pick up a scavenger hunt sheet from them before you hit the trail. Use your camera or cell phone to photograph those 10 petroglyphs then show them to the ranger when you get back.

Passes for a cabin, electric site, and day passes will be awarded to those who find the most petroglyphs. This one sounds particularly awesome, right?

More History: Manmade And Natural

Another hike with petroglyphs is at Patagonia Lake State Park near Patagonia. Meet at 9 am at the Visitor Center, and hike the Petroglyph Site trail for about a 3-mile round trip. You'll see beautiful views of the lake, but you'll need to scramble up Petroglyph Hill. It's a moderately difficult hike.

At Picacho Peak, meet at the Harrington Loop at 9 am for a hike along the Calloway Trail with amazing views of the desert. It's about an hour hike and a little less than a mile and a half. It doesn't go to the summit, and it's rated for six-years-old and above. Picacho is the site of the western-most battle of the Civil War and is an amazing place for wildflowers in spring.

Join a naturalist at Red Rock State Park near Sedona for a one and a half hour walk starting at 10 am. You can learn about the natural history, archeology and geology of the Red Rock area. Maybe even learn about the vortexes!

Roper Lake State Park near Safford is another favorite of mine. Meet at the Dankworth Pond parking lot at 10 am for a moderate 2-hour hike that will let you explore the pond and the ancient village. It's a fun hike.

At Slide Rock State Park near Sedona you'll meet at 10 am at the parking lot for a two-hour hike where you'll learn about the homestead as well as the animals and plants.

Hikes Dependent On Weather

Tonto Natural Bridge State Park is a fantastic place any time of year. Our granddaughters never get tired of visiting this amazing place. There are several wonderful trails here, so after you join the guided hike, stick around and do the rest of the trails. You'll love them all, and you always have a really good chance of seeing javelina here.

Meet at 10 and hike down the Gowan Trail to the observation deck. This trail is a bit steep and has some stairs. The hikes are limited to 30 people so you need to register by calling 928-476-4202.

The hikes are all dependent on weather, and if it rains, they may be canceled. You can visit the State Parks Web page at azstateparks.com to download maps, get directions to the parks, and find out more about them. You can also find out if pets are allowed and if the trail is handicapped accessible.

State Parks Scattered All Over Arizona

There are State Parks scattered all over Arizona, so no doubt you can find one within a couple hours of where you live. What better way to start the year? You might even be inspired to make a resolution to visit ALL of Arizona's State Parks in 2016! Here's a list of all the State Parks to get you started:

Western Region: Alamo Lake, Buckskin Mountain, Cattail Cove, Lake Havasu, River Island, Yuma Quartermaster Depot, Yuma Territorial Prison

Northern Region: Dead Horse Ranch, Fort Verde, Homolovi, Jerome, Red Rock, Riordan Mansion, Slide Rock, Verde River Greenway

Eastern Region: Boyce Thompson Arboretum, Catalina, Fool Hollow Lake, Lost Dutchman, Lyman Lake, McFarland, Oracle, Tonto Natural Bridge

Southern Region: Kartchner Caverns, Patagonia Lake, Picacho Peak, Roper Lake, San Rafael Ranch, Sonoita Creek, Tombstone Courthouse, Tubac Presidio


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