Hard to believe that it’s already been a years since we finished up our week-long Arizona national park road trip. The state has so much to offer national park enthusiasts. Although we didn’t get to visit all the national parks in Arizona on the first route, we can’t wait to get back to catch the rest!
So, how many national parks does Arizona have?
Of the more than 400+ units in the National Park Service, there are 22 national parks in Arizona and 2 National Scenic Trails (affiliated sites).
About Arizona's national parks
Here’s some key facts about the national parks in Arizona:
- Arizona national parks were established on lands traditionally inhabited by one of the largest and most diverse populations of Native Americans on the continent. We honor the 22 different federally recognized indigenous groups and others whose lands we now share in the National Park Service.
- More than 12 million people visit the national parks in Arizona each year. Grand Canyon National Park consistently ranks as one of the most visited national parks in the entire NPS.
- 2 sites in Arizona are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The national parks add $2,015,900,000 in economic benefit to the communities around the state.
- There are more than 11 million artifacts, memorabilia and historic objects preserved by the National Park Service museum collections in Arizona.
Arizona national park itinerary
While there’s no one way to visit all the national parks in Arizona, we were inspired by fellow national parks traveler Mikah Meyer’s 2018 route through Arizona for our own road trip itinerary.
Check out this Google Map for all of Arizona’s 22 national park destinations.
About the national parks in Arizona
Canyon De Chelly National Monument
This park is operated in partnership with the Navajo Nation. Visit the historic homelands where ancestors of the Navajo people have lived for more than 5,000 years.
Passport Cancellation Station
National park passport stamps are available at the park visitor’s center.
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument
From NPS.gov: Explore the mystery and complexity of an extended network of communities and irrigation canals. An Ancestral Sonoran Desert People’s farming community and “Great House” are preserved at Casa Grande Ruins. Whether the Casa Grande was a gathering place for the Desert People or simply a waypoint marker in an extensive system of canals and trading partners is but part of the mystique of the Ruins.
Chiricahua National Monument
From NPS.gov: “A “Wonderland of Rocks” is waiting for you to explore at Chiricahua National Monument. The 8-mile paved scenic drive and 17-miles of day-use hiking trails provide opportunities to discover the beauty, natural sounds, and inhabitants of this 11,985 acre site. Visit the Faraway Ranch Historic District to discover more about the people who have called this area home.”
Coronado National Memorial
In 1540, commander Francisco Vazquez de Coronado arrived in this area of Arizona armed with more than 1500 Europeans, Aztec/Mexican allies, servants and slaves. Coronado National Memorial was established to interpret the Coronado Expedition and how it shaped the lives of the indigenous people already living in the area.
Fort Bowie National Historic Site
From NPS.gov: Fort Bowie witnessed almost 25 years of conflict between the Chiricahua Apache and the US Army, and remains a tangible connection to the turbulent era of the late 1800s. Explore the history of Fort Bowie and Apache Pass as you hike the 1.5 mile trail to the visitor center and old fort ruins. Today, this peaceful landscape stands in stark contrast to the violence that once gripped this land.
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
At more than 1.25 million acres, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, including Lake Powell is one of the premier travel destinations in Arizona. We visited the Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell during our 2017 visit to Grand Canyon and Zion.
Grand Canyon National Park
NPS Website: https://www.nps.gov/grca/index.htm
Location: Grand Canyon Village, AZ
One of the most popular national parks in the United States and a UNESCO World Heritage site, visiting Grand Canyon National Park is a right of passage for many national park lovers. With so many ways to explore the park (hiking, rafting, camping, touring, by train, by bus, by car, etc.) there’s a lifetime of itineraries here.
For all of our different trip ideas, check out our Grand Canyon Destination page.
Hohokam Pima National Monument
NPS Website: https://www.nps.gov/articles/hohokam.htm
Location: N/A – Not Open to Visitors – Gila River Indian Reservation, AZ
Although it still counts towards your #parkchasing list and a visit to one of the 400+ national park units in the National Park Service, Hohokam Pima National Monument is the one national park unit you can’t visit. As part of the sacred grounds of Gila River Indian Community, the site is not open to the public nor is the location disclosed on any maps or websites. The National Park Service has worked hard with the Gila River Indian Community to maintain privacy and reduce damage to the site.
During our 2017 visit, we wrote about Hohokam Pima and how visitors can still get to know the site.
Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site
From NPS.gov “The squeaky wooden floor greets your entry into the oldest operating trading post on the Navajo Nation. When your eyes adjust to the dim light in the “bullpen” you find you’ve just entered a mercantile. Hubbell Trading Post has been serving Ganado selling goods and Native American Art since 1878.”
Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Divided between Nevada and Arizona, Lake Mead National Recreation Area is most famous for the nearby Hoover Dam which created this reservoir. Located on the Colorado River, visitors to the park can choose water activities like boating, kayaking, fishing, and swimming as well as some of the best hiking in the area.
Montezuma Castle National Monument
Co-managed with nearby Tuzigoot National Monument, Montezuma Castle represents one of the best preserved indigenous cliff dwellings in all of North America. The site is stunning, a multi-story apartment built into a towering cliff. This was one of our favorite sites in all of the national parks in Arizona.
Navajo National Monument
From NPS.gov: The Hopi, San Juan Southern Paiute, Zuni, and Navajo are tribes that have inhabited the canyons for centuries. Springs fed into farming land on the canyon floor and homes were built in the natural sandstone alcoves. The cliff dwellings of Betatakin, Keet Seel, and Inscription House were last physically occupied around 1300 AD but the villages have a spiritual presence that can still be felt today.
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
From NPS.gov: The sights and sounds of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, an International Biosphere Reserve, reveal a thriving community of plants and animals. Human stories echo throughout this desert preserve, chronicling thousands of years of desert living. A scenic drive, wilderness hike or a night of camping will expose you to a living desert that thrives.
Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified Forest National Park has long been a popular tourist destination in the United States, in part because Historic Route 66 goes right through the park. Visitors can hike through the formations of petrified trees, drive one of the park’s many scenic loops, or enjoy the vistas from Arizona’s famous Painted Desert.
Saguaro National Park
We absolutely loved our time in Saguaro National Park. Camping in the desert, hiking among some of the oldest and tallest saguaro cacti in the United States and getting to see our first roadrunner. Saguaro National Park preserves one of the most famous icons of the American West. It’s a unique destination and in our opinion, one of the most under-rated national parks in the NPS.
Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
Scientists estimate that around 1085 A.D. a large eruption happened in the area around what is now Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. Today, visitors can hike Mars-like trails of jagged lava rock and see the devastation the volcano left behind.
Tonto National monument
From NPS.gov: The Salado Phenomena, 700 years ago, blended ideas of neighboring Native American cultures to emerge a unique and vibrant society. Tonto National Monument showcases two Salado-style cliff dwellings. Colorful pottery, woven cotton cloth, and other artifacts tell a story of people living and using resources from the northern Sonoran Desert from 1250 to 1450 CE.
Tumacácori National Historical Park
From NPS.gov: Tumacácori sits at a cultural crossroads in the Santa Cruz River valley. Here O’odham, Yaqui, and Apache people met and mingled with European Jesuit and Franciscan missionaries, settlers, and soldiers, sometimes in conflict and sometimes in cooperation. Follow the timeworn paths and discover stories that connect us to enduring relationships, vibrant cultures, and traditions of long ago
Tuzigoot National Monument
Co-managed with nearby Montezuma Castle National Monument, Tuzigoot is another incredible national park unit in the middle of the Arizona desert. The site preserves a large pueblo built by the Sinagua people. Visitors can hike around the pueblo grounds, tour the museum, and take a ranger-led experience to learn more about why the Sinagua chose this location high on a hill overlooking the desert landscape below.
Walnut Canyon National Monument
Walnut Canyon National Monument is one of those locations you must take in yourself in order to truly understand it. From 600 to 1400 A.D. the Sinagua people built homes in the steep cliff walls of Walnut Canyon. More than 25 different dwellings remain, clinging to the hillside in the middle of the canyon. We loved the Island Trail here the most, with the incredible 360 degree views of the park.
Wupatki National Monument
Our final destination before reaching Grand Canyon National Park, Wupatki National Monument is located between the Painted Desert and the south rim of the canyon. The park features a large Ancient pueblo with multiple rooms and stunning vistas of the desert surrounding the park. Take in the park museum and then be sure to spend time on the trails–there’s some incredible hiking to be done here.