Getting Back to Nature in Arizona


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As a culture we rely more than ever on electronics to make our lives easier, although the opposite is typically true.

By spending time “unplugged” and getting back to nature, your mind—and eyes—will be more open to the world around you.

Lost Dutchman State Park is located in the Sonoran Desert in central Arizona at the base of the Superstition Mountains. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Lost Dutchman State Park is located in the Sonoran Desert in central Arizona at the base of the Superstition Mountains. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Fortunately, Arizona State Parks and Trails has numerous campgrounds for you to take extended forays from the grinds of everyday life while leaving behind the chain of electronics.

Camping will enlighten your awareness, has been proven to reduce stress, and will generally place an aura of ease around you.

Winter camping possibilities abound in the lower elevation parks.

Lost Dutchman State Park 

Named after the fabled lost gold mine, Lost Dutchman State Park is located in the Sonoran Desert, a few miles east of Apache Junction. Several trails lead from the park into the Superstition Wilderness and surrounding Tonto National Forest.

Depending on the year’s rainfall, you might be treated to a carpet of desert wildflowers in the spring. Enjoy a weekend of camping and experience native wildlife including mule deer, coyote, javelina, and jackrabbit. A four mile mountain bike loop trail has opened at the park.

The campground at Picacho Peak State Park has 85 back-in and pull-through sites including electric and non-electric sites. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The campground at Picacho Peak State Park has 85 back-in and pull-through sites including electric and non-electric sites. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Picacho Peak State Park

Visitors traveling along I-10 in southern Arizona can’t miss the prominent 1,500-foot peak of Picacho Peak State Park. Enjoy the view as you hike the trails that wind up the peak and, often in the spring, overlook a sea of wildflowers.

The park and surrounding area are known for its unique geological significance, outstanding and varied desert growth, and historical importance. The unique shape has been used as a landmark by travelers since prehistoric times. One of the first recordings was in the 1700s by the Anza Expedition as it passed through the area.

Catalina State Park protects a choice section of desert on the western base of the Santa Catalinas. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Catalina State Park protects a choice section of desert on the western base of the Santa Catalinas. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Catalina State Park

Catalina State Park sits at the base of the majestic Santa Catalina Mountains. The park is a haven for desert plants and wildlife and nearly 5,000 saguaros. The 5,500 acres of foothills, canyons, and streams invites camping, picnicking, and bird watching—more than 150 species of birds call the park home.

The park provides miles of equestrian, birding, hiking, and biking trails which wind through the park and into the Coronado National Forest at elevations near 3,000 feet. The park is located in the Tucson metropolitan area at Oro Valley.

Alamo Lake State Park offers outdoor fun, premier bass fishing, rest and relaxation. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Alamo Lake State Park offers outdoor fun, premier bass fishing, rest and relaxation. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Alamo Lake State Park 

Crystal clear Alamo Lake is surrounded by mountainous terrain speckled with brush, wildflowers, and cacti making for a visually pleasing experience. The park has good wildlife viewing opportunities, and you may spot a bald or golden eagle.

Nestled in the Bill Williams River Valley away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, Alamo Lake State Park offers outdoor fun, premier bass fishing, rest, and relaxation. For nature lovers, spring rains bring an abundance of wild flowers and the lake environment attracts a variety of wildlife year round, including waterfowl, foxes, coyotes, mule deer, and wild burros.

Continuing south on Arizona Highway 82 is Patagonia Lake State Park, a small paradise for wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts. © Rex Vogel, all rights

Continuing south on Arizona Highway 82 is Patagonia Lake State Park, a small paradise for wildlife and outdoor enthusiasts. © Rex Vogel, all rights

Patagonia Lake State Park

Tucked away in the rolling hills of southeastern Arizona is a hidden treasure. Patagonia Lake State Park is an ideal place to find whitetail deer roaming the hills and great blue herons walking the shoreline. The park offers a campground, beach, picnic area with ramadas, tables and grills, a creek trail, boat ramps, and a marina.

The campground overlooks the lake where anglers catch crappie, bass, bluegill, catfish, and trout. The park is popular for water skiing, fishing, camping, picnicking, and hiking.

Hikers can stroll along the creek trail and see birds such as the canyon towhee, Inca dove, vermilion flycatcher, black vulture, and several species of hummingbirds.

Need a break? Spend a few days or longer at an Arizona state parks and recharge.

Worth Pondering…

The vast emptiness and overpowering silence of the desert and surrounding mountains sharpens your senses, enhancing self-contemplation, and stimulating creativity.

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