10 Best Arizona National Parks

You want to visit the best Arizona national parks but don’t know where they are and the best time to visit them. I understand and that’s why I have prepared this article specifically for you. You see, Arizona is a state of natural wonders. It is the one place in America where you can see some of the most diverse and spectacular landscapes in America. From towering cacti to ancient ruins, from colorful canyons to volcanic craters, there is something for everyone to enjoy and explore in Arizona’s national parks.

In this article, I cover 10 of the best Arizona national parks that you should consider visiting to learn, recreate, and/or have fun. I provide some information on their location, operating hours, and top features.

Arizona National Parks

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List of 10 Best Arizona national parks

Below are the 10 foremost Arizona national parks

1. Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most famous and breathtaking natural wonders in the world not just in Arizona, USA. The Grand Canyon is a massive gorge carved by the Colorado River over millions of years, revealing layers of colorful rocks and unique formations. The park covers more than 1.2 million acres and offers spectacular views, hiking trails, rafting trips, wildlife watching, and cultural sites.

  • Location: Northern Arizona
  • Operating Hours: Open 24 hours a day year-round
  • Highlights: South Rim Visitor Center, Bright Angel Trail, Desert View Watchtower, North Rim Lodge, Havasu Falls

2. Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park comes second on this list of the best Arizona national parks. It is named after the largest cactus species in North America – the saguaro – which can grow up to 60 feet tall and live for more than 200 years. The park protects two distinct districts – Tucson Mountain District (west) and Rincon Mountain District (east) – that showcase different aspects of the Sonoran Desert ecosystem. The park offers scenic drives, hiking trails, biking routes, horseback riding opportunities, camping sites, and ranger programs.

  • Location: Southern Arizona
  • Operating Hours: Open 24 hours a day year-round
  • Highlights: Red Hills Visitor Center Cactus Forest Drive Signal Hill Petroglyphs Freeman Homestead Trail Mica View Picnic Area

3. Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park preserves one of the largest concentrations of petrified wood in the world – fossilized remains of ancient trees that turned into colorful quartz over time. The park also features stunning badlands landscapes with eroded hills and valleys that reveal layers of sedimentary rocks dating back to more than 200 million years ago. The park has a rich history and culture as well as archaeological sites from prehistoric Native Americans and historic Route 66 landmarks.

  • Location: Eastern Arizona
  • Operating Hours: Varies by season; check the Petrified Forest National Park website for details
  • Highlights: Painted Desert Visitor Center Rainbow Forest Museum Blue Mesa Loop Road Agate Bridge Crystal Forest Trail

4. Vermilion Cliffs National Monument

Vermilion Cliffs National Monument takes the #4 position on this list of best Arizona national parks. It is a prominent place in northern Arizona that has some of the most amazing rock formations and scenery in the state. The monument encompasses more than 280,000 acres of high desert terrain with towering cliffs. There are also red sandstones, arches, deep canyons, narrow slot canyons, hoodoo spires, balanced rocks, and wildlife habitats. The park can easily be navigated via hiking trails. It also allows for camping. Visitors can also go on a hunting expedition, fishing, boating, rafting, kayaking, and photography expeditions respectively at the park.

  • Location: Northern Arizona
  • Operating Hours: Open 24 hours a day year-round
  • Highlights: Paria Contact Station Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Coyote Buttes North (The Wave) Coyote Buttes South White Pocket

5. Walnut Canyon National Park

Walnut Canyon National Park is said to have been inhabited by prehistoric people known as Sinagua (AD 1100-1250) who lived and make carvings along cliff walls. To date, some of these artifacts still exist a remarkable one being a section of Walnut Creek carved through limestone cliffs which leave behind a deep canyon. This park and the monument(s) there give visitors a glimpse into the history, life, and culture of the Sinagua people. The monument also preserves diverse flora and fauna including ponderosa pine juniper and wildlife such as deer elk and eagles.

  • Location: Northern Arizona
  • Operating Hours: Open 9 am to 4:30 pm daily; closed on Thanksgiving Day, December 25th, and January 1st
  • Highlights: Walnut Canyon Visitor Center Island Trail Rim Trail

6. Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument is one of the best Arizona national parks for learning about the volcanic history of America. It preserves the site of a volcanic eruption that occurred around AD 1085 creating a cinder cone that rises more than 1,000 feet above the surrounding landscape. The eruption which produced a massive flow of lava and cone ash deposits greatly altered the ecology of the environment. The park allows visitors to learn about the geology and ecology history of this volcanic landscape through exhibits and trail ranger programs. Also, the park offers scenic views of nearby mountains forests meadows.

  • Location: Northern Arizona
  • Operating Hours: Open 9 am to 5 pm daily; closed on December 25th
  • Highlights: Sunset Crater Visitor Center Lava Flow Trail Lenox Crater Trail Bonito Vista Trail Cinder Hills Overlook

7. Canyon de Chelly National Park

Canyon de Chelly National Park has and protects a network of canyons that have been inhabited by various Native American cultures for more than 5,000 years. The monument at this park showcases the natural beauty and cultural heritage of this sacred place, with stunning sandstone cliffs, verdant valleys, ancient rock art, and historic homes. The monument is jointly managed by the National Park Service and the Navajo Nation, which still lives and farms in the canyons. Visitors can explore the park by driving along scenic overlooks or joining guided tours offered by the Navajo rangers or private operators.

  • Location: Northeastern Arizona
  • Operating Hours: Open 8 am to 5 pm daily; closed on Thanksgiving Day, December 25th, and January 1st
  • Highlights: Canyon de Chelly Visitor Center Spider Rock White House Ruin Antelope House Mummy Cave

8. Meteor Crater National Park

Meteor Crater National Monument is one of the best-preserved impact craters on Earth, measuring 0.7 miles in diameter and 560 feet in depth and surrounded by a rim that rises up to 150 feet above the ground. It has an interactive visitor center that thrills visitors to films, exhibitions, and simulations of geographic activities. Also, here are tour guides on hand to assist visitors to navigate the area. Observation decks and telescopes are also present at the park, as well as a gift shop, café, RV park, and special events such as star parties and astronaut appearances.

  • Location: Central Arizona
  • Operating Hours: Open 7 am to 7 pm daily; closed on December 25th
  • Highlights: Meteor Crater Visitor Center Guided Rim Tour Astronaut Memorial Park Big Hole Theater Discovery Center

10. Wupatki National Park

Wupatki National Park takes the #10 position among the best Arizona national parks. It has over 800 archaeological sites dating back to AD 500 and AD 1225. These archaeological sites include impressive stone masonry pueblos and scenic views of the Painted Desert and San Francisco Peaks. It also offers wildlife viewing and stargazing opportunities.

  • Location: Northern Arizona
  • Operating Hours: Open 9 am to 5 pm daily; closed on December 25th
  • Highlights: Wupatki Visitor Center Wupatki Pueblo Trail Lomaki Pueblo Trail Doney Mountain Trail Citadel Pueblo Trail

9. Montezuma Castle National Park

Montezuma Castle National Park has one of the best-preserved cliffs in North America built by the Sinagua people between AD 1100 and AD 1425. The park has a five-story structure with 20 rooms that was carved into a limestone cliff overlooking Beaver Creek The monument also includes Montezuma Well a natural spring-fed sinkhole that was used for irrigation and contains rare plants and animals. The monument offers visitors a chance to learn about the history culture and architecture of the ancient inhabitants through exhibit trails and ranger programs.

  • Location: Central Arizona
  • Operating Hours: Open 8 am to 5 pm daily; closed on December 25th
  • Highlights: Montezuma Castle Visitor Center Montezuma Castle Trail Montezuma Well Picnic Area


Arizona offers a mix of everything that a national park can offer: archaeological sites, monuments, springs, rare plants and animals, valleys, ancient rocks, wildlife habitats, etc. The Arizona national parks have mostly plants that thrive best in tropical temperatures like the cactus plant species. It is also renowned for volcanic activities. Like other parks, there are numerous sporting activities that visitors can engage in at this park namely hiking trails, rafting trips, and wildlife watching. So, if you’re looking for a place to enjoy the warm weather in America and be treated to the fascinating history and culture of Arizona, visit any of the best Arizona national parks so far discussed. You will be glad you did.

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