If you are looking for a way to explore your state, State Parks are a great place to start. They often preserve historically significant sites. They offer a way to see your state and learn it’s history!
In Arizona, there are currently 31 state parks spread throughout. But when did we decide we needed to save these places for future generations? It all started 63 years ago. In 1957 the Governor appointed seven (7) members to a state park board.
As far as I could find in my research, Tubac was the first official state park.
On December 12, 1957, Frank and Olga Griffin donated three (3) lots to the Parks board through their Tubac Restoration Foundation. The donated land became a park, with a museum, ruins, and the first Arizona printing press became an official park on September 28, 1958.
Tombstone Courthouse was the second official state park and opened in 1959. The Courthouse was built in 1882 for $50,000. It has been preserved as a museum and has a replica of the gallows where seven (7) men were hung. The building is shaped like a cross.
Jerome’s Douglas Mansion was placed on the board’s 10-year plan, which in research makes it look like the first, but it didn’t open until October 16, 1965. Jerom is a very scenic part of the state and historically significant, and the Doulas Mansion was chosen as the ideal site for a visitor center and museum. When it opened, admission was 25 cents for each adult.
The most recent park was added in 2016 to honor the Granite Mountain Hot Shots, who lost their lives during a 2013 wildfire. The memorial is at the site where they lost their lives. There’s a 3.5-mile hike to get to the monument. Spots along the walk are marked with plaques honoring each of the men.
State Parks aren’t without drama.
Due to budget cuts in 2009 and 2010, several state parks were closed. It looks like all parks have since opened back up. And most recently, the Governor fired the Parks director in late 2018 for mistreatment of employees and cultural sites. Archeologists should not be damaging cultural sites; they should be preserving them. Or leaving them alone because its not their culture.
Which Arizona State Parks have you visited? Which ones do you hope to visit?