Arizona Natural

Three Native Parks highlights the diversity of the state’s beauty.


Cooper Lake

The largest canyon in America continues to bring in visitors year round.

Livia Lowe, science editor

All across the country there are pieces of land, called national parks, set aside for people to visit and see the natural beauty of the country. Arizona has three national parks in the state, those being Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest and Saguaro.
National parks weren’t always a thing. It wasn’t until 1906, when president Theodore Roosevelt created the United States Forest Service which protected 230 million acres of land.
Arizona’s most notorious national park is Grand Canyon national park which was established in 1919 under Roosevelts’ administration. The canyon, which features brightly colored layers of millions of years old rock that goes down for a little more than a mile, brings visitors from all over the globe to see one of the seven wonders of the world.
According to the U.S. National Park Service, the Grand Canyon is one of the most studied geological landscapes in the world as it offers three of the four eras of geological time, an extensive fossil record, and an array of geologic features and rock types, and numerous caves containing significant geological, paleontological, archeological and biological findings.
In total, the canyon is 277 miles long and 11 miles wide, though it is not close to being the biggest canyon in the world, it is the largest in the United States. The park is located about two hours north of Flagstaff in the state’s more barren parts by the native american reservation. It includes three entrances; two south entrances and one north entrance. The south entrances are open all year round while the north entrance is closed during winter.
The Petrified Forest is located just outside of Holbrook in the northeast corner of the state. The forest is known for its collection of colorful tree fossils that are older than 200 million years old, something that fascinates archeologists.
Located within the forest is the Painted desert, which is named after a Spanish explorer in the 16th century called the area El Desierto Pintado. What causes the colorful sediment is called the Chinle Formation. The Chinle Formation are river deposits that appear in different colors depending on how old the rocks are.
There are two visitor centers, the Painted Desert Visitor Center on the north and the Rainbow Forest Museum to the south. Though, there is plenty to see without having to stop at the visitor centers.
Saguaro National park in Tucson showcases the large saguaros that grew in the area. The park is separated into two areas, one section east of Tucson and the other west. The Park is not just desert and saguaros despite its name. Saguaro Park includes some of the Catalina mountains which at their peak have pine trees as well as other plants that contribute to the greenery.