Tag Archives: Arizona State Parks

Extreme Sport, Arizona Adventures

Arizona State Parks hires new operations chief

Arizona State Parks officials have announced the hiring of a new chief of operations.

Jay Ream, deputy director of parks and development, says Kelly Moffitt will start in his new position on Aug. 16.

Moffitt previously served as the state parks Region II manager.

He will now oversee the agency’s operations division, including 30 state parks and the gift shop program.

Moffitt says he is honored to have been selected for the post and looks forward to an exciting future.

Moffitt will replace the current chief of operations, Rick Knotts, who is retiring.

Democratic Process And AZ Parks

Democratic Process, Both Frustrating And Rewarding

Talk about good news/bad news and all in a single day – that’s the democratic process in action for better or worse!

As an advocate for Arizona State Parks, I was disappointed that Gov. Brewer vetoed House Bill 2362 introduced by Rep. Karen Fann. Her bill would have protected earned income by state parks, such as entrance fees and other user charges, from further legislative budget sweeps.

I’m a registered lobbyist for Arizona Forward, a statewide business-based environmental coalition, but don’t often spend the day at our state capitol.  Mostly I advocate through education and outreach. But earlier this year, I participated in State Parks Advocacy Day at the capitol and co-hosted a press conference on the lawn with the Arizona State Parks Foundation. One of many parks stakeholders, I visited legislators in their office to communicate support for HB 2362. My own legislator, Rep. John Cavanaugh, told me he would not support the measure because the revenues would not be appropriated.

That’s why when the bill soared through the House and the Senate with bipartisan support and only a few opposing it, we were especially elated and felt like we made a difference. But then… our governor vetoed the bill.  That was definitely disheartening.

At the same, however, I learned the governor also vetoed HB 2757, which would have allowed for electronic billboards, a measure that violated the state’s ban on intermittent light, ruining the dark skies that have made Arizona a prime site for astronomical research.  That was good veto for the environment.

There’s democracy for you – it’s no doubt sometimes frustrating. After spending weeks getting park advocates, business owners and involved citizens to meet with their senators and representatives, it was erased with a single veto signature.  Admittedly, this bill definitely wasn’t the answer to state parks funding problems but it was a small step in the right direction.

On a positive note, many conservationists are already working on potential long-term solutions to fund parks and open space throughout Arizona. Plus, Rep. Fann is working on resurrecting her bill with a narrower focus to get passed in this session. Even though the governor has indicated she will support this revised version and agrees that parks create value in our community, anything can happen. Stay tuned and keep your fingers crossed.

Or better yet, speak out and voice your support for parks. If you would like to lend your voice to advocating for Arizona’s natural assets – the beautiful parks and open space that draws so many to the Grand Canyon State – please visit arizonaforward.org.

Kartchner Caverns

Have An Underground Adventure At Kartchner Caverns

Arizona is home to many unique natural landmarks, including the Kartchner Caverns. Discovered in 1974, the Kartchner Caverns are carved out of limestone and contain 50,000-year-old cave formations.

The park offers two different cave tours that will take you underground, giving you a first-hand view of the caverns’ fascinating minerals and formations, making Kartchner Caverns a must-see for anyone interested in exploration.

The Rotunda/Throne tour:

Kartchner Caverns Map

  • Open since 1999
  • Half a mile long
  • Takes an hour and a half to complete
  • Available year-round, except September 17-22

The tour explains the role water has had in the creation of the caverns. Also featured in this tour is the original trail of the first discoverers of the cave.

The Big Room tour:

  • Opened in 2003
  • Half a mile long
  • Takes nearly two hours to complete
  • Available from mid-October to mid-April

The Big Room tour will teach you about the cave fauna, the strange formations and new scientific research findings on the caverns.

The Discovery Center

Other features of Kartchner Caverns State Park include the Discovery Center, which includes the park’s museum exhibits, gift shop, regional displays and information about the caverns and the surrounding landscape. Kartchner Caverns State Park also has campgrounds, hiking trails, lockers, shaded picnic areas, a deli, an amphitheater and a hummingbird garden.

Interesting facts about the Kartchner Caverns:

  • Kartchner Caverns is home to one of the world’s longest soda straw stalactites at 21 feet 3 inches (Throne Room).
  • The tallest and most massive column in Arizona is Kubla Khan at 58 feet tall (Throne Room).
  • The world’s most extensive formation of brushite moonmilk resides at Kartchner Caverns (Big Room).
  • The first occurrence of “turnip” shields (Big Room) was reported here.
  • The first cave occurrence of “birds nest” needle quartz formations.
  • Many other unusual formations such as shields, totems, helictites and rimstone dams appear in the caverns.

For more information about Kartchner Caverns and other state parks visit, azstateparks.com.

Photo: Puggles, Flickr

Riordan Mansion State Historic Park

Located in Flagstaff lies the impressive Riordan Mansion State Historic Park, which was once home to two of the community’s most prominent businessmen while Arizona was still considered a territory.

The mansion was built to house two Riordan families and was made in 1904, when the town of Flagstaff was just starting to blossom.

Riordan Mansion is composed of 40 rooms with over 13,000 square feet of living area, including servant’s quarters. The beautiful arts-and-crafts style architecture features volcanic stone arches, hand-split wooden shingles and a rustic exterior of log-slab siding.

The house was designed by Charles Whittlesey, the creator of Grand Canyon’s El Tovar Hotel.

Timothy and Michael Riordan were part of Flagstaff’s leading pioneer businessmen and successfully developed Arizona Lumber and Timber Company, a logging business.

The two brothers married the Metz sisters, Caroline and Elizabeth, who were cousins of the Babbitt brothers, another influential Flagstaff family. The two families decided to build a house that they could share together. The Riordan Mansion resulted, comprised of two separate homes connected by one large common area that joined them together.

The second generation of the Riordan family decided to donate the mansion to Arizona State Parks, and today it is used as a way to educate people about early Flagstaff, how the Riordan family helped shape the community of the town, and show the architecture and style of that time period.

For more information on the Riordan Mansion State Historic Park, visit www.azstateparks.com.

Homolovi State Park, Photo: Teofilo, Flickr

Homolovi State Park

Located a mile north of Winslow lies Homolovi State Park, “Ancestral Hopi Villages.” The park preserves over 300 archeological pueblo sites, mainly built by the ancestors of the Hopi tribe. Located along the banks of the Little Colorado River, the villages housed these ancestors from approximately 1260 to 1400 A.D.

Originally opened as a state park in 1986, Homolovi offers a variety of historical exhibits, activities such as bird watching and hiking, and campgrounds open year round. The historical exhibits display original artifacts from the villages, and they offer an introduction to human history of the park.

The park now acts as the research center for the late migration period of the Hopi people, but the area is still available to visitors. Complete with hiking trails, covered picnic tables and the campground, the 4,000 acres of park provides much space for observing the natural wildlife.

Homolovi, the Hopi word meaning “place of little hills,” combines culture and history with natural adventure, attracting visitors from all over the state. Its visitor center is well-equipped with additional information about the pueblo ruins, along with Hopi artwork for customer purchase.

Only a three-hour drive from Phoenix, the park is a great place for day and weekend trips throughout the year. For driving directions from any city in the U.S, visit the Driving Directions to Homolovi webpage.

Whether you’re looking for a history lesson or just a beautiful hike, Homolovi State Park won’t disappoint.