Arizona National Parks – Episode 700

categories: USA Travel

Arizona National Parks (Podcast)

Hear about travel to Arizona’s National Parks as the Amateur Traveler talks to Gary Arndt from about the many and varied parks in the Grand Canyon State.

You may think that the Grand Canyon is the only national park in Arizona but Gary says, “actually Arizona has 22 national park sites which places it second for most national parks only behind California. There is a great deal of diversity. These aren’t just natural sites although it has some of those. There’s a great deal of history that goes back to the ancient people who lived in this area before Europeans showed up as well as westward expansion and a host of other things. You are also going to see some landscapes that you really are not going to see anywhere else. There are other deserts in the United States but the Sonoran Desert that you are going to see here is really unique and has some things that you are really not going to find in California, Nevada or even Utah.”

Gary starts us with one of the most frustrating of all the national parks, Hohokam Pima National Monument,  which is one that you cannot visit and if you could, there would be nothing to see. But we Arizona makes up for that with sites like the Grand Canyon and Horseshoe Bend that are much more Instagramable. 

We talk about Native American sites including Canyon De Chelly,  Walnut Canyon, Montezuma Castle, Wupatki, Navajo, Tonto, Tuzigoot and Chiricahua National Monuments. These sites look at the history going back to the Navajo, Apache and further back to the Sinagua and Hohokum cultures and even further back to the Ancient Pueblo Peoples (Anasazi).

Some sites cover the history of European exploration and colonization including Coronado National Memorial and Tumacacori National Historical Park. 

Other sites cover the history of the westward expansion of the United States including Pipe Spring National Monument, Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site and Fort Bowie National Historic Site.

Arizona has two different sites dedicated to a kind of cactus with Saguaro National Park and Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument and one dedicated to a much older forest with Petrified Forest National Park.

Grand Canyon is not the only park on the Colorado River. Arizona also has part of Glen Canyon and Lake Mead National Recreation Areas. Glen Canyon has become better known in recent years because of the popularity of Horseshoe Bend.

The Grand Canyon is spectacular but Gary thought Chiricahua National Monument just might be the prettiest spot of all the parks in Arizona.

We also talk about the Navajo National Parks of Antelope Canyon and of Monument Valley which is just over the border to Utah. 

Whether you love history or beauty, Arizona probably has a national park for you. 

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Show Notes
National Parks in Arizona
Travel to Northern Arizona – Amateur Traveler Episode 562
Travel to Phoenix, Arizona – Episode 647
Travel to Tucson, Arizona – Episode 596
Rafting Down the Grand Canyon – Episode 223
Grand Canyon Sky Walk
Canyon De Chelly National Monument
Rainbow Bridge National Monument
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
Mission San Xavier del Bac
Francisco Vázquez de Coronado
Sainte Geneviève NHS
Montezuma Castle National Monument
Tuzigoot National Monument
Meteor Crater
Antelope Canyon
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument
Grand Canyon–Parashant National Monument

Arizona National Parks (Podcast) | Grand Canyon and the other national parks in Arizona: native American sites, old west history, Spanish explorers, a volcanic crater and more #cactus #photography #arizona #national-park #phoenix #flagstaff #tuscon


Thanks to new Patron Chris:

Hello fellow Chris, thanks is due to you for keeping up such a brilliant podcast! I just listened to the Mt. Kilimanjaro episode today it’s brilliant!

I’ve just started my own podcast too on more adventure travel aspects (so I’d probably do an episode on the Everest episode that you wouldn’t do – that kind of angle). In part inspired by you and your fantastic interview technique.

Please keep the content, I must have listened to 100’s episodes and so far have gone back as far as the high 100’s episode number and I still listen (mostly) weekly 🙂

Thanks to new Patron Cynthia:

Chris! Thank you so much for what you do and all the episodes you have released. Your show is the reason my fiancé and I went to Uzbekistan which was life changing! I am so inspired each time I listen, and especially now that I’m quarantined in NYC, each episode offers a respite and chance to daydream. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your generosity sharing so much information over the years!! Keep it up!

Justin on Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro – Episode 699

This brought back fond memories, thanks for sharing. We agree, do the hike before the safari. We did the Lemosho route from the west and summited the Western Breach, so a little bit different experience. We also did early September, which matched well with seeing the great migration. If interested, we kept a log with photos and videos:


Amateur Traveler trip in September 2020 to Turkey
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Amateur Traveler trip to Turkey in September 2020

Arizona National Parks (Podcast) | Grand Canyon and the other national parks in Arizona: native American sites, old west history, Spanish explorers, a volcanic crater and more #cactus #photography #arizona #national-park #phoenix #flagstaff #tuscon  Arizona National Parks (Podcast) | Grand Canyon and the other national parks in Arizona: native American sites, old west history, Spanish explorers, a volcanic crater and more #cactus #photography #arizona #national-park #phoenix #flagstaff #tuscon

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Chris Christensen

by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast. He has been a travel creator since 2005 and has won awards including being named the "Best Independent Travel Journalist" by Travel+Leisure Magazine.

7 Responses to “Arizona National Parks – Episode 700”

Dave Katz


As one who lives in Arizona I loved your podcast about our national parks. I did, however, have to cringe every time you or your guest pronounced saguaro . The G is silent so it’s SA WARO, not cigaro!
Keep doing what you do and let’s hope we can all travel again soon.

Chris Christensen


I did wonder about that but forgot to pause and look it up.

Jon Strong


I love the Amateur Traveler and have been listening for over 10 years. As an environmentalist I avoid flying, so get my long-distance travel buzz from your podcast (and other ones which are, obviously, not as good as yours). I particularly like the focus on one particular place, Chris’s dry sense of humour and the reassuringly familiar format. I also love it when Gary Arndt is the guest because he, like Chris, enjoys the factual and historical details and I always learn something interesting. This Arizona episode is perfect.Keep up the good work!

Jon Strong


btw I’m not an insomniac, I’m in the UK

Chris Christensen


Thanks for the encouraging words Jon. Glad you are getting some value from the show.



I love your podcast. Also wondering how two guys who love national parks so much, and one of which is geologist and inclined to learn about the natural world, could both get wrong the pronunciation of this very famous cactus. Kinda cringey and a bit like nails on a chalkboard. 🙂

But, please keep up these national park episodes. I suspect that these rugged, rural, camping-friendly places might be our earliest opportunities for travel as lockdowns are lifted. How about following with New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado to complete the four corners?

Chris Christensen


Yes, you are right, we do need to study up on the pronunciation of saguaro.

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