Everything You Need to Know About National Public Lands Day in Arizona

The first days of fall signify hiking season in Arizona and a much-needed break from scorching temperatures. This weekend may be the best time to get outdoors, because Arizona is celebrating National Public Lands Day.

Held on the last Saturday of each September, National Public Lands Day is dedicated to preserving our gorgeous, diverse lands. Since 1994, nature enthusiasts have been honoring the Arizona outdoors by volunteering their time to enhance and improve public lands not only in the Copper State, but across the country.

Here in Arizona we have no shortage of parks, monuments, and recreational areas (and let’s be real, a few of those spaces could use some improving). More than 5 million people visit the Grand Canyon each year. That’s a lot of foot traffic and trash left behind. So, why not spend your Saturday outside, making our parks a bit better?

There are many ways you can get outside and participate in National Public Lands Day:

  • Beginning at 8am, volunteers in Prescott National Forest’s Granite Lake Basin will be removing old fencing and improving the Mint Wash Trail.
  • Trash pickup crews will clean up shooting debris at multiple locations, from Doce Pit Mine Rd in Yavapai County until noon.
  • Kaibab National Forest will host an event at Cataract Lake in Williams where attendees can learn about the environment, go fishing, and partake in cleanup efforts from 8am until 2pm.
  • At Lake Powell and Glen Canyon, volunteer workers will remove graffiti on the Sand King. T-shirts, tools, and hats will all be provided. All that work is sure to make you hungry, and there will be a barbecue afterwards.
  • Shoreline cleanups will be taking place at Lake Pleasant beginning at 7am. Kayakers will also be removing debris on the islands, while divers will be removing trash underwater.

Volunteers in kayaks and canoes will clean up the area between Castle Rock and Mesquite Bay Central on Havasu National Wildlife Refuge.

If you just want to get outside and enjoy free admission to parks, that’s cool too. Just remember to pack out what you pack in. Nobody wants to pick up your empty beer cans. Let’s keep our beautiful places beautiful.

The following parks will waive their fees this weekend:

  • Canyon De Chelly, Chinle
  • Casa Grande Ruins, Coolidge
  • Chiricahua, Willcox
  • Coconino National Forest
  • Coronado, Hereford
  • Fort Bowie, Willcox
  • Glen Canyon
  • Grand Canyon
  • Hohokam Pima, Coolidge
  • Hubbell Trading Post, Ganado
  • Juan Bautista de Anza, Nogales
  • Kaibab National Forest
  • Lake Mead
  • Montezuma Castle, Camp Verde
  • Navajo National Monument, Black Mesa
  • Old Spanish Historic Trail
  • Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument
  • Parashant National Monument
  • Petrified Forest National Park
  • Pipe Spring National Monument, Fredonia
  • Saguaro National Park, Tucson
  • Sunset Crater Volcano, Flagstaff
  • Tonto National Monument, Roosevelt
  • Tumacácori Historical Park
  • Tuzigoot National Monument, Clarkdale
  • Walnut Canyon, Flagstaff
  • Wupatki National Monument, Flagstaff

Can’t make it to one of the parks? Lace up your walking boots and hit one of these beautiful Phoenix-area hiking trails instead. They’re free, too.

For more information about volunteer opportunities happening during National Public Lands Day in Arizona, check out the NEEF website.

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Lauren Topor is a multimedia journalist who writes about food, culture, and people who are way cooler than her.