You Won't Run Into Crowds At This Underrated And Stunning State Park In The Southwest

Arizona is a vacation destination that gives travelers many reasons to explore year-round. Known and loved for its desert climate with plenty of heat to match, it's a place where sun-seekers will be satisfied no matter what time of year they arrive. Whether it's the eye-catching red rocks of Sedona you're after or the luxury resorts, rich Southwest culture, and incredible golf courses in Phoenix that inspire, Arizona never fails to impress.

When you visit, you'll often find you're in good company. According to AZ Central, the state's Office of Tourism reported nearly 41 million visitors in 2021. More than 19 million people visited Phoenix in 2022, according to Visit Phoenix. So, what can you do if you're looking to explore without the crowds to contend with?

That's where scenic Arizona state parks come into the picture. When searching for a local destination to enjoy that's rich in history, off-the-beaten-path, and refreshingly quiet, you'll find it at Homolovi State Park. It's one of 33 state parks managed by Arizona State Parks and Trails that should definitely be on your radar the next time you're heading toward the Southwest portion of the country. It's a guaranteed tranquil retreat from city living in Winslow, Arizona. The name is derived from the Hopi word for "place of the little hills." Upon arrival, you'll find the description is accurate, as Homolovi State Park is a combination of flat plains and small hills dotted with ancient and inspiring archaeological sites.

An impressive testament to history and time

It's easy to disconnect from the stresses of life when you choose to spend time at Homolovi State Park. On a typical day, you're more likely to see wild burros running around than any group of people. This means plenty of tranquility and time to explore the park's rich history, which dates back as far as the year 1200.

A variety of native tribes are believed to have called the area, which is now Homolovi State Park, their home between 1260 and 1400. In their wake, they left stunning structures and sites ranging from living quarters and marketplaces to plazas and ceremonial chambers. The walls and stones of ancient ruins across the park are adorned with fascinating petroglyphs that tell a unique story of time for those who take a moment to explore carefully.

While upward of 300 archeological sites have been identified across Homolovi State Park, two, known as Homolovi I and Homolovi II, can be explored freely by the public. The remaining destinations are being researched by archeologists focusing on Hopi migration eras. Homolovi II is the larger archeological site open to visitors and hosts a collection of walkways for convenient access. There are also several informative signs along the way to provide further insight into what the ruins and remaining rooms might have originally been used for.

Other routes to enjoy the park

Once you've explored the archeological sites, feel free to take your adventure further on the many hiking trails found within the park's scenic parameters. There's a 1.2-mile trail known as Nasungvö that runs from the park's Visitor Center out across the prairie grasslands. The trail's name translates from Hopi to mean "place of rest," and it's a great option for enjoying the views of the park at a leisurely pace. If you're interested in pairing your hike with stops to admire petroglyphs, the Tsu'vö "Path of the Rattlesnake" Trail is a must. This is a half-mile loop that connects buttes and showcases an ancient milling stone area where petroglyphs are abundant.

If your visit to Homolovi State Park Keeps you on-site past sunset, you'll be right on time to take advantage of the stargazing parties that are hosted here monthly between April and November. These kick-off at 6 p.m. on select nights and are hosted at the Visitor Center Museum and Observatory. There's no cost to attend, and participants will enjoy time listening to a guest speaker before viewing the night sky through a high-powered telescope alongside professional guides.

For those looking to spend multiple days at Homolovi State Park, there's a campground open year-round to tent campers and RV road trip enthusiasts alike. Reservations can be made online, and entrance fees are $7 per vehicle. Many sites have full electrical hookups, and pull-through sites can accommodate RVs up to 83 feet.