By Rachael Vargas
This summer, don’t let the Arizona heat deter you from soaking in the scenic outdoors. Go outside, be active, and enjoy the fresh air with your family and friends in the higher desert altitudes and cooler temperatures with the help of our savvy picnicking list. So pack up your insulated cooler, slather on some natural sunscreen, and say yes to one of these dynamic destinations for your next family outing.
Beaver Creek, Rimrock
First on the list is the Beaver Creek day-use picnic site in Rimrock. Visitors can opt for small no-fee sites or large sites with a minimal fee. Located off Interstate 17, the site offers all the basics: picnic tables, restrooms, filtered drinking water and plenty of parking. This site is a bird lover’s haven, so don’t forget to pack your binoculars.
For a full day, the cost is $10.00 per vehicle.
Grasshopper Point, Sedona
Next on our list is Grasshopper Point swimming and picnic area. Located in Sedona amongst the red rocks, it is one of our favorite picks due to its renowned swimming hole — a perfectly shaded retreat to indulge in after a tasty snack of wine and cheese. The site also provides hiking and fishing for picnickers and visitors. There is an $8.00 fee per vehicle. We recommend that you bring plenty of reusable water bottles or thermoses due to the lack of on-site drinking water. Please also keep in mind that the facility only accepts cash or checks.
White Bridge, Camp Verde
We love White Bridge picnic site due to its ease of access to the Verde River. As a visitor, partake in non-motorized boating, fishing and swimming. Located on the corner of Arizona State Route 260, this lake-like destination is fully equipped with outdoor grilling, so you can pull together a more elaborate menu. Like Grasshopper Point, don’t forget to pack your thermos with ice water.
Antelope Canyon, Navajo Nation
The breathtaking Antelope Canyon is certainly one of the more scenic locations on our list. It is made up of two separate canyons: the upper and lower canyon. We advise that if you are going strictly to picnic, opt for upper Antelope Canyon as lower Antelope Canyon is harder to navigate due to its narrow walls, stairs and ladders. There are no picnic tables, bathrooms or drinking water, so make sure to pack accordingly, but the views are undeniably worth it. Also, don’t forget to pack plenty of trash bags as everything you bring with you should leave with you.
Canyon de Chelly, Chinle
Canyon de Chelly is the final destination on our list. There is no need to look elsewhere if you want to plan a picnic safe from the blazing summer sun. This site is filled with cottonwood trees that offer a shady protection during your relaxing hike. With no picnic tables available, be sure to bring a blanket to rest on the ground. We love this spot not only for its shade but also because of its cost-free entry. Located off Highway 191, Canyon de Chelly offers hiking and Jeep tours as an ideal post-lunch, afternoon activity.
Whether you’re looking for shade, accessibility, outdoor activities or an unmatched view, mark your calendars and indulge in one of these eco-friendly picnic spots this summer. Savor this chance to try new recipes, make memories with friends and family, and explore Arizona while being good to the environment.
Green Picnic Tips
- Bring cloth napkins for the messy eaters in your family.
- Pack your favorite picnic snacks in reusable containers made from stainless steel or glass to avoid environmentally unfriendly to-go containers. The goal is to eliminate as much waste as possible.
- Bring bags to pick up garbage and recyclables along the way.
- Visit a local grocery store and pick up a bottle of your favorite sustainable wine, or local craft beer to support local businesses. Sip your wine in a stainless steel wine glass.
- Make a cheese board of your favorite local and organic meats and cheeses! Freshen up your board with things like grapes, fig jam and roasted nuts.
- Enjoy your picnic on a chic, yet green, recycled or organic linen.
Originally from Portland, OR, Rachael Vargas is a senior studying journalism at the University of Arizona and a member of Sigma Kappa Sorority. She enjoys trying new restaurants and loves music.
Find more health & wellness articles at greenlivingaz.com/health.