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Embrace Summertime Slow Travel in Arizona

Travel can mean jam-packed itineraries that can leave travelers needing a vacation after their vacation. With the goal of eliminating burnout and promoting self-care, rest and mindfulness, increasing numbers of travelers are embracing “slow” travel. Slow tourism emphasizes quality over quantity, and encourages travelers to take their time to explore local history and culture. Offering a wealth of remote and inspiring beauty, Arizona is a fantastic place for visitors to put their feet up and relax.

“Between the canyons and cacti of the Sonoran Desert, Arizona is known worldwide as a place that inspires a deep connection to nature and wellness,” says Lisa Urias, CEO of the Arizona Office of Tourism. “From camping under the stars to luxurious spa experiences, our state offers a wide range of opportunities to reinvigorate your senses.”

If you’re looking for the right balance between rest and exploration, consider the following waterside escapes to slow down and take in Arizona’s inspiring beauty.

Relax at River Island State Park

Near: Parker

Along the shores of the mighty Colorado River lies River Island State Park, a year-round west-central Arizona destination for those looking for slow travel and seclusion. Unplug and relax at the sandy beach in a cove away from the boat traffic on the river. Year-round, visitors come here to fish, watch the river flow by and explore the rugged desert surroundings by foot or recreational vehicle. Camping here is a must: You will be rewarded with riverfront and distant mountain views. Visitors can also head to the nearby community of Parker for creature comforts.

Connect to yourself and nature on the Wedge Hill Trail, an easy half-mile overlook trail that leads to a shared trail system with neighboring state parks. Dig in for a longer hike that connects to Buckskin Mountain State Park a mile downriver via an abandoned mines trail. Be on the lookout for a surprising array of wildlife that thrives in this arid environment. Bighorn sheep, desert mule deer, coyotes and water birds are common sightings near the ribbon of water that brings this area to life. For more information, visit www.visitarizona.com.

Salt River

Float the Salt River

Near: Mesa

Nothing says slow travel like tubing down a river. Enjoy beautiful scenery, cool waters and let the current lead you down Arizona’s iconic Salt River. The most-floated segment of the river is located about 40 minutes from Downtown Phoenix. A day tubing the Lower Salt River is easily one of the most popular summer activities in the Greater Phoenix area.

And cruising the cool water isn’t the only attraction. The Salt River Canyon scenery is beautiful, with towering saguaro cacti, lush greenery and the occasional glimpse of wildlife, including wild horses. Because the horses are looking to avoid the summer heat and cool off as much as people, they are most often seen within two to three hours of sunrise and sunset, when the weather is cooler. If you go out for an early morning kayak or float, you’ll most likely spot a few along the way. Just remember, these horses are wild animals. Be respectful of their space, don’t feed them and if you’ve brought your dog along, make sure it’s leashed and doesn’t approach the horses. For more information, visit www.saltrivertubing.com.

Roper Lake State Park

Recharge at Roper Lake State Park

Near: Safford

The views are always inspiring at southeastern Arizona’s Roper Lake, which offers an opportunity to slow down and recharge in comfort at an air-conditioned cabin rental or by camping on the shores of a beautiful lake. Mount Graham towers over the state park, which offers a popular fishing and outdoor recreation area just south of Safford. The park features a sandy beach for visitors to enjoy the sun and take a dip in the lake.

This park is also home to a large variety of bird species, offers great seasonal fishing and is within close proximity to one of Arizona’s most beautiful “Sky Island” ranges, the Pinaleño Mountains. Wake up to the fog lifting slowly from the lake, walk outside and cast a line. Boats with small, non-gas motors are allowed, but most of the water action here is people powered. Visitors can float canoes, kayaks and rafts through the dramatic canyon setting of Gila Box Riparian National Conservation Area. For more information, visit www.visitarizona.com.

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