Arizona State Parks Foundation (ASPF) is the statewide 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting, enhancing, and advocating for Arizona’s State Parks & Trails.  ASPF is committed to ensuring state parks and trail users affordable access to the finest possible experience while visiting Arizona’s natural, cultural and recreational resources.

Arizona State Parks Foundation stands as the partner to assist Arizona State Parks & Trails in fulfilling its mission through education, community participation and financial support.

Arizona State Parks & Trails received five awards at the Arizona Park and Recreation Association annual conference this summer. The awards recognize Arizona State Parks Board chair Dale Larsen and vice-chair John Sefton, freelance writer Roger Naylor, Cavco Industries, and the Off-Highway Vehicle Ambassadors.

The awards honor communities and partners throughout the State of Arizona that demonstrate excellence in long-range planning, resource management and innovative approaches to delivering superb park and recreation services with fiscally sound business practices. 

“We are happy to recognize these individuals and organizations that have done so much to support parks and trails,” said Executive Director Sue Black. “The work these important partners have contributed directly impacts the ability for all residents to continue to have these amazing Arizona spaces to enjoy and preserve.”

Citation of Merit Award – Dale Larsen (current chairman, Arizona State Parks Board) Dale Larsen has built an impressive career in parks and recreation spanning four decades. Larsen’s commitment to the profession includes serving as long-time Parks and Recreation Director for the City of Phoenix and as a professor and director of Community Relations for the College of Public Service and Community Solutions at ASU. A member of NRPA since 1972 and APRA since 1984, Larsen currently serves as a fellow of the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration and the Chair of the Arizona State Parks Board. Larsen has steadfastly promoted of professional management of park and recreation agencies and programs.

Outstanding Professional Award – John Sefton (current vice-chair, Arizona State Parks Board) John Sefton has more than 30 years of experience in the field of parks and recreation. Sefton served as the president of APRA in 2017 and is currently the director of Community Services for the City of Peoria. Sefton diligently strives to deliver the quality of life for Peoria to which the citizens and City Council aspire. Prior to joining Peoria, John served the cities of Tucson; Prescott Valley; Chandler; Casa Grande; and Henderson, Nevada in various parks and recreation positions. Sefton has successfully adapted a multidisciplinary management approach with parks and recreation. He is a powerful spokesman for parks, recreation, and cultural services.

Media Award – Roger Naylor (freelance travel writer, The Arizona Republic) Roger Naylor is Arizona’s premier media advocate for parks, recreation and leisure activities. Naylor has been a travel writer for the Arizona Republic newspaper for the past 11 years. He has also written for Arizona HighwaysUSA TodayGo EscapeBudget TravelWestern Art & ArchitectureRoute 66 Magazine,ElanSun Runner and many more. For the past several years, he has made a commitment to hike more than 1,000 miles each year, and he has written articles about the best hiking trails in the state and some of the trails that may not be as recognized. Naylor’s writing tells the story of the adventures you can have and the sights you can see in and around Arizona’s parks, trails and recreation areas. Specifically, Naylor has focused many of his stories, and his next book, on Arizona State Parks and Trails.

Natural Resources Award – Cavco Industries, Inc. An innovative public-private partnership with Arizona State Parks & Trails and Cavco Industries, Inc. provided the solution to the critical development challenge of funding a cabin construction program with no general fund support. The parks new cabins are funded through a $4M investment from Cavco, Inc. The project is financed through a five-year revenue sharing agreement. With innovative financing, expedited timelines, and conservation consciousness, Cavco and Arizona State Parks and Trails offer even more ways for visitors to experience Arizona’s natural resources.

Volunteer of the Year Award – Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Ambassadors The Arizona Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Ambassadors have been providing ethical, timely, and quality service to Arizona’s OHV community for over a decade – the longest-running program of its kind in the country. The program continues to grow and positively impact riders, trails, natural and cultural preservation, and local economies. OHV Ambassadors’ service is essential to promoting safe and responsible OHV use.

“Managing and conserving Arizona’s natural, cultural and recreational resources for the benefit of the people, both in our parks and through our partners.”

Observe the Wonders of the Night Sky at a Star Party!

Many Arizona State Parks host fun, educational Star Parties or astronomy events! Our astronomy program has been in operation since 2007 and continues to grow. At a typical star night event, you can hear a lecture (often with guest speakers), and view celestial objects (planets, nebulas, stars) through a variety of telescopes. Some events have information tables and afternoon solar viewings as well. These events are supported by Arizona astronomy clubs and individuals who invite the public to come see Arizona’s amazing night skies. Watch our video, which gives a good introduction to star night activities. Learn more about what to expect and what to bring on this page

Star Party at Lost Dutchman State Park

October 13, 2018 – 7-9:00 p.m.
Lost Dutchman State Park Visitor Center

December 8, 2018 – 6:30-9:00 p.m.
Lost Dutchman State Park Visitor Center

February 9, 2019 – 7-9:00 p.m.
Lost Dutchman State Park Visitor Center

Arizona State Parks and Trails Brings Home the Gold Medal for Best Managed State Park System

“This Gold Medal win is not just about the staff of Arizona State Parks and Trails,” said Sue Black, Executive Director of Arizona State Parks and Trails. “This is about everyone in Arizona who contributes to our success or gets to enjoy our beautiful parks. It’s a huge honor to be considered the best-managed state park agency in the country, and we hope everyone will get out and see these amazing parks first-hand.”

The Gold Medal Award honors state park systems throughout the United States that demonstrate excellence in long-range planning, resource management and innovative programs.


Kartchner Caverns State Park Receives International Dark-Sky Association Designation

As part of Arizona State Parks and Trails’ mission to preserve and protect Arizona’s natural resources, Kartchner Caverns State Park has been given the distinction of becoming an International Dark Sky Park, designated by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA).

Find out more.

Award-Winning Family Campout Program Creates Fun-Filled Outdoor Adventures for One Weekend at a State Park

Join the fun at Arizona State Parks and Trails award-winning Family Campout Program this fall! The program gives kids a break from electronics and introduces them to new outdoor adventures for one-weekend at a state park.

Find out more.


The foundation is aligned with the 2017-2022 5 -Year Plan in presenting four strategic pillars, optimizing system, vitality, conservation, social equity, and thriving individuals and communities.

We will work with and support the agency in implementing improved Programs.

  • Partnerships
  • Human, financial, natural and cultural resources
  • Economic impact
  • Operations
  • Development  and communications

“The beauty and diversity of ASPT are second to none in the country” said Sue Black, Executive Director “The strength of the system is our partnerships and people. As the stewards of the parks, we are laying a path to a sustainable future.”