14 Best Things to Do in Parker (AZ)

Written by Bart Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Parker is a small city of around 3,000 people located in the La Paz County of Arizona. It is the county seat and was founded in 1908. The name comes from Ely Parker, who was the first Native American commissioner of the government.

Established in 1909 by an engineer that also had the Parker last name, the city was officially incorporated in 1948. It now has a total area of 22 square miles and is divided into two sections. If you happen to be nearby, make sure to stop and try some of these activities:

1. Have fun at the Buckskin Mountain State Park

Buckskin Mountain State ParkSource: Traveller70 / shutterstock
Buckskin Mountain State Park

This park runs across a stretch of 18 miles between two dams and includes a beautiful river surrounded by mountains on both sides, a wide variety of plants and cactuses, plus various species of fish and wild animals.

This gives you plenty of outdoor activities to choose from, including hiking, camping, picnicking, laying on the beach, boating (and other water activities), playing basketball or volleyball. If all this exercise and excitement is too much for you, simply settle for a good dinner at a nearby restaurant.

2. View the Parker Dam

Parker DamSource: smartyunknown / shutterstock
Parker Dam

You’ll be impressed and amazed by this huge structure, but also by its beautiful surroundings. The Parker Dam is actually the deepest in the country. While you can’t get close to the lake or walk around the dam, you can still admire it from afar.

In the nearby area, you might see some wild donkeys roaming freely, and score some nice views of the river and mountains. Feel free to stop by, take some photos and continue your journey across Parker.

3. Try your luck at the Bluewater Casino

BlueWater Resort & CasinoSource: BlueWater Resort & Casino / Facebook
BlueWater Resort & Casino

This small but cute casino is located near the river and has a lovely view of the area. During the night, it is beautifully lit in a blue light.

Inside, you will find a wide variety of casino games and slot machines for you to try your luck on. The location features a hotel with great room views and an indoor pool, so you can spend some beautiful days here.

4. Camp in the La Paz County Park

La Paz County ParkSource: La Paz County Parks Dept. / Facebook
La Paz County Park

This is a lovely resort with wonderful scenery and lots of activities on offer. You can sail on a boat or head out on a kayak, drive a kart, enjoy a picnic, or just relax in nature.

Every Saturday, there is a market that takes places here – similar to a large garage sale – with lots of random items and bargains. The staff are friendly and helpful, and there are also three dog parks for man’s best friend to run freely.

5. See the Swansea Ghost Town

Swansea Ghost TownSource: Insulator Blog / Flickr
Swansea Ghost Town

Located far away from civilization, this place used to be a copper mining camp. Due to the high costs of transporting the copper over such long distances, the site was eventually closed.

Now you can see its ruins and discover the history of this place through various signage. Ride a bike or an ATV to Swansea, but if you decide to drive, make sure to have a proper 4×4 vehicle. Along the way, you might also witness some of Arizona’s wildlife, including wild burros.

6. Visit the Colorado River Indian Tribes Museum

If you are passionate about Indian tribes and want to find out more about their history, visit this beautiful and educational museum. It’s a small place boasting a large collection of baskets, cradleboards, clay work and beading work – as well as all sorts of items that used to belong to members of Indian tribes.

The staff are friendly and knowledgeable and will gladly answer your questions. You will also find various blankets and other cool items for sale, so you can have a great souvenir from the Colorado River Indian Tribes Museum.

7. Have a Swim at the Ahakhav Tribal Preserve

Ahakhav Tribal PreserveSource: Bettina Arrigoni / Flickr
Ahakhav Tribal Preserve

If you love nature, fun outdoor activities and fitness, this place is perfect for you. The aim of this preserve is to protect native plants, wildlife, and resources while offering tourists a beautiful place to spend time at.

Offering beautiful scenery and a wide variety of plants, birds, and animals, it’s peaceful and quiet. Among the activities you can try here are fishing, swimming, kayaking, hiking, or working out at the various exercise stations.

There is a playground for the kids and an area for family picnics. You can either sleep at a hotel or lodge or pitch your tent in one of the camping areas.

8. Have a Drink and a Snack at the Desert Bar – Nellie E Saloon

Nellie E SaloonSource: KPegg / shutterstock
Nellie E Saloon

Located outside of the city – basically in the middle of the desert – this place is a popular destination for off-road groups (but you can also come in a regular car). There are two food spots, a bar, live bands, and dancing areas, as well as plenty of indoor and outdoor seating.

There is also an old church façade and some vintage cars; sometimes there are weddings that take place in this unique location. The food is great and all who visit are pleased with both the location and the services.

9. Play golf at the Emerald Canyon Golf Course

Emerald Canyon Golf CourseSource: Badger13 / shutterstock
Emerald Canyon Golf Course

Whether you are passionate about this sport or just want to try something new, spend a lovely day at the Emerald Canyon Golf Course. It doesn’t matter how well you play, as long as you have such lovely scenery to play amid.

The course is well maintained and offers the perfect conditions for a good game of golf. If you get up early you can benefit from some price discounts while also avoiding the heat.

10. Have a drink at the floating Club Roadrunner Bar

Club RoadrunnerSource: Club Roadrunner / Facebook
Club Roadrunner

If you need a cold drink after all the hiking and golfing, stop by Club Roadrunner. They have some excellent food too, with dishes suited for any time of the day.

The fun thing is that they also have a floating bar, in case you arrive by water.

11. Ride a Jetski at Wet and Wyld Watersports

Wet And Wyld WatersportsSource: Wet and Wyld Watersports / Facebook
Wet And Wyld Watersports

Located two miles south of the BlueWater Casino, Wet and Wyld Watersports offers a wide variety of rentals for some crazy water adventures. You can choose to rent a stand-up jet ski, a sit-down wave runner, a Seadoos, or various types of boats.

The staff can also bring the jet skis to your desired location and will teach you exactly how to maneuver them.

12. Ride a Hot Air Balloon at Wanderlust Balloons

Wanderlust BalloonsSource: Matthäus Wander / Wikimedia
Wanderlust Balloons

If you’re not afraid of heights and want to try a once-in-a-lifetime experience, head over to Wanderlust Balloons and enjoy one of their rides. A balloon flight allows you to discover the city of Parker and the nearby areas from a totally different perspective.

The owners have more than 27 years’ experience with hot air balloons, so you can rest assured that they will take good care of everything. Whether you want to propose in a totally unique way or just do something out of the box, go and visit Gary & Diana Moore, the owners of Wanderlust Balloons.

13. Jump on Wakeboard Island

Wakeboard IslandSource: Wakeboard Island / Facebook
Wakeboard Island

Offered by BlueWater Resort & Casino, this is an amazing water experience for those who love a bit of adrenaline. Thanks to a special cable pulley system, wakeboarders can experience a ride in the style of a skate park, without needing a boat to pull them.

If you’re not an advanced wakeboarder, don’t worry; there is an area for beginners. You can choose to ride with an instructor or alone. You can also do private sessions with up to 10 people or just rent some equipment.

14. Have a Pizza at La Piazza

La Piazza PizzaSource: La Piazza Pizza / Facebook
La Piazza Pizza

One of the oldest restaurants in Parker that is still fully operational, La Piazza has been serving delicious pizza for more than 38 years.

They have various types of pizza, as well as a huge variety of other meals, drinks, and desserts.

After all the crazy water sports and calories you’ve burned, you definitely deserve a treat.

14 Best Things to Do in Parker (AZ):

  • Have fun at the Buckskin Mountain State Park
  • View the Parker Dam
  • Try your luck at the Bluewater Casino
  • Camp in the La Paz County Park
  • See the Swansea Ghost Town
  • Visit the Colorado River Indian Tribes Museum
  • Have a Swim at the Ahakhav Tribal Preserve
  • Have a Drink and a Snack at the Desert Bar - Nellie E Saloon
  • Play golf at the Emerald Canyon Golf Course
  • Have a drink at the floating Club Roadrunner Bar
  • Ride a Jetski at Wet and Wyld Watersports
  • Ride a Hot Air Balloon at Wanderlust Balloons
  • Jump on Wakeboard Island
  • Have a Pizza at La Piazza