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The Phoenix area is not just surrounded by mountains and Sonoran Desert—the desert lives within the city as well. How you want to experience it is up to you.

Stay Cool in the Summer

Just because summer has arrived doesn't mean Phoenix's desert preserves can't be enjoyed. Outdoor enthusiasts just need to be smart and plan ahead. Remember these summertime tips:

  • Enjoy the outdoors early in the morning. Not only will it be about 20 degrees cooler when you're up with the sun, but it's the best time to view desert critters that are most active at sunrise.
  • Hit the trails at night. Some of the City of Phoenix preserves stay open until 11 p.m. Just be sure to pack a flashlight or headlamp and watch your step. Some Maricopa County parks offer guided moonlight hikes and bike rides throughout the summer.
  • Drink water and lots of it. A good rule of thumb is to bring at least one liter of water for each hour you'll be outside. Backpacks equipped with water bladders are ideal when hiking and biking.
  • Protect yourself from the sun. Hats, sunglasses and sunscreen are all necessities. Make sure to apply plenty of sunscreen before you head outside, and reapply every few hours.

Hiking and biking

Hiking and biking are the most popular ways to see saguaro cacti, red rocks and desert arroyos, no matter what part of town.

  • Hiking the Cholla trail on Camelback Mountain, the most iconic outline on the horizon, is not to be missed, particularly for the intermediate-to-advanced athlete.
  • Piestewa Peak in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve is another signature vista, and numerous trails surround the acres of preserve.
  • South Mountain Park and Preserve is the one of the largest municipal parks in the United States, and hikers, horse riders, and mountain bikers love the 50 miles of trails it provides.

Guided Phoenix tours

  • Hop in a hot air balloon to see the city and the saguaros from up high.
  • Check out the desert with a Jeep, Hummer or van tour, lasting a few hours or a few days.
  • Horseback riding tours are available to take you through different mountain ranges across the area.

Desert attractions

Our attractions allow you to check out the environment in a more laid-back approach.

  • The Desert Botanical Garden is a must-see for some of the most diverse plants in the world and their special exhibits change throughout the year.
  • The Phoenix Zoo is also one of the top-rated in the country, and the native animals section includes snakes, javelina and coyotes.



~ Trail Guide ~

Download our Trail Guide (.pdf) to see all the trails in Greater Phoenix, including level of difficulty, trail distance, and accessibiltiy for bikes, pets, horses and ADA accessibiltiy.

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