During the summer in Phoenix some of our favorite daytime activities – like hiking, sightseeing, swimming and more – can be enjoyed after dark. You just need to know where to go.
Moonlit HikesBack to Top of List
Even the most seasoned Phoenix hikers need a reprieve from the sun once in a while. Though the parking lots at most City of Phoenix trailheads close around 7 p.m., the trails are open as late as 11 p.m. So grab a flashlight or slip on a headlamp and hit the trails for a nocturnal hiking experience.
Piestewa Peak in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve and South Mountain are two of the more popular Phoenix hiking spots. For those who’d like some guidance with their nighttime hike, Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area and Usery Mountain Regional Park offer guided, interpretive moonlight hikes with a ranger on select summer nights. Check the schedule for events by park.
StargazingBack to Top of List
While we love Phoenix’s urban atmosphere, we also love to get away from the city lights and explore the open desert. Phoenix Mountains Preserve, South Mountain Park and Preserve, Lost Dutchman State Park, McDowell Mountain Regional Park and Cave Creek Regional Park are great spots to look down at the twinkling city or gaze skyward at the stars in our grand desert sky.
For a closer look at the skies, head to the Gilbert Rotary Centennial Observatory at the Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch on Friday and Saturday nights for a peek through their 16-inch diameter telescope.
For a sky-focused retreat, head to ADERO Scottsdale, an Autograph Collection Hotel. Perched on an elevated ridgeline, this is the region's first Dark Sky Zone resort — and its location offers views of Arizona’s famed Four Peaks and McDowell Mountain Range by day and stargazing opportunities by night.
Named after the iconic canyon that surrounds the property, this resort also maintains an exclusive sustainability trail, characterized by indigenous flora. With close proximity to nearby trails, adventure concierges guide guests through the living desert from morning to night. Direct access to golf offerings and biking excursions are also available.
13225 N. Eagle Ridge Drive, Scottsdale
ToursBack to Top of List
Flashlight Nights at Desert Botanical Garden
What critters come alive at night in the desert? Bring a flashlight and find out at the Desert Botanical Garden's Flashlight Nights, from 7 to 9 p.m. each Saturday between July 13 and Sept. 3.
The Desert Botanical Garden has a calendar packed with special events and pop-up experiences to complement Flashlight Nights, including an evening farmers market and performances. Plan your visit here.
1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix
Scorpion Scavenger Hunts
We generally try to avoid scorpions and their pincers, but, yes, we’re recommending that you actually go looking for some of these desert dwellers. On select nights through the summer, walk with a ranger through some of the Maricopa County Regional Parks with a flashlight and black light in hand for an educational scorpion hunt.
Select the "Animals" category on their event calendar to look for Scorpion Scavenger Hunts and other critter-filled adventures. Also check out Nocturnal Wildlife Hikes with Ranger Derik as well as Sunset and Full Moonrise Walks.
First Friday Art Walk
From small stages and galleries to boutiques and murals, there’s no shortage of creative expression awaiting you each month at downtown Phoenix's First Friday Art Walk. This pop-up event continues throughout the summer with more than 70 art galleries, venues art-related spaces open for touring.
Dive-In MoviesBack to Top of List
Watching a movie and playing in the pool are both great ways to cool down during the summer in Phoenix. Get the best of both worlds with dive-in movies at resorts throughout Greater Phoenix including the Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa at Gainey Ranch, Hilton Phoenix Resort at the Peak, Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs, Arizona Biltmore and the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess.
Contact the resorts for times and details.
Night Splash at Golfland Sunsplash
Skip the sunscreen and slide under the stars at Night Splash, available select nights after 5 p.m. See calendar for details.
155 W Hampton Ave., Mesa
PaddlingBack to Top of List
While paddling at the Salt River is excellent all-day summer recreation, summer nights invite adventurers to set out on via kayak or paddleboard at these locations. Whichever you choose, just be sure to book in advance and verify whether or not equipment and/or guides are included.
At Tempe Town Lake, you'll find rentals that go well beyond your standard paddling apparatus to include swan, dragon, duck and standard paddle boats available for reservations and rentals until well after sunset.
If you're looking for more of a guided paddle exploration experience, Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department and Desert Lotus Paddle offer a variety of sunset, full moon, glow and yoga paddles at Lake Pleasant.
Lake Pleasant Regional Park: 41835 N. Castle Hot Springs Road, Morristown
Saguaro Lake offers 22 miles of scenic shoreline, and is a favorite to paddle at sunrise, during the day, or at sunset when the colors on the canyon’s walls become brilliant and golden. Riverbound Sports offers a variety of rentals for exercise paddle, full-moon paddles and more.
Saguaro Lake, Butcher Jones Recreation Site: E. Butcher Jones Beach Road, Fort McDowell